Century Bar Philadelphia, PA
It was a tense evening.
It was a cold and dark evening in South Philly, but mostly, I remember the tension walking into Century bar.
Sitting throughout the dimly lit dive was the evening's talent. The speakers and performers; the physically disabled. The completely diverse and eclectic mix of personalities that filled one of my favorite stomping grounds, was nervous. And for several reasons.
Being a solicitous group out of necessity, any public outing is going to stir some initial anxiety.
The components of your day factor differently when you have a physical disability.
The cold? A factor.
The time of performance? A factor.
The accessibility of the venue? All factors.
All things people without a disability overlook completely, because we simply aren't affected as dramatically by things being 10° colder or running 30 min behind schedule.
This is called 'non-disabled privilege'.
Perhaps a more obvious reason tension surrounds an event like 'Trigger Warning', is that the content discussed is targeted toward a socially taboo or stigmatized topic.
The weight of discussing your struggles publicly is a heavy one, but it is one that lifts leaving you with a sense of accomplishment and a truer sense of knowing where you stand in your own battles.
That was an overall from the evening of perspectives shared; these people were going to keep fucking going.
There was a theme drawn of resilience. People spoke to a call that must be answered. Being forced to either rise to the occasion and adapt, or risk losing the battle completely.
There were stories of strength and stories of torture. Shock, frustration, and anger.
Discussion about the division between being 'visibly disabled' and 'non visibly disabled'. Talk of the terrifying tangle of the medical system in the United States. How families overcome obstacles, while entire communities ignore how they can help. How lonely it all feels.
Powerful speeches. Emotional sentiments about what being 'able' actually looks like.
Jokes of chronic pain ruminated. Somewhere along the line, the room didn't feel as tight. We laughed together. We shared tears together. We hugged and loved each other. It was humbling to feel let into a very personal conversation between warriors. Whether that conversation be an anal pun about being 'butt hurt' or the terror an unknown or incurable diagnosis creates.
People took the stage who had never before shared their struggles with strangers. People spoke who were not planning on taking the stage. People thanked those with physical disabilities for continuing to fight. People expressed impact from every walk and style of life. This room was truly alive with love!
Afterwards, the most miraculous thing happened; people wanted to talk to each other. They wanted to support each other and connect with each other outside of the venue walls. They wanted to donate to the cause and be apart of future Trigger Warnings.
The tense air had subsided completely, and what remained, was a supercharged aura of strength, joy and camaraderie. It felt powerful to hear my friends share their stories. It felt powerful to be apart of a group of people who wanted to listen. In addition to providing the artwork for this installment of Trigger Warning, Sara Karolina Heino also chose the charity that donations went to. The $100 raised was lovingly donated to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (http://www.oif.org)
Sara Karolina Heino
Portrait Provided For The Event
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone involved at this installment of Trigger Warning. A specialized thank you to @shutterpunk for providing photography for the evening.
The next Trigger Warning will be hosted in May in celebration of mental illness awareness month. So if you live with a mental illness, we would love to hear from you.
We are currently seeking an all ages venue to host this event at.
Intersectionality is important and encouraged, so please feel welcome to attend based on age, skin color, gender, and sexual preference. If you're a non hateful human trying to share your story or listen to the stories of others, let's connect. The more, the merrier. Let's breed some motherfucking compassion.
All photos by Instagram @shutterpunk
Erin also creates original music which can be found on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes.
For more info on upcoming events please follow Erin on social media.