Mini-essay Monday: Our CripLit Village

Note: Crip is a reclaimed term that many disabled folks use as a word of empowerment. CripLit is a term for disability literature.

January 19, 2023

Our “village” is a place we all seek. It’s that band of friends and strangers who become friends… a group who share our lived experiences. That collective where being perfect never has to exist. We can be messy, and we celebrate our messiness. Brains don’t hafta brain optimally. We understand that and work with it. 

Last night, I took my sick, exhausted body into my office, along with my brain that lived in a dense fog, and co-emceed a virtual book launch of Nothing Without Us Too. I moderated a panel where we were all delightful hot messes. Our answers were edifying, validating, honest, even snarky. Together we just worked. We just clicked. We accommodated, accepted, and celebrated each other where we were at. That absence of the pressure to present as “normal” leads to unrestrained freedom of the soul. 

Sometimes at book launches, one wants to impress, to “sell” the work. This is a business after all. But last night, all we cared about was the community we had with each other—disabled, neurodivergent, and mentally ill authors.  We laughed, we vented, we did nothing to be palatable to an abled, NT audience. People would have to deal with our perspectives, our experiences, our journeys. CripLit…the director’s cut. 

There is such a constant pressure for us to “perform” and “mask” to adapt to the Normies’ structure of society. It’s draining. So, to show up as our authentic selves, unedited, is a gift. A gift we need to bring to each other more often. 

This is why I am an advocate in literary circles. Spread out, we’re tokenized. Together, we’re a community to be reckoned with. Separate, we’re unique crystals of snow, but together, we’re a boulder torrenting down a hill, able to take out an entire township.

And we’re coming for you, ableism. We’re coming for ya. 

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the award-nominated, multi-genre, disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too.

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