As a person who has suffered from devastating fatigue for decades, the idea of assistance with the grueling business of walking is thrilling to me. Not to mention having my own place to sit, all the time!
I’m not gonna say any names, but I once bought a ticket to a Berlin event to draw, (even though I am usually guestlisted/VIP), only to learn it had been oversold and there were no seats left. I was about to leave myself, and head home bitterly disappointed, when a friend brought me a chair from backstage. Standing is not an option for many people, including me!
The idea that chair users hate being “stuck in a wheelchair” is an ablist myth.
I am on #DisabilityTwitter every day, talking to people who loooooove their chairs. Having a chair to be able to go places is a joy. People who have to measure and calculate their energy to get through the day, like many ambulatory wheelchair users, and me, need every scrap of energy they can save. Saving the vast amount of energy walking and standing takes is like winning the lottery!
The hardships of wheelchair use are generally caused by failure of accessibility.
With twenty million Long Covid survivors joining those of us who suffer disabling fatigue, vertigo, and shortness of breath, we might finally get enough #CriptheVote power to make an accessible world a priority. Certainly I expect market forces to drive chair and other mobility device innovation in the years to come.
What I really want is the “body bra” described in recent Kim Stanley Robinson books, or the “Frank” smart armature that beloved “Reamde” character Zula wears in Neal Stephenson’s otherwise terrible sequel, “Fall, or Dodge in Hell”.
Until I can have my smart armature to walk me around so I can save my energy to draw, I look forward to several generations of improving electric wheelchairs or scooters!
A note: when I found myself making this drawing rather in the style of artist Felix d’Eon, I leaned right into it!
Felix d’Eon is a former San Franciscan, a gay Mexican artist who makes drawings of queer love. Based in Mexico City and using his friends and community as models, he is an incredibly gifted figurative artist and designer. I think I styled my wheelchair picture like one of his pieces because his art gives me such warm feelings of inclusion and acceptance!