If women can reclaim the B-word, and Blacks can reclaim the N-word, then dammit we (disabled people) can reclaim the G-Word.
The G-Word? Gimp.
Somewhere along the way Gimp became a derogatory term for disabled people. I’m not sure when, just as I’m not sure when it became used as a term for disabled people in GENERAL. Look it up! The meanings are all over the place!
To be honest I’ve only kinda heard it over the years and it’s like I automatically knew it referred to the disabled in a negative way. But at some point in recent history, there’s been a sort of movement within the disabled community to reclaim the word Gimp and turn it into something that’s less offensive.
Recently I saw an announcement for the “Million Gimp March” and realized that so many disabled people are taking a word that was meant to ridicule or minimize a group of people and turning it into a movement – The Million Gimp March (on Washington). You can read more about the march here and the motivation behind it here.
As I scrolled through the links on Google and saw the photos people associated with being a Gimp, I didn’t feel offended. I didn’t get upset. I was actually a bit proud because the photos were ACTION shots. They were “us” doing things. They were “us” doing what you would call ‘normal’ things. We were riding horses and sitting at lunch and posing with friends. Nothing in those pics were offensive and so, I have to believe that the word itself isn’t.
In my 50 Cent voice: I’m a G-I-M-P!
To be disabled is to have yet another label permanently tattooed across your forehead. Unless you have an invisible disability, there’s no way to NOT be lumped into that category. Even the word “disabled” is being reworked into cute little euphemisms like thisabled, differently abled, handicapable…huh? I’m fine with calling a spade a spade. I’m also fine with equally unattractive words, like gimp, because society meant it to hurt, we meant it to empower.
Gone are the days when the disabled were locked away, hidden in the families home, or in an institution. Gone are the days when people thought we were cursed! Today, people with disabilities enjoy a life comparable to our able-bodied counterparts. We work (when we are hired), we own businesses, we marry and have families. We go to school, we participate in sports. And yeah, we might do it with a limp, a spasm, a turned up volume. But that’s okay!
It’s okay if it takes us 3hrs to finish a quarter marathon or swim one mile. It’s okay that we may dance with just our shoulders or in our minds. I’m fine with the fact that I’ll never be able to see over the counter! Because as we progress more and more, disability is no longer a chain keeping us locked down.
So, there you have it. I’m a gimp. And don’t worry, it’s not one of those words that only those of us who are disabled can use.