BFLAG’S EVOLUTION LEADS TO ITS NEW NAME by Don Brown

During our annual business meeting in Orlando, following a healthy and spirited debate, the membership voted overwhelmingly to adopt “Blind LGBT Pride International” as this growing affiliate’s new name.

Why a name change? Since being chartered as a special-interest affiliate by the American Council of the Blind in 2000, the acceptance of this organization both inside and outside of ACB has been nothing short of remarkable. True, our early beginnings were met with some expected resistance. However, the eventual and overwhelming acceptance of the organization by the ACB family vastly overshadowed and quieted the small minority of dissenting voices. ACB’s long-standing tradition of embracing diversity is exemplary and served as the catalyst for our move to a name which effectively conveys our sense of pride as blind people who are also gay, or gay people who are also blind ­- take your pick.

There are three main premises embodied in the term Gay Pride or LGBT Pride. They are that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity, that diversity is a gift which is reflected in all of nature, and that sexuality and gender identity are inherent and cannot be altered without devastating psychological and emotional ramifications. The word “pride” was adopted by the LGBT community as an antidote for the yoke of shame used throughout history to control and oppress anyone who did not acquiesce to the heterosexual mold.

Our organization’s work is twofold. We continue to gain acceptance within the blindness community, while at the same time pursuing acceptance by promoting awareness among LGBT people who are sighted. Our blind, sighted, LGBT and straight members are teachers, students, government employees, attorneys, parents, and retirees who, like other blind and visually impaired people, are interested in affordable assistive technology, accessible transportation, employment disparities, educational and training opportunities, and rehabilitation programs and services.

As the first and only organization of its kind, our mission is to promote the betterment of LGBT people who are visually impaired. We do this by: (1) providing a forum for the free expression and exchange of views and concerns of our membership, (2) equipping our members with reprinted articles from mainstream LGBT publications via InsideOut, our quarterly newsletter, (3) assisting our members in acquiring services from agencies and institutions serving blind consumers, (4) helping members get in touch with their local LGBT centers, and (5) making LGBT centers nationwide aware of our existence and promoting integration and mutual growth through acceptance and understanding.

During the 2010 convention in Phoenix, Blind Pride will celebrate its 10th anniversary as an ACB special-interest affiliate. Imagine, in the year 2000 we had 27 original charter members; now we have over 200. We are proud of our existence and our growth, and we want to share our joy with you in Phoenix. Workshops, tours, and events are already being planned, not to mention a 10-year birthday party! Come, help us celebrate this incredible milestone!

To stay up-to-date on Blind LGBT Pride’s news and activities, visit us at www.blind-lgbt-pride.org. While there, feel free to become a member and join one of our community forums.