An Open Letter to the #HumanRightsCampaign

Aug 10 2017
Cal Montgomery
An open letter to the #HumanRightsCampaign (please share):
My name is Cal Montgomery. I am queer, trans, disabled and a survivor of
long-term institutionalization. I am autistic, nonspeaking and a wheelchair
I have been asked to address my dismay at how the Human Rights
Campaign is behaving toward ADAPT, taking images without permission
and using them to convey an impression of solidarity that does not exist --
tokenizing them, basically.
But I can't.
I can't becsuse I'm too angry at how horrifically the Human Rights Campaign is failing to
address the basic human rights of LGBTQ people, its core constituency.
You can't support the Disability Integration Act? Really?
The Disability Integration Act is a bill to address institutional bias, or the
forcing of disabled people who need supports into institutional settings
rather than the vastly superior, less expensive, options that allow for self-
determination, freedom, community and opportunity.
There are multiple institutional systems in this country, but at the core of
them all is disability rights leader Roland Johnson's question: Who's in
charge? Are you in charge? Is staff in charge? But who's in charge?
Institutions -- big ones, small ones, pretty ones, ugly ones, ones built in your
own home -- are set up to address the needs of the institution first. That's
just how they work.
So let's talk about being LGBTQ in an institution.
Let's talk about a man turning unprotected tricks in a park because his
group home system provides neither sex ed nor support for dating to
anyone who isn't straight.
Let's talk about a 46-year- old woman identifying as lesbian as clearly as she
can given that she has never been taught the words and being dismissed
because her service providers regard her as a child.
Let's talk about years-long committed relationships being broken up
because they are not recognized and it is convenient for staff to move one
person to a different unit.
Let's talk about what it is like to be forced to receive intimate care in a
nursing home from someone who regards you as an abomination before
Let's talk about systematic brutal gaybashing being noted in the chart as
"Robert provokes other patients."
Let's talk about identifying as trans and discovering what happens when you
express that level of "self-mutilative ideation."
One night -- and understand, I was *young* and I had been taught very
effectively to shut up about who I was, and I had no control over what my
clothes and hair looked like, so there was nothing more I could have done to
pass -- staff called a meeting of me and every woman on the unit. The
ostensible point was to discuss "concerns" that the way I moved through the
world signaled I was a sexual deviant, perhaps a sexual predator. The
actual reason was that, despite extensive efforts to disrupt all human
connection between those of us living there, I had once again begun to form
a (nonsexual) friendship with my roommate.
Understand, I was locked in a small space with these women. When the
meeting was over, I was an object of fear. I pleaded with the staff to change
my room assignment and they laughed. So I spent a sleepless 10 hours that
night shut in a room with a woman crying in terror that i would rape her, her
punishment for daring to talk to me, mine for defying institutional authority
and seeking human connection.
That's when I stopped.
The Disability Integration Act is an LGBTQ issue. It is a human rights and
civil rights issue. And if the Human Rights Campaign cannot support me on
my human rights as an LGBTQ person, it can at least treat the organizations
that do with respect.
I don't think I am asking for too much.
Cal Montgomery
Cal Montgomery is a member of Chicago ADAPT.


ISPC and PNHP Illinois have endorsed the Disability Integration Act. HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, Section 203 (d): (d) Favoring Non-Institutional Care- All efforts shall be made under this Act to provide long-term care in a home- or community-based setting, as opposed to institutional care.

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