To mark the occasion, we want to shine a light on and celebrate the intersectionality of the LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities. Historically, the disabled rights movement has been pioneered to a great extent by lesbians, supported by queer allies and incorporated into gay rights movements by transgender activists and drag queens.
Sharing a common fight for basic human rights including healthcare, housing, employment and societal inclusion, these groups demonstrated the true power of community and defiance during the late 20th century:
The Butterfly Brigade
The Butterfly Brigade (now known as the Castro Street Safety Patrol) were a group of gay men activists in 1970s Castro who were one of the earliest safe streets patrols. Every weekend, patrollers would meet at around 10pm on the corner of Castro and Eighteenth Streets, the center of the area's commercial strip, with the control center a converted bakery delivery truck. However, beyond protecting gay men within Castro, they were also fierce allies of the disabled community.
"The Butterfly Brigade of the Castro, the owner of a local lesbian bar, Glide Memorial Church, the local unions—all of whom had disabled friends or allies—also offered critical support. We saw something extraordinary in this story that could serve as a roadmap or a model for social justice movements of today."
- Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht, directors of Crip Camp
The Butterfly Brigade assisted disability rights protestors during the historic 504 Sit-in. Along with the Mission Rebels, a Chicano group, the Butterfly Brigade lent their own walkie-talkies to the protestors and helped sneak them into the government buildings where the sit-in was taking place so that the organisers could communicate with the outside world.
In the words of legendary disability activist Kitty Cone, it was "one of the broadest coalitions I had ever seen.”