Make news, not silence

There is something blatantly and unabashedly exhibitionistic about all success. If you don’t make the news, you make the silence. This is all the more true given the equation “mental illness” = dysfunction = failure = wrongness = obscurity. If you let them, they will bury you under a load of rubbish and lies. I do not buy the myth that “adult ‘children” should be seen and not heard’ any more than I buy the myth that infant ‘children should be seen and not heard’. Success is often a matter of digging your way out of the trash and falsehoods. The fashion of the runway isn’t the only fashion in the world when you can make the fashion yourself.

I recently participated in 2 demonstrations connected with the psychOUT 2011 conference in New York City. The first was an anniversary demonstration and vigil at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn over the death of Mrs. Esmin Green, and the second was an impromptu march on the New York Office of Mental Health against forced mental health treatment. Psychiatric survivor activist Lauren Tenney, an organizer of psychOUT 2011, did get a moment of glory on local television in the first action. The second came and went with hardly a murmur of mention. There was a reason for this silence. The first psychOUT conference in Toronto last year was covered atrociously by the press. The press couldn’t cover the event without trying to drown it out. The views of people opposing the conference were seen, by the local press, as more important than the conference itself. You get what I’m saying, don’t you? We don’t have a receptive or a friendly ear in the mainstream press as a rule.

This is one of the reasons why I want to bring Mad Pride to Florida. Mad Pride was just celebrated successfully in Toronto Canada. Mad Pride has been celebrated in Toronto since about 1993 when Mad Pride celebrations were first launched. Toronto devotes a whole week to celebrating Mad Pride. Now Mad Pride is celebrated in places as diverse as Ireland, Great Britain, South America, Africa, and Australia. There are annual Mad Pride celebrations in many locations throughout the USA as well. Mad Pride is one way of telling the world we may be crazy, but we are not wrong, we are not bad, and we are not “mentally ill”. We are, in fact, alright. Mad Pride is a way of celebrating difference. It may be easy to lock up one different person alone, but just try locking up 10, 20, or 1,000 different people who have banded together to help one another. That’s not such an easy prospect, is it? Not so long as there are laws to protect people. It’s easy to forget 1 person alone is a human being; it’s not so easy to forget that a thousand people standing together are human beings.

The world has been slow to learn about Mad Pride, but the more we get the word out there, the more the world will know of us. This is why we must become the producers of our own media. This is why we have to tell the world that we exist. We must explain that there are bigger causes for celebration than Charlie Sheen, Paris Hilton, or even Glenn West, and that we are one of those bigger causes. There is numero uno when numero uno is numero infinitismal to the world at large. This is the same world that is quick to recognize that madness in the street, it is slow to recognize in the mirror. If we are vocal and flamboyant enough about the matter, perhaps that realization might begin to dawn upon this world after all. If we do nothing, we will be devoured by obscurity and silence, and we will leave that task to another people at another time. I say it is better to take up the banner that belongs to us, and to make Mad Pride a cause for our era, than it is to leave this task to some future generation. I hope that future generation feels the same way I do.