If there is one thing Martin Neal is not shy about, it is performing.
“It’s good to show who you really are no matter what your disability is,” Neal said.
Through the resources of AHRC New York City, Neal has taken the stage in productions alongside Broadway professionals, but it has been two years since he performed at the annual Disability Pride Parade. The last event was held in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s wonderful to do it outdoors,” Neal said. “It makes me feel good to do it along with everybody else.”
This year, the annual march will return, kicking off from Madison Square Park, with the theme of inclusion and awareness. Organizers decided to move the parade from July to October.
Parade co-organizer Mary Kaessinger explained that the change was “because of the weather” and that it is “much more comfortable to do it in the fall.”
Kaessinger says she has learned the importance of pride and visibility through her own experiences with multiple sclerosis. Now, she is happy to help revive an annual favorite that brings people with disabilities in the city together.
“To show our strength — that we’re people too,” Kaessinger said. “We have jobs. We have lives. We want people to know we’re regular people.”