Nu founded Revival Disability India (RDI) in 2020 to channel their frustrations into a community initiative. Their journey into disability justice and activism began during their undergraduate years when the lack of language and empowerment surrounding their disabled body fueled the creation of RDI. Nu prefers the term "community-made" over "self-made," emphasizing the collaborative nature of RDI. In this conversation with us, they talk about the importance of having a language to speak about unique identities, the need to hold space for grief, the necessity of a community to navigate through the difficulties in life, and how RDI was able to do all this and more.
Disability is not a unidimensional term.
Juggling multiple identities—physically disabled, trans, non-binary, upper-caste—Nu confronts a world designed without consideration for their abilities or sexuality. While Nu embraces their identity as a disabled individual, acknowledging the power inherent in that self-recognition, they also emphasize the importance of holding space for moments of grief, recognizing the dual nature of their experience. Navigating both queerness and disability within a single identity, Nu reflects on the challenges of being understood in both communities.
They are predominantly perceived through their physical disability within the queer community and vice versa in the disabled community. This echoes broader societal issues, with ableism persisting in the queer community and other forms of discrimination within the disabled community. This makes them feel detached from both communities, highlighting the need for more representation, language, resources, and intentional inclusion in spaces like pride events and marches.
In acknowledging their unique position, Nu humorously describes themselves as a "queer who sits," emphasizing the value they place on the simple act of sitting. This candid expression underscores the broader challenges faced by individuals within the queer disabled community and the importance of creating inclusive spaces that go beyond traditional expectations and stereotypes.
RDI is creating a different form of disabled resistance where we can resist from our beds, chairs, anywhere!
Nu underscores the importance of rest as a fundamental aspect of disability activism. Having acquired a disability at the age of nine due to a stroke, Nu recounts the confusion and the subsequent struggle to find a sense of belonging within their new disabled body. The challenge, as Nu articulates, lies in the absence of a reference point on how to navigate disability in an able-bodied world—a world that often neglects the nuances of expressing oneself as a disabled person.
Nu's work addresses the era of hyper visibility, especially during events like Pride Month, where individuals with diverse identities, including queer, trans, non-binary, and disabled, become prominently visible on platforms like Instagram. Nu acknowledges the pride associated with such visibility but points out the limitations, as it often translates to physical movement—marches, dances, and reels. Through RDI, Nu endeavors to redefine visibility, promoting a unique form of disabled resistance that transcends physical spaces, allowing individuals to resist from beds and chairs.
Access to technology and internet is a privilege that makes activism accessible to many groups.
The internet, a conduit to another realm of shared experiences, became a platform for collective joy and principles of disability justice within RDI. Nu elaborates on the significance of their WhatsApp group, where individuals with disabilities convene to share insights, confront ableism and homophobia, and offer accessible problem-solving for medical issues. This digital space, born out of necessity, exemplifies the ethos of interdependence, challenging the societal inclination towards independence and fostering a sense of community as a form of possibility.
Nu delves into the privilege and power of technology, emphasizing its role in democratizing activism. Through online campaigns initiated from beds and chairs, technology becomes a tool to amplify marginalized voices, allowing for the sharing of narratives that go beyond inspiration-born stories of overcoming disability.
Nu challenges the prevailing narratives surrounding disability, emphasizing the need for stories that explore how to live a disabled life, participate in disabled culture, and navigate survival. In doing so, Nu addresses the political nature of these concepts, emphasizing that participating in an interview and putting forth their disabled voice is, in itself, a political statement, challenging structures and preconceived notions about disability.
In writing our stories, we are rewriting grief in our way, in our terms, in our journey.
Talking about the distinction between genuine coverage and pity-inducing narratives, Nu emphasizes the importance of reclaiming grief when stories are reported by individuals within the disabled community. Within the context of RDI, Nu underscores the collective's message of rewriting grief on their terms, challenging able-bodied notions.
Nu expresses skepticism toward non-disabled reporters covering disabled stories and advocates instead for individuals within the disabled community to report on their own experiences. While Nu firmly believes in the power of allies, they also underscore the significance of active listening, affirming experiences, and recognizing when to take up or give up space.
Nu's life and work paint a pragmatic picture of resilience in navigating multiple identities and disability justice. Through RDI, Nu extends an invitation to a community that embraces both the struggles and triumphs of being queer and disabled—a community grounded in collective strength and a firm challenge to societal norms.