It's Disability Pride Month. You should know that I'm proud to be disabled.

Here's something you should know about me: I'm proud to be disabled.

I can picture some of you looking very perplexed right now. Admitting this fact about myself is something I may have said in a hushed tone just a few years ago. Why? By all accounts, I'm not supposed to be "proud" of my disability. Not according to society, at least. But then again, I've never given much thought to societal conventions. Thankfully, I'm not alone.

July is Disability Pride Month, which is sparking so many much-needed conversations about living with a disability and what it means to celebrate that. People with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the United States, with 61 million adults living with a disability, according to the CDC—that's one and four people.

Disability Pride Month is a time to celebrate people with disabilities. It's also a time to call for changes toward a more inclusive, accessible world. The first Disability Pride Day was held in 1990, coincidentally, the same year as the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA); the pivotal legislation was the biggest disability rights win of our generation and it "prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life—to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services and to participate in State and local government programs and services."

Maybe that's why this year, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA, this idea of disability pride feels all the more poignant and important. While I may have reached a place of pride now, I didn't always feel this way.

I was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder that primarily affects the face, hands and feet. I've had around 25 surgeries to straighten my legs, as well as correcting my scoliosis. I spent the majority of my formative years in and out of the hospital. At times, what was harder than all those surgeries was feeling so different from everyone else. I grew up never seeing anyone that looked like me— not on TV, not in movies, not in books or even magazines. At a time when all I wanted to do was fit in, it was hard to stand out so much.

People are shocked when I say I'm proud to be disabled because we still live in a society where pride and disability don't belong in the same sentence. Disabilities are seen as shameful. They are looked at as something bad. People should feel sorry for us. Who would want to be disabled? That's a question I've heard far too often from too many people. I've had individuals tell me that a disability and wheelchair is nothing to be proud of, it's nothing to celebrate and that it's something I should be ashamed of.

Of course, people's cruel words are only parroting the messages society sends about disabilities. We live in a culture that treats disability as something bad or negative. From a young age, disabled people are taught to be ashamed of something that's a huge part of their identity. I felt ashamed of my disabled body for many years; I wasn't comfortable in my own skin and, interestingly, becoming a writer that helped me change my perspective. The more I wrote about disabilities and about my life, the more I felt a cleansing of sorts. It was as if the act of writing was literally rewriting the voice in my head that had played on a loop for so long. The voice that told me I was ugly. The voice that told me I was unworthy and unlovable. The voice that told me my disability was shameful. It was as if I was shedding my old skin, making way for self-love and self-acceptance after too many years of shame and hatred.

I can't help but feel like 2020 is a reckoning of sorts when it comes to disabilities—a moving of the needle toward inclusion, accessibility, opportunity and acceptance. Those are the things disability activists have been fighting for years to achieve. Because where the ADA is about literal access, Disability Pride Month is all about visibility and representation. It's about inclusion. It's about opportunity. It's about celebration. It's about having a seat at society's table.

I'm forever proud to claim my seat, to unapologetically take up space and to be included. Finally, we're seeing this trend of disabled people reclaiming what it means to have a disability. We don't typically see the words pride and disability together, but for disabled people like me, the two words go hand in hand. "Disability pride" is a declaration as much as it is a celebration, where the disability community is shouting, "Yes, disabled people want to be seen and heard. And guess what? We're not going anywhere!"

My disability pride has taught me to be more vocal. To speak up. And, yes, to show my face, especially through countless selfies on social media. Disabled people are here and we're proud. While Disability Pride Month may be about the disability community, it's also important to have support from able-bodied people.

A huge part of disability pride centers around identity. I know things like "I don't see your disability or wheelchair" are meant as compliments, but those words are actually quite hurtful. It's dismissive of my lived experience as a woman with a disability. It's like saying my disability doesn't exist. Since my disability is a part of my identity, it's like saying I don't exist. It's, again, viewing disability through the ableist lens of disability is bad and able-bodied is good. It's assuming that I want to be seen as "normal." But guess what? Spoiler alert...I am disabled. And it's not a bad word.

My hope is that one day, we won't need any entire month to remind people that it's okay to celebrate disabilities and that society will celebrate us because they see our inherent worth and dignity just like we do. Until that day, though, here's a reminder one more time: Please, see my wheelchair. See my disability. See all of me.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?

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