Disability comes in many forms. My disability, PTSD, can cause moments of extreme anguish and blackouts, which sometimes impedes my ability to work. My closest friend, who is blind, had to relearn how to live on his own and work after losing his sight.
Passed in 1990, The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability. The law is usually enforced, but sometimes it isn't – I've seen examples of this. And if the GOP has their way, social safety nets including disability insurance and food stamps would be drastically reduced, if not eliminated entirely. LGBT people have the added disadvantage of facing widespread legal discrimination in many conservative states.
And that's why we need to stand up for each other.
With that sentiment in mind, I ask you to open your hearts – and your wallets – to Michael McCormick. Michael is a 50-year-old gay man in Kentucky who is living with a newly acquired disability which has rendered him unable to work. A few months ago he was fine, until one day his body began to fail him without warning. Michael was blindsided.
"It started about two months ago," Michael told me. "There was a sudden numbness in my right foot, which affected my ability to walk. I thought I had a pinched nerve." A month later the numbness spread to his right hand and forearm, rendering them useless. A stroke and a heart attack have already been ruled out.
"I was tested for Lyme Disease and Leukemia," Michael said. "Lyme Disease can cause these kinds of symptoms."
Multiple Sclerosis is also being considered as a possible cause. "The worst thing is waiting and not knowing," he said, expressing concern for Petey, his dog, and Charlie, his bird. Michael said that he would feed them before he fed himself.
Michael may have lost the ability to work, but the bills keep coming in. Rent, phone and food all must be paid for. He's already been approved for food stamps, but Michael needs help with rent and pet food. A kind friend already covered his rent for this month and he's begun the lengthy, often stressful process of applying for disability insurance, which can take quite a long time. Many counties are notorious for turning down applicants even when disability is obvious and indisputable. Numerous disabled people are forced to hire attorneys and attend court hearings in order to get what they're legally entitled to.
Michael needs our help.
"I never expected my body to fail me," he said. "I struggle with having nothing to fall back on--I always thought I'd be able to get up and go to work everyday. I'm not the only person who's going through this."
Michael's insurance company has approved him for a walker and a cane, which will give him more mobility, but he remains unable to work.
"I go back and forth between panic and anger at not being prepared," he said.
What happened to Michael can happen to any of us at any time. We are not immortal. Our bodies are more fragile than we realize. If you are able, please contribute to Michael's Go Fund Me page, which will help him keep his rent current, keep his phone on (which he would need in case of a medical emergency) and keep food in his beloved pets' bowls.
Let's stand up for Michael, and for each other.
"The government isn't doing it, so we have to," Dynasty star turned AIDS activist Linda Evans told CNN's Larry King during the 1980s peak of the AIDS epidemic.
Evan's words were true then. Not much has changed in the ensuing three decades.
Michael's Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/2danyx2k