A New Disability Hero!

Posted September 16th, 2013 by Anthony

Doc-Pomus on stage
We have another hero. Hugh Gallagher gave us FDR. The world knew FDR was disabled, but until Gallagher none of us knew that FDR’s disability experience had a profound effect on his life and world view. After polio, FDR began to root for the poor.

I know, hero is so overused when it is applied to us disabled folk that I hesitate to use the term. But it’s accurate. Doc Pomus is my hero. After you hear the stories, he might be yours, too. To find out check out a new documentary “AKA Doc Pomus” that captures some of the highlights of his disabled life.

I love the documentary. There are pictures, interviews, home movies, and stories about Doc Pomus, the lyricist of “Save the Last Dance for Me.” He understood what it is to be vulnerable, and most importantly, he knew he was valuable and sexy. His new bride could dance with any man who gave her the eye, but he knew she was going home to his bed that night.Doc was able to write that song because he knew he was a cripple, and it pissed him off. Plus, he was able to recognize the vulnerabilities of being disabled. He was a knowing outsider looking in and reporting back to the world.

“AKA Doc Pomus” has been on the festival circuit for the past year and has now gone into limited release in LA and New York. Go see it! Ignore how his ex-wife and biographers see his life as tragic. Ignore the overcomer stereotype that’s applied to him again and again. Listen and watch for the authentic disabled hero. Understand the man who knew in the 1950s that disability oppression was like racial oppression. Celebrate the cripple who carved his own path, found success, lost it, and found it again. He was the real deal. He reminds me of Ed Robert’s description of himself, “If I’m a vegetable, then I’m an artichoke, all prickly on the outside with a great big heart.” That was Doc Pomus. And, for both, it was because they knew disability was about the world’s intolerance and stereotypes, they got mad, and they changed the world for the better.


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