Lead a rich and messy life
December 8, 2014 2:03 AM   Subscribe

Writer, comedian, and disability activist, Stella Young has died, age 32.

Stella's sharp voice, refusing to accept condescending bullshit and lowered expectations, challenged stereotypes around disability and elevated discussion in Australia, on issues such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme, assisted suicide, abuse in the disability sector, and basic accessibility.

In April 2014, she gave a talk at TEDx Sydney on 'inspiration porn'. Her show, Tales from the Crip, won the 2014 Melbourne Comedy Festival Best Newcomer Award. She performed at the 2012 Global Atheism Convention. And she had cool hair.

Among her many writings are two letters, one to her 16 year old self on sex, love, community and self acceptance, and another to her 80 year old self, in which she discussed expectations that disabled people will die young.

Previously, previouslier
posted by misfish (20 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
. Vale. What a champion she was, for disability rights and for humanity in general.
posted by smoke at 2:05 AM on December 8, 2014

Oh no. I met Stella at a conference last year. She had such an amazing energy.

posted by third word on a random page at 2:16 AM on December 8, 2014

posted by andraste at 2:23 AM on December 8, 2014

Ah, I'm sad to hear this. She was so funny and so blunt in her comedy, and so truthful in her statements on disability and how many folks treat people with disabilities. I really enjoyed what she had to say and how she said it.
posted by taterpie at 2:28 AM on December 8, 2014

. What an awesome human being.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:03 AM on December 8, 2014

Thanks for posting this. The #putoutyourwheels hashtag was a bit more than I could bear this afternoon.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:13 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I worked with Stella a good bit a few years ago, before she was well known. Always genuine, blunt and very funny, she was fantastic.

A friend of mine today commented that she always remembered us small people who haven't moved onto anything bigger since then. Perhaps the wrong thing to say about someone of her size but perhaps apt as well. I know many people who knew her and none of them remember her disability foremost, we remember a wonderful woman. That I think is how all people should be remembered, disability or not, because once disabled people are just people and not some "other" we'll make sure they can get their wheelchair in the door.

You helped open my eyes to that Stella, and a lot of other people's as well. You are missed. Work was sad today.

posted by deadwax at 3:37 AM on December 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

Amazing woman... what a loss.
posted by prettypretty at 3:40 AM on December 8, 2014

I saw her TedTalk recently and loved this story:

When I was 15, a member of my local community approached my parents and wanted to nominate me for a community achievement award. And my parents said, "Hm, that's really nice, but there's kind of one glaring problem with that. She hasn't actually achieved anything. And they were right, you know. I went to school, I got good marks, I had a very low-key after school job in my mum's hairdressing salon, and I spent a lot of time watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Dawson's Creek." Yeah, I know. What a contradiction. But they were right, you know. I wasn't doing anything that was out of the ordinary at all. I wasn't doing anything that could be considered an achievement if you took disability out of the equation.

And later:

Yeah, we've been sold the lie that disability is a Bad Thing, capital B, capital T. It's a bad thing, and to live with a disability makes you exceptional. It's not a bad thing, and it doesn't make you exceptional...
And in the past few years, we've been able to propagate this lie even further via social media. You may have seen images like this one: "The only disability in life is a bad attitude." Or this one: "Your excuse is invalid." Indeed. Or this one: "Before you quit, try!" These are just a couple of examples, but there are a lot of these images out there. You know, you might have seen the one, the little girl with no hands drawing a picture with a pencil held in her mouth. You might have seen a child running on carbon fiber prosthetic legs. And these images, there are lots of them out there, they are what we call inspiration porn. And I use the term porn deliberately, because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So in this case, we're objectifying disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, to motivate you, so that we can look at them and think, "Well, however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person."

From BBC NewsAustralia: John Ajaka, NSW minister for disability services, said he was "shocked and saddened" to hear of her death.

"She will be truly missed, not just from the disability sector, but by thousands of people who aspired to her positive outlook on life.

"Stella had a wicked way of making us question and face up to misunderstanding and discrimination against people with a disability - to make us laugh at ourselves."

How lucky we were to have her. She was wonderful.
posted by kinetic at 4:12 AM on December 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


"I dance as a political statement, because disabled bodies are inherently political, but I mostly dance for all the same reasons anyone else does: because it heals my spirit and fills me with joy."

I heard about her death yesterday, and it hit me hard. Between her death and Ki'Tay Davidson's, it's been a rough week for our community. So many dots.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:18 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


What an amazing woman. Her humour, her cutting insight and clear expression, her zero-tolerance for bullshit. I'm sad for her, and for us, that she'll never get to meet her 80-year-old self. We could have done with another 50 years of Stella.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:20 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by allthinky at 7:56 AM on December 8, 2014

posted by Meatafoecure at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2014

_ c
posted by Soliloquy at 9:44 AM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

(That's a star in her wheels, by the way.)
posted by Soliloquy at 9:54 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, no, what a loss.
posted by gingerest at 10:28 AM on December 8, 2014

Stella was an absolute legend.

Was lucky enough to meet her briefly at some conferences my workplace organise, and she was a formidably smart, disarmingly honest, no bullshit, blunt as all get-out type of person.

At the same time she was just so funny, loved life so much, loved to get people to change their minds, change their outlooks and perspectives.

What I wouldn't have given to have her teach my young son about butterflies and dinosaurs during her time as an educator and guide at Melbourne Museum ... how wonderfully beautifully blunt and enjoyable that would've been.

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that a large portion of Australia's community sector is in mourning right now.

Stella's family have asked people to consider giving to Domestic Violence Victoria in her memory - people can do so via: www.givenow.com.au/dvvic.
posted by chris88 at 4:41 PM on December 8, 2014

posted by misterbee at 5:03 PM on December 8, 2014

posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 11:28 PM on December 8, 2014

posted by Coaticass at 1:08 AM on December 9, 2014

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