8 LGBT Activists Who Are Working for Progress in Differently Abled Communities


As visibility for LGBT people grows in the mainstream media, it’s all-too-often lacking in the true diversity of our community, and that includes those who are disabled. But just because we don’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there, doing the crucial work to create conversations and positive representations of differently-abled-bodies. Meet 10 LGBT women who are working in this realm of activism, working to make things better for every kind of body.

Jennifer RestleJenniferRestlevia Disability Rights California

As the Chief Financial Officer of Disability Rights California, Jennifer “educates and advocates on issues of diversity and inclusion” and was behind the popular blog People Aren’t Broken: Disability from the Inside Out. An out bisexual, Jennifer created the San Diego Bisexual Forum and is also a member of the San Diego Pride Diversity Task Force.

Bethany Stevensbethanyvia Twitter

A former faculty member and policy analyst with the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, Bethany created the viral campaign This Is What Disability Looks Like, which “is trying to show a nuanced presentation of disability, rather than the small boxes we are so often shoved into.” Bethany’s more recent work has been in the realm of sexuality and disability, which she details on her blog, crip confessions.

Jess Thurberfbvia Facebook credit: Michael J. Samaripa Photography.

The founder of the now-defunct news blog Deaf Politics, Jess has done creative work for several deaf organizations including The Center for Disability Rights, Gallaudet University, National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), DeafHealth.org, and Global Deaf Women. She currently works as the communication designer for Convo, a Video Relay Service based out of Austin, Texas.

Sky Heyn Cubacubskyvia skycubacub.com

The out Chicago-based artist and activist is also the founder of Rebirth Garments, a line of “gender non-conforming wearables and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability.” Pieces can be custom-made to fit all bodies, and are specifically created for “queercrip” people like Sky and many people in their family. Their lengthy manifesto explains their personal connections to the brand and labels they uses in their work and those placed on them by society.

Dr. Laura Rifkinlaura-rifkinvia Facebook

As the co-founder of FABLED ASP (Fabulous/Activist Bay area LEsbians with Disabilities: A Storytelling Project), Wry Crips Women’s Theater Group, Special Needs Services for Gay Pride and the Bay Area Pirates, a women’s wheelchair basketball team, Dr. Laura is creating opportunities for queer disabled women to come together and express themselves through all kinds of physical manifestations. She also works with children and teens with disabilities in the area of self-esteem development. You know, in her spare time.

Riva Lehrerrevavia Facebook

An artist whose work often includes self-portraits and other depictions of disability, Riva’s paintings have been on display at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, the United Nations and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, to name a few. Riva is on the faculty at both Northwestern Univeristy and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a recipient of many prestigious grants and awards.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinhaleah3927-9via brownstargirl.org

The Sri Lankin spoken word artist, author and activist writes about her chronic illness, among other things, in her 2015 book of poetry, Bodymap. She uses her otherness to fuel her work as part of Sins Invalid, a performance art project dedicated to the celebration of “artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.”

Nomy LammSI09_Nomy_1034_©RDvia NomyLamm.com

Prior to her own work with Sins Invalid, Olympia, Washington-based musician/filmmaker/activist Nomy has been an integral part of several communities, including riot grrrl and punk music of the 1990s with her zines and participation in bands like The Need. The self-professed “bad ass, fat ass, Jew, dyke amputee” has pushed for the acceptance of all bodies in music, performance, and written form.

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