This Follow Friday features eight amazing LGBTQ individuals who are powerful advocates for People with Disabilities. This eclectic group includes activists, poets, speakers, and writers. Most of these folks however, inhabit several of these roles.
Tyler Vile is the author of Never Coming Home (Topside Press, 2015), a novel-in-verse. Also a spoken word poet and a disability advocate, Vile is vocal about her experience as a transwoman with cerebral palsy, and her work has been featured online in Gadfly and Bluestockings Magazine, among other publications.
Tyler is also the author of Hassidic Witch Murderer: The Official Videogame of the Poems, an interactive poetry zine made through twine. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and serves on the Leadership Team for the Baltimore Trans Alliance.
As the CEO and Chief Disabled Officer of 2Gether-International, Diego Mariscal utilizes communication technology to engage disabled and nondisabled youth into several disability issues ranging from Education and Employment to Police Violence and Sexuality.
Diego has been listed as s one of the 30 under 30 leaders in social entrepreneurship by Forbes magazine, and invited to the first United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul. Born with cerebral palsy in New Orleans but raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Diego also represented Nuevo Leon in the Mexican National Paralympics from 2004-2009.
Natalie E. Illum
Natalie E. Illum is a poet, disability activist, and singer living in Washington DC. She was a founded board member of the mothertongue, a DC women’s open mic and poetry organization that lasted 15 years. She competed on the National Poetry Slam circuit for 5 years and was the 2013 Beltway Grand Slam Champion. Her work has appeared in Word Warriors: 35 Women of the Spokenword Revolution (Seal Press) and Full Moon on K Street (Plan B Press), as well as in Feminist Studies, Breath & Shadows, Kaleidoscope, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Beltway Quarterly, Button Poetry and on NPR’s Snap Judgment. Natalie has two poetry chapbooks Ground Lover (2004) and On Writer’s Block and Acrobats (2006), as well as Spastic, a one-woman show forever in progress. She has been featured in The Huffington Post, oxJane and Salon Magazine. She will be the writer-in-residence at the ARGS Residency (October 2017) and will be staying in their ADA compliant-yet-historic property working on a mixed-genre sequence on body shaming and body acceptance, specifically from the lens of the physically and/or mentally dis/abled body.
Heidi Case is a disability rights advocate and activist. She has served as the Co-Chair of the National Organization for Women’s Disability Rights Task Force and was a co-author of a paper on the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls with disabilities for the Center on Women’s Policy Studies.
Heidi has been an advocate for older LGBTQ adults, working with SAGE. Ms. Case also speaks Spanish and Sign Language and has a B.A. in Special education from the University of Arizona.
Ngoc Loan Tran
Ngọc Loan Trần is a Việt/mixed-race immigrant, queer and gender weird disabled writer, storyteller and aspiring educator. loan was born in southeast asia and came to the United States with their family in the mid-90’s.
Loan’s justice work over the past few years has been centered around racial and im/migrant justice, queer and trans liberation, economic justice and an end to all kinds of interpersonal violence.
Loan’s writing, social commentary, and interviews have appeared in the GLSEN Blog, New York Times, Teen Vogue, Teaching Tolerance, the Advocate, and NPR among others.
Mia Mingus is a writer, educator and community organizer for disability justice and transformative justice. She is a queer physically disabled Korean woman transracial and transnational adoptee from the Caribbean. Mia is a founding and core-member of the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC), a local collective working to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse that do not rely on the state (i.e. police, prisons, the criminal legal system).
Her writings can be found in numerous places including her blog, Leaving Evidence. In 2013, along with 14 other activists, Mia was recognized by the White House as an Asian and Pacific Islander women’s Champion of Change in observance of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Mia was honored with the 2008 Creating Change Award by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Nathan Say is a Spoken Word Artist based out of San Diego, California who is taking the Southern California poetry scene by storm as he skillfully blends poems on disability and sexuality together with bone chilling ruthlessness and raw honesty.
Originally from Hawaii working previously within the Disability and Queer community with youth and young adults, Nathan Say gave up every comfort he had to pursue his artistry. Nathan tackles his daily confrontations with Cerebral Palsy, learning impairments and psychiatric illnesses like most breath in and out: quickly and easily, surprising most bystanders in the process.
Andy Arias is an actor, comedian, and advocate for people with disabilities. Andy is known for the film Election (2008) and also appears in the forthcoming My Next Breath.
Advocating for people with disabilities has been a lifelong passion for Andy. In 2016, he came to Washington DC to work for the Department of Labor. Andy currently serves as a policy adviser in the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, where one of his main responsibilities is Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act implementation and guidance. Andy also facilitates a monthly meetup for LGBTQIA people living with disabilities that meets at the DC Center for the LGBT Community.