For queer disabled folks, Pride can be, well, complicated. Many Pride Month festivities aren’t organized with disabled people in mind. Drag shows don’t include ASL interpreters. Parades aren’t planned with mobility aids in mind. Flashing lights appear without warning. Autistic folks struggle to find quiet places to decompress from overstimulation. Sometimes, the effects on disabled people’s health and wellbeing just aren’t worth it. In many cases, 2SLGBTQ+ Pride events can turn into just another thing that reminds disabled folks that they don’t belong.
Something similar often happens in the bookish space. From rainbow book stacks on Instagram to lists of book recommendations on popular websites, much of the book-related Pride content forgets to include disabled, chronically ill, Deaf, and neurodivergent authors. When disabled 2SLGBTQ+ people look around the bookish internet and don’t see themselves included, it can feel like they can only celebrate the 2SLGBTQ+ part of their identity but not the disabled part of themselves.
So whether you’re a nondisabled person who didn’t realize disabled people are missing from their Pride book stack or if you’re a 2SLGBTQ+ book lover who just wants even more disability literature to add to your TBR, this post is for you!
Eli Claire is a genderqueer disabled author known for his work advocating for disability and trans rights. Perhaps his most well-known work, Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation, is now considered a contemporary classic of disability literature. He’s also a poet, and his collection The Marrow’s Telling: Words in Motion was a Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2008.
Bisexual Taiwanese American author Esmé Weijun Wang writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her essay collection The Collected Schizophrenias is, hands down, one of the best books discussing mental illness that I have ever read. Wang possesses an ability to convey the complex reality of living with a condition that society fears and often vilifies. She captures on page the struggle that many people with Schizophrenia face on a daily basis.
Jen Campbell is a former bookseller turned author who writes everything, from poetry to children’s picture books. Much of her writing centers ideas around disability and disfigurement. Over on her YouTube Channel, Campbell shares her experience with EEC Syndrome, which is a form of Ectodermal Dysplasia, and discusses disfigurement representation in the media. Her most recent book, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers, features retellings of some of the world’s creepiest fairy tales.
A bisexual Two Spirit member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Jen Deerinwater writes about disability and works as an activist for disability justice. Her writing has been included in Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the Twenty First Century, Two-Spirits Belong Here, Crip Authorship, and Building Narrative Power for 21st Century Social Movements.
Kay Ulanday Barrett (aka @BrownRoundBoi) is a disabled Filipinx Amerikan transgender queer poet and performer. Their poetry collection, More Than Organs, is a ALA Stonewall Honor Books and a Lambda Literary finalist. Back in 2020, Alice Wong did an excellent Q&A with Barrett for Disability Visibility, a project that highlights disabled people and their work.
Laura Kate Dale is an autistic trans writer and content creator. Twitch streaming, YouTube videos, podcasting — she does it all! In 2019, she published Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman, in which she shares how she came to realize that she wasn’t a neurotypical heterosexual boy that she thought she was.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled nonbinary femme writer, known for books like Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, which was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist in 2016, and Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, a vital essay collection on the topic of disability justice. Piepzna-Samarasinha has also published poetry collections, like Love Cake, Bodymap, and Tonguebreaker.
A Black, intersex, genderqueer disabled author, Rivers Solomon is most well known for faer speculative fiction. Faer debut novel, The Unkindness of Ghosts, was a Stonewall Book Award Honor Book and a finalist for the 2018 Locus Award, John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and the Lambda Literary Award. Faer’s second book, Sorrowland, came out in 2021 to much acclaim, and was named A New York Times Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2021. Fae have also written shorter pieces, like the essay “Black Girl Going Mad” in Guernica and “Blood Is Another Word for Hunger” on Tor.com.
While many readers know Talia Hibbert from her Brown Sisters series, Hibbert has been writing romance novels for a long time. Hibbert has written 17 romance novels that feature a diverse cast of characters following in love and finally reaching their happily ever after. Hibbert’s characters are often inspired by Hibbert’s own experience as a neurodivergent, disabled, chronically ill Black woman living in the UK.
I hope these authors and their incredible books help you increase the disabled writers in your Pride Month TBRs. And if you’re looking for even more disability lit, check out Read Harder 2021: Own Voices Books About Disability and 9 Nonfiction Books About Disability by People of Marginalized Genders.