In year three of the pandemic, come witness legendary disabled QTBIPOC writers- living and dead- share work about grief, survival and the futures we’re dreaming despite everything. Artists: Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Meliza Bañales aka Missy Fuego, Stefani Echeverría-Fenn, Juba Kalamka, Naima Lowe, Lucia Leandro “LL” Gimeno, Stacey Park Milbern.
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled writer, space creator, couch and porch witch and disability justice movement worker of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/ Galicia Roman ascent. The author or co-editor of ten books, including Tonguebreaker, Care Work and Dirty River, their next book, The Future Is Disabled, is forthcoming fall 2022. A longtime performer with Sins Invalid, they are a 2020-2021 Disability Futures Fellow. After being displaced from Oakland in 2014, they are thrilled to return to NQAF.
Meliza Bañales aka Missy Fuego is an author, advocate, and adventurer. She was a fixture in the Spoken-Word, Slam, & Queer artist communities of the SF Bay Area from 1996-2011, touring with Sister Spit and Body Heat. She competed on three national slam teams (98, 99, & 02) and was Grand Slam Champion in 2002. Her short films have appeared at Frameline and Outfest, and she was the inaugural winner of the Jury Award at the Los Angeles Transgender Film Festival in 2011. They served as a Lecturer of Literature and Creative Writing at UC San Diego from 2015-2020. She was a 2016 Lambda Literary Finalist for Best LGBTQ Debut Fiction for their novel Life Is Wonderful, People Are Terrific. Their recent work includes two spoken-word, multi-media curations at The Broad Museum in Los Angeles as well as being one of the five LA poets featured on the Billboard Project in West Hollywood for National Poetry Month in 2022. They were also a Teaching Artist this year at the Eye Zen Festival at Yerba Buena honoring the work of their late friend, Gloria E. Anzaldúa. Their next book, Root for the Underdog, is a collection of poems available on spdbooks in Fall 2022. They live in Los Angeles and Central California on Tongva and Chumash land.
Stefani Echeverría-Fenn (she/they) is a poet against capitalism. She is a working-class fat femme dyke of Irish and Latinx heritage and co-founder of The Sportula: Microgrants for Classics Students as well as the unhoused land project 37MLK. She is a psychiatrically disabled parent, teacher, and homeless advocate who lives on unceded Ohlone land in an all-disabled queer family. Her writing has been published by Sinister Wisdom, Sententiae Antiquae, and Eidolon Journal.
Juba Kalamka is most recognized for his work with performance troupes Sins Invalid and Mangos With Chili and as co-founder/producer of the queer hip hop group Deep Dickollective (D/DC). His writing appears in numerous journals and anthologies including The Yale Anthology of Rap (2010),Queer and Trans Artists of Color: The Stories of Some of Our Lives (2014) Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men (2015) and Hustling Verse: An anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry (2019). His first full length poetry anthology,Son of Byford will be published by Nomadic Press in 2022.
Naima Lowe is a writer, visual artist and filmmaker who utilizes the alchemical magic of African-American, queer and disabled world making. She earned her BA from Brown University and MFA from Temple University and has exhibited at Anthology Film Archive, Wing Luke Museum, MiX Experimental Film Festival, National Queer Art Festival and the Henry Art Gallery. Naima has been an artist in residence at Millay Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Jack Straw Cultural Center and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art. She’s currently an Mid America Arts Alliance Interchange Artist Fellow and recipient of the Jazz Road Creative Residency. Naima resides on the Muscogee Creek Nation Reservation, also known as Tulsa, OK, where she spends her time being free and talking to animals.
Lucia Leandro “LL” Gimeno (1979-2021) was an Afro-Latinx, gender non-conforming femme, counselor/bruja/organizer. Born and raised by loudmouth working class dykes in Boston, he was taught that love is most definitely a verb. For nearly 20 years they organized with queer, trans and gnc communities of color in NYC (The Audre Lorde Project & FIERCE!). His last leadership position was as the Director of The Queer & Trans People Of Color Birthwerq Project, an organization dedicated to mending the disconnect between Trans and Reproductive Justice through birthwerqer trainings and community organizing. A glitter femme boi extraordinaire and unapologetic lifelong organizer in service of trans, queer, racial, disability and reproductive justice and liberation, LL became a trancestor on April 19th, 2021.
Stacey Park Milbern (1987-2020) was a queer Korean/white Southern femme disability justice movement worker, writer and grassroots intellectual. From age 16 in North Carolina, Stacey organized with other disabled youth of color in the South, with the Disabled Young People’s Collective and at the national level. She was a prolific writer, beginning her blog Cripchick in her early 20s, which lead to her working with other radical queer women of color writers in the SPEAK! Women of Color Media Collective. Her writing appeared in many anthologies, including Disability Visibility: Stories from the 21st Century, Resistance and Hope and Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind. After moving to Oakland in 2010, she was foundational to much disability justice organizing, from co-creating the Creating Collective Access space at the Allied Media Conference to work with Sins Invalid and Bad CRIPP. She was a lead organizer with the #PowerToLive and NoBodyIsDisposable coalitions, organizing for disabled, elder and fat survival and mutual aid during climate emergency events, power shut-offs and COVID-19- all of which became models for disability justice organizing campaigns around the world. She was part of the national successful fight to save the ACA and Medicaid during the Trump administration, served as an appointed advisor to the Obama administration, co-produced the Netflix film Crip Camp’s impact campaign and co-wrote Bernie Sanders’ 2020 disability platform. In 2019, she founded the Disability Justice Culture Club, a disability justice community center in her accessible East Oakland home, as a gathering place for disabled BIPOC community. She once said, “I want to leave a legacy of disabled people knowing that we are powerful and beautiful because of who we are, not despite it.” She succeeded.
June 15, 2022
ASL interpretation and Live Captioning