This Disability Pride Month, we’re highlighting incredible LGBTQ+ disability justice advocates and organizations fighting to affirm and protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Aubrey Smalls

Image Description: Aubrey Smalls, a Black person with dwarfism is looking into a vanity style mirror surrounded by lights. His back is in the foreground and his front is visible in the reflection of the mirror where he is looking at himself. He has dark, tightly curled, close cropped hair and is wearing a white tank top, dark pants, and a silver chain around his neck.

Aubrey Smalls (he/him) is a Black queer disability advocate and filmmaker with dwarfism. He uses his platform to advocate for the dwarfism community with a focus on education, including running an account dedicated to dwarfism history, spreading information about both historical oppression of and violence toward little people, and uplifting positive figures and moments for people with dwarfism. Smalls is also producing and directing a documentary comedy film about dwarfism, the effects of disability hate groups, and finding your freedom. Smalls has dedicated his creative work to uplifting the stories of people with dwarfism, both in the past and the present.

Jen Deerinwater

Jen Deerinwater (hir) is a bisexual, Two-Spirit, multiply disabled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma who is a prolific journalist and organizer. Hir studies center politics and government, which inform hir masses of writing on disability rights, along with reproductive rights and climate action. Hir indigenous identity has also influenced all Jen does. Jen founded the nonprofit Crushing Colonialism as a method to uplift indigenous voices, stories, and artists and is on the board Jen is also on the board for the Disabled Journalist Association and is a Senior Advisor for the Disability Culture Lab, along with serving on the Ending the HIV Epidemic among Urban Natives Community Advisory Board.

Image Description: Jen Deerinwater, a Cherokee individual, sits outside on a set of stone steps. Jen's eyes are closed peacefully and hir hands rest on her thighs, hir body is facing to the right. Jen has shoulder length brown hair, wears a short black dress, white high-top converse with the bisexual pride flag across the side, a pair of yellow earrings, a large yellow and white ring, a blue and yellow beaded bracelet, and a beaded necklace the falls at their center chest with a large round plate with text that cannot be made out. Jen has a tattoo of a pink flower with petals falling from it on hir calf. A cane sits to hir side. There are green trees in the background

Olu Niyi-Awosusi

Image Description: Olu Niyi-Awosusi, a Black person with long dark loc'd hair smiles at the camera. The photo shows them from the shoulders up. They are wearing a gingham patterned top with red, green, and yellow stripes and a pair of red wire-frame glasses. They also have two gold rings in their nose, two more on their ear, and a dangling earring with yellow and orange patterning. They are outside with trees behind them.

Olu Niyi-Awosusi (they/them) is a Black nonbinary disability activist who described themself as an ethical technologist. They advocate for and help work toward an online world that is useful and inclusive to people with disabilities and people with limited technological access. They work as a front-end web developer while writing and giving talks about how to create a more equitable and accessible “woke web.” They cite their time studying philosophy as what got them interested in tech ethics. In addition to tech focused work, they also founded a mutual aid group to help provide gender-affirming clothing to the LGBTQ+ community in the UK.

Karin Hitselberger

Karin Hitselberger (she/her) is a plus-sized asexual disability advocate, blogger, and consultant. She has a history of work with nonprofits with a specialty in crisis counseling and support for the needs of vulnerable populations. Hitselberger’s blog and other writing focus on disability and how it intersects with body image and pop culture. She believes that writing and voicing her experience as a disabled fat woman is important because it can remind us that we are never alone in our experiences to read about the lives of others.

Image Description: Karin Hitselberger, a white plus-sized woman, sits in a power wheelchair, looking at the camera in front of a body of water and a sunset. She has blonde hair that reaches her shoulders and is half tied up. She wears a blue sleeveless dress with white and darker blue curled stripes in a vertical pattern. She has a pair of tortoiseshell glasses, small silver stud earrings, a tan watch, and several other bracelets.

Syrus Marcus Ware

Image Description: Syrus Marcus Ware, a Black man with very long green and black locs, stands against a white paneled wall. He looks down toward the camera, which is pointed up at him from the ground. He wears a short sleeved dress that is bright red from the top to the waist, then has a large fluorescent green stripe, then is a darker green bellow the stripe. A metallic silver turtleneck top is layered over the dress. He wears glasses in the same fluorescent green as the stripe on his dress. A blue sky and white clouds are visible in the top right corner.

Syrus Marcus Ware (he/him) is a Black transgender disability and abolitionist artist, activist, and scholar. His artistic work includes painting, installations, performance art, and curatorial practice. Ware’s solo and collaborative works have explored social justice and Black activist culture since 2013. Ware is a core team member of Black Lives Matter and an assistant professor at McMaster University teaching classes on disability performance.

Drag Syndrome

Drag Syndrome is a drag collective including both drag kings and queens with Down Syndrome. Founded in 2019, Drag Syndrome provides a space and funds for artists with Down Syndrome to explore their craft and use drag to mold their own persona and performance art. Daniel Vais, the founder of Drag Syndrome, has discussed how the collective allows performers to be celebrated for their skill, craft, and creativity, he expressed that “[Drag Syndrome] allows them to show their talents. Yes, these are artists who have Down syndrome, but that’s not the main issue…the extra chromosome is only a bonus.”

Image Description: The words "Drag Syndrome" in appear on a white background in black. The font is handwritten and looks similar to chalk writing.