It’s a sad state of affairs that abled-bodied individuals have created a lot of the content about disabled people in popular culture. This is especially true in Hollywood, where most disabled characters are renditions of what someone imagines disability feels or looks like. Consequently, they have created a society where the disabled are dualistically romanticized and de-eroticized.
But once in a while, the disabled community is able to speak out – helping to debunk stereotypes – and one of these occasions is the book QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, edited by Raymond Luczak.
Luczak, who is gay and deaf, collected 48 contributors, ranging from ordained ministers to atheists, from civil engineers to cartoonists, and from essayists to poets, as well as a mix of people with both physical and mental disabilities – all with memorable queer stories. The collection is comprised of fiction, memoir and various styles of poetry. And while I normally don’t care for anthologies that jump from one genre to another, with this assortment, it actually works quite well.
Some of the works will break your heart a little, like Toranse Lowell’s essay “Learning the Words,” a piece about religion and abuse: “When I was 20, I wanted to die, when I was 16, I wanted to die, when I was 12, I wanted to die, when I was four, I wanted to die.”
While others will make you laugh out loud, such as Liv Mammone’s essay “Advice to the Able-Bodied Poet Entering a Disability Poetics Workshop.” The poet says, “I’m not your metaphor. Phantom limbs, deafness, or blindness as figurative language in your poems will result in unhinging my fucking jaw.”
QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology is an eclectic mix of well-crafted stories that makes an important contribution to disability studies. The book retails for $30 and the e-version can be obtained through Kindle. For more on the book, you can visit the publisher’s website at SquareSandRebels.com
Belo Cipriani is a freelance journalist, the award-winning author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams, and a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind. He was voted “Best Disability Advocate” in the Bay Area in 2015 by SF Weekly. Learn more at BeloCipriani.com.