12 Disabled LGBTQIA+ Activists & Advocates Who You Need to Know

Photos of Rosie Jones, a white woman with pig-tailed hair, hooped earrings, a white t-shirt and flower-covered overalls smiles with her hands in her pockets. Aaron Rose Phillip, a Black woman with a gray t-shirt dress with a Pride rainbow heart, black and white sneakers and short black hair sits in her wheelchair. Lydia X.Z. Brown an Asian person with a purple t-shirt reading ‘Disabled & Proud” and a flannel shirt on top smiles with their hands on their hips. A Pride-themed gradient is behind them.

By Charlotte Stasio

There is a great deal of intersectionality between being LGBTQIA+ and disabled, with experiences like hiding an important part of your identity for your safety, discrimination, and social isolation often shared across these identities. In addition, cultural, institutional, and systemic factors make it more likely for LGBTQIA+ folks to have a disability. LGBTQIA+ disabled activists and advocates are shedding light on this intersectionality and using their platforms to provide a forum for others to fight for liberation. Here are 12 LGBTQIA+ disabled activists and advocates that you need to know.

Aaron Rose Philip (she/her)

Aaron Rose Phillip poses in her power wheelchair with green hair and a green dress and grayish brown patterned blazer.
Courtesy of @aaron___philip on Instagram

You may have seen Aaron Rose Philip on the WID blog before, but we would be remiss if we did not include her on this list! She is a proud queer trans woman born with cerebral palsy who uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility. Aaron is a fashion icon and highly successful model – featured both by couture designers and major clothing brands. She uses her social media channels to share her edgy sense of style and LGBTQIA+ activism with her considerable following. Aaron continues to build a strong network of folks with disabilities in the fashion industry.

Instagram: @aaron___philip
TikTok: @aaronphilipxo
Twitter: @aaronphilipxo

Andrew Gurza (they/he)

Andrew Gurza laughs while sitting in front of a microphone in his power wheelchair.
Courtesy of @itsgurza on Instagram

Andrew Gurza is a Disability Awareness Consultant and the co-founder of Bump’n, an adult product company “for and by disabled people.” They are shattering stereotypes by leading the conversation on celebrating positive and healthy sexuality for disabled LGBTQIA+ folks.  Andrew is the host and creator of Disability After Dark, a podcast dedicated to highlighting disability stories that are often ignored – such as sexuality, queerness, racism, and representation in the media. They were the subject of the 2017 National Film Board of Canada Documentary Picture This and have been featured in many media outlets including BBC, CBC, Gay Times UK, Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, Savage Love, and more. Andrew is the creator of the hashtag, #DisabledPeopleAreHot.

Instagram: @itsgurza
TikTok: @thegurza
Twitter: @itsgurza
Podcast: Disability After Dark

Chella Man (he/him)

Chella Man looks to his right while wearing sunglasses and a taupe hoodie and pants.
Courtesy of @chellaman on Instagram

Chella Man is an innovative model, painter, performer, producer, and sculptor who identifies as “Deaf, trans, Jewish, and Chinese as well as determined, curious, and hopeful.” Through his striking multimedia artwork, he explores how identity shapes worldviews and perceptions. Chella is an activist and speaker, sharing his insight on the intersection of disability, race, gender, and queerness across many public forums including TEDx, DC Public Library’s Celebrating Pride, the Tamron Hall Show, and the keynote address at Penn State’s Pride Month celebration. He recently published his first book, Continuum, which chronicles his journey through transition and arrival at self-acceptance.

Instagram: @chellaman
TikTok: @chellamanart
Twitter: @chellamanart

Lady Francesca (she/her)

Lady Francesca poses for a portrait image wearing an orange wig and dress.
Courtesy of @dragsyndrome on Instagram

Lady Francesca is a member of the Drag Syndrome collective – described as a “drag collective featuring highly addictive queens and kings with Down-Syndrome.” Lady Francesca and their fellow collective members deliver stunning performances to show audiences the incredible creativity and expression of folks with Down-Syndrome. The troupe has performed at Pride events and Ru Paul’s Drag Con and have appeared on BBC, CBC, Vice and other outlets. Lady Francesca and the other members are regularly featured on Drag Syndrome’s social media channels, showing off their amazing looks and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ disability community.  She was recently featured on the cover of luxury printed fashion book dsection alongside collective member Justin Bond.

Instagram: @dragsyndrome
TikTok: @dragsyndromeofficial
Twitter: @DragSyndrome

Leo B. Allanach (he/him)

Leo B. Allanach smiles wearing black rimmed eyeglasses and a patterned white shirt.
Courtesy of @leo_allanach on Instagram

Leo B. Allanach seeks to “create art that changes the way people think, elevates marginalized voices, and inspires others to action.” Leo identifies as trans, queer, and a chronically-ill cane user. He turned to television and literature (especially sci-fi and fantasy) to cope with growing up in a hostile conservative environment. Leo now uses these interests to drive his passion to create art based around disability justice. He is passionate about upending the profit-driven entertainment industry and creating spaces that amplify the perspectives of marginalized populations.

Instagram: @leo_allanach

Lydia X. Z. Brown (they/them/theirs/themself or no pronouns)

Lydia X. Z. Brown looks to their right while wearing black rimmed eyeglasses and a black blazer.
Courtesy of @autistichoya on Twitter

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disabled, queer, and nonbinary Chinese-American recognized as a pioneer in disability and LGBTQIA+ advocacy. Lydia is an accomplished attorney, working with the Center for Democracy and Technology on technology bias and discrimination affecting disabled people. They also serve as Director of Policy, Advocacy, and External Affairs at the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. They are an educator, teaching classes on race, gender, disability, and neurodivergence at Georgetown University and American University.  Lydia is the founder and leader of The Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment and is co-editor of the anthology All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism. Lydia was honored as a Champion of Change by the Obama Whitehouse in 2013 and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Everyday Feminism, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, and many more.

Twitter: @autistichoya
Website: lydiaxzbrown.com

Nasreen Alkhateeb (she/her)

Nasreen Alkhateeb poses with her left hand on her neck, looking to her right, wearing a gray blazer and blue blouse.
Courtesy of @ContentDirector on Instagram

Nasreen Alkhateeb is an award-winning visionary filmmaker focused on boosting the voices of underrepresented populations through her work. She draws from her identities as “BIPOC, multi-heritage, Black, Iraqi, Disabled, raised Muslim, and 1st Generation” to create her art and inspire audiences. Nasreen recently served as cinematographer for the Kamala Harris VP campaign and was a featured filmmaker at the 2021 Sundance Accessible Futures Initiative. She is a prominent speaker on disability and LGBTQIA+ advocacy in filmmaking, having been featured at Disney’s The Power of Inclusion Summit, TED, NASA Women in Action, and many others.

Instagram: @contentdirector
Twitter: @DirectorContent
Website: allmediastorytelling.com

Olu Niyi-Awosusi (they/them)

Olu Niyi-Awosusi smiles while wearing black rimmed eyeglasses, a nose ring, black lipstick and a white shirt with black stripes.
Courtesy of @oluoluoxenfree on Instagram

Olu Niyi-Awosusi describes themselves as an ethical technologist and accessibility advocate and identifies as “mad/disabled.” They advocate for an online world that is relevant, useful, and inclusive of people with disabilities, access and functional needs, and/or those with limited access to technology. In addition to their technology-focused work, Olu also founded a mutual aid group aimed at providing gender identity-affirming clothing to the LGBTQIA+ community in the United Kingdom and beyond. According to Olu, their passion for ethics in technology was sparked through studying philosophy.

Instagram: @oluoluoxenfree
TikTok: @oluonline
Twitter: @oluoluoxenfree

Rosie Jones (she/her)

Rosie Jones smiles with her hands in her pockets, wearing rainbow overalls.
Courtesy of @JosieRones on Instagram

Comedian, actress and author Rosie Jones is an LGBTQIA+ woman with cerebral palsy who lights up the screen and stage with her hilarious and cutting takes on many subjects. Through her appearances on UK television and beyond, Rosie has become a well-known example of positive representation of disabled folks in the media. She is a fierce advocate for accessibility, positive sexuality, and LGBTQIA+ rights for people with disabilities in her home country and around the world. Rosie recently announced she will soon have a sitcom called Disability Benefits. She was also named as one of the 100 DIVA Power List members, which celebrates trailblazing “LGBTQIA+ women and non-binary people across screen, music, and sports.”

Instagram: @josierones
Twitter: @josierones
Website: rosiejonescomedy.com

Roy Jones (he/him)

Roy Jones smiles while wearing a black polo shirt with "RAD" printed on it. Rainbows are in the border of this photo.
Courtesy of @RainbowAllianceOfTheDeaf on Instagram

Roy Jones is the current president of The Rainbow Alliance for The Deaf (RAD), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering a thriving community and advocating for the rights of Deaf LGBTQIA+ people. Roy took the helm of the organization in 2020 following the resignation of the previous president amidst allegations of discrimination. Since then, Roy has articulated a new vision for RAD as a safe space for all members with an increased focus on accessibility at their conferences. 

Instagram: @rainbowallianceofthedeaf
Twitter: @RainbowADeaf

Spencer West (he/him)

Spencer West smiles with his hands in his pockets, wearing a teal t-shirt and khaki pants.
Courtesy of @Spencer2TheWest on Instagram

At age 5, Spencer West had both legs amputated due to a genetic disease. He has since become a world-renowned public speaker and advocate, teaching diverse audiences how to harness the talents of disabled people and overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. Spencer uses his many platforms to discuss the intersection of queerness and disability, often answering audience questions and providing insight into his life as a disabled gay man with humor and grace. Spencer is the author of Standing Tall: My Journey, an intimate look into his life and its challenges and triumphs. In 2012, Spencer climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for a clean water program in his mission to “Redefine Possible.”

Instagram: @Spencer2TheWest
TikTok: @Spencer2TheWest
Twitter: @spencer2thewest

Stevie Boebi (she/her)

Stevie Boebi smiles looking to her right, wearing a straw sun hat and white blouse.
Courtesy of @stevieboebi on Instagram

As a queer and disabled content creator, activist, and influencer, Stevie Boebi explores the intersection between being LGBTQIA+ and disabled on her many popular channels. She has a growing YouTube following, with nearly 750k subscribers tuning in to learn about healthy sexuality, thriving with a disability, and style advice. Growing up in a religious and conservative environment, she struggled with her sexuality until meeting friends in college who helped her to come out. Stevie also advocates for people who use mobility devices, are chronically ill, immunocompromised, or neurodivergent.

Instagram: @stevieboebi
TikTok: @stevieboebi
Twitter: @stevieboebi

Celebrating LGBTQIA+ disabled leaders

The incredible people listed above are leaders in advocacy for disabled LGBTQIA+ individuals. Their bold, defiant voices remind the world of the importance of recognizing the intersectionality of being LGBTQIA+ and disabled. While it is important to celebrate these folks during Pride Month, we must remember to also celebrate and support them throughout the year as they redefine what is possible. 

Charlotte Stasio, a white woman with short brown hair smiles while wearing a patterned blouse and earrings.

Charlotte Stasio is a Freelance Writer for WID.

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