Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (she/they)

By Anika Gopez

A drawing of an infinity sign with rainbow colors.
“Neurodiversity Symbol (Rainbow Infinity Sign)” by Anika Gopez.

It takes a lot of hard work and effort to be shortlisted for the Publishing Triangle once, but Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha has had their writing shortlisted five separate times. She is a nonbinary femme poet and writer. They are an intersectional activist, who advocates for disability justice as well as for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans (LGBT+) and Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color (BIPOC) rights. Her works often surround themes of violence and abuse faced by transgender and/or queer BIPOC. They are autistic and are of Sri Lankan, Irish, and Galician/Romani descent. One such intersectional work that Piepzna-Samarasinha has done is her 2018 book Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, which focuses on the disabled LGBT+ BIPOC experience and how hard it is for this community to get the support they need from the government. Within this book, they also focus on reframing care work as an act of love and community, rather than a burden.

She wrote another book, The Future Is Disabled: Prophecies, Love Notes and Mourning Songs, in 2022 about the importance of sticking together within the disabled community, especially during trying times such as the pandemic. In the introduction of the book, they point out the ableism found in many science fiction stories that look to the future, protesting that disabled people are actually more equipped for the future than their able-bodied peers. She celebrates disabled resilience and wisdom, following up the introduction with a section describing how the disabled community has banded together and helped each other through an apocalyptic scenario like the pandemic. Another thing they did is create the Living Altars project in 2022, which provides a space for disabled LGBT+ BIPOC writers and creators to share their work and process the losses that they have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and modern fascism. Along with the online spaces that the project provides disabled LGBT+ BIPOC creators, this project also aims to raise money to buy a physical space for these creators to congregate and share their work. Additionally, Piepzna-Samarasinha wrote a piece in the Reimagine Seattle Project about the experience of being disabled during the pandemic.

She also writes about her experience as a Sri Lankan in the United States and her fighting back against the intersection of racism, misogyny, and exoticization she faces due to this. Importantly, they choose to fight back against this not by hiding their ethnic identity as part of the Sri Lankan diaspora, but by embracing it as a show of courage. She writes further about her experiences as an LGBT+ BIPOC femme surviving and escaping abuse through her book Dirty river : A queer femme of color dreaming her way home. In summary, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is an influential writer who advocates for the disabled community and supports LGBT+ BIPOC creators.


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Badass Womxn and Enbies in the Pacific Northwest Volume 2 Copyright © 2023 by Badass Zine Machine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.