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Eli Clare

(Formerly known and published as Elizabeth Clare)

Activist poet speaker essayist

MFA in creative writing from Goddard College

Co planned Queer and Disability conference in 2002 San Francisco


Eli Clare is Important to Queer Theory Queer Lives because he intersects issues of class, disability, and race, specifically whiteness with issues of transgenderism and activism. Clare also is important because he is one of the organizers of the Queer and Disabled conference and also speaks of the lack of access of “crips” from different political movements.


Intriguing Info

The infamous Emi Koyama of writes, “Eli’s discussion of disability extends beyond ‘disability rights’ (a term that presumes an identifiable class of ‘the disabled’ who would organize for more rights)- he looks into the social construction of his disability as well as his sexuality and gender.”


Works by Eli Clare

Exile and Pride Disability, Queerness, and Liberation South End Press, 1999.

“How to Talk to a New Lover about Cerebral Palsy” and “Learning to Speak” published in Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. Kenny Fries ed. Plume, 1997.

Also published poems and essays in Sojourner: The Women’s Forum, Sinister Wisdom. Lesbian Ethics, The Disability Rag, Hanging Loose, The Art of Love, Queerly classed: Gay men and Lesbians Write About Class (South End Press) and Cultural Activisms: Poetic Voices, Political Voices (Suny).



Supposed to be the keynote of Sex, Celebration, and Justice: A Keynote for QD2002--

This gathering has been very white and for the most part has neglected issues of race and racism. All of us here in this room today need to listen to queer disabled people of color and their experiences. We need to fit race and racism into the matrix of queerness and disability. I need to ask myself, not only “What does it mean to be a pansexual tranny with a long butch dyke history, a walkie with a disability that I acquired at birth,” but also, “What does it mean to be a white queer crip?”

We haven’t asked enough questions about class, about the experiences of being poor and disabled, of struggling with hunger, homelessness, and a lack of the most basic healthcare. I want to hear from working class folks who learned about disability from bone-breaking work in the factory or mine or sweatshop.

We need more exploration of gender identity and disability. How do the two inform each other? I can feel the sparks fly as disabled trans people are just beginning to find each other. We need to listen more to Deaf culture, to people with psych disabilities, cognitive disability, to young people and old people. We need not to re-create here in this space, in this budding community, the hierarchies that exist in other disability communities, other queer communities.

Naming these absences isn’t meant to accuse or undercut the strength and power of the past two days, but rather to suggest the complexity and breadth of work we have to do as we begin to come together as queer crips, friends, lovers, partners, and allies.

Works Cited and Referenced.

Clare, Eli. Exile And Pride: Disability, Queerness And Liberation. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999.


Clare, Eli. Keynote of Sex, Celebration, and Justice: A Keynote for QD2002


Rosenthal, Sally. “’Other’ Voices: Disabled Feminists, Lesbians, and Mothers Speak Out.” Ragged Edge Online. January/February 2000.


Koyama, Emi.  More Than Just about Queer and Disability Rights. WMST-L 06/10/02


South End Press Web Page.