Disability rights activist Gigi Giscome was recently the subject of an incredible photo series in a gorgeous homage to Donyale Luna, the first Black woman on the cover of Vogue. The series was helmed by Bay Area-based creative director Hazel Streete (Her Resilience) and photographers Nicholas Lea Bruno and Nathan M. Benzschawel.
“This is in homage to Donyale Luna. Donyale Luna was a fierce woman who became the first Black model to appear on the cover of Vogue. She was rebellious, defiant and distinctly beautiful. We share the same almond shaped eyes and long, spidery fingers. We are daring. She inspired this photo-project and I feel an immense amount of connection to this beauty who unapologetically created her dreams. Donyale Luna, thank you for being from ‘the moon.'”
As part of the #ShareHerStory project, Giscome speaks about her experience as a woman with a disability who loves her body — not in spite of its differences, but because of them.
“This is for the people who send my body messages of prayer And think I openly receive it — I do not. Believe in God and He will heal you! they say. As if I wasn’t created with Grace for a purpose. They believe I would not choose this body, if given another chance.
“Oh, but how wrong they are: I worship my body and accept my disability — Neither are a burden to me. Glory to the twisted, the unbroken, the not mangled. Glory to those of us who know what it’s like to live with a disability and be thankful.”
Giscome lives life at the intersections of Black, Latina, disabled, activist, artist and woman. Her work reflects these cultural crossroads.
“In my lifetime, I am going to break barriers. To change the stereotypes people think of when they see me — stereotypes of what a ‘perfect,’ ‘beautiful’ or ‘powerful’ woman looks like. I want other people with disabilities to see me and know that it is okay, to feel that it is okay, to believe that it is okay. To have a disability and just live.
“‘I love myself’ is the Quietest. Simplest. Most powerful. Revolution. Ever.”
Read Giscome’s full #ShareHerStory manifesto and see more images at Blavity.