Belo Cipriani

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Belo Cipriani
Parade Belo - Copy
Belo Cipriani appearing as the Community Grand Marshal for the 45th annual gay pride parade in San Francisco
Born Belo Miguel Cipriani
(1980-06-21) June 21, 1980 (age 37)
Guatemala
Residence St. Louis Park, Minnesota[1]
Nationality Latin-American
Citizenship American
Alma mater Notre Dame de Namur University
Occupation Author, columnist

Belo Miguel Cipriani (born June 21, 1980 in Guatemala) is a gay, blind and Latino writer in San Francisco.[2] He is also an activist for LGBT, disabled and cultural minority communities.[3][4] Cipriani has been a columnist for publications including the Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle, Huffington Post among others. He is the author of Blind: A Memoir (2011), which details the first two years of his recovery after he was attacked and beaten in the Castro District of San Francisco, California in 2007. Additionally, Cipriani is the official spokesperson for Guide Dogs For the Blind[5] and was named "Best Disability Advocate" by SF Weekly in 2015.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Belo Cipriani was born in June 1980 in Guatemala. His father was a native of Brazil and his mother was Italian. Cipriani traveled with his parents to Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Canada before the family settled in San Jose, California when Cipriani was seven.[7]

Cipriani attended Overfelt High School in East San Jose. In 1998, he enrolled at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. He graduated with a degree a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems in 2001. He returned to Notre Dame de Namur University in 2008 where he studied under poet, Jacqueline Berger and fiction writer, Kerry Dolan. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2010.[8][9]

Career[edit]

Cipriani began his career as a technical recruiter and staffing consultant based in San Francisco, working with companies such as Google, Levi Strauss & Co., and Lucas Films.[2][7]

At the age of 26, Cipriani was working as a senior technical staffing consultant for Wells Fargo when he was attacked on April 13, 2007 in San Francisco’s Castro District, a known LGBT neighborhood. He sustained injuries that resulted in nerve damage, rendering him completely blind.[9][10] Cipriani's attackers were later identified and arrested; however due to a lack of physical evidence no charges were ever filed. He later pursued a civil lawsuit.[7]

Literary career[edit]

Cipriani's literary career began when his debut book was released in 2011. Blind: A Memoir is a non-fiction memoir that chronicles the events surrounding the attack and his recovery. Cipriani sustained irreparable retinal nerve damage caused by receiving multiple blows to the face. Cipriani’s memoir received the LGBT Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention in 2012 for "Best Debut Novel" and "Best Non-Fiction."[11][12][13]

Cipriani, a former systems engineer and technical recruiter, was introduced to an assistive technology for the vision impaired called JAWS (Jobs Access With Speech) that utilizes synthesized speech and braille to allow the vision impaired to read information as it is displayed on a computer screen.[14] Cipriani also uses a digital recorder to document his thoughts and uses an application that reads back to him what he is typing on his laptop. With the use of assistive technology, Cipriani has been able to reinvent himself as a writer and continue his column. Cipriani is a columnist for the Bay Area Reporter and writes "Seeing in the Dark," a monthly column that discusses his life as a gay blind man in San Francisco, California. He also hosts a weekly talkshow segment where he shares tips and advice on career moves. The talkshow, "Get to work," is a continuance of his former career advice column.[3]

Cipriani is a 2011 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow for non-fiction. (Standard) He was also a 2012 writer-in-residence for the Yadda Foundation Writing Residency, and Holy Names University Writing Residency writer from 2012-2014 where he began teaching writing courses for the Holy Names University Oakland, California campus. In 2012, he received Honorable Mention for the Eric Hoffer Awards of Independent Books and was a First Horizon Book Awards Finalist in 2012.[15] In 2014, Cipriani's book, Midday Dreams a short story, was published.[1]

Activism[edit]

Cipriani is an equal rights advocate for the LGBT, disabled, and ethnic minority communities. He has been referred to as "the voice" of the LGBT community. Cipriani was the first blind nominee for Community Grand Marshal of the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco.[10]

He has been a keynote speaker for the San Francisco Americans with Disabilities Act and is also a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.[4] Cipriani has also been the keynote speaker at several community awareness and advocacy events. He was the keynote speaker at the University of San Francisco for National Disabilities Awareness month and Hispanic Heritage Month at Yale University.[2]

Cipriani was chosen as the Community Grand Marshal for the 45th Annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade in 2015,[16] serving as the first blind person in that role.[5] In June 2015, Huffington Post named Cipriani as one of five agents of change for his advocacy and community service.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Cipriani is a martial artist and trains Capoeira under Mestre Acordeon as one of the only blind Capoeira artists in the world.[8]

Cipriani's guide dog Madge, a yellow lab, has been featured in many of his writings and photographed in local and national newspapers.[7] Madge retired in August 2013 with a farewell thrown by Holy Names University.[18] Oslo, a black lab, is Cipriani's second guide dog.[11][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Anderson, Rachel M. (June 15, 2016). "Incoming St. Louis Park Resident Launches 'Blind: A Memoir' Locally". Sun Sailor. Retrieved July 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c Wagner, David. "Belo Cipriani, author of 'Blind: A Memoir'". SFGate (June 10, 2011). Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Author/Advocate Could be Pride's First Blind Grand Marshall". Hoodline. February 2015. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Shane Gallagher (December 2014). "Blind Ambition". The Standard Magazine. 
  5. ^ a b ABC7 Star: Man Gives Voice to people with Disabilities January 18, 2016. Thomas, Eric. ABC News. February 3, 2016.
  6. ^ "Best Disability Advocate: Belo Miguel Cipriani". SF Weekly. 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d Gottschalk, Mary. "Former San Jose resident Belo Miguel Cipriani returns to read from his book about becoming blind". The San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Holy Names, University. "Writer-in-Residence". Holy Names University. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Proulx, Elise. "Writing Blind: Oakland Writer Chronicles His Recovery". Oakland Magazine. Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Heather Robinson (August 2011). "Belo Cipriani Doesn't Let Blindness Stop His Pursuit". Compete Network Magazine. 
  11. ^ a b David-Elijah Nahmod (July 25, 2015). "Belo Cipriani: Bay Area Blind Writer Sees Light at the End of the Tunnel". SF Weekly. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Eric Hoffer Award – Book Award Winners". Hofferaward.com. Retrieved November 1, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Talking with … An author and SFGate blogger who sees without sight". JWeekly. December 18, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2015. 
  14. ^ Sokol, Robert. "Disabled writers celebrate ADA anniversary". San Francisco Examiner (July 25, 2011). Retrieved November 15, 2011. 
  15. ^ "First Horizon Finalists". Retrieved July 10, 2013. 
  16. ^ "2015 San Francisco Pride grand marshals and honorees announced". LGBT Weekly. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Greg Archer (4 June 2015). "Agents of Change: 5 Captivating Souls Generating Positive Change". Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  18. ^ Snapp, Martin. "A form of bias not often considered". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved October 26, 2013.