I’m A.J. Bray…and I write. Beyond that blanket term, the boundaries blur and haze over, as that is more of the vehicle for my other activities than my sole vocation — though a vocation it is.
I was declared ‘disabled’ when I was only a child, diagnosed with lower-extremity bone and joint deformities (including scoliosis) which were exacerbated by juvenile-onset poly-osteoarthritis. I was in a wheelchair by the age of fourteen. Doctors later discovered juvenile-onset glaucoma, a rare eye disease in children, which helped with a later diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, and then fibromyalgia.
Despite this amalgamation of physical disabilties, I have never once felt they were an impediment to achieveing my goals. My first short story was published in 2001 and I haven’t looked back since.
I have since been fortunate enough to pen many other published works, including two anthologies of my own tales, as well as worked as a staff writer for a disabilties magazine for women, then was promoted to Editorial Staff, and continue to professionally write articles, stories, and pen a blog that spans my spectrum of specialties: disabilties, advocacy, fashion, relationships, and sexuality.
As for advocacy, I’ve proudly been a Human Rights Advocate since I was fourteen years old. Since then, I’ve been staunchly battling for accessibility for individuals with disabilties, rights for the disabled, equality across the minority spectrum, and especially for LGBTQI equality.
I, myself, proudly identify as pansexual. I have been aware of — and have embraced — my sexuality since I was a young teenager, so not only did I have to fight for physical access as a person with a disability thoughout my adolescence, but have also faced adversity because of my sexual orientation.
As an addition to my diverse portfolio of doings, I added “Professional Model” to that list in 2004. I have been so fortunate in that respect; just two years prior to my first paid shoot, I was diagnosed as “morbidly obese.” Thanks to a change to a low carbohydrate lifestyle, I became healthier, happier, and apparently, more photogenic. Soon after being “discovered,” the opportunities increased, and I was honoured by being chosen as the premier covermodel for Chloe Magazine, the world’s first fashion, beauty, and lifestyle magazine for women with disabilties.
I‘ve also been in training and diversity videos, frequently do public speaking engagements and workshops, travel extensively across the U.S. and Ontario, and am always available for advocacy pertaining to either LGBTQPI rights and awareness, or, more frequently, disability awareness, ADA (American with Disabilities Act) compliance (especially for businesses, corporations, or organizations), and AODA (Access for Ontarians with Disabilties Act) compliance.
If you or your business is interested in utilizing my knowledge and services, please do not hesitate to contact me directly for pricing, travel, and availability.