Belo Miguel Cipriani was born in Guatemala City to parents of Italian and Brazilian heritage and is fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English. He left Guatemala as an infant, and lived in Brazil, Peru and Canada before settling in San Jose, CA. He currently splits his time living between California, Minnesota and Florida.
A former Unix systems administrator, Belo is now a teacher, an author and a freelance journalist. His first book, Blind: A Memoir (2011), received a blurb from Amy Tan and has been profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, San Jose Mercury News, Huffington Post, Advocate Magazine, After Elton, Univision, and Chicago Windy City Times, among others. It received an honorable mention for “best debut novel/book” and “best non-fiction” by the Rainbow Awards (2011), was awarded an honorable mention by the Eric Hoffer Book Awards (2012), and was a finalist for the First Horizon Award (2012).
Additionally, he was the keynote speaker for the 2011 Americans with Disabilities Act celebration in San Francisco, and for the 2012 queer conference at Skyline College, CA. He was also invited to be a guest lecturer at both Yale University and the University of San Francisco.
In 2015, he was named “Best Disability Advocate” in the San Francisco Bay Area by SF Weekly, and an “Agent of Change” for his advocacy work by the Huffington Post. And, he had the honor of being selected as a Community Grand Marshal for the 2015 SF Pride Parade — the first blind Grand Marshal in the parade’s history.
Belo was the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University from 2012 to 2016. He is currently a columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, and contributes articles to several national and international publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, The Times of Israel, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Times Union, and the Connecticut Post. He has been awarded writing fellowships by Lambda Literary and Yaddo, and was selected to attend the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He was also awarded an honorable mention in the 2017 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism awards competition devoted exclusively to disability reporting.
Cipriani says, “Educating our population on disability issues will produce awakened generations.”