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About Justin Deabler
I'm Justin, and I can't remember a time when I wasn't reading. When I was really little, I read with my mom every day. In grade school, it was a point of pride (and great pleasure) on long summer days to go to the library and grab another armful of novels to take home and get lost in. Years later, when I wrote my first fiction manuscript, I would describe the experience of writing much like that of reading: a kind of psychic dollhouse, an imaginary place where you can go, and play, and work out the challenges and feelings coming up in your everyday life.
I grew up in Houston. I dropped out of high school when I was fifteen. I was bored, but I was also bullied to a point of no return, and I feared for my safety and mental health all the time. An intellectual, closeted, gender-nonconforming boy in Texas in the Nineties--it wasn't a good fit. I got lucky and won a full ride to a crazy lefty early college in the Berkshires that took kids when they were young teens. (Simon's Rock!) I don't know what would've happened to me if that door hadn't opened, but I got out.
Later on, I went to law school and became a civil rights lawyer, working to stop bullying in schools, protect immigrants and LGBT folks, and make sure everyone has access to a public education no matter what we look like, where we're from, or what language we speak. After years of fighting the fight, I recently moved over to become the head lawyer for the Queens Public Library. It kind of felt like coming home, to return to a library as an adult, and work to help young people, older people, families, all sorts of people who rely upon this incredible institution for so many forms of enrichment and support in their lives.
I wrote a book, called Lone Stars, inspired by my parents and their lives, and my own life growing up in Texas. It's sort of about people uncloseting themselves--as gay people, immigrants, smart women--and the empathic power we can summon when we are able to declare ourselves and live authentically in the world.
The book is coming out in February 2021. It's been a wonderful experience working on it, becoming the person, husband, and dad who could eventually write it over the course of years. And if you happen to take a look at it, I hope it brings you joy.
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