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Deihlia Nye impacted one
of her friends so much
he tattooed her ashes
above his heart.
In Diane Fraser’s new memoir, “Growing
up Superheroes: The Extraordinary
Adventures of Deihlia Nye,” she writes
about her niece, Nye, and how she impacted
the world around her.
Nye was born with severe spinal bifida in
1983. Several organs lay outside of her body,
her abdomen was open and her parents and
relatives were told she would not live more
than three days, but she lived to the age of
“She lived a kickass life,” Fraser said. “She
influenced a lot of people. She was a risk
taker. She encouraged others to take risks
and get out of their comfort zone.”
Fraser said the memoir is Nye’s life story
told through a combination of personal
narrative and third person vignettes,
and that the story is both physical and
metaphysical, dealing with themes of death
and life after death.
“Death is really a character and a theme of
the book,” she said, “as well as a propeller to
live fully while you’re here.”
Fraser, 52, is an award-winning poet who
lives in Boston, Massachusetts, and works
as a public health consultant. She said Nye’s
death inspired her to write the memoir.
“She deserved to have a book written
about her because I thought her story had a
lot of universal themes,” she said.
She said that Nye had been like a daughter
“I loved her so much immediately,” she
said. “My own life was in a pretty rough
spot when she was born. I was recovering
from growing up with a mental illness. Just
meeting her gave me a reason and impetus
to really deal with the effects of my family
Nye stood out as special to her early on.
Though she was teased in school for being
in a wheel chair, Fraser said she found a
way to deal with it, make friends and be
Both Fraser and Nye identify as queer so
Fraser said that knowing Nye gave her the
confidence to come out to her family.
“I wanted to do it for her because
she mattered to me,” she said. “At
first it was very upsetting for my
mother, and she still had a lot of
homophobia so it was very difficult,
but eventually she was fine with it.”
When Nye came out as
androgynous and queer, Fraser said
it didn’t seem like a big deal. Fraser
said Nye even developed a persona
called “Porkchop” whenever she
was out. She said it was about being
a queer prankster.
“She had this persona that
became infamous in her circles
and Boston circles that she moved
around in,” Fraser said.
Nye cofounded Boston Social
Nerds, Fraser said, where she
met a lot of people in the LGBT
community, but because of her
identity, she experienced a lot of
“She couldn’t get certain jobs or do certain
things,” Fraser said. “She either found paths
around or different ways in or created what
James Melton, 30, Chicago, Illinois, was
close friends with Nye during her life.
“I’d known her since freshman year,
when I first met her in college at a party,”
he said. “She had short funky hair back then
and was kind of quiet.”
Melton, an avid cyclist, bonded with Nye
over her wheelchair, which he recalls had
“She was my anchor,” he said. “She was
one of those people who didn’t know her
own strength at first. She grew into her
He said that when he left the school, Nye
stayed and became one of the most popular
people on campus with many friends who
supported her and backed her. She became
successful as a strategic marketer for a
pottery business the two created.
Melton said that at all the jobs Nye took
on, she succeeded and worked her way up
“You’ll meet one or two people that
absolutely stand out that you can’t believe
they exist,” he said. “It’s just, wow, their
personality and who they are [just take your
breath away]. She was one of those people.”
He said she gave him wisdom and strength
and changed his life.
“I have her ashes tattooed above my heart
in my chest,” he said.
He said he’s glad that Fraser created a
book in honor of her. And that the story
would speak to the younger LGBT audience
and younger people in general.
“It’s one of triumph over tragedy,” he said.
“I would think that if someone was scared to
come out or to actually be themselves and
had that internal strife or wanted to put on
a façade or face for others, they should read
this to know that you can be okay and that a
lot of people have had it worse than you can
imagine and did amazingly.”
Fraser said she hopes people will connect
with Deihlia Nye and see themselves in her
struggles and that they get some courage
“[I hope it would] sort of reinvigorate
their own appetite and gusto in life so they
can experience the things they want before
they die,” she said.
She said she hopes it reduces stigma
around people with disabilities and being
“I think anyone at any age can connect
with the story,” she said.
Growing Up Superheroes
And Living Life To Its fullest
Photo: Deihlia Nye, Facebook.
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