The recently released Season 7 of the Netflix series Queer Eye features Ray “Speedy” Walker, who sustained a C8 spinal cord injury in a 2020 car accident and gained popularity sharing his story on TikTok. After being nominated for the show by his teachers, he spends a week with the Fab Five, the show’s stars who give him a fashion and lifestyle makeover. The experience helped Walker find confidence in his new disabled identity.
When Walker first appears on the show, lack of accessible housing is affecting his independence and quality of life. He isn’t able to get into his house without relying on others. Because his wheelchair does not fit through the bathroom door, he must transfer to two different chairs to access the tub.
The Queer Eye team rents Walker an accessible apartment for one year, including wide doorways, a roll-in shower and easy-to-reach appliances. “Accessibility matters. [Nondisabled] people wouldn’t understand what we go through. Switching from somewhere that was very inaccessible to accessible was a relief. It took a lot of stress off of me,” he says.
Another key moment is meeting Wesley Hamilton, a wheelchair user featured on a previous season of the show. After acquiring an SCI from gun violence, Hamilton started the organization Disabled But Not Really to promote adaptive fitness, and was one of three recipients of the $1 million Craig H. Neilsen Visionary Prize in 2021. Walker said connecting with Hamilton gave him a confidence boost.
“It was nice to have him understand the struggles and the hardships that I was going through. I was dealing with social anxiety, and he was like, ‘Man, you gotta give people something to look at.’ I feel like I took that advice. And I just feel free,” he says. “Wesley is a great guy, like my big brother. We’re still in touch.”
opens in a new window@speedy4prezident Stop complaining and making excuses get to it!! opens in a new window#fyp opens in a new window#motivation opens in a new window#wheelchairbound opens in a new window♬ I Like It – DeBarge
Since appearing on the show, Speedy is focused on growing his TikTok presence and spreading of disability awareness. He makes videos on driving, transferring and working out in a wheelchair.
“When I was first injured I didn’t know what all this was. I just want to show people that life can change in a split second. I want to show both [nondisabled] people and disabled people that anything is possible.”