Part IV: Let’s Talk About Sex (Disability Remix)

Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me; let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. 

Sex and disability; It’s a thing… although you wouldn’t know it based on the lack of representation in everyday society. I know that is a problem for some, particularly in the disabled community — but I don’t have that hang up. Because let’s be real, I don’t look like Shawn Mendez in Calvin Klein’s. I know that. Anyone who has had the misfortune of seeing me in my underwear knows that. I’ve accepted it. 

If I’m honest, I have never felt attractive, particularly in a sexual manner. I cannot fathom why anyone would have that level of interest in me, yet, I’ve done things with much hotter guys than I’ve had the right to, and I am not mad about it. (That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mess with my mind after all is said and done, but that’s just something I have to continually work through).

So, how does the whole sex thing work with a disability?

As is the recurring theme in this series, the answer is not universal. What works for me physically may not work for someone else, and because I can only speak for my personal experiences, I am choosing to focus on basic principles instead of specifics. 

Let’s get the basics out of the way:

  • When it comes to men with a disability, sometimes their boy bits function, and sometimes they don’t. 

  • Often times, there are physical limitations which can limit or prevent someone with a disability from doing certain things. 

  • Sensation: Some people have it, some people don’t. 

So, given all of these variables, how do you make it work?

None of these limitations mean neither of you can enjoy a sexual experience together; the all-encompassing answer is to have honest communication. If you have an interest in/are someone with a disability. Talk to your partner about what works, and what doesn’t; and if you don’t know, it never hurts to try. 

Side-note: When it comes to me personally, I don’t particularly like playing a thousand questions before we are in the moment. I’d prefer someone just follow their intuition, try what they want to try, and go from there. If it doesn’t work, I will tell you, and we will adapt. 

Not everyone has that approach; so it’s essential to have an understanding of the person you’re going to be with. It’s all about being aware. This should be true for everyone when having sex, but it seems to be a piece that is often missing. 

Beyond that, have reasonable expectations. Sex is not what we see on the internet. It’s not this glorious oiled-up moment of Roman God perfection. For anyone. Ever. This may be even more notable when disability is introduced; expect that, and be okay with that, but try not to treat the person with a disability as if they are made of glass — if they’re ready to have sex with you, they want to have as good of a time as you do; so don’t over-complicate it. 

If you need to find weird positions, do it. If you need to use pillows or props, do it. If you need to include some type of medical equipment or use the wheelchair, go for it. 

In the words of Tim Gunn,

“Make it work.”

Part II: Agreeing to Go on A Date With Someone With a Disability — The Hesitations

Is it okay to ask questions relating to the individuals disability?

Um. YES.

You’ve just agreed to meet someone with a disability (perhaps for the first time) in a social capacity; no one should feel they are taking a course in Workplace Diversity Training.

Read More

Dating A Guy in A Wheelchair

black-white-kiss-couple As relevant as the phrase might be to my life, I don’t think I have ever Googled, “Wheelchair Dating.” But, a few days ago, I was having a conversation with a friend, and I wanted to share an amazing BuzzFeed video which tackles the subject with humor while still being informative.

In my search, I came across an article on Thought Catalog entitled, “I Dated A Dude In A Wheelchair.”

As a man in a wheelchair, (I will never refer to myself as a dude, and I’m not sorry about it,) I have been very open about my struggles with dating. It isn’t easy for anyone; but my disability, and the resulting wheelchair, definitely adds an unusual, if not difficult, element to the situation.

I thought it would be interesting to gain some perspective from the outside, so I read on.

To start, they met online, which is how I have ended up on anything close to date-like situation; so it was immediately relatable, for reasons beyond medical equipment. Annie, the author of the article, said she was drawn in by wheelchair dude’s “messy red locks,” so she figured she would give him a shot.

They message each other, as one does, and eventually the conversation got to marathon racing, of all things, because… why not?

Apparently, wheelchair dude shared that he had signed up for a marathon race, but he, “thought she should know,” that it was for the wheelchair division.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“‘Wow!, I thought. ‘What an amazing guy. Is this like to raise money for his friend’s charity or something?’ Until the reality of it slowly thickened and filled my brain, and I double checked his photos and realized yes, yes. This man is in a wheelchair.”

From the outside, it may seem that Ms. Annie may have an ineptness for paying attention to details, but the majority of guys have told me that never noticed the wheelchair in any of my photos either —which is weird to me, because in my mind, it is blatantly obvious.

Annie went on to say, as a former fat girl,”You never want to be the bitch that shuts someone down strictly based on physicality.”

That sentence had me gagging.

Here’s why.

The idea that this woman believes she has a moral obligation to give wheelchair dude a chance because she may have enjoyed one too many twinkles back in the day is absurd. — Yes, I understand the “relatability” factor,— but here’s the deal, B — you give someone a chance because you’re a decent human being who sees people for who they are, not what they are.

Regardless, the two went on a few dates Annie recounted all of the questions and hesitations she had.

Don’t get me wrong, being around someone with any sort of impairment is not the norm; there will always be logistical questions, especially at the beginning. But for there to be any hope of success, there has got to be open and honest communication by both individuals.

Using myself as an example: if I go on a date with a guy, I make sure they know several things before we agree to meet.

  1. They will literally be picking me up at some point.
  2. They will have to be Bob The Builder on several different occasions during the evening while putting together the world’s most antiquated wheelchair.
  3. If I actually agree to eat in front of them, they’ll need to cut my food, as my fine motor skills are decidedly lacking.
  4. I don’t drink cheap vodka.

Of course there is going to be questions and conversation beyond this. There has to be. But it is foolish not to know the basics beforehand.

By the way, “does your dick work?” has become a prequalifying question, which I understand. It seems guys can deal with things like receding hairlines and mediocre teeth, but forever flaccid penis syndrome would be problematic.

But getting back to Annie and wheelchair dude; it seems like they never established a baseline understanding of what to expect from one another in terms of logistical physicality, and ultimately, it didn’t feel “right” according to Annie. She said,

“…the sad and shameful truth is that in some way, it did matter to me. It was an Issue. I wanted to prove to myself that I was a better human being, but what dating this man taught me was that I’m just a human being.”

Fair enough.

As I said at the start of this, dating is never easy for anyone. And it is never going to work out, until it does. But open communication is key to the success of any relationship, and it may be uncomfortable to think about, but… relationships start with first dates. So… own your shit and be who you are, because that’s the only real choice you have.