DATING GAMES
A BENT/Disgaytalk Forum

Disgaytalk is the online discussion group associated with BENT, where men discuss their cripgay lives. Like all such lists, the quality of the discussion ebbs and flows, but often the sparks fly.

From time to time, with the cooperation of the participants, BENT will present an edited version of an exchange we think will interest a wider audience.

Please let us know what you think by writing to BENT or by joining Disgaytalk.

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The question this time: Is disability a factor in the kind of guys you choose to date?

RAY: Up until I was about eighteen I never really identified as disabled. The (painful) truth is that I was in denial about my own disability, and wanted to have very little to do with "those people." In high school, I never had much luck in lust. Everybody wanted to be my friend, because I was cool, and hung out with a fast crowd, but I didn't exactly have a stable of potential bed partners. Then, I moved to Berkeley, and circumstantially started hanging out with some cool crips. My best friend was working as an attendant for this guy living with three other crips. They partied nonstop, consequently I spent A LOT of time there. Hanging out with them, I became more comfortable with my own disability. And here I am today, typing this e-mail, wearing my "SuperCrip" T-shirt.

JOHN: I honestly don't think it really matters to me. For a while, when I was younger, I think I actively rejected the idea, because I'd always been taught as a kid that I shouldn't even bother wasting my energies dreaming of dating someone able bodied. Being the rebellious type, like most young people, my initial reaction was to want to prove them wrong. But I think—or at least I hope—that I grew out of that knee-jerk reaction.

RAY: Growing out of things, yeah. It really mattered to me for far too long. Up until maybe five or six years ago, I never would have dated anyone disabled. Some of it was no doubt due to the old internalized self-loathing routine. Also, being the stubborn bastard that I am, I never wanted to date a crip, because the (nondisabled) world assumes that if we date anyone it's going to be each other. I guess I felt like I needed to prove something to the world. As I've become more involved in the community, however, I've met quite a few crips who I wouldn't have minded getting to know better. Still, to this day, all of my "relationships" have been with nondisabled people. At this point in my life I don't think I'd have any trouble starting a relationship with another disabled person. Other than of course, the fact that the people I have been interested in lately have yet to return the favor.

CK: Hey, all you sexual human beings, I am turned on to those with disabilities, especially Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy. I have mild CP and my boyfriend has mild MD. Maybe I'm attracted to guys with CP because of their movements and the way they hold their bodies. Does this make sense to you? My boyfriend and I know a man with CP who can't control anything, nor can he verbally communicate. We love to give him pleasure. And for those with MD, I love the way that their limbs go all weak. I used to know an MD young man who was straight, and we'd go camping together. I would assist him with dressing and taking him to the loo, however my lust for him never got as far as sexual touch as I know that we had boundaries, and I was acting as his Personal Assistant.

Recently when I watched the disabled Olympics I loved watching the CP runners running around the track. By the way, what do all of you think about bareback fucking? I find putting condoms on very difficult as my fingers don't allow me, so I don't bother. I am fully aware that this kind of lovemaking can be riskfull. How do other guys cope with this problem?

MAX: I think barebacking is just plain foolish in this day and age, but it seems to be a growing trend. The use of rubbers in light of limited ability to use the hands is something worth discussing. I'd be very interested to hear comments and real life stories about how people have or haven't coped. I have always found using rubbers to be erotic, so I was a bit ahead of the game in that respect. One disabled friend of mine is very scared of getting AIDS, stating that he already has enough to deal with. Anyway, I just hope you guys out there will remember to play safe— play often, but safe. And anyone who needs help slipping a rubber on, just give a holler.

DON: I'm another one of those "serial monogamists," so dating wasn't an issue for me for a lot of years. Back in the '70's, when swinging came into vogue, we didn't "date," we took hostages! Anyway, dating wasn't a gay concept. We didn't have "boyfriends," either. You met someone and if there was an attraction you tried to have sex, before too many words were exchanged—like names—and an illusion spoiled your encounter. The issue of disabled vs. nondisabled didn't apply for me through my first two captive situations, one for five years, the next for eleven. It was while I was with my second lover that I got cancer, and the colostomy. My MD diagnosis came about after he died, and then disability became an issue for the first time.

When I got on the Web, early this year, I tried to find other guys in the same boat. The search engines don't handle "gay" and "disabled", or any variation thereof, very well. Finally, just before finding Disgaytalk and salvation, I started a site for gay men with disabilities, only I didn't know about BENT then, so, not wanting to offend, I called it "gayphyschal," for gay men with physical-challenges-differences-disabilities. Oy! "CRIPFAGS?" I couldn't have conceived of it. For a month, no one showed. Then Bruce arrived. It was just the two of us for a long time. To wrap this up: He has Progressive Primary MS, and there was a chemistry that led to our becoming cyberlovers (we finally met last month). That we both have disabilities makes things infinitely more comfortable. No wondering what to disclose or when. Eliminated is any feeling of self-consciousness, or the need to explain or apologize (yeah, I woulda done that), or question motives. Aside from all of the other things we have in common, disability brought us together, against all odds, and enables us to share this community.

ANGEL: Serial monogamist eh? I like that. I've been dating a nondisabled guy for nearly three years now. Though we knew each other before, we had not hooked-up while I was still able-bodied, more because of hesitation on my part than any problem on his part with disabled guys. He was married and I wouldn't interfere with that. We haven't made it official, i.e., there has not been a ceremony or union giving us the stamp of "officially joined," but we have talked of it. He tells me I deserve the real deal, which in his mind is one day him on his knees (!) to pop the question. I admit I was skeptical when we first talked of this, but I've come full-circle finally, and I know that he is serious, wanting to be with me for what remains of my life and his.

When we talked about this I was very concerned that he would be "wasting" his life caring for me when he could have a very satisfying and physically challenging relationship with someone his own age and someone able-bodied. He was vehement in his rebuttal, which in the long run taught me a lesson (no small task that) that what truly counts is the person inside, not the body you occupy. Daniel loves me for my heart and soul and spirit, that is very clear, and is always very willing to do what is necessary for me physically when I am unable. I still find myself amazed at the depth of his love in the face of these obstacles; he always approaches the difficulties with candor and dedication to my comfort and pleasure. I couldn't ask for more than that.

RC: Hey Ya'll, I'm Clockin' in on the dating question. I've been involved with both able-bodied bi-peds and with a few guys who had disabilities. The guys who were disabled (all three) were closed-head trauma. I'm paralyzed, SCI, almost thirteen years. In all my travels I have met only one, (count 'em, o-n-e!) other gay man in a chair with SCI. I thought I saw one at the march on DC in '93, but the Dykes on Bikes got between us and I lost him. Actually, I have only met a couple other gay men that had MS, early into it.

I've been working on this grim theory that when gay men become paralyzed, and come to realize that their dicks are dead, they mostly go ahead and make the rest of themselves dead, too. I'm active in gay politics, am at all the marches, never see any queer guys in chairs. The numbers say they oughtta be there. My buddy Mike, who is a quad, and who gets really hammered and comes around every three months or so to come out as Bi one more time, wants to suck face for a while, then push down to the local gay dance club, where he proceeds to talk a lot of trash to all the boys, and then runs to me to get him oughtta there before he has to do something he ain't up for (like put out)—well, he don't count.

Now, Fellas, I ain't sayin' that I was ever completely healthy, sexually. Aside from my own quirks, which I'd be happy to share another time, I find that it is easier for me to date, and make, a bi-ped. Since, however, I don't have that throbbin' cock thing driving me on, the mood is often broken irrevocable by something silly or unimportant, making the rest of the session pretty much like most sex for me—you give 'em the best you can do, and call it something you do just to get your neck and earlobes nibbled. Now, thankfully, I have a (supposed) service dog, so I get all the sloppy kisses and nibblin' I could ever want, and she don't get pissy or make me write bad checks or buy her new clothes every month. :-)

BOB: C'mon, RC, we want to hear about your quirks! I'm very nosy! Your comments about your dog got my attention. Once, about five years ago, I bought myself a birthday present of a hustler. The guy was great, as I had a very strange fantasy I wanted him to fulfill. As we finished, my guide dog, Flynn, walked over, and gently licked some cum off my cock. "Wow!" the hustler said, "your dog does an excellent job, and it would be much cheaper for you!"

ANGEL: Woof! That got my attention! I wanna know about the "strange fantasy" you had him fulfill, Bob! Hustlers are my FAVORITE form of kink also. When I feel the need I don't go out to gay bars or cruise the streets or sidewalks or parks, I just look in the paper (the gay rags of course) and get myself an "escort," preferably one I haven't had previously, but I'm not always that lucky, I live after all in a small town. Most guyz I've talked to about this have the same thing to say: "I'll never pay for it" HUH? You pay for it one way or another. As Lenny Bruce once said, "We're all whores."

When people comment on my attitude I always say the same thing: "I pay for it, I can tell him what I want him to do and I don't have to buy him drinks or have intelligent conversation first!" So, c'mon, Bob: CONFESS. I gotta know about that fantasy!

RC: I forgot to mention: On the subject of dating men, my Momma's got her own opinion. She would just like me to hook up with a nice, able-bodied guy who could do stuff around her house for her. Personally, I have a handy-dyke for that, but my Mom hates her, so that doesn't solve the problem (as my Mom sees it). I'll have to start remindin' Mom that unless she wants me chasin' chicken, pretty soon guys I might date will be too old to do much for her. ;-)

MAX: Well, I'm glad to know that for once I don't seem to be only kinky man online. I just wanted to add that most of the disabled men I have met up with have expressed the feeling that they preferred meeting able-bodied men. I did, however, have two disabled friends who were lovers. Many of the disabled men I have known expressed the feeling that it was almost expected that they would end up with only another disabled partner and they did not want to fall into anybody's cliché. Some said that they preferred a partner who could compensate for some of their limitations. One disabled man I know has a non-disabled partner whose friends couldn't understand why he was going with him. There is an awful lot of pressure among gays to be seen with the "best" and the most perfect. I wonder just how much the dynamic of what others think effects who we choose to pair up with.

© 2001 BENT

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BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/January 2001