for That Man
is the online discussion
group associated with BENT, where cripgay men talk about the
issues that matter to themfunny, serious and everything
time to time, with the cooperation of the participants, BENT
presents an edited version of an exchange we think will interest
a wider audience. You'll find older Forums archived.
Editor, Raymond J. Aguilera, begins this monthís Forum by asking
if you would date another disabled man and if you tell the truth
about your own disability when cruising online.
Participating are Del,
Bob Feinstein, Jeff K., Raymond Luczak, Billy McCaughey, Phil,
Philip Patston, Michael Perreault, Keith Peters, Dean Tuckerman,
Randy Warren, and Ethan Thomas Young.
I'm curious about how many of
us have had partners, boyfriends, or tricks with disabilities? How
many of us have dated, or would date, another disabled man? What
sort of disability would be "OK?" And if youíre cruising online,
should you be upfront about your disability right from the start?
I'm not convinced that we disabled
men any less prone to be judgmental about possible sex partners
or lovers as we accuse the proverbial "them" of being. I'm playing
devil's advocate here, but it's interesting to think about what
my own boundaries are.
-Raymond J. Aguilera
Dating disabled people: if only!
I wish! In a small country of four million like New Zealand, it
is easy to feel Iím the only queer cripóindeed I am not, but alas,
of the others I have met, I have not found the synergy needed to
form a relationship of any kind with either of them (jokingóthere
are threeónah, joking again, there are four!). In regard to body
image and judgment thereof, I have hassled myself in the past for
committing the ďsinĒ of finding particular body types attractive
or unattractive. These days I realize that my attraction has nothing
to do with classical notions of beauty, but more to do with health
and wellness and how bodies reflect that in a person. Because I
value my own health and wellness I am attracted to people who share
those values. I give myself full permission to find particular physical
traits attractive, in the same way that Iím attracted to particular
intellectual, emotional and spiritual qualities.
Ray, I appreciate you playing
devilís advocate. I have dated able-bodied guys but nothing ever
panned out and Iíve given up. I would definitely date a disabled
guy. It would not bother me if he used a wheelchair, or walked funny
(I walk with a cane now). Someone with a major speech difficulty
might be a problem because of my hearing loss, but even that could
be overcome. I have found discrimination among deaf men because
I am not totally deaf, yet among hearing men I run into problems
because I cannot catch everything people say. Now that I use a cane
because of a back injury, my new limitations complicate things more
New York City
I was told by a rehab counselor
back in 1982 that "you as a disabled person will have a harder time
sexually because gay men are more looks oriented." To prove him
wrong, I engaged in a 20-some-year fiesta of promiscuity that involved
the internet, porn theaters, sex clubs and bar backrooms. For every
time I scored there were multiple rejectionsóthings I took to heart
but suppressed so I could continue functioning with some degree
of confidence. I also had no problem sustaining a long-term, though
ultimately unhappy, relationship.
That was all before I had a bladder
bypass from a shot urinary tract (thank God, with an internal artificial
bladder) and before I turned fifty. These events have shot my confidence,
but I'm ready to give it a go again. When I post a personal, it
won't be with my shirt off showing my scar, but my bio will likely
reveal that information, since I've found itís most rewarding to
have someone approach you who already knows who and what you are
about in relation to your disablity. It saves having to make comments
like "by the way, I can't feel my dick."
Another thing Iíve found is that
there are two big gay subgroups, (1) mainstream gays, and (2) fringe
gays. The mainstream men, like many regulars in the Castro and similar
gay ghettos around the country, are guys you can easily spot because
they all look alike, hobnob at the same "in" bars and flit from
trend to trend, always on a treadmill, keeping up. The fringe gays,
including many who are into SM, are men who revel in their individualism.
Iíve found that fringe gays are more likely to not be bothered by,
or in fact downright enjoy, my disability. They can accept me for
me. In my experience, mainstream gays tend to find disabled gays
invisible, if not downright offensive to their view of perfection.
As I head back into the dating
scene I also know that part of me has changed because I'm in a new
life cycle. I would much rather be attached emotionally and sexually
to one man than follow my old pattern of measuring my self esteem
by how many men Iíve had. Itís also more important to me now to
get along with a person emotionally than it is sexually, although
both would be nice.
Pompano Beach, FL
just started to date a great guy named Carlos in December of Ď89
and by April I was having major surgery for a tumor that had attached
to my spine and was making me trip and fall. After the surgery my
thought was " Well, he's not gonna hang around with this limping
gimp." To my surprise we celebrated seventeen years in January.
Guys enjoy chatting online with a buddy of ours because he is talented,
educated and a good-looking guy. But every time he meets someone
face-to-face, and his mild CP is evident, suddenly the drink or
dinner gets cancelled. Hard to believe people are that shallow.
I guess perfect image is the thing.
Watching our buddy try to find
a friend, and seeing the pain he endures, makes me really mad. Funny
how some guys will open their legs within minutes of meeting you,
but never give a thought to opening their minds or hearts.
I find that most guys who are
afraid of my deafness are generally afraid of new things in life
itself, while those who are intrigued (or not bothered) by my deafness
are a lot more interesting to chat with because their inquisitiveness
has already enriched their lives prior to meeting me.
I've made some friends on Bear411.com
I'm "deafwoof" over there, so yeah, it's always good to be upfront
about what makes you different. Getting to meet some guys who think
differentness and diversity in the truest sense of the word is all
cool is what we all need.
I, too, would definitely date
a disabled guy. I had a chance to hook up with another gimp transguy
a few years ago, and it was an amazing experience. What struck me
was that we both had the same disability and similar gender issues.
It was the first time in my life that I had a chance to hang out
with, and sleep with, someone whose body looked just like mine.
As a transperson, that is often hard to come by; adding a physical
disability makes it more unlikely.
Having said all that, I know that
Iíve been guilty of judging others by their looks and rejecting
them out of hand. I did a lot of that when I was young and just
coming out as a dyke. As I've gotten older and come into my full
gender presentation, Iíve begun to realize that what is on the outside
of a person is just that, the outside. Now, I've been looking at
more of what is in a person's heart and mind. It hasn't helped me
to get dates, but I feel a lot better about who I am because of
-Ethan Thomas Young
Iíve recently begun to get to
know a trans guy in a dating sort of way (not sure where itís going
but thatís cool and not the point). What has been fun and great
and amazing has been our connection around being fringe-dwellers,
freaks, diverse sorts, whatever. It really has been a pleasure to
share our similar yet different experience of the narrowness of
social acceptance (darn, saying this has made me realize I must
give that boy a call!).
When I was able to walk with crutches
and to drive, meeting new people was not a problem. Most people
accepted crutches, but post-polio has required many adjustments.
My wheelchair scares guys away. Since I can no longer drive I canít
get to places where gay men congregate, and even if I wanted to
go to bars most of them are inaccessible.
If a gay angel joined me in bed,
I would be at a loss for how to take advantage of the opportunity
because there is not enough of me that works. If that person for
me is out there, as people claim, he is going to have to find me
and heís going to have to be Mother Theresa's little brother.
All those factors justify, in
my mind, the money I spend on porn, both magazines and Internet.
My fantasy world has developed quite well in the past few years.
There is a lot you can do in bed
even when a lot of you does not work. Unless you are saying you
cannot hug, cuddle or kiss.
Even though Iíve had many experiences
with disabled men, as a young 'un I was conditioned by my peers
that to "bag" an able-bodied guy was to step up! I still find those
stereotypes lurking inside me sometimes. It isn't right, that I
know, but the idea that an able-bodied partner has more status isnít
easy to lose.
I had one very weird experience
quite by accident. A friend put me up on a bar stool because my
chair had a flat and he needed to take it to get air. Even though
I have foreshortened legs, I never hem the pant legs, so they were
dangling under the bar. I had to cross my arms on the bar for support,
thereby hiding my hands. I was surprised, and later bemused, by
the way people talked to me when they didn't realize I was disabled.
That's as close as I have ever come to "passing.Ē Most startling
was what happened when I transferred back to my chair. Voices changed
pitch, got just a little higher, as if people were talking to a
I have friends who play the "passing"
game a lot, and in every case they end up with trouble and heartbreak.
What can you expect when you begin with a lie?
Randy, you are right about being
upfront. One former friend put on his profile, "Slight Limp." Let's
just say that if he was a waiter, well, the drinks would never make
it to the table, they would be splashed all over the place. Whenever
he met up with a guy and the extent of the "slight limp" became
evident, that would be the end of that. In my profile on Bear411.com
I mention my chair and my caneódon't want anyone to say, You Lied!
Being honest is the way to go. That way I donít waste my time or
Thanks, Ray, for taking the line
of discussion in this direction. As a teenager I would often be
sexual with other disabled boys at a summer camp for disabled kids.
Those experiences left me more open and available for relationships
with disabled gay men as an adult. I've always thought that a relationship
with another disabled man could take us both to a very deep and
healing place with each other, but my experience was the opposite;
many of the disabled men I was interested in and attracted to were
not interested in or attracted to meóthey sought only able-bodied
Of the two disabled men I did
try to start a relationship with, both had their shame triggered
so intensely by being seen with me in the Castro that my self-esteem
was damaged by their attitude. I had to stop seeing them. I've had
much better luck with able-bodied men.
My current boyfriend (he's able-bodied)
and I met online; he lives in Washington, DC and I live in San Francisco.
In his youth he weighed more than 500 pounds. Twenty years ago he
lost 300 pounds, but he still has the loose skin folds that accompanied
his weight loss. We spent four months talking on the phone and Internet
before we met in person. Both of us were anxious over our respective
lousy body images and concerned the other would be turned-off at
our first meeting. Such was not the case, but I did have to explore
my feelings about what I found desirable. I did not find his loose
skin attractive, but I was not repulsed by it, either (it was the
heart connection between us that mattered), and I found myself eventually
eroticizing his skin without difficulty. From that experience I
learned to build on what I did find attractive.
San Francisco, CA
Thanks for being truthful, Michael.
We all have different levels of attraction and repulsion. I know
I do. Sometimes I'm amazed at what I really feel about someone when,
intellectually, I know I would never ďthinkĒ such a thing. I know
that others do that to me. Some people have even told me they are
disgusted by some of the manifestations of my disabilities, and
Iíve had that feeling about others.
Science and psychology have not
done a good job of explaining why we are attracted to some people
and not others. These days I go goo-gah for a beard or a goatee,
but guys with just mustaches turn me off! And when we get to the
more serious issues of disability (or race), even those of us who
sometimes think we are above it all discover thatóweíre not!
Youíre right Dean. Attraction
can be confusingóand mysterious. I have been sexual with men who've
had congenital birth defects, cerebral palsy, polio (like me), amputations
I have also experienced my own
limits. I remember long ago waiting at a service counter in a small
business. The man ahead of me had a multitude of tumors growing
over his face and head, similar to what's depicted in ďThe Elephant
Man.Ē I'm not happy to admit that I found his face repulsive, but
when he glanced in my direction his eyes had a depth and tenderness
absent of bitterness and shame. They were beautiful. I smiled and
said hello, but inside I was totally undone by the experience. I
felt a deep empathy for that man and a sorrow inside myself, knowing
that I and, I believe, most people couldn't bear his appearance.
I like to think of myself as magnanimous but I fell far short in
that instance. Who knows what would have happened if that encounter
had led to me getting to know him? Within a minute he finished his
business and was gone, but I've never forgotten him or the lesson
NOTE: Each participant
retains individual copyright to his Forum contribution. "BENT/Disgaytalk
Forum" is copyright by BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices.
Photo © 2006 Homo American