IN OUR EARS
Preliminary and Sometimes Perverse Thoughts about Crip Sex and Crip
older one grows, the more one likes indecency.
non-crip who is attracted to crips once told me that writing about
crip sex is hurtful to other disabled men, since some of us cannot
have sex, or can't get it if we want it, or cannot derive much satisfaction
from it when we do get itblah, blah, blah. Am I being recklessly
dismissive when I reject his argument? Is our sexuality so pathetic
that we need to bury it under loads of denial so we don't feel the
pain of being horny? Is our sexuality an open sore that will never
heal, never become healthy flesh?
I want to talk about every aspect
of being a horny crip, explore every horny detail. I want to demolish
the belief system that insists crips are sexless, that our differently-shaped
or oddly functioning bodies are repulsive. I reject the notion that
we are powerless, ugly, needy, dependent. I reject it and I want
all of you to reject it, too.
Yes, I do have moments when I
feel ugly, moments when the mirror becomes an enemy, an accuser,
reminding me that I am different, but it doesn't pay to dwell in
that place for long, unless self-pity is a major turn-on for you.
Instead, I choose to make room for more compassionate perceptions
of myself, perceptions that endow my difference with its own unique
beauty, with the power to expand rigid social norms and challenge
assembly-line clonism. That's
why our bodies and our appreciation of them are such crucial factors
in fostering personal growthboth for us and those who come
in contact with us.
I also want to talk about how
our bodies can become vehicles for sexual satisfaction. I want to
talk about how my stump, or your spinal injury, or someone else's
muscle spasms can become tools for pleasure, loci of intense delight.
I want to explore how the very texture of difference can be exciting.
Visualize your hand or your tongue exploring a crip body, its unexpected
curves, unusual shapes, the absence of an arm or a leg offering
intensities a conventional body cannot provide, the lack of sight
or hearing transforming the remaining senses.
I write because I'm curiousabout
you, my crip brothers, and about myself. Since the self is such
a convenient ground for exploration, let me start right here, with
me. I have a cauterized nerve in my stump (it feels like a little
finger or a small bone) that gives me a great deal of pleasurable
sensation when I touch or stroke it. When someone else does it,
when a lover or sex buddy plays with it, it drives me wild.
For a long time I was poisonously
ashamed of my damaged leg. To be sure, my stump is still an intimate
areaI might argue that it is even more intimate than my cock
or my ass. In fact, the sensations I feel in my stump are oddly
equivalent to what I feel in my ass, most likely because of the
nerve endings. So there you go, I lost a leg and I got an unexpected
erogenous zone. And I like that. The extra erogenous zone, I mean,
not the loss of my leg.
We queer crips must have an enormous
range of body-image and body-sensation issues (unless we're going
through some kind of mass denial, right?), so I wonder how other
guys relate to their non-standard bodies. How about it? Do some
of you have extra or alternative erogenous zones?
In corresponding with a few guys
with spinal cord injuries I've learned that some of you have discovered
(depending on the location of the damage) that your upper bodies
are exquisitely sensitive to caresses; that your ears, your necks,
your nipples, can deliver sensations you would not have dreamed
of before your injury; that you've discovered how the exchange of
pleasure can be a new source of satisfaction.
All this was new information for
me. Thank you for allowing me to see you as sexual men, crips who
sometimes fuck and sometimes suck and sometimes have orgasms in
their ears. If we fail to recognize these realities, our discovery
of ourselves as sexual creatures will remain an abstraction.
I would like to find out about
these things first-hand. I haven't fucked a man in a chair yet,
but I'm interested. I did get a nice blowjob from a guy in a chair
once; he was in a chair because of polio, though, so he had sensations
all over his body. But I wonder about paras...
So you see, I've got all these
questions. They're practical questions, not theoretical. They're
about you and me, about all of us together, whether we are giving
pleasure to one another or to ourselves: Do paras sometimes get
hard-ons? Can men with spastic limbs integrate their spasms into
their sex play? Do amputees ever find stump-fucking bottoms among
their devotees? Can you devotees and wannabes surrender to my unspeakable
desires and let me give you what you don't even know you want? I'd
really like to know.
Speaking of devotees, I have to
admit they freak me out. That doesn't mean that I won't allow my
sex-buddies to play with my stump. On the contrary: if I trust and
care about them, I will ask them to. Not everyone is comfortable
with the idea though, so I've learned to negotiate pleasure.
that's not what I'm talking about when I refer to devotees. A few
days ago I saw a devotee Web site, kinky even by San Francisco standards,
and was overcome by weird feelings. Why? I guess I was repulsed
by the thought that your trauma, my trauma, can be reduced to someone
else's fetish. Many of us carry strong memories from our injuries
or surgeries, the reactions of our families, the consequent emotional
turmoil, our loss of self-esteem, our loss of certain abilities.
Most of us adapt well and move on with our lives. We go to school,
get jobs, find friends and lovers. We learn how to deal with rejection;
we accept and honor our new selves. We take our pain and learn to
grow with it, and by recognizing the power of our losses we discover
that the soul is vast.
I know my own pain, both physical
and emotional, and I know what it means. To have someone eroticize
my pain makes it banal. To have someone fetishize it cheapens a
splendorously kaleidoscopic and ever-changing experience. What I
want to say to the devotee, the man who eroticizes my pain, is this:
I am in control. My stump is a god, like my cock. The only devotee
worthy of worshipping it is he who is willing to be bound and stump-fucked
to my divine, sadistic amusement.
Being in control during sex is
important for me, especially if I'm playing as a bottom. Contradictory?
In the words of the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, "only
the superficial never contradict themselves." Being in control of
our bodies is crucial. It teaches us that we do have options, that
we do have a say about how we are treated. Only by assuming some
degree of control can we make our boundaries respected and impress
upon others that we deserve to be treated well, sexually and in
the world at large. This
dynamic gives us a sense of dignity in exactly the place we most
often feel undignified: our bodies.
Only if I assert myself, make
myself the subject instead of the object, can I go on to the next
step of self-acceptance, which is activism. To be a queer crip activist
I must seize power in situations where the "other" holds sway. As
I see it, my presence is so powerful, my "damaged" body is so intense
that people fear me, in the same way that "average-looking" guys
might fear "clones" in bars. As a disabled man, I believe that what
other men fear in confronting me is the intensity of our potential
connection. They fear visiting places in themselves that have been
supressed, places that could open doors to an adventure of self-discovery
that few can provide.
For me, being an activist may
entail nothing more than making myself visible and visibly happy.
Sometimes simply displaying my leg in public, in queer spaces, is
activism because it forces others to acknowledge my crip existence.
A friend of mine, a guy who had
a stroke and now uses leg braces, refuses to go to swimming pools
or saunas, activities he enjoyed before he became a crip. His self-imposed
imprisonment, his self-imposed invisibility, feeds the power of
the oppressing other. I refuse to make others comfortable by hiding
myself. I will insist on guiding their political and spiritual growth
by sharing the gift of my difference.
Yes, people feel uncomfortable
with cripples. Some feel responsible, some feel ashamed, some feel
angry. Some feel they lack the skills to cope, some feel they need
to fix us. What we fail to realize is how these attitudes grant
us power, give us the ability to manipulate situations that are
peculiar to us as cripples. But that power exists only if we thrust
ourselves into the world as participants, queer crips or crip queers
for all to see.
When we make the effort to assert
our power, we know that politicians must deal with us. How many
of you remember San Francisco in the 70's, when crips took over
the United Nations Plaza to demand independent-living rights? It
is our job to make politicians squirm. Recognize that fact and you
will see how many ways you can use your queer crip identity: you
can become a politician yourself; you can become a sex worker (or
"sex healer," the term I prefer); you can tell your stories forthrightly
in places like BENT.
Become an activist by exposing
the sheer power of your presence; make yourself a crip queer who
can manipulate people's fear of you to achieve the higher good.
I want to see queer crips in queer bars, at my neighborhood coffee
house, at the gym, at street fairs, in mainstream magazines and
in 'zines and porno flicks. I want to see us in churches, at protests,
at drag shows, and at board of supervisors meetings. How about queer
crips in adult movie theatersas both consumers and models!
I want to see us as active members of our community, building it,
restructuring it, marketing ourselves as a force that cannot be
We have power over our bodies.
Let us choose to multiply beauty by making ourselves visible. Our
different selves, our different bodies, our different beauty must
be seen at any cost!
©2002 Julio Moreno
Illustration: Statue of Antinous, Museum of Delphi
Let us know
what you think of this BENT feature.
Moreno lost a leg almost two decades ago in a motorcycle accident.
For the past ten years he has been HIV+. His visible and invisible
disabilities have prompted him to be active as a crip and a queer.
He currently serves on the Board of San Francisco's Aurora-Dawn
Foundation, a provider of housing and other services for low-income/no-income
people with HIV, AIDS and a wide variety of needs.
He is working towards his
B.A. in Hispanic Literature and plans to pursue a PhD by looking
at that literary tradition from a Queer Crip perspective. Although
he knows that language is not reality, he also knows it is a tool
that can be used to oppress or liberate. Maybe that is why you will
find his ideas awkward at times, insulting at times, otherworldly
at times. Julio has recently begun to explore how SM practices can
enlarge our spiritual potential by including and celebrating differently-shaped
bodies and minds. Welcome to the Kinkdom of Heaven within!
BENT: A Journal of CripGay