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March 2001

Deja Vu All Over Again . . . Again

Sometimes I worry when I see the same topics appearing and reappearing in BENT.

Is the focus of this webzine so small that we're going to exhaust the range of possible subjects? I usually regain my editorial equilibrium pretty fast when I realize the truth: The twin crip/gay subject is a limited one, true, but it offers as many variations, as many ways of telling one another the truth, as there are talented and vocal gimps. And we seem to be in no danger of exhausting our supply of those, as this issue proves once again.

I won't try to catalogue every premise or idea you'll find here, but I will single out a few for comment. Power, control, personal autonomy—these seem perennially fascinating to BENT's readers and writers. What's obvious to some of us is the way we cripfaggots can use (or be prevented from using) sex to win back part of the control we lose through disability. Thanks to a combination of disability-induced personal hangups and social stereotyping and bias, most of us don't find sexual expression an easy matter, however.

In his aptly titled "The Taste of Power," T. J. Trainer describes in explicit detail the simple practice he employs to make himself feel in control. "Empowered," I guess we've learned to say. After reading his account of what he does and how he does it, you may feel impelled to cheer him on or you may be tempted to lecture him about self-destructive behavior. You won't be indifferent. Oh, and by the way, I understand from a reliable friend of TJ's that the details in "Power" are probably not exaggerated, or at least not very much.

Another way to feel sexually powerful is to heighten your own sense of desirability by surrendering control instead of assuming it. "Becoming Daddy's Boy" is J. Douglas George's finely nuanced (and sizzling) true story of how a crip who never had luck cruising learned to play some erotic games that not only surprised him but gave him a new vision of himself.

Convincing others that we, too, are sexual beings is one way to battle the stereotypes that stand in the way of sex and personal power. By combining art and politics, Belinda Mason-Lovering's work proclaims the erotic vitality of people the world is reluctant to see as people who fuck. BENT is proud to present three images from her groundbreaking new photo essay, "Intimate ENCOUNTERS."

It's true that this issue has gone to the dogs. Bob Feinstein, one of BENT's favorite contributors, would never want to do without his faithful guide dog Harley, but in "Hearing is Believing," Bob describes a technique that most of us sighted readers will be ignorant of, one that augments Harley's skills and gives Bob a firmer grip on his environment. But it's a skill that's not without controversy. Control again, autonomy.

Ruby is our second canine star this time around. She reminds us that the reasons you might want a Task Dog aren't so simple. There's your personality and the dog's personality and all the stuff that occurs somewhere between the two of you. "Puppy-Whipped" is R.C. Hampton's tale (sorry about that) of how bunny piss led to canine bliss. In telling us about his dog, he tells us a lot about himself. Listen up: Independence, autonomy, squeaky toys (you'll never look at 'em the same way again).

Max Verga is here to talk about coming out. Eleanor Lisney writes about French medicine and Texas curb cuts. It's all here and it all makes sense.

So the next time I start to worry that BENT might run out of ideas, don't just stand there slack-jawed—smack me with that squeaky toy.

Bob Guter

Bob Guter has been a bilateral amputee since the age of six as the result of multiple birth defects. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Stagebill, and other publications. He lives in San Francisco.

© 2001 BENT

Don't go yet!!
It's CALLAHAN time . . .


BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/March 2001