Dealing with rude non-disabled

Article part of a serie published on www.scarleteen.com on July 28, 2017.

Many people with evident physical impairments — like those that require the use of mobility devices — encounter rude questions from nondisabled people on the regular. Those with chronic illnesses and other impairments that might not always be immediately obvious certainly come in for their share as well. Sometimes it feels like we should be selling tickets to the freak show.

Ridiculous and wildly inappropriate questions come from family, friends, complete strangers, and even medical professionals who should know better.

They may want to know: “What’s wrong with you?” “How did you get like that?” “Are you going to get better?” “How do you [ordinary daily task]?” But when it comes to sexuality, many nondisabled people are extremely curious — and rude.

Some seem to think asking for intimate details about your sex life is totally okay. They want to know mechanics and details like: “How do you have sex in a wheelchair?” “Can you…?” If you’re LGBQ, they ramp it up even more. The good old “but how do lesbians have sex?” question goes on steroids when one or both partners is disabled. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that they’re being pretty rude — how would they like it if we went around asking them intimate personal questions?

You have the right to privacy, and to be treated with respect and dignity. That includes the right to decline to discuss private medical information with people, and to pass on an opportunity to talk about whether and how you have sex. The only people who truly need information about your sex life are your sexual partners — in intimate personal communication with each other about how to have joyful, delightful sex — and your doctor, when it’s medically relevant. (“I’m thinking about getting pregnant,” “I’m having vaginal pain,” or “I’m worried I might have an STI.”)

It can be hard to figure out how to deal with people asking invasive questions, particularly if you live in a culture where you’re taught to be polite to others, especially elders, and it’s an important part of your values.

It may feel uncomfortable or even wrong to assert yourself, so let’s start with the soft approach, one endorsed by none other than Miss Manners: The “pardon me?”

“Hey, can you, you know…get it up?”

“Pardon me?”

People ask rude questions for all kinds of reasons — genuine curiosity, confusion, a mistaken attempt at conveying interest, or, yeah, rudeness. A (sometimes rather pointed) “pardon me?” is an answer that’s both perfectly polite and unobjectionable while also putting people on blast that what they’re saying probably isn’t very appropriate. By reflecting the question back on the asker this way, you’re forcing them to rethink whether that question is such a good idea.

If they decide to keep pressing the point, it’s okay to say: “That’s none of your business,” “I don’t feel comfortable discussing personal matters with you,” “I don’t think this is relevant to the conversation,” or just, “You’re being rude, please stop.” Sometimes rephrasing the question and tossing it back at them can also send a pretty clear signal that ends this line of conversation — “How do you have sex in a wheelchair?” “Uh, how do you have sex without one?”

It’s okay to be curious — I’m curious about all kinds of things! — but it’s not okay to use actual living humans like a reference textbook.

There are resources available to nondisabled people who are interested in learning more about disability and sexuality that don’t involve querying every disabled person they meet about their personal lives. (Like this one, for example!) Sometimes nondisabled people feel awkward or uncomfortable and it’s not your job to put them at ease, but redirecting the conversation somewhere else can demonstrate that you have interests beyond your disability; shift the conversation to books, cooking, music, film and television, something in the news, or other topical subjects.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a bailout, either. Your friends should be able to back you up when you’re trapped in the corner with someone who’s quizzing you about whether it’s awkward to have sex when you wear an insulin pump. If you’re out with friends, consider arranging a discreet signal that means “come help me!” so you can escape these kinds of conversations. Your nondisabled friends should also know that it’s okay (and welcome) to intervene even without being asked if they see a disabled person being asked invasive personal questions, and encourage them to push back on speculation about the sex lives of disabled people even when we aren’t in the room.

Many people think it’s okay to ask rude questions because no one has told them not to, or they think the rules don’t apply to them. Letting them know it’s not okay isn’t just good for you, it’s good for society.

Our Bodies, Our Sex Toys: 6 Accessible Sex Toys

Article written by  for Autostraddle on

“My two leg stumps make fabulous sex toys. I really think my amputated body is tailor-made for lesbian sex: I can crawl on top of my lover and grind my leg into her cunt in ways that I couldn’t if I had “real” legs. Having my little stumps gives me much more freedom of motion and I can get closer, deeper into her that way.”Anonymous lesbian amputee

So much is lost when we adhere too strictly to the sexual geography assigned to our bodies. When we follow maps that draw erotic boundaries along able-bodied contours, privileging a singular route to sexual pleasure. And yet, upon encountering queer disability, a tectonic shift is possible. For the lesbian amputee, formulating her stump as sex toy defiantly re-charts her sexual coordinates, re-routing sites of social invalidation into liberatory pathways of sexual advantage and superiority. Shallow assumptions that equate disability with sexual deficiency are undermined and amputation is cast as a sexual enhancement that, in fact, defies the limitations of “real legs.”

This is queer acsexability. When queercrip sex has the potential to boldly shape alternative erotic environments for fucking, loving and pleasuring that shake up notions of who and what is sexy, what is sexual and what counts as “sex” at all. When disability is central to queer visioning, the terms that regulate our sexual lives are destabilized, and more expansive possibilities for experiencing intimacy, desirability and affection emerge.

This practice of re-imagining our bodies through and within (not against) disability, sex, and queerness has been central to the organizing work of queercrip activists for decades, and yet the prevalence of sex-ableism persists — the systemic discouraging, disciplining and denying of sexual pleasure to disabled bodies. “Embracing one’s disabled body is a life-long process because it requires so much unpacking of beauty norms built on ableism, diet culture, and eurocentrism,” says Bethany Stephens, a queercrip sexologist, who talked to me for Autostraddle. For cis and trans women of color with disabilities, the effects of navigating hostile sexual terrains are particularly brutal due to compounding systems of oppression.

In an interview with Bitch, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha writes, “My disability story… is simultaneously about inherited trauma, environmental racism… sexual abuse survival, and the ways in which our racialized bodies flee the medical industrial complex. It did not feel safe [for] queer people of color to talk about disability.”

To combat these legacies that desexualize disabled bodies, the demand for sexual access becomes central to resistance. Access to sexual space and knowledge, but also to pleasure, to kink, to smut, to craving body parts not considered cravable; to sex not considered “real sex.”

For nondisabled queer cis and trans women, this practice of erotic rezoning should have a particularly potent allure. The incessant cultural inquiry — how do lesbians have sex? — is not innocent ignorance, but a swelling of social anxiety caused by the shift in focus from a cisgender dick to a sex toy, or a finger, or an amputated limb. As South Asian writer and performance artist Janani Balasubramanian writes in the New Inquiry,

“The queer potential of dick sucking is about changing the play’s cast without warning. Any part of the body can be, become, or unbecome a dick.”

In other words, queer/crip alliances provide us with the tools for radical disassembly, for charting alternative sexual paths that allow us to fuck our bodies as we crave them.

We can lick a lover’s clit at the tip of her hipbones; suck a partner’s cock along the edge of her protruding neck vein, and cum hard to the vibrations of a cock-ring attached to her crutches. We can sketch out our most intimate fault lines only to re-write them anew moments later. Queercrip sexual imaginings move us away from investing in the spurious stability of “real legs” or “real dicks” and into the erotic alterity of the our slopes, our stumps, and our arches; our “fabulous sex toys” tailor made for all of us.

Here are some of the most accessible sex toys to remap our bodies around.


6 Accessible Sex Toys (To Get You Started)

The Wanda Toy Mount

wanda-sex-toy-mountThe sex toy company Liberator offers a large selection of accessible sex furniture ideal for amputees, wheelchair users, and folks with limited mobility. The Wanda is a sex toy mount specifically designed to be paired with a Hitachi Magic Wand. The mount’s narrow construction is ideal for straddling and enables completely hands-free access to your vibrator, dildo, or other preferred device.


Reach

ReachREACH by Revel Body is a long extension handle that attaches to the Revel Body Sonic Vibrator. While the vibrator itself is small and a bit difficult to handle if you have arthritis or fatigue in your hands, the extended handle assists with grip and precision and gives access to genitals that may be too far for some limbs to reach.


The Accommodator

accommodator-face-harnessThe Accommodator by CalExotics can be hard to wrap your head around. (Pun intended. Pun necessary.) And yet it’s one of the highest rated sex toys in production. As the name suggests, the toy offers endless modes of flexibility and opportunity for bodily invention for limbs, necks and faces.


Thigh Strap-On Harnesses

thigh-strap-on-harnessNot about that chin life? The thigh strap-on harness by Sportsheets provides an adjustable neoprene sleeve that fits a variety of limbs and enables a completely hands-free sexual experience. The harness can also serve as a sex toy mount when strapped onto all sorts of mobility devices.


Doggy Rider

Doggy-RiderThe Doggy Rider by Liberator is a soft, padded belt with adjustable straps that holds you or your partner into place for a variety of sex positions. The straps are ideal for those with limited mobility and strength as well as those who live with fatigue, spasms, or balance impairments.


Plunge Paddle

tantus-plunge-paddleThe Plunge Paddle by Tantus is a unique silicone paddle, which makes it significantly lighter than wooden paddles. The give and bend of the silicone means you simply don’t have to use as much of your own energy to deliver the same amount of pain. The Plunge Paddle requires less upper body strength and can also assist BDSM practitioners who have dexterity pain.

Why We Need Disabled, Queer Male Porn Performers

This text was published in april 2016 in the Huffington Post by Andrew Morrison-Gurza Founder/Co-Director, Deliciously Disabled Consulting .

Like so many of us out there in the male-seeking-male community, I have quite an active relationship with pornography (if I am honest, my relationship might be a little too active).  I can remember the very first time I ever watched a gay porn scene.   I was about 13 years old, and I was home alone on my dad’s old dial up Internet connection. (So you can imagine just how fast it actually was, right?)  I stumbled onto this website of these two college aged “runners” in a scene where they exchanged oral and some pretty vigorous fucking.

As I watched, while I became completely intoxicated by this scene, because it cemented that I definitely had a predilection for the peen, something else was happening to me too — something deeper and more affecting than I understood at the time.  I was learning about our culture.  I was learning about the performance of masculinity, and that to be a real gay man you had to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted.

As I watched these two men switch positions with ease and comfort, as if it were nothing to do this, barely saying anything to one another, but totally understanding what was to happen next, I understood that my body wasn’t good enough.  I understood that as a disabled man, this would never be my experience (I know, many of you are reading that last part and lamenting that even though you are able-bodied, it will never be your experience either).  This first foray into the fantasy of porn, and the feelings that I had back then of exclusion in this arena, have continued to linger even now, and I think it’s time that we start talking about why having porn stars with disabilities in MSM entertainment is important, necessary and long overdue.

While it is happening slowly (much too slowly for my liking, tbh), we are beginning to see some slight changes in the types of male performers that have entered, and are being accepted, into the mainstream porn industry.  I am starting to see more men of color represented in scenes without being overtly fetishized. I have also watched scenes where men of different body types, in particular, “bears” or “cubs,” or those who don’t fall into the traditional male porn typography, are gaining wider recognition.   I think that we still have a long way to go in this respect, but that seeing these images that break certain molds is important.

The one body that we have yet to come across in mainstream gay male porn is the disabled male body — in fact, it is non-existent.  This sends a really loud and clear message to queer crippled men that their sexuality is not valued or valid in the LGBTQ+ community.   The lack of representation in this arena speaks volumes, as it suggests that we aren’t even considered as part of anyone’s fantasy (and I know there are so many of you that want to get a hand or two on my joystick).

Let’s consider what having a porn star with disabilities would look like, and why they would enhance gay male pornography.

1. Different Scenes and Styles: How many of us have watched a porn scene between two male performers and the same things happen: two minutes of making out, a blow job scene, fucking and then the money shot.   Having a performer with disabilities wouldn’t necessarily mean that this formula would have to change drastically, but it would mean that the scene would get to focus more on the experience of disability.   We’ve all watched scenes where the performers undress one another as part of the foreplay, and I think these scenes can be incredibly hot.   The disabled performer could be undressed by their scene partner, but the scene could focus on how that is done, and have shots that establish the disabled body being sexualized, and the chemistry that comes with that.  The partners may also have to negotiate getting into bed, with lifts/slings/etc. This might change the stylistic way the porn is shot, providing for a much deeper, intimate and honest portrayal that would add a whole new level to the scene itself. Given that so many scenes are shot in stereotypical queer male spaces — locker rooms, the shower, etc. — adding a disabled porn performer would allow us to look at what accessibility issues impede sexuality for queer crippled men.  A shower scene wouldn’t work unless it was big enough for a commode chair, the locker room scene might show a special transfer device that could be sexualized by the performers.   Of course, if one of the performers was a wheelchair user, their scene partner could climb up on it and use that as well.    There are so many opportunities that can be expanded on when disability is considered here.

2. Different Positions and Different Blocking: I have long said in the work I do, that I will never be able to “fuck you like a porn star,” but, what if I could?  One of my signature sex positions is “the dead turtle” (okay, okay, this is where I just lay on my back and my partner comes up and meets my body); I call it that because I am flat on back unable to move, much like a turtle, and I think it would be important to see how these positions look on camera.   It would mean that the camera would capture something completely new and different, allowing for the viewing audience to get something fresh in their fantasy.

3. The Messaging about Maleness: Having a disabled male porn performer in the mainstream arena allows for us to deconstruct what we consider to be the epitome of the gay male porn star.  A disabled performer could rely on certain tropes still, but it does open up things for a more nuanced look at the portrayal of masculinity in these scenes.   The viewer might get to see how the disabled performer has had to adapt their masculinity in certain spaces, and this could create a really sexy, intimate feel to the scene as a whole.

4. To Queer Men With Disabilities: Seeing ourselves on film in this regard would act as a powerful and potent reminder that we have sexual agency and sexual capital while seated.  It would show young, queer crippled kids who may be struggling that they can be sexual, and it would give them guideposts when navigating what they want their sexuality to look like.

5.      To the Larger MSM Community:  Seeing a disabled male porn performer would send the message to the community as a whole that disability is sexy, and that it is okay to sexualize queer crippled men.  It would allow them to answer so many questions about the disabled body for themselves, and it would help them to become less uncomfortable when thinking about sex and disability.

Ultimately, having a porn star with a disability in male-on-male porn would be an important step in diversifying the dude on dude landscape.  It would change the game entirely.   So, if any porn performers or studios want to see the possibilities of hiring or working with a PwD (Porn Star with Disabilities), take a chance, take a risk, understand that the marketability of a scene like this is in the message.  Give me a call (Colby Keller and Cockyboys have first dibs); who knows what magical, majestic and altogether never before “scene” work this queer cripple might help create.