If we dare talk about sex and disability, we usually end up talking about it from the following vantage point: the necessity, practicality and desire for it by the Person with a Disability (real talk: this boils down to a discussion on how hard it is for the cripple to get some). On the rare occasion that popular media or documentary filmmakers delve into the topic, it is done so with a cacophony of music usually reserved for the feel good movie of the week, and it is almost inevitable that the phrase "just like everyone else" will be used ad infinitum in lilting tones. (It is important to note that in all these depictions, there will be at least one shot of a cripple in their wheelchair sitting at a bar alone, which will then fade to black.)
What we never, ever talk about is how accessing your sex or sexuality as a cripple is uniquely -- hilarious. I personally think that all sex is comical (okay, more awkward, really) to some degree, but the things that have happened to me as I have stumbled and fumbled into my sexual prowess, certainly fall under the category "copulating while crippled," and I wanted to share a few tales from this Queer Crip (if you all caught my obscure '90s reference, you're awesome).
1. The Pornographic Power Play:
Usually when we watch porn, it is a discrete/private affair wherein one is alone in their room, dimly lit by the light of a laptop, right? The majority of us, when watching porn have the ability to turn on and off the porn at will, right? Imagine if you didn't. One night, not too long ago, I decided that I would download a movie with my all-time favorite performer in it (cough, cough, Colby Keller). I decided to let the movie download, and I would have it in the morning. I failed to realize that my computer had set the download to play automatically upon completion. When I awoke at 2 a.m., thoroughly annoyed that the dream I was having about becoming best friends with Kerry Washington (it would happen) was interrupted, I heard strange sounds blaring throughout my apartment. Eventually, I realized that I was hearing two dudes doing what they do best. Under normal circumstances, you would trundle out of your bed, and turn it off. No such luck here. I was lying in my bed in the "dead turtle position" and after 2 minutes of hearing them get louder and louder (just, you know, doing their jobs), fearing that my neighbors could all hear it, I had no choice but to call my attendant care worker.
This was particularly embarrassing given the fact that I do not discuss my personal life with them, nor have they exactly been supportive of my Queerness. So, there I am in bed, laughing my head off at this point, when she enters. "What is that noise?" I told her that it was just a movie, to which she replied, "Oh, are they fighting?" When she said that I almost fell over laughing and all I could think was: Yes. They are fighting. They are fighting for each other's affections. She eventually closed the computer screen, and all was well. Just remember that whenever you watch a porn know that they are all fighting to let the love out.
2. "You Must Be Depressed. Don't Tell me Lies":
I was with this guy and just as things were getting interesting, he started to stroke my... face. He noticed that I had some dry skin on my face and proceeded to tell me, "Your skin is dry. You don't take care of yourself." When I offered that it was just because of the drastic temperature change between the seasons, he got in close to me and whispered, "You must be depressed. Don't tell me lies. I am here for you." First, talk about instant boner killer. How he expected me to get excited after that, I am not sure... Second, I just met you, and you don't know a thing about me. Why would you assume that I don't take care of myself, and I am depressed? Crazy. I could have gotten mad about this, but instead I chose to let the amazing level of awkward wash over me. I remember lying there just thinking, How. Is. This. Happening? This is amazing and would never happen to anyone else who wasn't in the position of being a confident cripple. One for the memory books indeed.
3. Just The Tip:
I have grown to love my spastic body, the one that causes me to throw food when startled or inadvertently punch people in the face. I remember being young, and having two brothers, they would constant delight in scaring me. This would cause me to throw food, water and glassware everywhere, as well as clench every muscle at the slightest sound (my mother was not pleased with the number of glasses she had to replace). Seriously, if I were a superhero, I'd be Spazzo, and I would save the world by getting startled and throwing food in people's faces (Marvel, our people should do lunch). This ability followed me into adulthood, and one night I was 'accessing my sexuality' with a suitor. Just as I was about to conduct an oral examination, I was startled by a noise (true fact: given my level of spasticity, it could have been two dust bunnies rubbing together). My CP reflex kicked in and my teeth lightly bit into his member. He jumped back, pulled up his pants and bolted. We never spoke again, but I remember being mortified by what happened. I can laugh at it now, but I can imagine that whenever he hears "just the tip," he shudders a little.
I highlight the above stories to show that not all disability dialogues around sex need to feed into the 'daunting desires' of PwD. The stories underscore that sex is awkward for all of us, no matter what our ability level. We may not all have the same types of sex as each other, but I guarantee that each and every one of us will have an embarrassingly comical, post-coital story to share with our friends over a greasy spoon breakfast the next morning. I am just thankful that my disability adds an extra level of amazingness to mine.