I have had this recurring daydream/fantasy recently: I'm at one of the biggest gay parties of the year, the music is thumpa thumping the latest beats, all my friends are around me, and the plethora of penis is all too abundant. Right at that moment, where I think Colby Keller will show up and take me, my leg bag bursts and I'm sitting in my wheelchair in a puddle of pee thinking, "who can I ask for help?" Or, the cute guy I have a crush on finally asks me over to his place -- I'm excited... until he tells me that his place is inaccessible. I would invite him over to my place -- but the prospect of going over to someone else's place, where accessibility wasn't even considered; where there are no bars on the walls, assistive devices and other things that highlight my disability, for what might end up being mind-blowing sex, or even the possibility of, is overwhelmingly hot....
Ever since I was young, I have had the words "Can you just help me with"... permanently on the tip of my tongue should I have needed something. It has become second nature to me simply to ask for help -- I often don't have a choice. If I need my back scratched, I need you. If the DJ turns the music up too loud, and I go spastic and fling a drink across the room, I need you. Normally, this need wouldn't really be a bother to me -- it is what it is. That said, when all you want to do is connect with that cute Queer guy, or simply hang with your friends, the art of the ask can be altogether problematic.
This has happened to me a few times, and I have struggled to ask for help. In my brain the following things are happening:
1. If they have offered to carry me up the stairs, I am secretly hoping that in that moment our closeness will make them realize how amazingly sexy I am, and they will ravage me at the top of the stairs. (Don't pretend like you all haven't had that dream where the hot guy takes you on the stairs. Yeah, that's what I thought.)
2. I am also worried half to death that in that moment they will realize that I am in fact "too much work", and get scared. This has happened to me a couple times as well. All of a sudden, they see all the things that I actually need -- I am no longer simply the good-looking guy in the chair -- I'm the guy who needs stuff -- real, intimate stuff. Typically, what tends to happen here is that they'll help me out that one time, only to have the friendship/courtship dissipate shortly afterward.
Now, you're probably thinking, "Andrew, if they're your friends or potential partners, they will be there for you". Or you might wonder, "why doesn't he just bring an attendant with him?" No one wants to be the guy who asks for too much. Most importantly, no one wants to be the guy who brings his attendant care worker with him when he is trying to convince the cute guy with the muscles and the face that he is in fact sexually viable. Pretty sure that would be awkward for everyone involved.
It is in these moments that I have to come face to face with my disability, and the anxiety around what that might mean can be all consuming. You worry that if they see you out of your wheelchair or accessible apartment, they'll see you as a burden -- so much more than what they had bargained on. I know it sounds ridiculous, but these are things that I have actually considered when asking to be included or being invited to things that weren't accessible/needing help. I have cancelled many an evening due to this gnawing insecurity, when all I really wanted was to be there hoping that something would happen. I'd worry that they will somehow see me differently than all the rest, and that this will change our friendship.
While these are things that I analyze (I'll admit that over-analysis often occurs) I'm also aware that there might be an upside to this "art of asking." So, you have to get your friend to lift you up/down the stairs. Maybe he needs help; maybe he asks the cute guy with the muscles and the face. He says sure, he smiles, helps us out all the while feeling me up, ever so subtle. They both put me in my chair. Just as we are about to leave, he gives me his number, and says: "I'd really like to hang out some time. Call me." That's the real fantasy. There's only one way to know if that would ever happen. Ask.