May 21, 2014

A Glimpse Into the Life of a Disabled Gay Man

As most of us know, the LGBT community is diverse, but there’s a smaller part of the community that is seldom thought about: the people that are wheelchair bound that are part of the LGBT community. About six years ago I met my best friend; he came out to me as gay two years later. He has been in a wheelchair since he was 8 years old due to a neuromuscular disease that causes muscular degeneration. I had many questions at first, because I've always thought of him as a person and I never focused on the fact that he’s in a wheelchair.
                We were in high school together, so of course we talked about guys and did all the normal stuff girls do with their gay best friends. There was a straight guy he liked, but things didn't pan out. Things between my friend and I were very emotional for a while after we talked about how things didn't go well with the guy he liked. The more we talked, the more he let me in. We talked about how difficult even meeting a man would be, let alone having a sex life. The most difficult parts of the conversations we would have were about him being unable to take care of kids on his own because of his inability to hold anything over a certain weight and diminished strength in his hands.
                Last July he met a guy through a dating website, and
they began dating shortly after the first meeting. I've been on all of their dates to help my friend with transferring to and from his wheelchair so his date wasn't overwhelmed at having to help someone he just met. My friend wasn't worried about much except how accepting his boyfriend would be of his wheelchair situation. Having the wheelchair in the relationship makes the relationship become intimate faster if help is needed in the bathroom or to adjust or undress. The wheelchair has added some stress to their relationship but they've worked past the issues just by talking things out.
                Hookups are nearly impossible because of the amount of trust, work, communication and understanding required. When wheelchair bound, planning things in advance is a must. As the chair-bound partner, it would be impossible to get dressed and sneak out in the middle of the night or even to go to someone else’s house to hook up. Wheelchair bound peoples' bodies work differently and might not bend certain ways, so communication is needed to avoid injuries. Cleaning and preparation for bedroom activities requires an understanding partner. Another reason that hookups aren't exactly possible is because of the amount of work it requires to get into bed, be comfortable, and positioning. The last thing a chair-bound partner wants to hear is “I don’t feel like it tonight, it’s too much work.” It puts tension on relationships, and makes the chair-bound partner feel unwanted and like their able-bodied partner would rather have sex with someone that isn't handicapped.

                There is a lot more that goes into relationships and sex lives for the handicapped. Not everyone can handle a relationship like that, and that’s okay. I've had the chance to see first-hand, the pros and cons of the life of a gay man with a disability. He has taught me so much and helps me appreciate the things that I’d otherwise take for granted. 
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