Andrew Morrison-Gurza talks about assumptions, reality, and how many different ways there are to define “control”.
A couple of weeks ago, I was online looking for anything and nothing. My Taylor Swift was blasting, I was in between projects, and I had urges that needed tending to. I wanted someone to hang with, get to know, and eventually see “sans clothing”. Soon enough, this really good- looking guy’s profile (he was tall, kind of nerdy, which I like, and had an infectious smile) caught my eye, and I decided to send him a quick hello.
It was your basic, “Hey! You’re pretty cute, want to chat?” message (I am growing increasingly tired of, “sup?” OR “Looking?” as an appropriate opener in these instances, so I always try to be polite and use full sentences. It should also be noted that I get “word boners”, so effort in this area definitely will be rewarded). When I heard the message confirming that he had responded, I had a spasm and almost threw my computer on the floor (say it with me now: “Disabilitttttttyyyyyyyy!”). I was excited, hoping that I would get my afternoon delight.
His response was in no way surprising. He pretty much confirmed that he wasn’t interested because of my disability. He said that it wouldn’t work out between us because he liked his men “dominant”, and that they had to have the ability to take control of him, and that “clearly” I couldn’t do that for him. I proceeded to ask him if he had ever been with a disabled guy before (can you guess the answer?), to which he said he hadn’t, but that he worked as a Personal Support Worker (sidebar: it’s altogether terrifying to consider how close-minded the people who provide care and services can be to our realities).
I think that every PwD has an interesting experience with control.
I didn’t bother pressing the issue, because frankly, it’s his loss. It did however get me thinking about a couple of things related to dominance and disability, as well as my relationship to control as a Cripple that I want to consider.
I think that every PwD has an interesting experience with control. If you have a disability wherein you need a lot of help with your daily activities, it would seem that the idea of “control” is something that is yours in theory, but never really available to you. You need someone to do almost everything for you, and so, you can tell them what it is you need, but ultimately the physical control is theirs. You have to work within someone else’s schedule, and their abilities. Physical therapists, para-transit companies, doctors, attendants and many others have a physical capital over you. You quickly begin to understand that you will have very little physical control over anything in your life. For the most part, I was okay with that, as I had never known anything other than having things be controlled by others. As I grew up, the idea of having control over certain areas of my life became very important to me. It was something that I craved, and that I sought out at all costs. Control meant that I was an adult, and that I had some semblance of authority in a situation.
In terms of my sexuality and sex life as a whole, the concept of control took on a whole new meaning for me. In order for me to access my sexuality, I felt that I needed control over many things: the location had to be my home because it is wheelchair accessible, and as a result my disability may not be as much of a concern (so when that sexy guy wanted me to stop by, and could only “host”, I would decline even if he was willing to carry me). I had to control what time frame the person came over because we only had a certain window before my attendants came by.
As I grew up, the idea of having control over certain areas of my life became very important to me. Control meant that I was an adult, and that I had some semblance of authority in a situation.
I would have to control what lie I was telling my attendant about why I didn’t need their help during the time of the rendezvous itself, fearing that they would run into my lover or come in unannounced. Each piece of the puzzle had to be followed to the letter in order for any of this to work. I had to be in control, in part, because I was the vulnerable one — and so, my diligence in this regard was a protective measure of sorts.
True fact: Control has become such an important part of my sexual identity, it even factors into the type of sex that I’ll have. For instance, I won’t let anybody penetrate me for fear that my spastic ass muscles will break off their “member” (fellow cripples know what I am talking about). There must be foreplay, and kissing and oral sex. I tend to like it when my partner finishes to completion — that way I know that even though I am disabled I can satisfy them, and make them feel good. It connects me to that primal part of myself as man, to know that I can at least provide that. If any of this doesn’t pan out exactly as I have planned out in my head, it will be a disappointment of epic proportions.
Access to my sexuality is a long process of negotiation, understanding and risk that a potential partner will, at any moment, leave, so when I get it, I admit that my expectations may be somewhat over the top. This is my moment to feel whole as a man; it is a split second in time that is not regulated by bookings, bed times and schedules. I get to embrace myself for all that I am, and get to actually have someone there with me out of want, not necessity, so sometimes my desire to “get mine” can be overpowering.
The Cripple’s relationship to control in the bedroom can have its upside. The “Christian Grey” in me will tell you there is something extremely sexy knowing that even though I am unable to contort your body into a pretzel with my hands or tie you up bondage-style; with a simple look, smile or suggestion I can deliciously dominate the situation.
Being in control while Crippled is an important part of our identities that mustn’t be underestimated by those who assume we can’t take charge.
Being in control while Crippled is an important part of our identities that mustn’t be underestimated by those who assume we can’t take charge. Control, power and authority is so fleeting for us, that any chance to assert our dominance feels more than deserved. I am beginning to learn though, that the sexiest part of control as a PwD is learning when to let go of it. This is not a time to be worried about places, people, Palsy or personal care attendants — it is your moment to be fun, free and your full self. Maybe, just maybe, if you let go of the power you might enjoy more of the play.
Thank you for reading! If you want to learn more about the work I do as a Disability Awareness Consultant, and find out how I can make disability accessible to you or your organization, please visit: www.andrewmorrisongurza.com
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Originally posted at Huffington Post.
Editor’s note: All language as originally used by author.
Photo: Faramarz Hashemi/Flickr
Also from Andrew Morrison-Gurza:
Dating and Disability in the Digital Age
Letting You Stay: The Complexities of “After” as a Queer Person with Disabilities
The Misadventures of Dating When Queer and Crippled
#DeliciouslyDisabled: One Man Bares (Almost) All