I’m learning that to get what I want, I need to stop giving so many instructions and let you discover me.
One of the first articles that I ever wrote, “Why Sex with a Person with a Disability is the Best Sex You Could be Having,” talked about the importance of something that I had proudly coined “storyboarding your sex.” Ultimately, what I had suggested was that if you sit and talk about the realities of sex and disability with your prospective partner, the surprises of disability will not seem so scary to them. I agree that ‘storyboarding’ can be used as a tool to encourage conversation in this often under-discussed subject area. Until VERY recently, I had convinced myself that this was the only way to have sex as a man with disabilities; that everything must be laid out and discussed, dismantled and deconstructed. I craved this sense of control. It made me feel good, because if I followed every step perfectly, I would have the kind of sexual experiences my peers were having, or so I thought. I also felt that if I scripted my sex as a man with disabilities, if I knew every single thing that was going to happen, I’d have something to cling to when sex wasn’t readily available. Little did I realize that by penning out the procedure of my playtime, I was putting partners off and pulling apart possibilities.
This came into pretty clear focus for me during the last time I let someone touch my joystick. I was trolling around the computer, logging into all the regular sites where MSM action takes place, not really thinking anything would come of it at all. As I was scrolling through, a message popped up from a potential playmate. I responded to him, and we agreed to start talking. I felt the tingling of excitement intermingling with fear — the usual suspects I encounter when I do this kind of thing: counting the words before my wheelchair gets in the way.
After he repeatedly assured me that he was indeed comfortable with my level of “cripability” and all that entailed, I immediately launched into my defensive mode of attack. I laid down, letter by letter exactly what I expected from this encounter, and exactly what it was that I would need from him if we were to execute this peen-play with precision. On the one hand, I was proud of myself because I was being assertive. I was painting him the picture perfect scenario for a playmate with disabilities. I was using my voice — getting to tell him my truth — showing him the realities of my disability, and demanding better for myself, because I deserved nothing less; I was owning it, right??
I may have liked to believe that mapping out every piece of the experience would increase the level of intimacy with a partner, and that in doing so, they would become comfortable with my disability. I think it’s important that I share that with all this list-making, double checking and mid-makeout reassurances my partner was actually enjoying themselves. It revealed something to me about myself as a disabled man accessing his sex.
If I really sit and reflect on the act of storyboarding, I can honestly say that I was never really using it as a way to talk through my sexual needs with a partner, I was using it as a way to protect myself from all my deep-seeded fears I had about my body (or more importantly, what I thought you thought about my body). I was, in effect, locking myself into this very rigid set of rules for queer crip sex that did not at all match my outward messaging that “sex and disability was deliciously different from anything you’ve had before” — yeah, not so much. So many times, I’ve performed the same acts, choreographed the same conversations making sure they were okay and directed the same dialogue around my disability. I would be lying there, prepping for the next step and not actually enjoying the opportunity that was right in front of my face (insert sex joke here).
I am beginning to learn that one of the best and most important parts about sex for myself, as a man with disabilities, is to give up that power that I held onto so tightly. It doesn’t necessarily keep me in control of the narrative; it cages me in from a whole section of sensuality that I wouldn’t let myself consider. I need to remember that sex is fun, unexpected and that it’s okay not to have memorized every single line of what I’ll say next to keep you interested in me. By letting go of all I think I know about sex and disability, by admitting to myself that sometimes I can sabotage the whole thing because I am scared of you being scared of me, by letting you decide for yourself what you want to do with me, by you being able discover me on your terms, I have been able to actually feel the effects of sex and disability like never before. I am able to enjoy every action because I don’t know what’s going to happen next, and I don’t need or want to. I get to join in the excitement with you, instead of orchestrating it for you. So, as tempting as it may be to pull out pen and paper before pulling my pants off as a disabled dude, I’d rather start with a blank slate — or perhaps no script at all.