just read your response to Disabled Dilemma, the man who was
trying to find a girlfriend for his disabled friend. You told
DD that his disabled friend should “reconcile himself to being
alone.” I’m not sure how to react. Part of me wants to call
you a cold, mean-spirited fuck. The other part of me wants
to commend you for refusing to sugarcoat the truth.
I’m 28 and have had a disability since birth. I use a wheelchair
and a ventilator helps me breathe. As you can probably guess,
I’m not getting any. I’ve managed to do a few things with
my life, like go to law school and get a decent job. But my
sexual experience is pretty much nil. I used to think that
I could attract women through my intellect and charm. Now
I’m more realistic. I understand that some physical characteristics
are simply too much for people to deal with on a romantic
level. At the same time, I know people with disabilities who
are in happy, healthy relationships with able-bodied partners.
While it’s tempting to reconcile myself to a life alone, I
still maintain some hope. So I understand your response, Dan,
but I wish you would have not sounded so bleak. It’s hard
enough being disabled without having negative attitudes reinforced
by a writer who probably doesn’t know anyone with a disability.
At the very least, Dan, you could have told DD to actually
make the effort to take his friend out to meet people. DD’s
pen-pal idea just sets his friend up to be bombarded with
e-mails from people who are motivated by pity. People with
disabilities don’t deserve to be objects of pity. Disabled
people should be treated like anyone else.
me see if I follow you: First you slam me for painting a harsh
but completely realistic picture for DD’s friend. Then you
go on to say that I should’ve gone easy on DD’s friend because
it’s hard enough being disabled without having your nose rubbed
in reality. Then you wind things up by insisting that an able-bodied
person’s interactions with a disabled person shouldn’t be
motivated by pity. That’s a bit of a contradiction, don’t
I don’t go easy on anyone in this column, Mark, not
young people, old people, straight, gay, bi, or able-bodied
people. Christ, I wrote 52 columns last year kicking the living
shit out of able-bodied people! And in the spirit of treating
a disabled person like I would treat anyone else, I was as
blunt with DD and his friend as I would be with anyone else.
Was my advice painful? I don’t doubt that it was, Mark, but
I didn’t write it with malice.
According to DD, his friend suffers from “traumatic brain
damage,” is missing a limb and his speech is slurred. Any
one of those three things would interfere a man’s love life;
all three together are going seriously hamper DD’s efforts
to find his friend a girlfriend because, as you put it, “some
physical characteristics are simply too much for people to
deal with on a romantic level.” While some people may think
my advice for DD’s friend was cruel, I think it’s far crueler
to fill someone with false or unrealistic hopes.
Finally, I didn’t say that DD’s friend would never
find a partner. My Aunt Judy (aka Madam Sin) is in a wheelchair
and breathes with a ventalator and she’s got a swell boyfriend.
So, yeah, I know for a fact that disabled people can and do
find partners. I also know for a fact that my Aunt Judy is
a very lucky woman. If my aunt were single, I wouldn’t want
her to be miserable, and I would give her the same advice
I gave DD’s friend. (Um . . . except for the part about hiring
hookers, of course.)
Let me send a ray of hope to the poor dude with the missing
leg, slurred speech and brain injury. A pal of mine works
for an organization that takes paralyzed people sailing. She
always remarks on how ALL the shriveled, sputtering guys in
wheelchairs had physically normal girlfriends but none of
the women in wheelchairs had boyfriends at all. She chalked
it up to the fact that women love to nurture and heal while
men are bastards who don’t give a fuck about inner beauty.
The point is, there are lots of disabled dudes with girlfriends.
Tell this guy to get out there with the rest of the gimps
and start socializing! Sign me.
for sharing, you sensitive motherfucker.
I’m a bi, crip woman in my 40s who’s had plenty of wild,
wacky sex throughout the years without paying. True, I’ve
had to initiate it by placing or responding to personal ads,
but the occasional curiosity-seeker who is willing to go the
distance is richly rewarded! Although I prefer able-bodied
partners and/or those who don’t drool, tell the guy that there
are disabled dating services online. For a nominal fee (or
free), he gets himself listed on services for those people
actually seeking disabled partners.
for sharing, CBINYC
Your advice to the friend of a person with traumatic brain
injury was right on. I have worked with several social service
agencies that have clients with TBI and I can tell you this
much: Most of my clients were young males who had been drinking
and driving. These men will NEVER have sex again with the
women they desired before their injuries. Most of these men
cannot accept the fact that they are no longer desirable to
the general female population and refuse to meet women from
the one group that would find them desirable: Females with
TBI. My advice to the TBI gentleman is to join a TBI support
group. I know of at least one couple who met this way and
are currently getting it on.
I Have to Signoff With Some Stupid Name
for writing, DIHTSWSSN, and thanks for giving me an opportunity
to address a pet peeve of mine.
I get a lot of mail from disabled/ugly/fat/old people complaining
about shallow able-bodied/pretty/thin/young people who refuse
to date them. “Why can’t able-bodied/pretty/thin/young people
appreciate me for how beautiful I am on the inside?,” they
write. “Dan, you should scold the able-bodied/pretty/thin/young
for being so hurtful and shallow!”
When I suggest to these disabled/ugly/fat/old folks that they
might have better luck dating other people who are disabled/ugly/fat/old,
they invariably respond, “But I’m only attracted to people
who are able-bodied/pretty/thin/young!” What this means, of
course, is that the disgruntled disabled/ugly/fat/old who
write me are every bit as shallow as the able-bodied/pretty/thin/young
they’re writing in to complain about.
In this week’s column, CripBabe in NYC writes that she prefers
“able-bodied partners and/or those who don’t drool,” and disabled
Mark writes that he takes comfort when he sees “people with
disabilities who are in happy, healthy relationships with
able-bodied partners.” I’m not saying that CripBabe or
Mark are shallow—God forbid—I’m only pointing out that disabled
people (like fat people, old people, ugly people) aren’t immune
to the same cultural biases as the rest of us. People who
want others to “see the beauty within” should, as a matter
of principle, take off their own blinders.
Your advice to Disabled Dilemma was right on. As a motorcyclist,
though, I thought your response would have been improved had
you reminded your motorcycle-riding readers to avoid DD’s
fate by riding helmeted and sober.
you are, Amy. Wear those helmets, kids, or wind up brain damaged