The big, scary world of sexytimes
February 4, 2016 5:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm 26 and gay. In a wheelchair. Never been kissed ( ha! ), been on only one date, which went poorly. How do I make inroads with regards to my crippling fear of intimacy- physical and emotional?

Pretty much what it says on the tin.
I have OKC ( I've shared the profile on here), all the location-based apps...ALL of them...and I try to work on myself daily.
How does does someone in my situation:
-Get their feet wet in terms of intimacy ( without expectations of a relationship for now) in an environment that's safe and easy-going but sex-positive, when people have never really found me sexy, despite my looking decent?
- Date, and do it successfully?
-Find people who are genuinely okay with someone in a chair?
- Deal with the anxiety the whole thing tends to inspire in me? I sort of feel like a child, with adult urges, in an adult world.
Basically, I want to touch, be touched, love and be loved without freaking out.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I totally sympathize with your situation. I'm actually in a similar position to you, though I'm straight. Maybe you can try looking at the questions I've asked on my profile. It may be of some help to you.
posted by Dynamo05 at 5:51 AM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some of the answers may differ depending on your gender, if you'd like to share that.
posted by metasarah at 6:05 AM on February 4, 2016

Interestingly, this has actually gotten some coverage on Metafilter before. I'd highlight in particular this great comment from Jessamyn but a general search turns up several related posts.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:47 AM on February 4, 2016

I'm in a wheelchair and ended up with a fine man who is cognizant of my own fineness. It just is like any other aspect of the wheeled life; my dating prior to finding my SO involved wading through a lot of nonsense until the night me and the man went on our second date, drank a lot of wine, and started furiously making out. Just keep putting yourself out there and remember the chair won't be in the bed with you
posted by angrycat at 7:37 AM on February 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Do you know much about the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)? I go to their annual meetings from time to time, and know some of their staff. They just had a webinar last October that might interest you. The topic isn't spot on, but you should feel totally free to reach out to NCIL, say hey I missed this webinar, is it recorded or are there events coming up I can tune in to? And while you're at it, they'd be a great place to pose this exact question.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:43 AM on February 4, 2016

Hire a sex worker to get you over the hurdle of your first encounter. Or try Grindr, CL, the usual suspects.

Once you've "been intimate" with someone, it might be less of a big deal for you and you'll be more relaxed going into future encounters.
posted by Fister Roboto at 10:25 AM on February 4, 2016

You may want to check out Andrew Morrison-Gurza, a gay wheelchair user in Toronto who writes about a lot of this stuff (and started the Deliciously Disabled movement):
posted by robot-hugs at 12:03 PM on February 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll add onto Wretch729's comment upthread where they linked to Jessamyn's comment re sexual surrogacy. If this is of interest to you, the International Professional Surrogates Association (IPSA)* is a place to start. A friend of mine is a surrogate through this organization and the basic order of events goes like this:

-You go to a therapist (who is familiar with the program) to talk about your intimacy issues
-If they see fit, they refer you to a sexual surrogate
-You meet with the surrogate & the therapist at the same time to see if it's right for you
-You meet with the surrogate one on one so you can each assess your needs
-The therapist and surrogate discuss a course of action
-If you decide to move forward, the surrogate will define the goals and plan of action
-Your meetings will start slow, and only go so far as you need help.
This might include:
Learning how to connect with someone through conversation
Going on a date where you practice this skill
Sensate activities, where you learn to feel pleasure for yourself instead of detaching into anxiety
Sensate activities go from touching hands with your eyes closed and focusing on your own sensations, all the way to sex - although this is not guaranteed since the surrogate will only get you as far as you need to go to overcome your intimacy issues
-The surrogate talks to your therapist after each session with you, in order to best tailor your treatment
-You continue to go to your therapist the entire time

Generally speaking, people who get referred to a sex surrogate through a therapist are:
Those with the inability to connect emotionally during sex or to form intimate relationships
People whose body image or disability has inhibited intimate relationships
People who have pain during sex, premature ejaculation, or inability to climax
People who are mid & late life virgins

If you choose to go this route, you should expect your therapist to be in charge of your care - you won't even get referred to the surrogate until your therapist deems it the next logical step in your development.

*I am only familiar with IPSA, so I can't speak to other programs. From what I understand though, IPSA is one of the few (if only?) organizations that strives to make surrogacy an extension of a professionally supervised course of treatment for intimacy issues.
posted by jenmakes at 4:28 PM on February 4, 2016

I totally feel you on this. I'm gay and Deaf myself, so while I don't claim to speak for your experiences, I also know first-hand how crappy gay dating is when it comes to disability. It's so rigidly hierarchical, and yet it will bite you with aggressive denial if you ever bring it up, so everything gets shoved into being your responsibility. The pool is so much smaller, so every single rejection - and you get a fuckton lot of them - sends you in a panic about how you're going to be perpetually alone. Every single interaction you have seems pre-destined to end up, "sorry, you seem like a really fun dude, but let's just be friends" - and you know why and they know why but you aren't allowed to believe yourself. "You'll find someone!", they'll add, and then it'll be your fault for not trying hard enough, not having done enough work to better yourself, not being attractive or charismatic or personable enough. You internalize it and become a ping-pong ball of wrecked self-esteem, bouncing back and forth between "I'm not good enough" and "fuck you all" and "are they just dating me out of pity?" and "great, I'm settling because I'm a crapsack of loneliness."

I knew this even before I started dating, and you probably know it too. Truthfully, that's why I put it off for so long - in fact, they say that the average age that a disabled person comes out as queer is in their twenties when able-bodied people come out in their teens. My sister thought I was asexual until I told her, and looking back at that, that wasn't surprising at all given the way I was entirely, routinely desexualized by everyone around me. My point in saying all of this is that I think it's totally understandable that you have these mental barriers in approaching queer dating. Please don't think of it as a failing on your part. I beat myself up a lot mentally because I felt like I was behind everyone else, because I felt like I was missing out on all of these valuable life experiences that everyone else seemed to be having - I still do. But it's not your fault, it's our crap society and all of its crap barriers that make us work so, so hard, and give up everything we have for the faintest flutter of a moment where we are not invisible.

But still, I think that if you've identified this as a thing that you want to do, it's worth fighting for. Some tips:
  • What really helped me end up in a position where I could even date in the first place was building a community and network of friends who "got it". Trying to get dates sucks so much emotional energy and dignity out of you - being able to go to someone who I could trust and rant/cry without them looking down on me, offering solutions, or judging me really helped me recharge.
  • Take chances, but still weigh them as the double-ended sword as they are. I've had some bad sexual encounters before that I saw were going to be bad from miles away. I still took them, because I really needed the reassurance that someone could find me attractive, and the boost to my self-esteem. Some days, I regret them; some days, I realize I really needed them to keep me going. I see some people have recommended sexual surrogacy for you; this might be that for you, I don't know.
  • Another thing that really helped me was making friends with other Deaf-queer people who were actively dating. It really helped me ease on some of the rigid hierarchical thinking that a lot of the community hammered into me - it was really refreshing to see other disabled people prioritized for who they were, rather than just being ranked on their disability.
  • I made amends mentally with the idea that I might be single forever. Which isn't the same as giving up hope, but it helped me a lot in my interactions with potential people I could be romantically involved with, because I was no longer desperate in trying to plot out a future with them, but could enjoy the moment as it was.
This is really tough. I don't think I've figured it all out myself, and I take long breaks from trying to date constantly because it's all so incredibly toxic. It really requires a lot of balance to not burn yourself out on either end - whether it's from all of the rejection and bigotry that you're exposed to, or from your internal compass spinning impatiently. That being said, I think it's better to go slow than trying to rush things, even if you end up feeling like you're missing out - so again, don't fault yourself for starting late. Prioritize yourself. Good luck in all of this.
posted by Conspire at 5:26 PM on February 4, 2016 [6 favorites]

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