Relationships & Sex

Disability and sex: fun with firsts

There are landmarks that signpost those key moments in life that everyone will hopefully experience on the road to adulthood. Obviously there’s birth, then there’s moments like your first day at school, starting at high school, sitting exams, the first kiss and first love. A real biggie is loosing your virginity. It’s one of those events that society sees as essential to being a rounded person, even if the actual experience itself can be less than satisfactory.

When you are disabled these milestones can occur at times in life that may not correspond to what the text books say or society expects, but I also feel that they can mean much more to us. I finally learned to walk at the age of four, which made it a super big deal in my house I can say. Typically I lost that ability just eleven years later when my spine collapsed, but I digress. For many parents of disabled children it can be almost impossible to imagine their cute little offspring becoming sexual, and so they tend not to give their children the knowledge of how to grow into sexual adults. If you combine that with the woeful level of sex education given at special schools (if any at all) and the idea of having sex can be terrifying. With that in mind I thought I give you a few insights in to doing the do for the first time.

I must admit I was lucky. I was raised to be assured that I would have sex, find love and have a family (despite being totally sterile thanks to the radiotherapy I had as a baby that cured my cancer). So as I reached my teenage years I had absolutely no doubt that I would find a sexual partner, disabled or not. That’s my first tip; don’t believe the hype. We currently live in a society that paints disability as “other” and especially non-sexual. When we do explore the issue the media creates a separate “special” story about if we do it and how, thus reinforcing our “otherness”. But don’t let that shape how you feel about yourself. If I have learned one thing during my 49 years it’s that so many more people are not freaked out by the idea of being intimate with a disabled person than you’d ever expect. I really think that survey after survey that state that most non-disabled people would never have sex with one of us disabled types are wrong, mainly as they ask the wrong questions in the wrong way. Very few people would have sex with an abstract concept, and disability is an abstract that is not exactly sexy! Yet nearly all of my disabled friends are either in relationships or are happy living it up as single sexual creatures. I doubt my mates are aberrations. It is much more likely that whatever the media might say, most people are not as put off by disability as they would have us all believe. So if you are seeking to loose that pesky virginity remember that if you fancy someone, flirt and let them know how you feel. You have nothing to loose, other than your virginity, and if you don’t try you will never know.

Of course, it’s not just the nerves around finding a partner. Every virgin is riddled with self doubt about their ability. I know I was so very unsure it prevented me from taking up a few offers as a teenager. It seemed obvious that the answer was to study. I gathered many books and self help guides and studied to make sure that when I did pluck up the courage I would not be a let down. I would advise everyone to take this course. With the event of the internet it is easy to discover answers to every question. I personally advise against using porn as a teaching guide. It is entertainment and is so unreal that all you will do is end up making yourself less confident. I remember seeing a porn movie with a guy in a wheelchair making whoopee with two nurses, but the scene was soon ruined by the guy magically gaining the ability to walk within a minute. He was soon carrying out sexual gymnastics beyond most non-wheelchair users, let alone us wheelies. Also don’t be too concerned about not being an expert. You are a virgin! Just try your best…

Now to the deed itself. My biggest piece of advice is Don’t Panic. While you may feel like this is a BIG DAY, as may your partner, it is just sex. It should be fun. Be honest too. If you are nervous, say so. This honesty applies to issues of ability and function too. I lost the ability to gain erections at the age of 15, and so I had to find a way of explaining what would be happening in the sack to every girl I slept with. I guess I have a great deal of experience in that first time situation, as every new partner felt like the first time. Luckily I learned that treating my sexual function in a matter of fact way, with humour, led to a the best outcome. No one wants to go to bed with someone who paints a serious picture of what lays ahead. While most disabled people have no problems with the ability to have sex, they can have issues with the positions and physical activity. Yet again honesty, combined with an openness to experiment is the best approach.

I won’t deny that your first time, whether it is the very first or just the first with a new partner, is always nerve wrecking. Hopefully if you are with the right person it will be a moment to remember for the rest of your life. Maybe that’s another tip. Don’t be so desperate to loose your virginity that you go with anyone. You only loose it once, so make sure it is a happy memory. It’s not a disease to get rid of, it’s just a slight change in who you are. It’s doubtful it will be an earth shattering experience, as no amount of reading or natural talent will mean it’s the best sex you ever have. It just is the first of many more such experiences, so however nervous you might be try not to totally freak out.

Lastly to get into the position to have sex, I always say make the best of yourself. Dress up, be out going and forget the whole cripple thing. If you live life remembering disability is just part of who you are then most people you meet will feel like that too. Even those shallow types who really are put off by the idea of a disabled sexual partner can find themselves falling for the person. I know as this has happened to me on a couple of occasions. Just be yourself and that way the right person will see that you are who they are looking for.

I won’t deny I do wonder if I am the right person to write this column, as I lost mine virginity so long ago that I expect many of you reading this weren’t even born. However, it might have been way back when Duran Duran were the coolest band on the planet, but I doubt that the emotions involved have changed that much. Sure I couldn’t tell the world via Twitter, but that would be crass even today. As someone who has been happily married for ten years to someone I feel in love with the first time I saw them when I was in my twenties I can tell you all that love is more than possible for disabled people. I’ve had the odd occasion where I was turned down due being disabled but that was their loss.

Good luck out there. Have fun and enjoy. Simple as that really.

By Mik Scarlet

Check out…

Dating confessions of a 20-something disabled guy: part one
Faiza Siddiqui: my sex life after injury
Is it OK for disabled people to visit an escort?

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