Wednesday, 25 March 2015
The other day, I was sitting in a meeting with some colleagues for a project that I am a part of around Queer Seniors and their stories. One piece of this project was to construct a timeline of all the Queer things that had happened throughout their life time. It was fascinating to hear them talk about living through the criminalization of homosexuality, and then attempting to find themselves once it had been de-criminalized, realizing that the stigmas still lingered. Ultimately, the timelines attempted to highlight the progress that we have made in the Queer Community.
When it came time for me to apply Queers with Disabilities, and my lived experience to this timeline, I realized that the timeline was just beginning for us. In many ways, our stories have yet to be told, have yet to shared with anyone. We are only just starting to be seen and heard as sexual beings AND as Deliciously Disabled.
Truthfully, in looking at the idea of time as a Deliciously Disabled dude-lover, it scares me a lot. When I was a teenager (around 13 or 14), aside from secretly hoping that I would run off into the sunset with any of the sports stars at my high school, or that the fantasy I had of making out with them in the locker room would come true, I would tell myself at night that by the time I turned 18, 19 (insert supposed milestone years here), that I would have some semblance of normalcy. I was that kid that wanted it to be tomorrow or the next day, so that something "real" might happen. I hoped as hard as I could that I would reach those markers like all of my peers, and that my time would come. I dreamt that I would have my first boyfriend, my first real shot at someone who wanted to be there. I would give myself these arbitrary timelines in the hopes that fate might step in.
If I am honest with all of you, as my early 30s (31 to be exact) starts in just under 2 months, I still feel the need to think about that timeline. Every so often, I worry that I haven't really grown into myself as a man, because I've never had a boyfriend, never gone on a real date, and never felt like someone wanted to stay. As time ticks on, those wants grow ever stronger.
Time for those of us who identify as Deliciously Disabled, can also often feel like it isn't truly ours. We are constantly negotiating bookings for personal care, buses and other things related to our disabilities. Everything is regimented, planned and decided in advance. For myself, spontaneity is one of the sexiest things in the whole world. It allows me to stop worrying, and counting every single minute of my day in relationship to my care plan. One of my biggest wants is to go on a road trip with a bunch of people, and not ever have to worry about when my attendant is coming, or wake up on a rainy Sunday morning next to a good looking man, and do the crossword naked (ummmm, is this what happens when you get older? Your fantasies are less about locker rooms and more about longevity?).
There is a statistic floating about that keeps my awake at night worrying about my timeline:
It makes me worry that these things I long for will not come, in time. That said, I also see the liberation in the fact that I have never adhered to anyone's clock. I can create my own chronology, and tell my own story as it happens. Instead of laying in bed waiting for the clock to strike 12, worried that you will never reach that milestone due to the barriers of disability, take time to remember that your disability will help you create moments and memories that no one else will understand, that are unique to your experience as a PwD. Don't wait for a moment like this, create a moment for the crips.
Thanks for reading! Find out more about Deliciously Disabled, and hire me on as a Disability Awareness Consultant, by heading over to www.andrewmorrisongurza.com
Tuesday, 17 March 2015
I think we can all agree that flirting is one of those things that can come easy to us, or it can be like pulling teeth. If I am being honest with you all, I would say that I am one of the most flirtatious people out there (this truly is a juxtaposition of sorts, because when I actually get the opportunity to stand next to the objects of my affections, of which there are plenty, words seem to be lost on me, and all I can actually do is stutter, stammer and fail to remain calm. You can picture butterflies, alarm bells and any other metaphor for excitement here).
I love the idea that I can use my words to make someone blush, smile and do a double take when they realize that, yes, this disabled guy sitting in front of them fancies them and is flirting.
My flirtatious nature is directly related to my disability (or so I believe), and I would like to unpack and explore why that is. The first thing that comes to mind when I consider the correlation, is the fact that I use my sexuality as a way to prove my worth. Let me be clear, I understand that I am the sexiest PwD out there, but I continuously feel as though I have to show this to others. There are so many deceptions when it comes to our understanding of (in my case) the "Palsy and the Peen" that I always want to show my viability in this respect. My thought process is: "if I can show you that I'm sexy, everything else will follow". This usually presents itself by way of a cheesy one liner. While not particular tasteful, it does the job of disarming my potential playmate. Disability and sexuality are still so taboo, that I think there is something subconsciously sexy when a PwD puts that out there, and partners can pick up on that.
The language that the routine of disability employs is one of necessity. PwD are often talking to Occupational Therapists, Attendant Care Workers, Transit Operators who leave you on hold for 45 minutes while you wait to book an accessible ride 7 days in advance of the actual event. You end up talking in quazi-professional, curt sentences that have been carefully constructed to convey precisely what you need or want. They lack flare, flavour or freedom. So, when those strictures are loosened, and you have the opportunity to say what you want to really, really say, it feels great and the floodgates will open to a stream of sensuality the likes of which many have never seen!
I also think that I am fantastically flirty as a result of shame around my disability. I am not too scared or proud to admit that I carry a lot of fear around what my disability means for me. I am constantly cooking up new ways to find the tidbits that make disability delectable on a personal level. That is one of the reasons that I started Deliciously Disabled, but it also acts as a form of "self-care". There is a magical power in knowing that even though there are a myriad of barriers that often keep the boys at bay, I can still find the sexiness while being seated.
If you're wondering just how I do it, while I can't give away all the ingredients that make up this cool cripple concoction, I will share with you some suggestions that you make your seat the hottest place around:
Use what you've got: If you use a mobility device like a wheelchair or a cane, you have all that you need to make disability flirty and flavourful. Let's review:
- "Man, it's a super good thing I have my chair with me. You're so cute, I got weak in the knees and fainted."
- "Wanna play with my joystick? / Wanna feel my cane?"
I am also somebody with spasms. This means at the slightest sound I don't expect, I will jump in the air like a gun was just shot above my head (seriously, a pin drops, and I am spazzing). This can be really useful if you and a partner, are getting to know one another and you want to be playful. Ensuring that the touch is wanted and consensual, you could always have a spasm that just happens to graze their knee.
When it comes to disability, one of the buzzwords that the medical community loves to use is function. When I was little, they would always say things like, "Andrew will never have full function..." OR "Let's get you functional with that stretch." Utilizing your disability in social situations wherein there may or may not be romantic potential, means that you are on your way to become a fully functional flirt, because you understand that as much as there are added obstacles when you are trying to "get them to go gimp" (trying that one out. Thoughts?), you also see the wealth of opportunity as well, and there's nothing sexier than that!
To find out more about my work as a Disability Awareness Consultant and the #DeliciiouslyDisabled campaign, head on over to www.andrewmorrisongurza.com, and let's find a way to make disability delicious for you!
Saturday, 14 March 2015
Opening the Door to the Deliciously Disabled: The Importance of Having Accessibility in Sexual Spaces
Over the past few weeks, I have been invited to a few sexy dance parties in the Queer community. My Facebook has been blowing up with invites to underwear parties, backroom boogies, and tasty two steps. Each time I receive these invites, my heart swells at the thought of them. I get a huge shit-eating grin on my face at the thought of even being in the presence of these beautiful men. Just as quickly as the pitter patter of possibility pulls my strings, and I am whisked away to my fantasy (which may involve a lot of mood lighting, beards, and leather, by the way), I am abruptly halted and handicapped by my reality: many of these spaces are inaccessible to the Deliciously Disabled, and that is problematic.
I want to explore what it feels like not to be able to directly access these spaces as a Person with a Disability. How does it feel on an emotional level? I also want to examine what it would mean if these spaces considered accessibility, and what exactly that would mean for the community as a whole.
Lack of access for Persons with Disabilities is a constant fight. This is nothing new to any of us, nor is it something that we will ever stop advocating for. There have been many moments where I have had to decline a dance party because the venue can’t hold all my amazingness. I just tell myself that they’re not ready for all my jelly and move on. But then I go home and imagine all that I might be missing. I turn on the music, attempting to drown it out by dancing. No luck. The thoughts linger, hang and gnaw at me. If I am being honest, I am mourning the maleness, accessing my masculinity, and the memories I wanted to make.
The deeper issue for me lies in the fact, that by not having access to these spaces I am denied the opportunity to safely show off my sexuality. I am denied the chance to be anonymous. I am denied the possibility of the prowl, the chase, and rolling up in my chair to go in for the kill. I don’t get to look in your eyes with a half smile and wheel away, waiting for you to follow me to the backroom. A lack of access leaves embers of lust, a quenching desire that is never quite satiated. These are the outlets where sex and sexuality is free and fun. For me, it is all forbidden. Stairways that lead to smoke-filled rooms are just reminders that I am removed.
When I think of accessible sex spaces and why they are critically important, I think of the young queer cripple who lives at home with their parents, and who can’t get out to be who they are. Having accessible space to engage in sexuality would mean that if I chose to, I wouldn’t have to host you; if I don’t feel like explaining every piece of my Palsy to you, I don’t have to. It would mean that I don’t have to attach a false sense of permanence to our play; there would be no misinterpretations to be had.
Considering accessibility in these spaces would strengthen the bond within the queer community. Providing access to these sexual sanctuaries would show the community all it is that they are missing. Disability and difference would soon be in demand. Instead of racing up the stairs holding hands on your way to the backroom with that beautiful boy, you could have your hands on the back of my chair, watching each revolution of my wheels up the ramp, reveling in what might come.
Accessibility in these spaces would remind me that the community considers disability a dish not to merely to be tasted, but to be devoured. Opening the door to disability in sexual spaces allows for everyone to bask in the warm, red glow of desire (for some reason, I assume that all sexy spaces are lit in this way). Failing to do so leaves the cute cripple crankily craving, but most unfortunately, it leaves the Queer community out in the cold on all that could be when it comes to disability.
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
|(photo credit: Alejandro Santiago Photography 2015)|
Every time I see those obligatory bathroom shots of the really attractive guy posturing at his mirror in the hopes of enticing a part time lover for the evening, I let out a wee smirk of excitement and giggle. This is primarily for two reasons. First, I must admit, I love seeing people own their sexuality, and whenever someone has the stones (puns intended) to be that bold, it is a turn on of epic proportions. It’s like they’re saying, “this is who I am. Deal with it.” Confidence is one hell of an aphrodisiac in my books.
The second reason that I gleefully grin at these types of photos, is because I am extremely envious of the ease with which they were taken, how simply the individual whipped off their clothes without a second thought, and took the picture. In a matter of 20 seconds, the guy is completely au naturel. He is baring all in the buff, independent of anyone else’s hands or help. What I would give for it to be that easy.
For the Deliciously Disabled, getting naked holds with it a few connotations, challenges and a level of connectedness that I want to expose for you all.
First of all, for me to take the same obligatory bathroom shot would take forever and a day. I remember one night when I was in college some years ago someone had asked me to send them a dick pic. Not being the least bit shy about unpacking all that I have to offer, I decided to oblige this individual. I looked down and realized that I had to try to figure out how to get my pants off. Unlike the mere seconds it would take my counterparts to perform this action, it took me almost 2 hours to push the pants down off of my body. At this point, I was red in the face and huffing and puffing (and not in the ways I wanted to be). By the time I was done, I felt like I had won every Olympic race ever (I would especially get the gold in size – cough, cough). When I eventually sent the selfie to him, hoping that he would approve, he said the angles were weird, and could I take another one. If only he knew the struggle that I had just gone through to take this for him. Bah! There I was with my pants down, alone in the dorms unable to pull them back up on my own, hoping that no one came in right at that moment.
2. My Nudity reminds me that I am Different: There have been moments where I have looked in the mirror and lamented my “broken” body that looks back at me. My disability belly protrudes forward while my underdeveloped legs lead to my twisted toes that curl in on themselves. Then there is the gigantic scar from my spinal fusion surgery that goes from my shoulder blades to my bum. Each of these markers have, at times, served as reminders of everything I can never be, no matter how hard I try. Okay, we could sit and wallow in this, but let’s rewind a minute, and explore that Deliciously Disabled body once more.
Imagine that you were lying next to me, tracing my body with your fingertips (it’s a great visual, so go ahead, take a minute). Here is what you would find: If you traced from my shoulder blades down my spine, instead of seeing the scars of a surgery long past, you would twist and turn down every curve of my body, the line acting like a roadmap to the treasure trove that is my seldom seen behind (which I have heard is fantastic). Move along across my smooth skin to my disability belly, which acts as the keeper of my emotions; it is there that I have kept every feeling for everyone I have ever liked. Then you will reach my legs. Once you put your hands on them, they open, spastically inviting you in. My feet are curled and my toes twisted, but that only adds to my originality. This, and, you can say that you really did make my toes curl. My body is indeed a wonderland, full of detours and diversions that everyone should dive on into.
3. I am Naked, I am Free:
Each and every day, I am dressed and strapped into many different devices. I have a leg bag attached to me first thing in the morning to which my ‘manhood’ is secured. I am then dressed in clothes that I cannot remove myself, and that can sometimes feel tight and confining (imagine your pants being bunched all day). In them I try to look at presentable and passable as possible. They lock me into the normalcy that I constantly crave. Finally, I am strapped into my wheelchair – both my feet and my lap are belted in tight. Very rarely do I have the opportunity to revel in the purity, possibility and positivity that is the naked form. Typically, that is only reserved for showering or the bathroom. The nakedness is necessary, purposeful, and perfunctory.
The whole idea of walking around one’s apartment naked is luxurious, extremely appealing and is a fantasy that I often dream of. The reality of this would mean having to explain to my attendant why I wanted to do so, deconstructing my disrobing. It would then lose all of its appeal, and it would no longer be my moment as a man. When I get to be naked, I am in touch with all that makes me whole. No straps, clamps or buttons that are just out of reach, denying me access to the sexiest parts of myself. No judgment. I am free. I am not what I should be or could be. I simply am. No apologies or abnormalities here.
When you look at the disabled dude in the nude, you could see vulnerability, disability and deformity. Your gaze could be one of disgust and fear, followed by the desire to leave. But, if you took a minute and looked just a little bit closer, you’d see that the one who is sitting before you is in fact, 32 flavours of Delicious Disability you have yet to sample. Shall I get you a spoon?
Monday, 2 March 2015
(photo credit via HZD Photography 2015)
I spent ten years studying the law and critically analyzing the legal system and its relationship to Persons with Disabilities. What I very quickly came to discover is that in all the legality that I was studying, pouring over policies which continually highlighted how the law failed to address or assist Persons with Disabilities, no ever talked about the emotional impacts that might have on the Person with a Disability. Was anyone checking in on how disability FEELS? Where was that discussion, and why weren't we having it?
At the same time, I was trying to navigate my life as a sexual Person with a Disability. Not surprisingly, there were a lack of resources for Persons with Disabilities in terms of sex. For me, as a Queer man with a Disability, there was almost nothing available to me. I got really tired of not seeing myself represented in my community at all, and I wanted to change that.
It has always been my goal to "make disability accessible to everyone" whether they had a disability or not. Everyone deserves a seat at the table on disability, because disability will affect all of us. Whether you yourself are disabled or you fall head over heels for that cutie on wheels -- it will eventually become a part of the conversation.
When I started doing the work as a Disability Awareness Consultant and openly talking about sex and disability in the LGBTQ+ communities and others, I noticed that we had no language that positively describe disability. Whenever we talked about it (if we were lucky enough to see "sex" and "disability" in the same paragraph), it underscored only the impossibilities or the risks, but never the rewards and the positives.
Enter #DeliciouslyDisabled. In December 2014, I was asked to be part of a magazine spread on Loving Your Body to be released in the New Year. They asked me to describe myself. I blurted out, "I am Deliciously Disabled." From that moment on, I knew I had something special that I could build on. I could actually give PwD (People with Disabilities) a different representation of sexuality that celebrated them as they were, embracing their disabilities for all that they are, not what they could/should or can't be. #DeliciouslyDisabled shows disability for all that it IS.
This new language could also be made accessible to people who do not identify as PwD, so that they can begin to embrace all that is Deliciously Disabled as well.
Each week on Wednesday, we will highlight concepts, stories and ideas about how Disability is delicious to us all. Whether it be sex or sexuality, dating, dudes or dress codes we will taste each flavour of disability together. So, join the conversation as a Deliciously Disabled individual or a Deliciously Disabled ally, and let's give everyone a seat at the table.
Disability is not a choice, #DeliciouslyDisabled is!