Hiding your disability to a potential sex partner or romantic interest may just be the worst thing you could do.
The more research I do on the area of sex and disability, the more I am finding that a lot of disabled people are expressing their feelings of frustration toward how they are perceived to be asexual or ‘incapable’ of physical intimacy.
People meet and engage with new friends or potential lovers through Social Media, and research shows that this is now occurring at a near equal rate as through the traditional means of going out and meeting someone at a bar or nightclub.
In some ways, Social Media acts as a good barrier for people in those initial stages and it minimises, but doesn’t diminish, the danger aspect. If nothing else, it makes conversation a little easier and it helps someone decide if they like the person enough to arrange another encounter, perhaps this time in person.
However, another trend is occurring, and that is disabled people using these platforms who make a conscious choice to keep the fact that they are disabled a secret, and also to remove any photography that might even slightly suggest that their physical or intellectual appearance isn’t as ‘normal’ as people who don’t have disabilities.
In those initial steps of conversation that are so crucial, the number of people that choose to not disclose their disability is growing quite alarming.
Lets get away from the conversation about the way society looks at us as disabled people and how most just assume that we are not capable of having a ‘normal’ sexual relationship.
Lets look at ourselves and be frank about it.
How do we, as disabled people, actually look upon ourselves from a romantically capable standpoint and what do we think is sexy about our bodies?
My guess would be very little, like our able bodied peers, we never think we are good enough.
But that doesn’t answer the question of why a person would deliberately hide their disability, and as harsh as it sounds, does it really come as much of a surprise when a able bodied person finds out that your disabled and isn’t even a little hesitant?
Its not discrimination, in those early stages it is the person being surprised, perhaps even scared, and the assumptions begin from there on, not any earlier.
Because people don’t look at potential sex partners who are able bodied like themselves and think about access barriers and/or physical barriers that could be in place that affect engaging in sex.
There seems to be a mindset that says hiding your disability will make it easier to meet romantic partners or new friends. You cannot argue for or against that ideology, but what you are not doing by making this choice to keep your disability secret (or until you feel the time is right) is making the chance of anything happening any more likely.
By making that choice to hide your disability, while understandable to a certain extent, it is still telling lie and advertising yourself as something that you are not – without disability.
They say that in order to find true love, we must first be happy and content with ourselves. The time to reveal that we have a disability will likely never be right.
So why wait?
Don’t go out and advertise it, but in order to find ‘the right person’, we have to accept what disability we have, and we have to own it.
Someone who won’t date, or even sleep with you, simply because you are disabled isn’t worth your time or energy. But, don’t put them in a position when the shock comes so suddenly that the assumptions re-enforced by a society in general that sees disabled people as asexual are re-enforced.
Because here is the biggest truth of them all – the majority of able-bodied people do have the power to accept you as a disabled person who can love them as powerfully and as loyal as anyone else.
Just give them the opportunity to do so first.