I’m a 34 year old woman with cerebral palsy and I use a power chair. My first and only relationship was in high school. Dating with a disability is hard enough, but throw in the fact that I am a lesbian and it gets so much harder. The stereotype is that people with disabilities are not sexual beings, but then you throw in a deviant sexuality...
I am not in to the bar or club scene, but I am wishing I had someone in my life.
Dear Lonely Lesbian,
Sorry to hear you’ve been single for so long. I hate hearing stories of people who’ve been single since high school. And putting a stop to the single streak, like you already recognized, when you’re both disabled and gay, isn’t the easiest hand to play, but it can still be played with success.
Since I’m a straight woman with not a lot of personal GBLT experience, I decided to ask a friend of mine, Sue, a T2-T3 paraplegic and gay woman what advice she had for you. Enjoy her wisdom!
Hi Lonely Lesbian,
There are lots of things I want to tell you. First of all, I found that coming out as a gay woman was very difficult. I didn't come out until I was 30. Before I took that step I was married to a great guy, but after five years of living a lie, I finally got divorced and began living a life true to myself. Accepting myself as a lesbian was a difficult journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Then at age 40 I found myself on another unexpected journey of self-acceptance: accepting myself as a disabled woman (T2- T3 paraplegic due to a spinal cord tumor). Today, however, I am proud to be who I am, and once I found my inner peace, everything in my life changed. I met a great woman and am now in a wonderful lesbian relationship of 9 years.
My advice: Remember, you are not “deviant.” Keep in mind that our President and Vice President want to see you happy and married to a woman (yahoo, President Obama).
Secondly, there may be a sterotype that people with disabilities are not sexual beings, but we are definitely breaking that stereotype! Girlfriend, please help by going out, meeting a woman and getting...... well you know. And as far as breaking the stereotype that disabled women are not sexual, check out the website http://therawbeautyproject.com/models.html. I was part of this photographic project which was critically acclaimed. "Uncensored Life: Raw Beauty" is an innovative visual arts project designed to inspire the public to create new perceptions, transform stereotypes and breakthrough personal obstacles by expanding awareness of women with physical challenges. The photograph project showed beautiful, successful, inspiring and sexual disabled women.
On the website you’ll see Marjorie, my (straight) friend with cerebral palsy who insisted on posing nude for her photo on the beach! She’s sexy and amazing!
Also check out Shelly Baer’s talk (at a national convention), that is posted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX1Job6O60E. She speaks about living with a disability and being beautiful. Her word are inspiring. Shelly is a terrific (straight) friend and person!
Next, girlfriend, you have got to get out and hang out where the lesbians are. It doesn’t have to be in a bar. There are lots of gay organizations, ie. gay chambers of commerce--They have lunches.
You should try to get yourself to a “Gay Pride Parade." They occur in cities all over the country and the world. You will see lesbians in all shapes, sizes, abilities and disabilites.
Don't miss a yearly lesbian event in Miami called “Aquagirl,” where thouasnds of lesbians from all over the world desend upon Miami for four days of fun and sun.
Here are some links to organizations where you can see if they have anything going on in your city: http://www.glaad.org/, http://www.thetaskforce.org/, http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer.
In addition to attending events, I recommend reading gay magazines such as the "Advocate" or "Curve." Lots of lesbians I know go on Match.com. My friend in a wheelchair (okay, she’s straight) met a guy on the site. She posted, “Don’t let the wheelchair stop you, it never stopped me!”
In a nutshell, get out there! Everyone has stops in life; as disabled people, our stops are just more obvious. Be bold, be proud, and BE SEXUAL!
So there you have it. Great advice from a great gal. And don’t forget to work on being as approachable as possible too. Smile, flirt and when you see a girl you think is cute, chat her up. Being shy and in a wheelchair will get you nowhere.
To submit your question to Tiffiny, email firstname.lastname@example.org.