The Misadventures of Dating When Queer and Crippled: The Art of Rejection

Realizing that someone isn't your type or vice versa, can be an awkward situation all around. How exactly do you tell this person that a) their sense of humor is non-existent, b) despite their belief to the contrary, you don't want them in bed right here and now (actually what a guy said to me once. No joke. Ewwwwwww), and c) you're just not that into them? We'd all like to assume that we'd have a stock rejection answer that goes something like this: "Hey man, you're a great guy and all but... a) I don't see this working out b) I really like you, just... as a friend... c) I'm just not feeling it..." These stock answers are not amazing exit strategies by any means, but they are evasive enough that both parties are let off easy and not too hurt. They are designed to say "Thanks, but no."

In my dating experiences as a Queer Cripple, any time I have been rejected (cue Adele & M&Ms), I have never really been given one of the safe stock answers, but instead I have been hit with a barrage of honesty -- typically, a direct result of my crippledness.

Last night for instance, I was talking to this dude online and he first emailed with: "What put you in the chair?" (Already, I was annoyed because I hate that it is socially acceptable for one to have been 'put in their chair' via an accident, because that means they were once 'normal', but to be born with a disability, makes one an alien of the greenest hue.) I let that go and said I had Cerebral Palsy (as we all know, the sexiest of the Palsies -- sorry Bell's Palsy -- maybe next year. Kidding).

At this point, I was actually surprised and taken aback by the response I got. This guy thought that because his relative had the same 'condition' and it freaked him out, he couldn't go out with me, as the association with the 'disease' was too strong for him. He went on to say, that I shouldn't be insulted and that he respects me lots. Ewwwwwwwww! Let's break down his response together, shall we (this'll be fun):

1. You don't respect me, and you did insult me. You would never tell a black person that their 'skin condition' scared you away. So, why is it okay to tell this to a Person with a Disability?

2. Persons with Disabilities are not all the same -- disabilities come in deliciously different types, shapes, sizes and variations... just because you met one wheelchair user, you cannot assume that all wheelchair users are the same (you can however, assume we're all amaze balls). In doing so, you remove their personhood from them and make them their disability and nothing else. While I embrace and use my disability to create change and a dialogue, I am still Andrew above all.

I have a thick skin and I have heard all this before, so I'm not fazed by it at all. I chuckled, informed the guy it was his loss and I moved on. What I find particularly interesting though (and why I was indeed taken aback), is how when you have a disability wherein you require a wheelchair or visible mobility device, and you are in a dating/hook up scenario, your potential partner has no problem telling you that your disability is the issue.

Moreover, they'll tell you and then follow it with: "Oh, but I'm just being honest. You deserve that much." Now, these statements are good in one sense b/c they allow you to gauge immediately that this person isn't the right one for you; they've told you as much. They have said, in no uncertain terms, "Your disability scares the shit out of me." With that, you can reserve that space for someone who gives a shit.

In that particular moment though, that brand of unchecked honesty can be like a punch in the gut. It immediately creates a 'me vs. you' paradigm and leaves the confident cripple, who is just trying to 'get his', that much less inspired to do so. It reminds them that they are different upon being different, and that you don't want to even try with them because of something they cant change.

To all my future disastrous dates, I love that you think my disability is a carte blanche to tell me why a simple coffee with me scares you because you once saw a man in a wheelchair at one other time in your life, but for the love of God, lie to me -- like you would everyone else, I'll get the hint.

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