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My disability helped me explore my sexuality

DOADPDOADP Posts: 3Member Listener
edited October 9 in Guest blogs

For the next two weeks, we are talking about sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community, today Emma shares experiences of being a disabled, pansexual person.

Up until my early teens I was a very ordinary girl growing up in Yorkshire, with my most notable trait being my academic performance. At age 14 however, amidst the many horrors of pubescent hormones, I contracted viral meningitis. I never really recovered, which is hardly surprising considering a virus tried to eat my brain, and I was left with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME, sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/CFS). The disease got progressively worse until I came to be in my present situation, that being relying on a powered wheelchair whenever I leave my city-centre apartment as I can no longer walk very far. This situation is somewhat depressing, but a university education, fulfilling job, and steady relationship keep me from becoming overwhelmed by it. In fact, one of the many reasons I started my blog, Diary of a Disabled Person, was to show that disability didn’t render my life a miserable wreck.

dark haired woman looking away from camera whilst reclining on a chaise longue

Due to the fact that the majority of my teens was spent growing accustomed to life with a chronic illness, I never got the opportunity to explore my sexuality until early adulthood; I simply assumed I was straight because I was sexually attracted to (some) men. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Ironically it was only after being in a relationship for some time that I came to the conclusion that I was very definitely not heterosexual, a conclusion I drew after watching Passengers in the cinema and noting that it wasn’t just Chris Pratt who interested me. I am pansexual (I often use the term bisexual instead as this is a more widely understood term, but if we’re getting technical here, then it’s pansexual). My relationship gave me the self-confidence to recognise my sexuality, and the security to be open about it, something which I relish to this day.

Unfortunately for me, both ME and pansexuality are disputable in the sense that many people fail to believe I have ME, am pansexual, or both. ME has no visible manifestations, instead relying on self-declared symptoms like fatigue, pain, nausea, dizziness, and other issues for a diagnosis. Similarly, most pansexuals have been told they are simply confused or experimental, or just to pick a side. I have faced accusations of being a lesbian who is too scared to come out as such, using my relationship with a person of the opposite sex as ammunition against me. I know I’m not a lesbian because a) my partner is hot, and b) so is Hugh Jackman.

tattoo on the forearm of a woman that says disability doesnt mean I cant in a swirly font

In a strange way, living with ME and dealing with all the doubt that came with it prepared me well for exploring my sexuality years later. I was already able to distinguish when someone was asking a question genuinely, or when they were just trying to rile me and would never reconsider their position no matter how much evidence was displayed before them. While the disability did delay my exploration of sexuality, it made the process easy. The only significant difference between developing ME and coming out as pansexual is that coming out of the proverbial closet didn’t change me or impact my lifestyle, because I was pansexual from the beginning.

Having read the whole piece  I would hope that you can come to the conclusion that I am genuine in both my disability and sexuality, and that neither is for the sake of political correctness. Perhaps it is time to consider the flexibility of both characteristics, and what is meant by the labels society imposes upon us.

Has your impairment meant you explored sexuality at a different time? Was your experience different to Emma’s? Do you feel you are perceived differently in the LGBTQ+ community for being a disabled person I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Replies

  • Sam_ScopeSam_Scope Posts: 6,638Administrator Scope community team
    Thanks so much for sharing @DOADP

    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Firefly123Firefly123 Posts: 219Member Chatterbox
    My 23 year old son is also pansexual also just says Bi or nothing he's actually had a doctor tell him in January that it's his sexuality causing all his mental health problems which was a load of rubbish he had been in a same sex relationship for over 5 years as a family we had no issues with it at all if he was happy then so we're we.
    Thanks for sharing your story 
  • wilkowilko Posts: 964Member Chatterbox
    Hi all, being bi gay is not a mental health issue or problem needing medical attention. We all have different attractions and fetish ideas as we grow, from attractions to the same sex, underwear because it’s not the normal of what society sees or expects we have to accept the individuals decision and make them welcome and accepted into our community, churches, clubs work places and life’s.
  • Firefly123Firefly123 Posts: 219Member Chatterbox
    No its not but yes some people can experience mental heath problems due to being assaulted abused bullied not being accepted a sad fact for many gay young people who end up homeless I'm 99% sure all his problems come from not being diagnosed as having Autism and I did challenge that doctor as it would have been more of a shock to us as a family if he wasn't as was always so flamboyant so I always made a point of talking to all my kids in general about love is love and human rights to be whomever you are and I'm old school and think labels belong on clothes not people but if they choice a label that is their choice 
  • tru88letru88le Posts: 27Member Whisperer
     he had been in a same sex relationship for over 5 years as a family we had no issues with it at all if he was happy then so we're we.
    Thanks for sharing your story 
    I can imagine bisexual people having more mental issues, especially someone in a  long term same sex relationship.
    That's why there's an assumption that any conflict would only manifest in an opposite sex relationship.
    I think this might be people thinking bi men are actually gay men stuck in an opposite sex thing.  Therefore if they are with a man they've got what they wanted and there can't be any issues. Which isn't the case and also why someone being in a five year same sex relationship doesn't  really prove the doctor wrong.

  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 887Member Chatterbox
    Doctor's just love putting labels on people so they can treat them by rote rather than working with a person individually. Personally I am sick of being misdiagnosed by doctor after doctor simply because my notes are 2 inches thick so they only read the one-kine description which is a description of Crumbling Spine as well as my condition because mine has no name of it's own. Having a well used procedure is what most doctors like.... saves them having to think.

    I am well aware of the problems with ME as I used to have a middle aged friend who suffered it and would talk about it. My youngest daughter also has ME though she always insists that it's not ME, it's CFS. She began suffering at age 18 which was extremely unfortunate as she was training very hard with the weight lifting she used to do. Despite the onset she managed to become under 18 British Weightlifting Champion is one class. However, once diagnosed she took ages to recover, partly due to always over doing things and not resting enough and partly because of being in denial. It didn't help at all that she was close with her mum (my first ex-wife) who used to be a keep-fit teacher and now helps her partner running a small gym. Her opinion about health issues was simple... "If you start having health issues interfering with whatever route a person took then the answer was simple.... that person wasn't trying hard enough and needed to work much harder". I have never ever said to my ex-wife that she is using a stupid idea to explain or excuse people for not doing things properly. It always comes to mind whenever I see her but wouldn't insult anyone by stating such a thing out loud, lol!

    It was a couple of years later when my daughter finally sorted things out but the simple fact that she always said she had CFS and did NOT have ME held her back a lot She is now in her early thirties and in a good relationship and even posted a picture on FB where she looks 6 months pregnant. I can't be sure about that as she never contacts me or replies to texts or messages left by me. We have only spoken once in the last 4 years and that was 2 years ago, the day I came out of the coma I put myself into. Oddly it was she who was there every day of the 8 days I was in the coma, my son never visited me at all and my eldest daughter only came on 3 of the days. Unfortunately all 3 kids now distance themselves from me now but I have never wanted to put them on the spot by asking them why. However, my first wife still hates me after the divorce that was completed 27 years ago, and always tries to keep the girls away from me.

    Obviously I had to look up LGBTQ+ and pansexual as I am old and had no idea what they meant, lol! I was 49 before I began being ill and had no contact at all with women for the first 8 years of it. Over the last 3 years though I have had sexual contact again and discovered that by being patient and considerate was better for me and very much better for the lady since I actually spent time researching what to do and where and how to do it. I was always somewhat considerate of the lady enjoying the experience with me but never really made a true effort to research how it could be better for them. However, as my health has spiralled down recently I have had to cease that sort of contact again.

    I have always had very odd conversations with people as I am always open and honest about everything which sometimes makes people who don't know me well, uncomfortable. I figure though that you will only ever have a good relationships with others if it is based on openness and honesty rather than the secrets that most people now seem to base their relationships on and who fail to stay together for long.

    I guess, in a way, my condition has changed my perspective on contact with others in a positive way as I have to be careful to avoid pain issues and also because a woman always looks more beautiful at the moment of orgasm.

    TK
    I am here to kick ass and chew bubblegum... and I am all out of bubblegum -- They Live 80 something cult film.
  • Firefly123Firefly123 Posts: 219Member Chatterbox
    tru88le said:
     he had been in a same sex relationship for over 5 years as a family we had no issues with it at all if he was happy then so we're we.
    Thanks for sharing your story 
    I can imagine bisexual people having more mental issues, especially someone in a  long term same sex relationship.
    That's why there's an assumption that any conflict would only manifest in an opposite sex relationship.
    I think this might be people thinking bi men are actually gay men stuck in an opposite sex thing.  Therefore if they are with a man they've got what they wanted and there can't be any issues. Which isn't the case and also why someone being in a five year same sex relationship doesn't  really prove the doctor wrong.

    Hi the doctor just jumped to that conclusion which for my son I totally disagree with as he's been very fortunate in that regards hasn't had any conflict with himself or others about his sexuality. So just saying oh your gay that explains it is in my opinion that explains nothing so helps nothing instead of finding out why maybe the family history taken into account as my mother was a manic depressive my sis is bipolar my uncle is schizophrenic and all the other factors instead of just that.

    Sorry to hear all your problems with doctors and glad you've found a way of enjoying some company again 
  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 887Member Chatterbox
    I know a young man who dated a similar aged lady and then and gent a little older. I was quite surprised how nonchalant he was about it and how open about his status he was. Despite being open myself I still get the feeling that the errant attitude to same sex in my younger is still around, just not as obvious. As for this having any effect, good or bad, on relationships I tend to doubt. Problems are usually down to differences in attitude and perspective and I see little difference between hetero, gay or bi relationships.

    TK
    I am here to kick ass and chew bubblegum... and I am all out of bubblegum -- They Live 80 something cult film.
  • OsultrusOsultrus Posts: 2Member Listener
    Hi ... I Too, For Over 30+ Years Have Suffered From Fibromyalgia / ME + CFS And Was Diagnosed With MS Early Last Year ...
    I Married Young Then, Divorced Young Too, Mainly Due To Many Problems Within My Marriage However, One Being That I a Was Sexually Attracted To Women (Involved With One, When Married Plus, Had An Affair With A Man Too Hence, Time To Divorce) ...
    I Think The ‘Labels’ That ‘Society’ Forces Upon Us, Is Totally ‘Wrong’ ...
    Why Can’t, People Just ‘BE’ ?
    Wether Gay, Bi, Trans, Lesbian Etc, Does It Have Anything To Do, With ‘Anybody’ Else Except, The People Involved ?? ...
    Ive Suffered From Mental Health Issues, Since Being Six Years Old And I Would Say, Trying To ‘Figure’ Myself Out Sexually, Has Caused Me Extremely ‘Difficulties’ Solely Because Of My’Many’, MH Problems / Childhood Incest + Sexual Abuse / Rape / Sadistic Torture / Pedophile Ring Issues / Thoughts / Feelings / Diagnosis / Confusion / Encapsulated Horrors Plus, So Much More ...  
    The Outcome :- Yes, Im Bi Yet, Prefer To Be With Women However, It’s More The ‘Imdividual’, Rather Than The Sex Of The Person That Initially ‘Intrigues’ Me So ...
    I’d Definately Say, I Wouldn’t Change ‘How’, I Came To My Realisation Yet, I Would Definately Change The ‘Public’s Perception’ Of People Like ‘US’ ...
    Much Love ... Trish xx
  • MaverickMaverick Posts: 4Member Listener

    Hi Trish, first of all I would like to say this is quite a interesting topic which is the case in most countries that are anti-gay. If people could just be the world would be a much better place to live in (Which is not because people to force views on other people) I am very sorry to hear about your divorce as well. And labelling is wrong for which I again agree with you. I often get discriminated against because of my disability amongst employers so I  have nothing but sympathy for it all.


    Kr,

    Ali

  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 360Member Chatterbox
    We now live in a world where, for some, gender is just a state of mind divorced from any physicality. If gender is just a state of mind though then it is only an abstract. States of mind can change and, of course, people never lie do they?
    People mention labels such as the ever-growing list such of LGBTQ+. However who is it that is creating and applying these labels? Is it society or is it the people involved themselves?
    It is human nature that people feel a need to belong to some group identity. This is both inclusive for the members and exclusive for everyone else.
    I really don't care about anyone else's preferences for physical or mental attributes.
    What I care about is that no other groups have been as aggressive as gender groups in telling other people how they should both think and act.
    In the news we have instances of transitioned biological males telling biological females that they must do as they are told with regards to their private spaces such as toilets and refuges. They want choice to be removed from all biological females in this respect.
    I don't care if people disapprove of my existence as a disabled person. If they keep their mouths shut and don't treat me any worse then we'll all get by.
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