On Wednesday I took part in a phone in on the Channel 5 morning show The Wright Stuff. The topic for discussion was ” is a relationship between a disabled person and some who is able bodied different that one between two able bodied people?”, and so I felt I had to contact the show. Now I doubt anyone reading will be amazed to know that I wanted to make it clear that of course there is no difference, but I was also kind of amazed that anyone would think something so strange.
As I waited on my mobile for my turn speaking to Matthew Wright and his panel, I could hear the discussion in the studio. It transpired that the topic had been picked after an article in a magazine about a relationship between an able bodied woman and a disabled man who cannot speak. The reason why it had led the production team to pick the subject was the question of how love could blossom if you had never spoken to your partner or even heard their voice. One of the panel, the flamboyant Craig Revel Horwood, who is a favourite of my Mum (She seems to have been born with no gaydar at all – she fancied Freddie Mercury and still can’t believe he was gay!), told the story of a choreographer friend who feel in love with someone who was deaf and so obviously they were in relationship were at least one person had not heard the other speak. In fact the able bodied partner loved the signing so much they now include it in their dance shows.
As my turn came, I told the story if my relationship with my wife Diane, and how I see the prejudices that I have witnessed in the past as a kind of filter that allowed me to discover what kind of person I was with quickly. I must admit I was playing up to the panel and my stories caused much mirth and laughter in the studio. The people that also phoned in all had stories of love between disabled and non-disabled people that proved just how good it can be.
But I was left with a weird feeling about the fact that people are still put off by the idea of dating someone who is disabled. What is so strange to me is that surely everyone realises that able bodied people are just disabled people waiting to happen? So if you wake up one day in a hospital bed and discover you’ve joined the disabled gang why would the person you are and your wants and needs have changed? Us disabled types are just like anyone else. We can be great life partners and we can be total gits. We can be caring and generous lovers and we can be selfish “wham bam”ers. I just think it is sad that many non-disabled people still hold so many stereotypes around disability and especially around sex, relationships and disability. Even the panel trotted out the old clichés about only really caring people dating disabled people and how our sex lives were all about touching and stroking.
The truth is a disabled partner can be just like anyone else. They can be the love of your life, they can be a great one nighter or they could be a bloody nightmare. My only piece of advice to anyone who isn’t disabled is don’t be put off by disability. You won’t have to end up being a nurse or wiping our arses (unless you’re both into that kind of thing), but you may find the person of your dreams. Sure you might end up with yet another story of a crappy relationship, but if you don’t try… you won’t know. Oh, and even if you do find yourself with a dud, it’s not a sign that all disabled people are like that. You just picked badly. I mean Diane thinks I great but there are quite a few of my past lovers who would not describe me as anything other than a total pig. I leave it up to you all to decide which I am.
To Watch the episode go to – http://www.channel5.com/shows/the-wright-stuff/episodes/episode-218-15
This is a great blog post Mik, and you are soooo right about able bodied people being disabled people just waiting to happen – it is so obvious to us. Sad that is isn’t obvious to a lot of able bodied people. Sometimes I’m so amazed by people’s attitudes to me. I’ve always had able bodied boyfriends/husband and yeah there is this attitude that they/he must be a ‘nice/caring’ person to go out with me. Cheek!
And another thing that really gets me is that people think it’s ‘awww sweet’ when they see me with my boyfriend. I don’t describe my friend’s as ‘sweet’ when I see them hand in hand with their boyfriend. But apparently when it’s me it’s ‘sweet’ – yuk!
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