I am 23 years old, and a boy I'm dating is politely trying to put his penis inside my asshole. It's 3 PM in the afternoon, and I'm drenched in the warm summer sun; it's quite nice. The boy attempting to fuck me is also quite nice (and sexy, too), but he doesn't stand a chance.
His penis inches closer and closer to the entrance. Am I really doing this? I think to myself. It's been so long!
Then, right when I feel the slightest bit of pressure, I decide to abort the hook-up.
The boy understands, or at least he pretends to, and the two of us limp along for a few more months. He never tries to fuck me again. I am bathed in relief.
This was six years ago. From age 18 to 28, I never got laid. All in all, I went ten years without having anal sex, which is, like, how long Friends was on the air. Sometimes I'll look at pictures of me at 22, 23, or 24 and get so angry at my younger self. You're so thin and fresh-faced! I think. You should've been having all the sex in the world. You had muscles for no reason! I wasted my early 20s being wasted and sad and not feeling like I deserved to get fucked. I have cerebral palsy—a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture—and I'm fucking gay. This combination can feel like a death sentence for your love life.
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I blame part of my defeatist attitude on Queer As Folk. When I stumbled upon the DVDs one day at Blockbuster Video, I immediately blew through the entire first season faster than Brian Kinney blew through all the patrons of Babylon. I was 12 years old, in the thick of puberty and horniness, and seeing gay sex outside of a porn context was revelatory and exciting—but, as I later discovered, it also fucked me up. Queer As Folk presented a superficial world, where hot sociopathic guys with nice asses have mind-blowing sex 24/7 while smart, adorable gays hang by the sidelines. (The actors playing the smart, adorable guys all looked great naked, so I'm still not clear on how they failed to get laid.) The show's message about the importance of physical perfection came in loud and queer for gimpy ol' me. After coming to the umpteenth shot of washboard abs, I'd look down at my own body, which was undefined and covered in scars from various surgeries. I'd think, Well, babe, I'm fucked! And not in the literal way.
I wish I could tell you Queer as Folk lied. I wish I could tell you the gay world was kind and accepting—nothing like those garbage monsters on Showtime—but, to a large extent, it wasn't. Gay men acted as elitist and judgmental as I feared. Having a nice body meant everything. I spent all of my 20s in three major metropolitan cities filled with hot people, which didn't exactly help my odds. Maybe in Kentucky I could've gotten laid, but in a place like New York, a city that attracts the best-looking people in America, I was a gay Grendel.
I experienced so many unrequited crushes. So much flat-out rejection. I remember being 19 years old, waiting in line at a gay club with a very attractive friend. A guy walked up to us, looked at my hot friend, and said, "Damn, you're sexy." Then he turned to me, scrunched up his nose, and said, "And you look like Harry Potter."
His dismissal hurt, but I was used to men scoffing at me. A few months earlier, I tried to make a move on a boy, but he claimed he couldn't kiss me because he had Lyme disease. When I was 24, my best friend and I hung out with a dude I had a crush on in Palm Springs. After we parted, I texted him, "I think I have a crush on you." His response: "I think I have a crush on your best friend, Caitie! She's the best!" Two years later, I tried to kiss a cute Swedish guy at my doorstep, and he literally blocked his face with his hand.
Of course, I didn't strike out all the time. I had my fair share of drunken hook-ups and dated a few guys here and there, but I always stopped things before they got too serious. I stayed celibate partially because no one great wanted to fuck me, but also because I suffered from serious intimacy issues. It was a vicious cycle. I craved physical affection, but the second a guy touched me, I freaked out and felt unworthy. The gay disabled guy does NOT get to have amazing sex, I'd think. The gay disabled guy does NOT get to have a relationship.
Who could blame me for feeling this way? Growing up, images of gay men told me I was the worst candidate for homosexuality. I knew no disabled gay men. I never saw physically imperfect gay men on TV. There weren't really any representations of disability, period, besides the guy from Breaking Bad—I was too young to have ever heard of Geri Jewell. When you don't see any version of yourself, you're taught to believe that you don't matter. You are fundamentally wrong somehow.
It took me a long fucking time to have the self-esteem to go after guys I wanted. I had to basically tell myself, "YOU ARE WORTH HAVING A DICK IN YOUR ASS" over and over again until I believed it. Once I did, I got a boyfriend and things became pretty chic, but by no means am I "cured." In the last year, I've lost 30 pounds and have become obsessed with working out. Deep down, I think I want to become a hot gay on Instagram and have guys objectify me. Sure, I'm in a great relationship, and finally having regular sex, but I still want to post a shirtless selfiie so some random stranger online will tell me he wants to come on my face.
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I could get in the best shape of my life and still never measure up. I can get abs by forgoing margaritas, I can get the perfect ass by doing squats, but my limp is here to stay, and my scars aren't going anywhere. I've come a long way in terms of accepting my disability—a year ago, I wouldn't even mention cerebral palsy out loud—but part of me still wants to somehow beat cerebral palsy, scrub it from my record one cardio workout at a time. But the more I talk about my disability, the less I feel stigmatized— that's when real change can happen. If we give attention to gay men with disabilities, we can remove the stigma, and gay guys with disabilities will stop feeling embarrassed.
I think gay guys will always be shallow and want to fuck someone with a gym body, but if we can give more face time to normal-looking gay guys and explore diverse portrayals of gay life, I'll be happy. Because honey? I don't want to ever turn on my TV again and see someone like Jonathan Groff pretending to be shy about taking off his shirt. That shit just ain't right.