I used to see male masseurs when nobody wanted to touch me. So why do I still see them now that I'm in an incredible relationship?
Illustration av Stephanie Santillan Lopez
His name is Tom, and there are no pictures of his face on his website. Just his ass, which is arguably more important anyway. It's beautiful and big—just my type, just my flavor, just my everything.
I'm 27 years old when I meet him. I've just moved to Los Angeles and haven't had anal sex in nine years or a blowjob in three. A boy did kiss me recently at a party—a boy who was tripping on mushrooms and could barely form words—but I'm so fucking lonely, so desperate for something that's more than nothing that I convince myself he's the one. Suddenly, Mushroom Boy is funny, thoughtful, and likes My Bloody Valentine and has nice parents and makes me laugh LIKE CRAZY.
In fact, I'm laughing now just thinking about it.
Sadly, Mushroom Boy never texted me back after our kiss. Actually, that's not true—he sent an emoji of a red balloon, whatever that means, and then off to the virtual graveyard he went. Still, the kiss acts like an electric shock throughout my entire body, and I know I need physical contact again soon or else my penis might just detach itself from my body.
Insert: MassageM4M, a website specializing in connecting men like moi with guys who can offer me an erotic release. I'd been scoping out the site for months, but I felt too ashamed to actually pay for someone to jerk me off, especially because I used to get it for free.
But I couldn't ignore my reality, which is that I was a mildly overweight gay boy with cerebral palsy, and there was a distinct chance I might never get laid again. So now was my chance! My chance to pay a stranger to give me the least satisfying sexual act on the sexual activity tree for lots and lots of money. I mean, how could I NOT do it?
I text Tom. He sends an address in an odd part of town—like, adjacent from Beverly Hills adjacent. I go because my body makes me. You see, it's dying from some kind of dick dehydration and needs a drink, any drink, to survive.
When my drink, Tom, opens the door, I breathe a sigh of moderate relief. His face is cute, just like the photos. His apartment, however, looks like it belongs on an episode of Vanderpump Rules.
Whatever. It doesn't matter. Let's get to work.
Tom doesn't say much. He doesn't even do much. And then, just like that, it's over. For an experience that ended with a climax, the whole thing felt rather anti-climatic.
I leave feeling like a loser. You know, shame, shame, shame. All the run-of-the-mill gay stuff.
I'm never going to do that again, I think. I am not going to be the disabled guy who has to pay a man to touch him.
I go home and tell my roommate about it. She's supportive. Sex is sex. Except it's not, I want to say. The thrill of sex, for a gimp like me, is that someone ACTUALLY wanted to see my naked body.
MassageM4M is the opposite. It's transactional. It's "we're running out of time." It's "that will be extra."
So nope. Never again.
The second guy's name is Scott, and he lives in a depressing apartment overlooking a pool that could only be described as swamp-like.
Scott lets me kiss him. He tells me he never lets guys do that, but I'm cute, so.
I will live off this compliment for months until it wears off, and I have to do it all over again.
Barry has terrible carpet in his apartment. I lay down on his massage table and find myself at eye level with his French Bulldog, who is judging me, I just know it.
Barry doesn't let me touch him. If I go back to him two or three more times, maybe. But not now.
He plays some music from his Spotify, and right when I'm about to come, an ad for beer booms over the speakers.
"Sorry," Barry says, sheepishly. "I really gotta start paying for Spotify."
And I really gotta stop paying for this, I think .
"I told you you would regret it," Barry's dog says to me. Or I say to me.
I had high hopes for Caleb. He was my type, physically speaking—very dad minus the dad bod. But when he jerks me off, I can tell he hates me.
Ha, ha, joke's on you, I think. Because I hate me more!!!!!!
Travis is fat. Travis is old. Travis doesn't look at all like his pictures.
He asks me if I have a boyfriend and if I work out. I can tell he's actually attracted to me, and for the first time, I wish it weren't true. As he rubs his calloused hands all over my body, my eyes focus on his refrigerator. There's a collage of inspirational words like "Dream it, be it," "Carpe Diem" and "Focus."
I come, even though I don't want to, and then I leave because I have to.
Here's what I want from these happy endings:
Objectify me. Make me feel like I'm one of those beautiful boys who gets free scones at the coffee shop and runs into a stranger on the street and decides to drive to Palm Springs with him on a sexy hot-person-whim. Make me feel far away from the land of cerebral palsy, and you're so funny and your friend is cute can I get his number, and I'm sorry I just don't think of you that way.
In the end, it's fruitless. Since I'm paying these men, the whole thing makes me feel uglier and more pathetic than I did to begin with. And it's like, duh. What am I expecting? For this sex worker in North Hollywood to fall in love with me and say he'll jerk me off for free? And then what? Do I turn into Ryan Gosling? Do I get free scones?
I'm 30 years old, and it's been a week since I've been fucked, a few days since my last blowjob.
I am in an A+ relationship. Two and a half years of "Are you fucking kidding me? I had no idea you could love someone this much and have it be reciprocated." I'm not gonna lie: It's heaven, hon.
But I still occasionally find myself face down in someone's apartment, getting ready to be jerked off, and I'll ask myself why. I'm no longer celibate. I want for nothing. (Don't worry, my boyfriend knows about these erotic massages. It's our "loophole.")
But it's not about my relationship. It's about those ten years I went without a dick in my ass, and it's about the scars on my legs, and it's about me getting rejected by a boy I didn't even really like, and it's about all these things converging to make me feel like I'm not enough—that I am gross, that I am unfuckable.
When these thoughts pop up, the urge to outsource my validation comes on strong. And soon enough, here I am, on my stomach, wanting to be wanted.
It's a losing game. And it's one I'm slowly deciding not to play anymore.
I just wish, hope, pray, whatever, that one day I won't need to go to Barry with the bulldog, or I won't need to go to a legitimate day spa, secretly wishing my masseur will find me so irresistible that he has to jerk me off, even if it means risking his job. (Spoiler: This happens to me too, and while it's more satisfying, it still doesn't fix things. Shocker, I know!)
I wonder: Would I be doing this if I were more sexually active in my 20s? Would I be doing this if a stranger kissed me on the street and asked me if I'd like to go to Palm Springs?
As a disabled gay man, when will I need to stop begging the world to see me?
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