Some of you may remember Andrew Stuart Buchanan, a Sydney writer who in 2006 was made paraplegic after he fell backwards from the second storey of a building site ...
In 2009, he wrote a very raw piece, published on this blog, about his first attempt at sex since the accident. It resulted in some robust debate about disability and the challenges the disabled face having a sex life.
Aside from the practical challenges confronted by someone like Andrew, which he detailed in that post, there is also the prejudice of being viewed as "half a man", which is what the following passage, which he wrote last week, is about.
I met a woman at Icebergs recently.
I had just swum four laps and was drying off, sitting in the sun next to the pool. She gave me an inviting smile and sat down next to me so I started asking her questions.
She smiled and told me answers. Finally she asked me why I came to Icebergs. I replied that I was teaching myself to walk. She giggled and repeated the same question. I looked back and saw a considerable distance between my chair and myself.
I repeated that I was teaching myself to walk with what was left over after an accident on a building site. I nodded back to my wheelchair. She turned to see it.
A strange look came across her face. It looked like she just swallowed a fart. I continued to ask her questions but she had changed. She had made the connection between broken and man and now didn't like me. She had nice boobs but couldn't handle the jandal.
I will probably never see her again but I will always love her for exposing humanity to me. I will always love her for showing me her prejudice the moment when she realised.
I will always love her for showing me with her face the moment she realised I was different. I know that I will probably never see her again but I will always love her.
I'm sure Andrew is not alone in having encountered this kind of reaction when someone flirting with them discovered they were disabled.
Being single can be gruelling, even for the able bodied, but I imagine being judged "unsuitable" as a lover because of a disability must be incredibly painful and frustrating.
This is one of those subjects in which I have no direct experience - I don't even know what I don't know - so I thought I'd open it up to you, dear readers, and ask you to share your experiences, particularly if you're disabled or have dated someone who is.
I was at a beach party recently and met a guy who at first blush seemed outrageously drunk, his words slurred and rolling over each other.
I asked him about an impressive scar on his ribcage and he said it was for a fluid drain that had been put into his lungs as a newborn, when he'd also been given some kind of powerful drug that cause him to go deaf.
He was philosophical about it, reasoning he would have died without the drug, so losing his hearing was the price he had to pay. He also said being able to lip-read was very useful in talking to women in loud pubs and clubs.
He said being able to see what women were saying to each other at a distance was very handy, so, in at least one way, his deafness had bequeathed him an advantage.
Lemonade from lemons?