It can be difficult to navigate the twists and turns of the roads of Disability and Asexuality on their own. What happens when you come to the point in the road in which Disability Dr. & Asexuality Ave. meet? As a disabled ace, I know this intersection all too well. It’s a tricky one. As a community, we need to talk more about how it feels to be at this intersection.
Navigating a disability or asexuality on its own is more than difficult enough. When you combine the two, it can feel futile. In part, this is because the disability community has spent so many years fighting eugenics. Our community has especially challenged the eugenics idea that all disabled people are asexual. This idea is simply not true: plenty of allosexual people are disabled. Unfortunately, some disabled people believe that aces like me are “part of the problem.”
When you hear things like that, it’s pretty disheartening. Since last I checked, having a disability doesn’t mean you don’t have a particular sexual orientation. I’ve also heard the opposite, “Oh, you’re just ace because you’re disabled.” In my opinion, that’s a bold assumption to make. For many aces, myself included, their asexuality has nothing to do with their disability. Even still, it’s important to remember that everybody’s experience with asexuality is different.
Speaking of differences, I’ve had some strange experiences when attempting to date with a disability. When I add a dash of asexuality into the mix, it becomes a whole different batter. There are two experiences that come to mind, both with heterosexual disabled people who, like me, use wheelchairs. (I won’t get into specifics to avoid triggering anyone with the circumstances of these encounters.)
I was naive to think they might understand me on a deeper level since they were disabled. (Most people with disabilities do!) Perhaps sex might be a point of contention for them too because of the nature of their disabilities. Unfortunately, it was clear that quite the opposite was the case. That just goes to show that everyone’s experiences with sex and sexuality are vastly different. No matter the circumstances we should never assume how people will feel.
Both situations promptly came to a halt after the old classic, but dreaded, “I can fix you” line. Those situations left me feeling almost inevitably broken. In hindsight though, I should have responded with, “I don’t need to be fixed if I’m not broken.” The question then becomes, “how can we make sure this doesn’t happen to other aces?”
Asexuality and disability are often misunderstood as all or nothing concepts. In reality, both of these are broad spectrums! We must first realize that aces and people with disabilities are just that: people. We are real people who are capable of different kinds of love & relationships, whether platonic, romantic, or otherwise.
The key to this realization (and so many others) is communication and active listening. This helps us better understand others. If we don’t have communication we have nothing. We must communicate our expectations, boundaries, and desires to our loved ones and potential partners. If communication is the foundation of our relationships, we can tackle much larger issues! For now, though, having an open line of communication is a great place to start!