Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Just because I’m disabled, doesn’t mean my boyfriend has to be

Online dating has opened up new ways for people to meet and find love but for disabled daters it also brings preconceptions and challenges. For Valentine’s Day Michelle from Liverpool shared her experiences with us.

At school I was very sheltered, I never felt disabled until I went to a mainstream college. Nobody else in my class was disabled and it was a bit of a culture shock. I was in a class with 17 other girls and as difficult as it was for me, I also think it was difficult for them because they’d not grown up around someone who was disabled.

A lot of people I was around in college believed that if you were disabled you’d never have a boyfriend or never want a boyfriend. They’d say things like “you haven’t got a boyfriend, have you?” but actually, at the time I did. When they found out they’d then assume that obviously he must be disabled too. But just because I’m disabled, doesn’t mean my boyfriend has to be and in fact, he wasn’t.

Once you talk to a person and they get to know you, they get to know you as a person and it’s a lot easier to break down those barriers. But unless they take the time to get to know you, it’s hard. That can be especially hard when it comes to dating.

Woman smiling
Michelle’s had some awkward dating experiences

I was born like this, it’s not special, it’s not different, it shouldn’t be an issue

I’m single at the moment and I do find dating difficult. Online dating is particularly awkward as I have to explain that I’m disabled. If you walk up to someone in the street they can see it straight away but online I never really know what to say because to me it’s not spectacularly different. I was born like this, it’s not special, it’s not different, it shouldn’t be an issue. But you never know how someone else is going to react.

Whenever I meet someone online I let them know I’m disabled by saying ‘I’ve got Cerebral Palsy which means I’ve got a slight limp.’ One time I went for a drink with a guy I met online and when I got there he said to me:

“You said your limp wasn’t really that bad but it is.”

I was like wow, what do you even say to that? I said, “no I don’t think it is that bad”. In what world is it okay to say that? You would never say to someone, “you’re not as good looking as your picture”. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t see him again after that.

I think it would help if people were generally more open minded about who they date; get to know the person, don’t be so superficial. I know to a lot of people looks are really important – and they are to me too – but if more people got to know a person rather than basing everything on what they look like it would make things a lot easier.

It’s important to find someone attractive but looks fade and a personality doesn’t. If you’re going to be with that person, they’ve got to be a good person. To me that’s a lot more important than what a person looks like.

Dating will always be difficult whether you’re disabled or not. I don’t think there’s anybody who doesn’t find it awkward. But if you do need some advice then Phil Lusted’s tips to end awkward dating moments is a good place to start.

I haven’t got anything planned for Valentine’s Day this year, I’ll probably watch a film and eat some ice cream. It’ll definitely be a lot better than some of the recent dates I’ve had.

Want to read more, check out our A to Z of sex and disability. 

You can also discuss sex and relationships on the online community.

 

Scope’s Romance Classics #EndTheAwkward

Scope is celebrating Valentine’s Day by releasing swoonsome recreations of iconic Mills & Boon book covers – starring disabled people.

Just like more than a century of Mills & Boon cover art, Scope’s spoofs feature softly-lit scenes of blushing heroines and chisel-jawed hunks.

Scope Romance Classics comes after our recent poll* shows that just 6% of people in the UK have been on a date with a disabled person they met through an online dating site or app like Tinder.

Our previous research also found just 5% of people who aren’t disabled have ever asked out, or been on a date with, a disabled person. And less than one in five (16%) have invited a disabled person round to their house.

 

Scope Romance Classics are based on some of the racy and romantic stories that disabled people shared as part of our illustrated A to Z of sex and disability.

‘The Sensual Scribe’ by Penelope Friday

An illustrated spoof romance novel, 'The Sensual Scribe'Erotic fiction author Penelope started writing erotica featuring protagonists with disabilities when she started thinking about the lack of disabled characters in the genre.

“It was as if disabled people never had sex: we didn’t seem to exist in mainstream erotica. Sadly, this ‘disabled people don’t have sex’ attitude is one I’ve experienced in real life: I have an invisible disability (ME) and am treated like two different people, depending on whether I’m in my wheelchair or not.”

Our Sensual Scribe blogs about challenging attitudes through her work and why it’s important for mainstream publications to print erotica that features disabled people.

Read ‘The Sensual Scribe’ by Penelope Friday.

‘On the Prowl’ by Romina Puma

An illustrated spoof romance novel, 'On The Prowl'Romina is a comedian and has muscular dystrophy. In the run up to Valentine’s Day, she’s been using online dating apps in her search for Mr Right. The hunt is proving fruitless, as the matches she makes seem more interested in asking awkward questions about her impairment than getting to know her as the fabulous and funny person she is.

“Sometimes they ask me questions about my condition – what it is? Can I have sex? Yes I can! Everything works properly down there, don’t worry about that,”

Read ‘On the Prowl’ by Romina Puma.

‘One Track Mind’ by Mik ScarletETA valentines cards Mik_v3

Broadcaster and journalist Mik started to explore alternative erogenous zones after a spinal injury in his teens left him unable to get an erection.

He reveals how to create orgasmic erogenous zones anywhere on your body and how to enjoy ‘thought orgasms’ by conjuring up your sexiest, X-rated fantasies.

“There are many differing techniques so it might be worth trying a few to see which suits you. But trust me; it really is possible to orgasm even if you are paralysed from the neck down.”

Read ‘One Track Mind’ by Mik Scarlet.

‘Recipe for Romance’ by Ronnie Murray

An illustrated spoof romance novel, 'Recipe for Romance'Ronnie, who is group head chef at Mark Hix restaurants, has a shortened left arm.

He shares some sexy, stamina-inducing recipes for breakfasts in bed that will keep your lover’s strength up the morning after Valentine’s Day.

Read ‘Recipe for Romance’ by Ronnie Murray.

Get reading and share your favourite story on social media. Read more stories like this on our A-Z of Sex and Disability.

 

*On 1-2 February, Scope ran a Google poll of 500 people in the UK asking: Have you ever been on a date with a disabled person that you met through a dating website or app? Just 5.6% of people said ‘yes’, compared to 94.4% who answered ‘no’.

Scope’s Romance Classics: Penelope Friday is ‘The Sensual Scribe’

An illustrated spoof romance novel, 'The Sensual Scribe'Penelope Friday is an erotic fiction author with a penchant for raunchy tales of sex and romance.

This sensual scribe will not stand for the “disabled people don’t have sex” attitude. Why wouldn’t the ‘Lusty Lady’ use a wheelchair or the ‘Horny Hunk’ be deaf?

She is here to mix sex and disability into the pages of her tantalising tales.

I came into writing erotica through fan fiction. Fan fiction (often called ‘fanfic’) is a class of writing in which you take other people’s characters and give them adventures of their own.

A large proportion of this is dedicated to writing ‘adult’ fiction – no matter whether the original characters were engaged in sexual activity or not!

I always feel as if I should apologise for coming to the genre through fanfic, as it’s seen as a ‘lesser’ form of writing, but actually the amount of fun I’ve had – and the amount of friends I’ve made – through writing it means that I decided that I didn’t want to suggest that I regret my beginnings!

Baring it all

When I first started having erotic fiction published, I didn’t originally intend to write so much on disability and sexuality issues.

To be honest, it didn’t occur to me that it was needed until I wrote an article for Disability Now and acknowledged the lack of disabled characters in my fiction.

After that, the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t written erotica with protagonists with disabilities; I hadn’t found disabled characters in anyone else’s work.

It was as if disabled people never had sex: we didn’t seem to exist in mainstream erotica.

Sadly, this “disabled people don’t have sex” attitude is one I’ve experienced in real life: I have an invisible disability (ME) and am treated like two different people, depending on whether I’m in my wheelchair or not.

In the former case, people never catch my eye, let alone show any interest in me. While I can’t say that everyone falls over themselves to flirt with me when I’m without the wheelchair, certainly I’ve had some attention!

With this in mind, I wrote my first story with a disabled narrator, Picking the Man. The story was written from the point of view of Ellie, a wheelchair-user who’s quite upfront about the fact that she’s sexually active.

The story involves her chatting up a non-disabled man with whom she’d like to have sex. Given my own experience, I wanted to face (and challenge) the attitude issue.

Ellie describes the potential date as thinking: “It sounds like she’s flirting with me. But she can’t be – she’s in a wheelchair!”

It’s not all just sex, sex, sex

Overall, I’m interested in people. Everything I write – erotica or not – is based upon the people in the story.

Yes, I quite often write about people having lots of sex, but I start with the characters, not the sex. I imagine a person, and it is their experiences that I write about.

As well as writing about characters who are disabled, I write across the sexuality spectrum: I’ve probably written more LGBT fiction than straight fiction. My protagonists may be male or female (or neither), straight or queer, disabled or not. It’s about the people, and who they are – not what they are.

Getting what I want

It has become something of an obsession to write characters with disability into my erotic stories, many of which have been accepted by mainstream publishers. I think there’s a place for dedicated disability publishers, just as there is for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender publishers. It’s good to have places that we minority groups feel we can rely on to acknowledge our existence!

But it’s also important for mainstream publications to take erotica that features disabled people. Some of my erotica has been published in anthologies where my story will be the only one with a disabled protagonist and it reaches a different audience, mostly non-disabled.

I want to challenge these people’s assumptions about disability. I write from the viewpoint of the disabled protagonist, trying to give an insight into the character and demonstrate that people with disabilities don’t actually spend all our lives thinking about our disability any more than non-disabled people would consider the way their bodies work.

I occasionally get emails or letters from people who really appreciate the fact that I’m writing about disabled characters, and I treasure them immensely. I want to normalise disability because, after all, for disabled people, living with disability is normal. This is how our lives are.

And yes, we have sex!

Penelope shared her story as part of Scope’s Romance Classics. You can read more sexy stories from our authors:

Read ‘On the Prowl’ by Romina Puma.

Read ‘One Track Mind’ by Mik Scarlet.

Read ‘Recipe for Romance’ by Ronnie Murray.

 

Scope’s Romance Classics: Mik Scarlet has a ‘One Track Mind’

ETA valentines cards Mik_v3Mik Scarlet is a broadcaster and journalist with a one track mind. Since a spinal injury in his teens left him unable to get an erection, he has explored alternative erogenous zones, ‘thought orgasms’ and a whole new world of sexuality.

Mik likes to share the love so he talks about his carnal discoveries to help other people with spinal injuries and impairments to reach orgasm.

This blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, so please only continue if you are 16 or older.

Sex is so much more than the method for making babies. It should be fun, exciting and a great way of bonding with a partner, whether they are the love of your life, your current squeeze or a one night stand.

It’s this element of their sex life that many spinal injured people feel they have lost, especially early on when they are learning to live with their injury. But trust me – nothing could be further from the truth.

If you’ve lost the ability to gain erections, but can still feel aroused, then with a little effort you will find that you can achieve multiple orgasms. It transpires that it is the erectile system that prevents men enjoying sex in the way women can, and once you experience this you tend to not miss a ‘hard-on’ in quite the same way.

Discovering a new world of sexuality

For those who have lost sensation, there is now a growing group of therapists and disabled people, myself included, that are promoting various ways of turning the erogenous zones on the parts you can feel into orgasmic zones, which opens up a whole new world of sexuality.

There are many differing techniques so it might be worth trying a few to see which suits you. But trust me; it really is possible to orgasm even if you are paralysed from the neck down.

Sure, sex after a spinal injury will be different than it was before, but with the right attitude, support and partner it can be better.

When I incurred my spinal injury I thought my sex life was over, but nothing could beat the sex I have now. A lot of that is due to my injury and how it made me re-examine what it means to have sex.

In this video, Mik reveals how to create orgasmic erogenous zones anywhere on your body and how to enjoy ‘thought orgasms’ by conjuring up your sexiest, X-rated fantasies.

Penelope shared her story as part of Scope’s Romance Classics. You can read more sexy stories from our authors:

Read ‘The Sensual Scribe’ by Penelope Friday

Read ‘On the Prowl’ by Romina Puma.

Read ‘Recipe for Romance’ by Ronnie Murray.

Scope’s Romance Classics: Ronnie Murray’s ‘Recipe for Romance’

An illustrated spoof romance novel, 'Recipe for Romance'This Valentine’s Day treat your lover to a lie in whilst you whip up a Recipe for Romance.

Chef Ronnie Murray posing for a photo in his restaurant kitchenRonnie Murray is the Group Head Chef at Mark Hix restaurants and has a shortened left arm which has never held him back in the kitchen, or the bedroom.

He shares with us his Valentines treats guaranteed to keep the fires of passion burning longer.

This blog contains frank information about sex. It’s meant for people over the age of 16, please only continue if you are 16 or older.

Sex and dating with a disability can be stressful enough without the thought that you also need to perform in the kitchen to keep someone interested.

Having a shortened arm definitely hasn’t ever held me back, in my career, or the bedroom. In fact my wife is adamant it’s a big bonus having more room to manoeuvre when we’re in the middle of a romantic clinch!

All I’ve ever wanted was to be a chef and through passion and hard graft I’ve made it happen. With sex it’s the same thing- creativity and determination!

People ask me strange questions about my arm all the time, which can get a bit wearing but I know it’s just comes down to a lack of understanding at the end of the day.

I’ve never had bad dates because of my disability. It’s a talking point.
I don’t know whether being a chef ups your sex-symbol credentialsbut treating someone you fancy to a brilliant breakfast in bed certainly helps to keep you ahead of any dating competitors.

Blueberry Drop ‘Your Knickers’ Scones

My blueberry drop ‘your knickers’ scones will have your lover begging for more under the covers action.

Blueberry compotePicture of blueberry pancakes

100g frozen blueberries
50g jam sugar

Put the frozen blueberries and caster sugar in a pan on a low heat, bring to the boil, stirring from time to time. Simmer for a few minutes until the compote starts to thicken. Set aside to cool.

Drop scones

250g self-raising flour (dove gluten free)
2g baking powder
50g caster sugar
10g golden syrup
2 eggs, beaten
About 300ml milk
50g melted butter for greasing
50g frozen blueberries
150g blueberry compote
1 small pot of Greek yoghurt
1 tin of golden syrup

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl, then add the sugar. Stir in the golden syrup, eggs and enough of the milk to form a thick smooth batter that just drops off the spoon. Using a spoon fold in the frozen blueberries.

Heat a non-stick pan or solid top and brush with some of the melted butter. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and let them cook for 3 minutes until bubbles rise, then turn them over with a palette knife or spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Put them on some kitchen paper, while you are cooking the rest.

To serve place a warm drop scone onto a plate, spoon some of the blueberry compote on top, place another drop scone on top to finish then drop a spoonful of Greek yoghurt on top and drizzle with some golden syrup.

Whip Up A Fruity Little Number

Serves 4

Picture of a yoghurt with berriesWhipped goat’s curd with berries and honey roasted oats
280g whipped goat’s curd
120g honey roasted oats
320g fresh berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or a good mix of each
A drizzle of honey

Put a good dollop of the whipped goat’s curd on a plate and using the back of the spoon work the mix out to evenly cover the plate. Place the berries on top of the whipped cheese scatter the honey roasted over the top. To finish drizzle with honey.

Whipped goat’s curd

240g goat’s curd or soft goat’s cheese
40g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod
A splash of milk
Put the goat’s cheese, icing sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod in a large bowl. Using a whisk ‘whip’ all of the ingredients together, if it’s a bit thick add the splash of milk. This could also be done in a food mixer. This can be kept in the fridge for a few days until needed.

Honey roasted oats

250g oats
150g butter
125g honey
75g golden castor sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C

In a pan melt the butter gently with the honey and brown sugar.
Add the oats and mix. Spread the mix onto a baking tray lined with silicone paper and bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, occasionally turning them to ensure an even colour. This will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks.

Ronnie shared his story as part of Scope’s Romance Classics. You can read more sexy stories from our authors:

Read ‘The Sensual Scribe’ by Penelope Friday

Read ‘On the Prowl’ by Romina Puma.

Read ‘One Track Mind’ by Mik Scarlet.

 

“Sex can be awkward if you are hard of hearing” #100days100stories

Jennie Williams, director of disability charity Enhance the UK, shares her awkward sex and dating moments as part of our End the Awkward campaign. Two thirds of people who are not disabled feel awkward around disabled people. We want to put an end to this, break down barriers and maybe even fall in love.

Update: Jennie’s story has inspired Malteaser’s to create an advert based on her story. Watch the advert on Youtube.

Jennie Williams, founder of Enhance the UK
Jennie is the founder of charity Enhance the UK

I have degenerative hearing loss, which is believed to be linked to a heart condition I have called long QT, also known as sudden death syndrome.

For communicating, I wear two hearing aids which I rely on a lot. I am also an extremely good lip reader and use British Sign Language (BSL).

People tend to associate hard of hearing with old people, so people often say to me, “Oh, yeah, my Nan wears a hearing aid, we shout at her. I think she has selected hearing… Chuckle chuckle.” I would be a very rich woman if I had a pound for every time I heard that, and yep, I mean ‘heard that’ because I can still hear things.

Telling people about my disability

When I am at work, I tell people from the off that I am hard of hearing and for them to please look at me when they are speaking to me or keep their hands away from their mouths. When I am in a social situation, however, things can be very different for me.

I tend to just struggle on a lot of the time, laugh when everyone else is laughing, strain to keep up and, even worse still, I apologise. I guess I don’t want to embarrass people and make them feel like they are not including me.

Dating with a hearing impairment

There can be some real perks of dating someone with a hearing impairment – we can get you into the theatre for free or cheap – same with the train. A lot of us can lip-read conversations that you were never meant to know about and get all the gossip. Winning!

Though dating someone with hearing loss can be awkward at times. When you are getting down to things and having a good old snog, the last thing you want is your hearing aids whistling every time the hot man – in my mind he is always hot – puts his fingers through your hair.

And then your aids end up flying out of your ears, onto the floor and the dog runs in and eats one of them. That is a true story, killed the moment I can tell you.

My favourite awkward date

I was single, living in London and looking for a boyfriend, so I did what many people do – I joined a dating site. I was chatting to a guy who looked cute and we had a bit of banter by email.

We met on the South Bank and went onto one of the boats on the river and had a drink. We chatted about work as you do. I may or may not have been twisting my hair and trying to make my lips look all pouty and thinking, ‘I really fancy this guy.’

I went to get my lip gloss from my bag and out fell both of my hearing aid batteries. They are really small and the guy said, “what on earth do they power?” I explained my hearing loss and he replied, “why do deaf people do this?”

Cut to him waving his hands in the air, scrunching his face up with the tongue in his bottom lip making weird groaning sounds. I thought about throwing my drink in his face but that would have been childish, and a waste of a drink, so I explained about British Sign Language and the culture behind it.

I don’t think he got it at all but he was embarrassed. He didn’t know what to say, so he offered to take me for a ride on his massive motorbike – not a euphemism – around London and buy me dinner. I am very shallow.

My next favourite subject… sex

Sex is great. But it can be a little awkward if you are hard of hearing and someone is trying to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. You can mishear totally which results in jumping up, turning on the lights and saying, “you want to do what to me?!” Again, true story, and I won’t tell you what I thought he was saying.

When I was younger I was having a fling with someone who was deaf and we always had to have sex by the door in case his olds came in. Or we would put towels down against the door to try and block it from being opened, but always having one eye open just in case. Real romance.

Undressing disability

Jennie with her partner Jonno and a dog
Jennie and her partner Jonno

I started the campaign Undressing Disability three years ago.

It’s about challenging misconceptions around disability and ensuring that better access to sexual health, sexual awareness and sex education is granted to disabled people.

Most people I know and talk to want a loving relationship, to feel loved and to love. Any sense of intimacy between two people who care about one another is so important. Even if it’s a one night stand – let’s face it, most of us have not only slept with people we ‘love.’

We all want to be found attractive and sexual relationships are the most natural thing in the world. Sadly, Scope’s new research shows that that only five per cent of people who aren’t disabled have ever asked out, or been on a date with, a disabled person.

Am I surprised by this? No, of course I am not. Am I motivated to keep pushing the campaign until these statistics change? You bet I am!

Help us End the Awkward this Valentine’s Day.

Find out how you can get involved in our 100 days, 100 stories campaign

Find out more about Enhance the UK on their website.