Grindr can all-too-easily become a time-sucking vacuum that snags you in endless convos with headless torsos, but for many gay men, it’s an essential tool in their dating arsenal.
That’s certainly the case with Josh Hepple, a twentysomething with cerebral palsy. He published an article in The Guardian about exactly how the dating app has revolutionized his romantic life.
“Sex and disability are rarely thought of in tandem,” he writes, going on to describe himself as having “a fairly stereotypical lifestyle for someone in his mid-20s in central London.”
But there are a few major differences:
” I use a wheelchair, I have jerky involuntary movements, I rely on assistants 24/7 and I have a speech impairment. At the same time I have a good sex life and really enjoy challenging men’s conceptions of disability.”
His assistants have now become accustomed to his many “walks,” the euphemism he uses to announce an imminent Grindr adventure:
My assistants are now entirely used to me sitting there on the hook-up while they feed me my dinner rather than feeling apprehensive around the infamous orange glow.
The assistants always disappear in one way or another before any encounter. I keep what I tell guys to a minimum.”
When they arrive, Grindr dates are often “perplexed” by the situation. “It doesn’t help that I live in student accommodation and quite often the guys think my panic cord flushes the toilet,” he writes.
It’s not unusual for guys his age to initially respond with apprehension:
People walk towards me and then turn back. When I check my phone I see that I’ve been blocked (even though I do emphasize the extent of my impairment many times before meeting). I know plenty of my non-disabled comrades also get blocked, but it took some time to get used to. I remind myself that it’s just sex and nothing more.
On the other hand, men in their 40s and older tend to be more comfortable with the situation:
When it comes to Grindr I generally go for guys around 40 as they tend not to have any issues with my movements. I meet around three a week (if not more) and have rarely had a bad time.”
Since he’s unable to masturbate, he instead relies on the kindness of strangers, which he thinks “raises a few issues.”
Is this dignified? Luckily, I have had many, many great experiences. I acknowledge that not everyone who has issues with masturbation may feel comfortable asking men on Grindr (especially if they are straight) to help them perform the deed and possibly go further, yet it would automatically, by definition, turn into sex work if I relied on paid support. I am not sure of the best solution.”
Since joining Grindr 18 months ago, he’s met 60 or so men — and he’d never had any sexual encounters prior to that. Overall, he’s found the experience “unbelievably rewarding and liberating.”
It is a far cry from how I am often treated in public. I guess you could argue it’s a case of equality between the sheets rather than in the streets.
The whole article, worth reading in its entirety, can be found here.