Lesbian, gay and bisexual
- Learning from each other
- It's difficult enough to be accepted as disabled without telling people I am gay as well
- I don't fit into the lesbian/gay/bi community
- I can't go cruising because I am disabled
- My local Gay/Lesbian clubs are not disability friendly
- I want a same-sex relationship but nobody is ever faithful to me
- I have real problems being gay and hoped Outsiders would offer more support
I'm trisexual - I'll try anything. David Johansen
Most of this section applies to everyone, whatever their physical state or sexual preference. The majority of the problems reported by our members concern heterosexual desire in one form or another, thus this section is quite hetero-orientated. Many members may even wonder what this section is doing in here, but we aim to do as much as possible to welcome lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) members. Just as LGB members can learn from advice aimed at the straight world, so can heterosexuals learn something useful here or even stumble across something they really relate to.
For example, not everyone identifies with the so called 'long-term committed relationship' and may even find such a thing abhorrent, partners feeling too clinging and restricting. A proportion of gay men prefer fleeting erotic moments with new partners to relationships. Reading about this, a heterosexual could perhaps learn new ways to enjoy being single and have a great sex life without commitment!
It's difficult enough to be accepted as disabled without telling people I am gay as well
Double stigmatisation can seem daunting until you are confident and out. This is much easier for an extrovert who proudly wears his ear ring, sports a red ribbon, and pins a Gay Pride badge on his or her wheelchair. Shy people and people who cringe at crass comments from strangers need to find more subtle ways of establishing their identity and enjoying the life that lays ahead.
Shy people might be better visiting a bi/gay/lesbian arts event, play or exhibition before facing a gay group or club. Moreover first-timers may find it easier to go to an event where they meet other gay people at a mixed event, where they don't have to come out.
I don't fit into the lesbian/gay/bi community
Once you start mixing with other LGB people, you will soon realise that there is no one style or look. What you might have seen in a gay clubs doesn't represent the entire gay culture. Of course, there are some very butch women and effeminate 'queens' but these are the minority. Most look quite normal. You will even hopefully find lots of gay and lesbian people who are disabled, less attractive or shy.
It's important to find a crowd who accept you, where you fit in, so call up the helplines and get advice on where to hang out or what to join.
In big cities such as London there are many gay and bi communities to choose from, some of whom will be more welcoming to a disabled person than others. Some may seem extremely lookist, where everyone is interested in young gorgeous specimens, but there are plenty of other groups where difference is celebrated. Look in our resources under Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual.
I can't go cruising because I am disabled
If cruising is your thing, disability need not stand in your way. Find a chum to go along with you - this is always more fun and adds to the safety aspect, especially if you are visually or hearing impaired.
You may not be able to navigate wild heathland or sand-dunes in a wheelchair but there are thousands of other places to choose from. The disabled toilets might be separated off from the gents, which is of course an issue to take up with the council when you are feeling brave!
Beware, you might meet the occasional homophobe who will have sex with you and then attempt to bash you up when its over. Self defence classes are advisable!
Beware of being offered poppers, or taking them because of peer pressure. They are a real health risk, lowering your immune system and making you more susceptible to AIDS. Needless to say, always use condoms for penetration. Dental dams are advised for oral sex with women and condoms with men.
My local Gay/Lesbian clubs are not disability friendly
Some night clubs may be difficult for a wheelchair user and they are often very noisy and smoky. Try to be well-informed in advance - ring the venue and ask about access and assistance. Go along with mates who can give you a hand, and complain to the management if they seem indifferent to your needs.
You may find that small venues suit you best and many gay and lesbian helplines and support groups have regular drop-in sessions where you can socialise and make friends. They will also be able to inform you about local news and events and hopefully you will be included in invitations to parties and local pub visits.
I want a same-sex relationship but nobody is ever faithful to me
Gay and bi people often need to work on the big green monster: jealousy. Learning to give freedom to your partners and being self-sufficient pays off in any relationship. Disabled people should not live in perpetual fear that their partner will run off with a non-disabled person. Gay and bi people tend to enjoy lots of partners and want to make the most of life. This need not be a threat to any relationship if your discuss and agree to limits and compromises in advance.
If you find yourself in a monogamous relationship, a way to make this last is to offer them freedom whilst at the same time being very loving, sexy and reassuring. Don't cling, but neither should you make them feel insecure by dismissing the warm feelings you can feel by being faithful to each other.
I have real problems being gay and hoped Outsiders would offer more support
We do have a very wise and wonderful member called Maz Peri who would be only too happy to help you with your problems.
Gay, lesbian and bisexual people have many support groups and helplines to help tackle the problems addressed in this book. To find your local helpline and support group, look in the local telephone directory, try the Citizens Advice Bureau, Samaritans or local Social Services Department, or call the London Helpline on 020 7837 7324. If you want to try a gay group or service here look in our directory under Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual, for an extensive list. National organisations will put you in touch with more local groups if you prefer.
Here's a short list of useful contacts:
- There is a free service at Pace for gay people who feel excluded, rejected, stigmatised, emotionally distressed, anxious or without a voice. They also run workshops. Address: 34 Hartham Road, London N7 9JL. Telephone: 020 7700 1323. Fax: 020 7609 4909. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Regard is the National Organisation of Disabled Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals. Address: Unit 2J Leroy House, 436 Essex Road, London N1 3QP. Tel: 020 7688 4111. Minicom: 020 7688 0709. Email: email@example.com. Website: www.regard.dircon.co.uk
- Brothers and Sisters Club is for deaf lesbians/gays. Address: 25 Cruikshank Street, London WC1X 9HF. Tel: 020 8309 7059.
- Gay Men and Lesbians Affected by Multiple Sclerosis . Address: c/o London Friend 86 Caledonian Road, London N1 9ND. Website: www.mswebpals.org/glams.
- Gemma Gemma is a multi-ethnic national self-help group of disabled and non-disabled lesbian and bi-sexual women, which was started in 1976 to lessen the feelings of isolation, offering chances to make new friends, and develop a social life. Gemma is positive about sexuality and disability, but is not a dating agency, though lasting relationships and rewarding friendships have resulted from membership of Gemma. Members include women who are disabled or non-disabled or chronically ill, and many have health problems which are not visible. The group collects, researches, and continually updates information on issues around sexuality and disability, and wages a constant battle for accessible premises and literature. Their quarterly newsletter is available in print, large print, on cassette and in Braille The yearly subscription is £2.50/£5/£7.50, according to income, and personal ads in the friendship lists are free and confidential to members only. Gemma also has a tape friendship circle for members where several Gemmas pass on their news and views on a circulating audio-tape. There is a social meeting once a month in London, details available on joining. Write/tape/Braille to: GEMMA BM Box 5700 London WC1N 3XX.
Gay, lesbian and bi events and meetings in London are listed in the listings mags of most major cities, Time Out in London. There are also plenty of gay papers, such as the Pink Paper available in gay bars and clubs and may be available in your local library. Gay Times is extremely interesting and available from most newsagents.
Bi Community News is a magazine which keeps bisexuals informed of what's going on, and there is an annual BiCon which is an interested residential weekend. SM Bis is another group - all of these should be disability friendly. You can contact all these through the London Bisexual Group: PO Box 3325 London N1 9EQ which has a helpline on Tuesday and Wednesday 7.30-9.30pm and Saturday 10.30am - 12.30pm on 020 8569 7500.
- For bisexuals: www.bi.org.
- For lesbians: www.gingerbeer.com.
- For gay/lesbian listings: www.queercompany.com.
- For gay/lesbian/bi fetish: www.fetish-net.org.uk.