Written by Eva Sweeney.
Art by Cameron Tyme Edison.
As a sex educator — and someone who identifies as a genderqueer disabled female — I write a lot about dating and having sex when you have a disability. Let’s take a step back, though, and talk about where to meet people to date or hook up with.
Having a disability might mean your activities are limited or that some of the places in your community aren’t accessible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t meet new people! So without further introduction, here’s a list of ideas on where to meet potential new partners.
Join some meet-ups
As corny as it sounds, meetups about stuff you are interested in is a great way to break the ice with new people, because you already have something in common. As you go to more and more meet-ups, people will see you as “the cool person who knows a lot about comic books,” and not just “the person who has a disability.” If you start talking to a interesting person who catches your eye, you can definitely ask them out on a date.
Explore online groups
Similar to meetups, you can find an online group for just about anything. Be wary though, as group rules may specify that hitting on other members is not allowed. However, if you and another user hit it off you can start private messaging them and go from there!
Find your go-to cafe
Bring a book or your laptop and just hang out at a cafe you love — it’s that easy! You will probably see (and become) one of the regulars in no time. If someone piques your interest, find a talking point to get the conversation started.
Give online dating a try
This is probably the most accessible way to find new partners. In my previous article, I mentioned I am a big fan of disclosing your disability in your profile, because it weeds out anyone who is not cool with it. Also, if you have issues with your energy, online dating is a great way to conserve energy and still be on the hunt. There is no app for people with disabilities specifically, but Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, Coffee Meet Bagel, Grindr, are all great options for anyone who’s looking to date or hook up.
Bring a friend to be your wingman
As I’ve said before, disability makes some people uncomfortable. If people see you and your friend laughing and having fun, they are more likely to approach you. When this happens — boom! — your friend can introduce you and give a brief explanation about your disability, if it is appropriate. You can also have a subtle sign to your friend or aide that lets them know that they can take a walk while you try to get to know this new person.
Seek out accessible clubs and open mic nights
These are almost always fun scenes, and generally where people go to meet new people. However, clubs and bars are loud, crowded, often dark with flashing lights, and are not always accessible. Open mic nights and comedy shows are more relaxed, while still letting you chat it up with the people around you.
Take a class
Taking a class about something you’re interested in is a fun way to meet new people. Add bonus? You can become more knowledgeable on something you’re passionate about…while scoping out the babes in your class. Also, because you will see the same people every week, you’ll organically get to know each other better.
Ask your friends to set you up
Your friends might have cool, open-minded friends you don’t know about! They can even set up a casual hang out with all three of you so you can get to know each other!
Bottom line: meeting people is awkward for everyone, so don’t feel bad if it is hard at first. Just have patience, and be open to trying new, different things. Happy dating!
Eva Sweeney is a 35-year-old genderqueer disabled female who works primarily as a sex educator and freelance writer. Her topics include disabilities and sex, gender, and queer culture. She is a Pleasure Professional with O.school and is also the creator of the documentary, Respect: The Joy of Aides. She has been doing Sex and Disability workshops for 15 years and started doing this work because she found a huge lack of good sex positive information for people with disabilities. Eva wrote the book Queers on Wheels and has traveled the country giving workshops about Sex and Disability. She is also available for private consultations.