This gay man uses a wheelchair. It would be a mistake to think his libido is beholden to one too.
“How am I supposed to touch you?” It’s a question that Evan Wainwright, 34, has been asked so often by romantic partners that he has an answer at the ready. “Unless I say something, just do what you’d normally do,” he says. For most men, their first impression of him in his souped-up wheelchair is one of fragility, but Wainwright is quick to remind potential suitors that his disability does not define him or inhibit his ability to give or receive pleasure.
Wainwright has cerebral palsy: a neurological disorder that permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. He tells Living Out Loud 2.0 that a bad decision by his birth doctor resulted in his present condition.
“Three days after I was born … the doctor was trying to see if I could breathe on my own because I was premature,” he said. “He turned off the air in my incubator and that made me have a seizure, which caused me not to be able to walk.”
While Wainwright has been adjusting to life with cerebral palsy since infancy, he says he first acknowledged his attraction to the same gender around age 13, and later made the decision to come out in college to a surprisingly supportive family.
According to Wainwright, two of the biggest misconceptions he’s encountered about people with disabilities are the notions that disabled people are uninterested in sex or incapable of being aroused.
“I lost my virginity at 21 to an able-bodied person that I met online. He came down to see me one weekend and that’s when it happened,” he said. “He knew I was disabled and he was cool with it. I thought I was just going to be a top. And then he wanted to top me (laughter),” he said.
With limited mobility due to his disability, preparing to be the receptive partner during sex can be challenging.
“I don’t do it that often, but when I do they usually help me with the process,” he said.
Having grown tired of meaningless sex, Wainwright's decision to hold out for a partner who was looking to be around longer than one night turned out to work in his favor.
'I met him on Facebook'
They were friends on Facebook for years, but it wasn't until two months ago that a casual online acquaintance became the man offline that Wainwright said he'd been hoping for.
"It's pretty serious. We've already talked to our parents about each other," said Wainwright. "We've made it clear to each other about what we want."
Wainwright says his current boyfriend is able-bodied, and this relationship is his first with a disabled man, yet their difference hasn't been an obstacle in their emotional or physical intimacy.
"He has disabled people in his family, so he's aware of how it is," said Wainwright.
However, the desire to be in close contact during COVID-19, while remaining socially responsible has been a unique challenge.
"We've been using FaceTime a lot just to be safe," he said.
Wainwright tells Living Out Loud 2.0 that he didn't think he was going to find someone, "not because of my disability, but because of how people look at dating," he said.
"I feel like most people look at dating as just something to do instead of looking to build a real relationship. This is what I was looking for from everybody else and this is the first time that I've gotten it."
Note: A portion of this article originally appeared in the Feb. 2016 issue during my time as Editor of Georgia Voice.