Harnessing My Sexuality as a Queer Cripple: Becoming My Super, Sexy Self

I think we all have those moments growing up during our sexual development that stop us dead in our tracks - something that stirs a primal emotion within us, and while we may not be able to put that feeling into words, we know that it has left an indelible mark on us.   This moment came for me one night when I was 14 years old and had just entered ninth grade.   I sat in my childhood bedroom secretly, discretely watching gay porn on my old, beat up IBM computer while my dad watched TV in our living room down the hall.  I had the volume down the lowest it would go, just loud enough to hear the performances and immerse myself in this brave new world.    I was flipping through the websites (as quickly as I could on 1998 dial up internet) when I stumbled across one scene where the two performers were wearing harnesses.   I couldn’t take my eyes off of them.  Against their chests were these leather harnesses, with two areas for their pecs and nipples to rest.  I remember thinking that it looked like the armour a super hero might wear to protect themselves against a TV villain.    

 

I was mesmerized by the way the performers used the harnesses to pull themselves into one another and engage in raw sexuality in a way that I hadn’t really seen before.   Right at that moment, the seeds had been planted and my predilection for harnesses was born.  I devoured as much of that content I could, taking note of all the different types of harnesses available and how each of them was used in a particular scene.   Each man that wore one exuded a type of confidence that I surely didn’t possess.   I was shy, meek, awkward and introspective.  I looked at the sexual characters on the screen with a longing and desire to be just like them - sexy and in control.  Could a harness help me obtain this?

 

As I grew into my queerness and disability over the years, I tried to fit into whatever scene was popular.  I called myself a jock, muscular, masculine (I have since retired that last one, as I can’t stand those “masc4masc” basics) and whichever combination I thought might elevate me in the eyes of my peers.   In all that time, I never once put on a harness.  While I still loved the way they looked, I never really considered them an option.  All the buckles, belts and clips looked far too complicated for my crippled body to fit into.   How in the hell would I explain to my attendant care worker that I wanted to wear a piece of fetish clothing?  What might they think of me?  No, no, it just wasn’t practical for me.   I was okay in my over-sized shapeless T-shirt and sweatpants that made sitting in my wheelchair tolerable.   I was okay, but I certainly didn’t feel sexy.

 

One day, a few years ago, my friend called me and said that he was coming over with a surprise.  I prepped the Netflix and afternoon of snacks and gossip.   He walked into my apartment about an hour later with a duffle bag under one arm.  He opened it and pulled out a full leather outfit; a harness, leather chaps, and the customary cap that I had seen so many times in the leather scenes I’d been consuming.  “Well,” he winked, “do you want to try it?” I was excited, but I refused his offer at least six or seven times that afternoon.  “I couldn’t possibly wear this,” I protested.  Finally, he didn’t give me a choice and took each item out of the bag.    As he laid each piece of this new ensemble on my bed, I couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear.   I was having a superhero moment of my very own.  It was like when Peter Parker sees his Spiderman costume for the very first time, or Superman sees his emblematic ‘S’ emblazoned across his chest.   They are seeing the clothing that will accentuate who they really are inside.

 

We fought with my spastic, crippled, contorted arms and pulled off my clothes that were two sizes too big for me.  Off came the shapeless shirts, the ones I used to hide my disability in.  My bright red track pants that hid the fact I had any genitalia whatsoever, were replaced with form fitting chaps that left my ass completely bare in my chair; a feeling that I so rarely got to experience, if at all.  That being said, they made my bulge look absolutely incredible.

 

I wheeled myself up to the full length mirror in my bedroom.  My jaw almost dropped to the floor.  The more I looked at myself, tears welled in my eyes.  My chest was pushed up against the harness; it looked puffed out, strong and defined.   My nipples stood erect at attention.  My belly was snug underneath a leather strap.  My arms, two tattoos on either forearm, looked big and inviting. I looked like I was in control of the situation, of who I was and what I wanted.  As I looked at my reflection (after turning bright red), for the first time in what felt like ages, I felt desirable and disabled, all at once.  The harness brought about the sexuality that is always bubbling beneath my surface, but that I am so often scared to truly show.   The harness is my shield, my armour.  I wear it to protect myself from all the ableism that runs rampant when we dare pair sex and disability together.   I wear it to fight off the villains in my head that tell me I’m no good, and that I don’t deserve to be loved by anyone.  I wear it to protect my heart from the boys who just don’t understand, or just don’t want to try.  I also wear it, so you can see me when I bear my soul to you, and use it to pull me into you, so you can find out all you have been missing.

 (Photo Credit: Alejandro Santiago, 2014)

(Photo Credit: Alejandro Santiago, 2014)