Empowered by Leather: How Cerebral Palsy and Kink Can Go Together
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because cosplay is never just cosplay.
By Andrew Gurza
One day a couple of years ago, a friend of mine came over to hang out and brought with him a big bag of surprises.
You see, I love leather. I love the look, the feel and the smell of leather against my skin — it’s intoxicating. It just turns me on.
He opened it and pulled out a leather harness, a pair of assless chaps and a leather daddy cap. He looked at me and said, “Do you want to try it on?”
As a disabled man in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, taking off my shirt by myself is something I’m unable to do, so the idea of putting on any kind of sexy leather outfit seemed kind of impossible to me. I loved watching other queer men in leather scenes wear the gear, but I knew that I couldn’t ever do it myself.
I remember stammering something about how it wouldn’t fit me, how I couldn’t possibly, trying to come up with a bunch of excuses because I didn’t want to ask for his help. I didn’t want him to see me as a burden.
“I’ll help you,” he said, and together we wrestled with the harness and my spastic body to put the piece of leather on my chest.
The harness made me feel invincible — and I loved it.
This took about 20 minutes.
I looked at myself in the mirror, complete with costuming. And I started to cry.
Not because I was sad, but because I had uncovered a part of my sexuality and disability that I hadn’t known about. I mean when I look at myself in the mirror in my power wheelchair, I usually don’t see a strong person. I compare myself to other queer, able-bodied men who look nothing like me, and that doesn’t feel good.
But for the first time, I saw someone who was disabled, but also strong, sexy and confident — qualities I struggle with as a disabled man. The harness made me feel invincible — and I loved it.
I started to explore kink events to meet people who were part of the scene, but many physical kink spaces don’t offer any accessibility for people with mobility devices. These events usually are held at old dungeons with flights of stairs and no wheelchair access.
Now I wanted to share my newfound love of leather with other queer men, while simultaneously introducing them to my world of disability. But how could I express my love of kink, and not have to worry about the physical issues of going to inaccessible events or trying to put on harnesses by myself?
Solution: I got my love of kink and my life as a disabled man fused together in a unique way. I got a tattoo.
And I asked the tattoo artist to create a tattoo in the same vein as the Tom of Finland art, but this time to have the leather man seated in a power wheelchair. This was an important piece for me to have on my body because I’m now connected to both my kink sensibilities and my power as a disabled man. Also, it’s really sexy.
One of the other parts about kink and disability that I really enjoy is domination and submission. As a disabled man, my day-to-day life is often about directing other people how to help me and giving them concise direction as to what I may need. I have to be in control. Kink lets me relinquish some of that control to others, and relax into a part of myself that I’m not used to letting others see.
And not only is my body powerful, but it is partially because I don’t always have to be in control of it as a disabled person. Moreover? Moreover, if you can’t always wear a harness because you’re disabled, you can still find ways to explore kink if you want.
- Andrew Gurza, OZY Author Contact Andrew Gurza