I’ve been wondering what to write for the “We Got Your Back” project. Neo Prodigy wrote a great essay (reposted here), which has a lot of generally-useful information as well as information targeted at teens of color. I wanted to expand on it with some thoughts for disabled teens. I use “GLBT*” as an acronym covering Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersexed, Questioning, and other non-mainstream forms of gender and sexual expression (I’m a geek, so of course I’d use an asterisk as a wildcard character).
As a note, if the tips below sound like I’m equating homophobia with some forms of violence and abuse? I am. In that vein, I have taken the liberty of adapting knowledge from domestic violence advocacy in developing this advice, including some relevant links. I do this because I’m more concerned with helping people who will be endangered by coming out than in only offering uplifting advice (though I offer some of that, too).
You Are Beautiful
As disabled people, we are often taught that our disabilities make us undesirable. Being GLBT* often adds another cultural message of unlovability to this equation. In my own experience, the diversity of tastes that humans have is so broad and expansive that everyone has something about them that someone else will find beautiful. There is no sound basis to believe that you will “always be alone” when it comes to love and relationships, unless that is specifically what you want.
Your Body, Your Self
You have a right to be sexual, and to decide when, how, and if you want to exercise that sexuality. This is true regardless of your sexual orientation, but it cannot be reinforced enough: Your body is yours. No one else has the automatic right to decide what to do with it.
Unfortunately, disabled people are at extremely high risk of abuse of all kinds: sexual, physical, emotional, and so on. If you a survivor of abuse, I strongly encourage you to find someone to talk to: a trusted adult, members of the clergy, a therapist, or even a support hotline.