When I scroll through social media, I am inundated with pictures of hot gay men with their hot gay friends at hot gay events.
At first, I’m happy that these gay men have found community with one another. I’ll admit that I also enjoy looking at these pictures myself because, well, they’re hot gay men who are half dressed.
After my excitement subsides, I am overcome with a feeling that, at first, I can’t quite place.
As I look at these packs of men hugging, holding and kissing each other, I begin to feel left out. I’m overcome with a feeling that I know all too well as I try to navigate the queer community as a disabled man: jealousy.
I don’t want to be jealous at all. But no matter how hard I try, the feeling just intensifies. It festers and burrows itself within me. I don’t like being jealous. It makes me feel weak, small and ashamed of myself, so I rarely admit to others that I feel this way, but it’s almost always there, just below the surface.
As a disabled queer man, I’ve never had anything close to a gay male crew. Instead, I have often been on my own, fighting and clamoring to be seen and be accepted. There have been so many times where I have reached out to other queer men asking to hang out, and they have given me excuses, or made tentative plans that never come to fruition.
I have gone to club nights (on the rare occasions they are held in wheelchair-accessible spaces) trying to forge friendships and have been given icy cold stares or half-hearted smiles filled with pity as I approach in my wheelchair.
I’m jealous that able-bodied gay men can walk into any club or queer space and when I want to do the same, party organizers and club owners say things to me like, “Sure, we’d love to have you, but could you get a manual chair? Your power wheelchair is too heavy, but you can get another chair right?”
I want to scream: “Can you get other legs?!” I certainly don’t feel welcome when this happens, and it angers me so much that all these queer male connections are made in these inaccessible spaces while the same inaccessible spaces and ableist comments cause me to withdraw from these events.
I see able-bodied gay men in many different ways. There are times I see them as these god-like figures, with beautiful bodies and all the advantages that come with that.
From where I sit in my wheelchair, it seems as though they have everything in queer culture; access to sexuality, access to community and access to each other. I dream that if I were part of a “gay brotherhood” or “pack,” maybe I would have access to a better, more fulfilling sex life.
It seems like they never have to worry that they won’t accepted by the community. There is a part of me that longs to be a part of that exclusive club, and would do just about anything (or anyone) to gain access.
Because of all this deep-seated jealousy, I reach a point where even though I want to connect with them, it’s pointless and not worth my time to put in the effort, because nothing will come of it anyway.
There are other times where I look at them as the enemy, dripping with privilege and power. They have no idea of the hardships, challenges and stigma that I face as a disabled queer man, nor do they seem to care.
There are also moments where I hold them in such contempt and anger, that I wish something bad and life-changing would happen to them, simply so they might begin to understand.
My jealousy brings me to a place where I wish that just for a moment, they were different too; my jealousy makes me want their muscled bodies to be sat in a wheelchair or to use a mobility device. Sometimes, I wish I could watch them get rejected or ignored and laugh at their misfortune, as cruel as that might seem.
Most of my gay fantasies are not usually about hot, sexy romps with mysterious muscled strangers (okay, some of them are). My fantasy is actually going to brunch with a bunch of queer men and feeling included, or being asked out to a club, instead of having to ask if I can join in.
This inclusion that I long for would make me feel like I belong somewhere as a queer disabled man; it would make me feel that my community thinks and cares about me.
I get jealous because I wish I didn’t have to fight so very hard to be accepted into this seemingly gay brotherhood. Every picture I take with my shirt off must be imbued with activism and purpose — even when I don’t want it to be. When other queer men see my pictures they say it’s “inspiring” or “amazing.”
Rarely do my photos elicit comments like “woof” or “hot” or “sexy,” and sometimes that’s all I want to hear. I wish I could just take off my activist and be that playful, nerdy, awkward, disabled queer kid I am on the inside.
I feel the same way when I log into social media sites as a queer disabled person and see throngs of comments, inside jokes and sexual innuendos about last night at the club. These are events that I couldn’t attend.
Because of ableism in our communities, I didn’t get to be there and partake in that hilarious joke, or bask in a sexy, flirtation with someone, and so when I come online into a space that ought to be accessible to me, I feel denied and jealous all over again.
I wish I had a pack of other gay men who would make me feel like the sexy Cripple Cub that I know I am. I wish I had a brotherhood who would fight for my right to be included as one of their own, and offer cuddles, hugs and a hand (or two) when the feeling was right. I wish I didn’t get jealous, but I just can’t help it. I guess that, for now, I’ll continue to be that lone wolf howling at the moon in search of his tribe.