Like most people, Andrew Gurza likes sex. The fact that he has cerebral palsy is irrelevant to that desire.
Gurza, a Toronto-based queer disability awareness consultant, blogger, and creator of the Disability After Dark podcast, writes with an enviable candor about his sexuality and how it's often complicated by not just his physical limitations, but the ableist mindset of most gay and bisexual men. Previously, Gurza worked with Grindr to encourage users to ask respectful questions of disabled people (instead of oft-received queries like "Are you dead down there?") and he often confronts ableist speak on social media.
The activist has a new mission, and it's for disabled people to start seeing themselves as they hope to be seen — as sexy. Gurza recently launched the Twitter hashtag #DisabledPeopleAreHot, encouraging people to share images and stories that reflect their sexuality, and hundreds responded in kind. "It exploded over night," Gurza says.
#DisabledPeopleAreHot Thanks @andrewgurza for creating this. For those not in the know I’m autistic, have fall injuries, diabetic neuropathy, and osteoarthritis among other things. I’m in chronic pain and always running low on spoons. None of this detracts from my hotness. pic.twitter.com/LLdRheENjB
— T. Rorstrom (@wolfwind20) March 15, 2019
Viewing oneself as a sexual being is a nearly universal inclination and disabled people shouldn't be excluded from that, Gurza believes. Certaintly, there is no shortage of equality battles the disabled community is currently fighting — from access to scooter-littered urban sidewalks to overturning laws that allow some in the community to make under $1 an hour — but Gurza says his movement is no less important.
"Sexuality is a human right and sexuality is something that we as disabled people deserve to fight for and deserve to have included in our lives," Gurza says. "It’s very valuable."
Another benefit to #DisabledPeopleAreHot is showcasing the diversity of the disabled community; a group of people so often invisible in mainstream media.
"Some people you wouldn’t think are disabled and don’t have visible disabilities, people you don’t consider disabled, are sharing their photos," Gurza says. "It’s really changing the face of disabilities."
When I first posted this I thoughtlessly didn’t add image descriptions. So I’m re-posting with them. Sorry about that!
I’ve been told my whole life that I am too pretty to be blind, but the truth is #DisabledPeopleAreHot pic.twitter.com/bui5OuvmP1
— Cayla with a C (@its_CaylawithaC) March 10, 2019
Whether it will evolve society's discussion around disabled people, like having their issues supported by politicians, increasing visibility, and ending ableist slurs that remain in common parlance, remains to be seen. Gurza says certain groups have begun embracing disabled issues, but not necessarily the dominant gay community.
"What I want to say to those cis, white, able-bodied, muscle dudes who toe the line when they encounter disability is that when you need advice, I’m going to be there for you even though you weren't there to me," Gurza says, adding that everyone will encounter and experience disability up close at some point in their lives.
"Even if you were an ableist asshole to me, you're going to want someone who knows the ropes. There's a whole group of individuals who will help them."