Isn’t The Glass Half Full? My Enabling Disability.

I cannot see that much. So, when I need something, over visual aesthetics, I would choose comfort, softness, texture, design and style – aspects of any material creation that I can feel through my tactile abilities. Taking this metaphorically, one can discern my experience during dating expeditions.

ARTIST – LYDIA ORTIZ

The simultaneous experience of a certain disability and a specific sexual identity by a given individual is a theme that seems to have been identified howsoever minimally. For instance, some queer initiatives arrange accessible infrastructural facilities for their disabled participants. But this is also a theme, a conceptual framework surrounding, yet to be sufficiently explored. This is to say, more precisely, that ‘Queer Disabled’ as a subject has remained more visible than intellectual. Of course, the intersection of disability and queer sexuality can be a challenging combination, especially with regards to someone’s love life and mental health. But aspects of my experience with 10% eyesight and a homosexual-self can conjure-up a narrative that might tell us otherwise.

Dependence is an evil that accompanies disability. So having visual impairment since birth, the patriarchal society let me grow up having a lot of closure with my mother. Because she also had the 90% of the vision I was deprived of, she was also my first best friend. This made it easy for her to ask me about my sexuality after she stumbled upon a passionate gay-romance authored by me. Our affable dynamics enabled me not only to respond with casual compliance but also to extend elaborate knowledge about the queer community because the absence of parental hierarchy allowed my expression to have no inhibitions. Now she tells me whenever people are looking at me with admiration and adoration, she also feels sorry for the female audience. All this worked out in a similar fashion with my friends later on. Now I receive elaborate descriptions of onlookers. I am also told the direction in which I should look and smile back.

I cannot see that much. So, when I need something, over visual aesthetics, I would choose comfort, softness, texture, design and style – aspects of any material creation that I can feel through my tactile abilities. Taking this metaphorically, one can discern my experience during dating expeditions. Because my interpretation of everyone’s appearance is mitigated, it is how they make me feel that matters. Yes, I often send screenshots of Tinder and Grindr profiles to my friends to receive some feedback. At times, I even ask the person I am talking to, to describe their appearance to me. But this mostly happens after I have spoken to the other person for some time, by which time I feel the need to have some mental image. Sure, scarlet lips are my weakness, but they hold little relevance if he/they has/have nothing intangible to offer. In spite of the dark lips, I would be able to appreciate the redness only after we compromise our personal spaces, a stage of interpersonal interaction that would come only after I have liked/loved the person. What I am saying is basically that my inability to see only made me less superficial. I still remember how someone proposed to me spontaneously upon discovering that I swiped right on their profile without having any perusal of their pictures. “You swiped right on me in spite of not knowing how I look and in spite of your Sunny disposition! That’s enough!”, I was told.

The most important, however, is the fact that it was my visual impairment that made me experience reciprocal love for the first time ever. During my graduation days, I sought academic assistance from a social wing primarily responsible for the Welfare of disabled students, A Wing whose leadership was reserved for a person with a disability. In my last year at college, I was granted its Presidency. My team of volunteers included someone who I started liking from the day I interviewed him. On enquiring from mutual friends, I realised his heterosexuality. But being relentless and untiring workers, we became close friends. One night, he was in my room. Out of somewhere, he kissed me and continued with a midnight confession. My repulsion was quick and I brought forth a host of questions. ‘’I am sorry, I did not know myself! It was only after meeting you that I grew alive to my bisexuality! “, he answered and I kissed him back conclusively.

In essence, then, my low vision came with its own perks, uniquely prudent to the specificity of my intersectional identity. While recording this experience, I am not being nostalgic, I am also not harking back to the glory of a glorious past. Some of these advantages have continued. And others, while remaining memories are only serving to be a source of hope for a ‘lovely future’.

About the author

Rakshit Malik

A daily connoisseur and an idealist who is appreciative of the Cosmopolitan culture around him. I am a reader, writer and speaker with overwhelming passion for fiction, queerness and intersectional feminism. I am a history aficionado and believe that literary interaction is the source of social revolution. I believe in the subjectivity of human identities and that we are all snowflakes.
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