Six months after breaking my neck in 2010 a gentleman sent me a Facebook message telling me that he thought I was very cute and he wanted to suck my toes. He informed me he was a Devotee. Of course I had no idea what this meant at the time, so I asked around to some of my other friends who had been injured longer than I had. They told me that a Devotee is a person who is attracted to folks in wheelchairs. I was then advised to stay away from them at all costs because they were very creepy and that it was unnatural for people to be attracted to just the wheelchair.
This got me thinking. There are so many people out there in the world with all kinds of fetishes from being tied up, whipped, electrocuted, swingers, etc. I was curious as to why someone who is attracted to people in wheelchairs is any different?
Can we really help who we are attracted to?
Some guys like big breasts, overweight women, blonde hair, blue eyes, etc. Just because you don’t frequently hear about people attracted to other people in wheelchairs does not make it, in my opinion, creepy right off the bat. Of course there is always a small segment of the population in any group who give the rest of the group a bad name.
Think about it … That macho guy who slaps women on the ass, calls them “sweetie,” and may tell them that he likes their big breasts. This type of guy gives other guys who like women with big breasts a bad name. There are plenty of men who like women with big breasts, but they don’t necessarily advertise this publicly at first. They may go up to a woman, start a conversation, get to know them, and later on in the relationship it may come out that they were initially attracted to that specific woman because of their breasts.
I think one of the challenges with folks who are Devotees is that it is such an unspoken attraction that no one talks about. First of all, from a number’s perspective, there just simply aren’t as many people in wheelchairs in the world as there are women with big breasts. Secondly, there are many Devotees out there who don’t put their picture on Facebook and then write you a creepy message. Clearly, this is not the best way to initially garner positive attention from a person in a wheelchair. Devotees should probably strike up a conversation and get to know them before announcing they are attracted to women in wheelchairs. This has personally happened to me countless times.
Several years ago when I was living in China I was approached by a “Devotee.” He messaged me on Facebook to tell me that he thought I was attractive and that he was a Devotee. I decided to take that particular opportunity and dive into really understanding what it was about women in wheelchairs this guy was attracted to.
He was from Switzerland, physics was his passion, good looking, and he had a very well-to-do job in the gaming world. We struck up a series of conversations, which I’ve saved over the years, and I learned that he was specifically attracted to quadriplegic women in power wheelchairs. He seemed to like paralyzed feet quite a lot, massaging them, and the idea of helping women cut, and eat their food. At first I thought this was a little odd, but I tried to remain open-minded as I probed further. Fortunately, he was very polite and only asked progressive questions when I permitted them. He told me that he saw a woman in a wheelchair in a magazine when he was a teenager and there was an unbelievably strong attraction right off the bat. From then on he was fascinated and drawn to women in wheelchairs.
Once we got past all of his questions about what I had to deal with on a daily basis in a wheelchair I finally got to know him as a person. I think he was just so curious because he said no other women in wheelchairs would give him the time of day. I asked him, as I have asked dozens of Devotees over the years, if he leads with telling women he is a Devotee? He said yes as many others did as well. I did tell him this probably was not the best way to get the attention of any woman. I planted the idea in his head that if he was attracted to a woman with big breasts would he Facebook message them to tell them he thought they were attractive because of their big breasts? He said he certainly would not do that … Well, I told him it was the same concept with a person in a wheelchair.
While there are always exceptions to the rule, many women want to find a guy who sees them and not just the wheelchair. Of course with guys who are not Devotees many of them only see the wheelchair, decide it is too much for them to handle, and do not get to know the person or even give them a chance.
I’ve also learned over the last several years that many of the Devotees I’ve spoken with have never actually been with a woman in a wheelchair sexually. Many of them seem to have a romanticized notion of what it would be like. I have taken copious notes from dozens of conversations with many of these guys and the common challenges for these guys seem to be that many women in wheelchairs won’t give them to time of day because they approach them in a creepy manner, they’ve never actually been with a woman in a wheelchair, they are socially awkward with how they approach women, and they don’t actually understand the “not so pretty” in’s and out’s of our daily care. There are so many other factors many of them had not considered such as understanding catheter care, infections, bowel programs, dressing, etc. These are not particularly sexy activities.
I was just watching the silly movie “Baywatch” and when you see the beautiful blonde lifeguard in a red bathing suit many men are instantly attracted. Many guys don’t stop to think about what went into that particular image. For example, the girl had to do her makeup, shave her legs, get her bikini waxed, whiten her teeth, go to the bathroom before sex, exercise, etc. I think the same thing applies to the romanticized notion many Devotees hold when they see a woman in a wheelchair. We may look all pretty and put together while sitting so perfectly, but behind the scenes so much goes on to get us into that position in our wheelchairs every day.
Coming full circle with the gentleman I was speaking with in Switzerland, we continued to chat for several months, but the conversations started to die down as I was not willing to dive further into talking sexually with him.
The way in which you approach a person when you are attracted to them, I believe, is wholly dependent on how you initially interact with them. When I started dating online if I had had a guy approached me via the online dating messenger to tell me he wanted to go on a date because he was attracted to me in my wheelchair, I definitely would not have gone. The same holds true if a guy invited me on a date because he was attracted to my breasts. I simply would not have gone either. It’s all in the initial approach.
However, if I had come to know a guy and later learned that he is also attracted to my wheelchair I would not have held that against him.
Sex, addictions, attractions, etc. are such taboo topics in the world, especially in the United States, that many folks with unusual fetishes probably don’t have a great outlet or other folks to talk to about it. I think this results in a small sect of the population who ruin it for all the other descent folks out there because they do not have outlets to explore their curiosities. It’s so easy to judge what we don’t know, but we certainly can educate.
Over the years I’ve developed several friendships with some of these Devotees to help guide them in the direction of not being “creepy” when approaching women in wheelchairs. If you are into sadomasochism there are so many websites where you can connect with other folks who are into the same thing, but in the case of disabilities it is a much more sensitive subject, and there are not many outlets for folks with these kind of attractions. Who knows, maybe in 50 years it will be a publicly known thing. Being different does not have to result in one having to feel shame for the way you are, but understanding how to express yourself in any walk of life is key.