There's something I want to tell you.
I have sex.
Now, you might be wondering why I feel the need to announce this in such a public way. It isn't, in all logical senses, the sort of statement that should be altogether a shock or surprise to anyone - I am, after all, a thirty-something erotic writer. The sort of person who's expected to be having sex. But there's something else I am, and that's a disabled woman. And that, in many people's minds, makes everything a totally different kettle of fish.
Last year, Scope ran a campaign called 'End The Awkward', when they ran an A to Z of sex and disability. It was very good, and I encourage you to read your way through it. This Valentine's Day, they are back with more, including pastiches of Mills and Boon covers featuring disabled protagonists. Each cover relates to a particular story, and I'm involved (as I was in the original), with my story featured in the 'racy and romantic' story The Sensual Scribe.
The idea behind these projects is to help people feel more comfortable with disabled people, and particularly with seeing us as sexual beings. Shockingly, a poll by Scope showed that less than 6% of people who use dating apps or websites have met up with a disabled person for even one date through those means. When you think how many dates come out of sites like these, the stats aren't great, to say the least.
I'm lucky. I'm happily partnered up with someone who looks at me a bit oddly when I suggest that my disability might have put him off me. But it's true that lots of people feel uncomfortable even talking to disabled people, let alone thinking about dating them - let alone thinking about (whisper it!) sex with them. But honestly, we're not that bad after all. Not that strange, not that frightening, and definitely, definitely, not invariably asexual! In fact, many of us can be extremely creative in bed - even if sometimes it's because we've needed to be. And this is a good thing. Celebrate our differences, don't fear them.
So, all you folk on Tinder - eharmony - OKCupid and the like... take a chance. Message that person you passed over once after seeing the awful word 'disabled' on their profile, or noticing their hearing aid or wheelchair in their picture. Give them a go. You never know - they might be just the one you've been looking for.