Disgaybled

Should I include that I am disabled in my dating profile?

Hi there! My name is Josh Galassi and this is my dating profile:

Josh Galassi's Grindr profile.

As you can see, I think I am hilarious (and yes, my Grindr profile picture is the same as used on my LinkedIn profile, sue me!). But what you can’t see is that I am VERY MUCH DISABLED.

To give you a brief, Netflix-worthy recap: I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a “disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth.” In other words, my muscles cannot properly communicate with my brain, leading me to walk like someone who may or may not be possessed by a Dementor.

Of course, I have been in the dating game long enough to know it’s not always cute to lead with the, “Hi, my name is Josh and I walk funny!” spiel. Instead, I will typically chat with people for a while before dropping the D (Disability that is, not *THE* D – get your mind out of the gutter!).

Related: Five Tips For What Not To Say To Someone Who Is Gay And Disabled

That said, I’ve discovered having to “come out” as disabled to every guy I am vibing with is exhausting, simply because you never know how someone will react, especially after you’ve invested so much time in getting to know them. In fact, it has reached the point where I literally have a Note saved in my phone that copy/paste every time I am about to tell someone about my disability.  Original, I know, but here it is:

“If we meet though I should probably tell you something: It’s a thing explain to EVERYONE I meet – but I have a physical disability. It’s not a huge deal and never has been a huge issue with previous boyfriends; I just walk a little funny like a drunk person would. Hopefully that’s not a deal breaker for us meeting but yeah, if you ever Google my name it’ll probably be one of the first things that pop up lol.”

Wow, narcissist much with that last sentence? MOVING ON.

For a long time, I was very happy with sending this pre-written “confession,” and guys were almost always very receptive to it. 

“No of course not! That doesn’t bother me at all. It shouldn’t bother anyone lol. But anyway don’t worry about it :)” responded one guy, who I had saved in my phone as “Liam from Canada.”

“Not a deal breaker at all! For a community of outcasts we can all be pretty brutal to each other,” remarked another man, appropriately saved-as “Mark from Seattle” (Sensing a trend, yet?).

It wasn’t until an in-person meeting with someone who had a somewhat different response to my copy/pasted note, that my entire world was #shook. We had been enjoying drinks when the topic of my disability came up.

“Why did you feel the need to give that whole thing about your disability?” he questioned.

Related: I asked my gay and disabled friends what they thought of Trump. Here’s what they said.

“What do you mean?” I shot back, clearly not computing what was happening, which was probably due to the alcohol.

“You know, that whole speech, I just thought it was so silly,” he said. “Why do you feel the need to explain your disability to anyone before meeting them?”

At first, I did not know how to answer, because I had never actually thought about it. Why did I feel the need to explain my disability? So, like any smart person would, I responded with a lingering “Uhhhhhhh…..” while I thought about the answer.

“I suppose I thought it was the respectful thing to do, I would never want someone to think I was catfishing them or hiding something,” I finally answered. “And I guess my disability is something of an insecurity.” (Spoiler alert: It is a lot a bit of an insecurity, at when it comes to dating).

“Hmm, well, I didn’t think it was necessary, and I don’t think people care as much as you think they do,” he retorted. “People will like you for who you are, and if they don’t? Well, bye!”

Since that conversation, I have thought a lot about how I approach, and talk about, my disability when dating online. It is difficult because I feel like either way, that word – DISABLED – is so loaded. The moment people see it, I fear they already have this image of what it looks like in their head. It would be great if we lived in a world where I didn’t even have to tell people about it.

Related: What It’s Like To Date Someone Who Is Disabled (According To My Non-Disabled Exes)

All of that to say, while I don’t think I will ever not tell people about my disability in advance, I do wonder if there is another way I could let people know. Perhaps it’s time I put DISABLED in big bold letters in my profile. Perhaps I start leading with “Hi my name is Josh and I walk funny!” Or maybe I lead with nothing at all, and write a new note entirely.

Would you want to know if someone was disabled before meeting them? Share your thoughts in the comments…

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22 Comments

  • throwslikeagirl

    Add that you have CP. It’s part of who you are and guys would want to know up front. Don’t be cute about it, just factual. You’re setting yourself up for needlessly awkward first encounters and a lot of time-wasting rejection if you don’t.

    • JaredMacBride

      Agree 1000%. Especially on a hook-up site like Grindr.

  • ChrisK

    He’s young, white, and really cute. Many people will over look the disability thing.

  • Frank

    You are what you are…if you feel limited by that then do not engage others in a 2 dimensional world such as hookup apps (because this is NOT a dating app…it is a sex app)…

  • ProfessorMoriarty

    You’re young, funny, and adorable. Put it on or leave it off; I don’t think it’s going to really matter one way or the other. Your wit and good humor are what will carry the day. (Your good looks are icing on the cake!)

  • Alan down in Florida

    A long time ago I was pursued on line by a guy when I was looking for a relationship. When I finally got to meet him I asked him how I would recognize him? His response was he would likely be the only one there with only one arm. After months of conversations this was a fact he had never before mentioned. I considered being a no-show but I went and honestly I was more upset by his lack of honestly all that time than I was by his missing appendage. Keep telling them up front. If they can’t accept you as you are at the beginning they don’t deserve you for the long run.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    I think Josh is addressing it in the right way, in a note after the initial contact. NOT in the profile itself, and NOT waiting til you meet in person. As someone with a slight, but noticeable disability, to me this always seemed the logical way to do it, back when I was dating and/or hooking up (two different things, let’s not forget!). If you wait til you meet in person you might even forget, since your disability is something you probably don’t think about all that often.

    The #1 Question they might have? – maybe something as salacious & unrefined as “ummm… if we have sex, it is gonna hurt him?” Maybe that Well-Meaning Guy knew all about CP but I think he was being impractical.

  • Kieran

    Why not include something simple but up front like: “I was born with cerebral palsy and that makes doing certain things like walking, more of a challenge for me.”

    • throwslikeagirl

      Right on. That’s the mature way to handle it.

  • smanofsteel76

    This article doesn’t really give advice…It’s not helpful because I would like to know the best time to say it. I read the article as if there was a correct answer. Why not put in the title “conversation” or something?

  • Sam6969

    Maybe using instant video conversation (skype, etc.) and after a few exchanges talking about it? It may be a good compromise ; an option to test?

  • tobelaughing2

    It’s not easy trying to date or hook up when you have any kind of Disabilty. Gay men should be understanding of what it’s like to be different but most are as shallow as a puddle in a desert. Being disabled does not mean you’re dead socially or sexually and a lot of guys forget that. They also forget what it was like being a minority, being stared at, others not wanting to be around you because they’re uncomfortable or just massive dicks.
    When a lot people, gay or straight, hear that you’re disabled, all they can think of is what a “burden” it would on them and can’t cope with idea of dating a guy with a disability.
    Having a visible Disabilty is tough when dating and putting it out there should be a positive thing after all, he’s being honest and upfront on who he is and his Disabilty is a part of who he is. By letting guys know upfront will weed out the really shallow guys.
    I’m disabled and though it’s not visible (severe clinical depression, severe sleep apnea, PTSD and a bit of OCD) I made the choice at 52 to add all of that to my profiles because I got tired of dancing around the truth when asked what I do for a living or why I had no money or why I lived in a rural area. Being disabled either visible or not does not make a guy any less loveable, sweet, horny, etc.. We’re alive and “normal” when it comes to love, sex, companionship, wanting to be held, cuddled and even wanting to take care of someone else (most disabled guys like the idea of taking care of someone else especially a lover/boyfriend/husband)
    Putting out that you have a disability should not be counted as a disability when finding love or sex.

  • Chris

    I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a “best time” to tell someone about any disability. I’d say that you should do it when it feels right for you…… If you feel you’re wasting to much time prior to telling someone, then try doing so earlier. It’s an art, not science. Having said so, good luck to this man.

  • Jaxton

    Better to be honest than dishonest. Be prepared for the fact that sexual attractiveness is largely based on physical appeal. If I were you, I would meet people in .person.

  • surreal33

    The truth is sexier than anything you can invent. If a man can’t accept you because of a disability, STI, or any other physical characteristic that you have it is his loss. The key is, to be honest up front as nothing kills a relationship and/or hookup like a liar.

  • therealzam

    I too am gay and have a disability. I also struggle with the best way to explain this, along with people saying it doesn’t bother them when it actually does. Then, there’s the logistical issues of stairs, etc.

    Unfortunately the second someone mentions being disabled, certain assumptions are made. First, most people assume I am paraplegic and confined a wheelchair. Both the author and myself are not either of those things. Second, that I am broke, do not work, live on government handouts (and law suits), and need constant care. While I do spend a lot of time with doctors, working on my health, and can’t safely live alone; none of those items really apply to me. Third, I’m completely out of shape, frail, and bad in bed. The first two aren’t true and I’d like to think the 3rd item doesn’t apply to me either. Fourth, many gay guys feel that dating someone with a disability will lower his social status. In my case, being disabled has a very limited impact on my abilities to date and in bed.

    I’ve tried many different ways to come out as “disabled” to potential dates / hookups including: showing myself on one of my mobility aids, alluding to my disability in a very general way, saying it outright, or waiting until we meet. All I’ve learned from these is that there is no right approach. Right now, my profile picture portrays me on my mobility aid and shirtless while the text states: “I wear braces to walk and can’t climb stairs”. I also have a detailed description for me to cut and paste for those who want more details. I also try to meet in public so that I can get that awkward introduction out of the way.

    I’ve consulted my friends for advice as well. The general consensus is to be up front about it. Their argument for this is that if it matters to someone, he isn’t the right man for me. I’m not to sure if this works.

    My final words of advice: do what’s best for you. You’ll get more flakes no matter what you do, so I suggest experimentation. I definitely encourage meeting in public, or at least having someone check up on you as we’re a lot more likely to be a victim of a predator. .

  • DCguy

    If it’s “Exhausting” to have to come out with the CP information to any guy you want to meet, then yes, put it in the profile and maybe that will take some of that pressure away. It’s a handsome picture, and if you can hold a nice conversation it may not affect the responses that much. And the people that don’t chat with you because of it are probably not people you would have had a good date with anyway.

  • Orgoglio Masch

    Anything that is important to how you live should be in your profile. I have a kid that is with me on most weekends. This is something I believe a potential hookup/date should know up front. Even though most guys only “read” pictures, it’s a good idea to give a heads up on these things.

  • NCDavid919

    I have only recently become “disabled” and it’s not something that is readily visible. But…I thought it best do “come out” to a gentleman that I had been chatting with for bit and told him that I have Stage IV lung cancer and my immunotherapy treatments caused a considerable amount of fatigue.

    I had pondered the need to tell him anything, but things were going along well, so I thought it time to clue him in before either of us invested more time in it if that was something that was going to make him head for the hills. Apparently it was definitely a deal breaker for him because he stopped responding to my messages.

  • joeboyle49

    I AGREE WITH KIERAN I PUT THAT IM DISABLED IN MY PROFILE AND IF THEY DON’T WANT TO TALK TO ME THEN I DON’T MISS A THING! IF THEY WANT TO ASK ME ABOUT IT THEN I TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED.

  • Bob

    The first suggestion I would have is this. Lose that ugly “disabled” word. When people hear that they wonder if you’re paraplegic, have a missing head(hmm. which one?), or have whatever disability they’ve seen in movies lately. I grew up with a friend who had CP. We got around town causing trouble and had no trouble(except the people who would either stare or try to help.. not sure what the help was for though). Most people know what CP is now, and I think that would be much easier to tell people. Must be tempting to swear at new people, then slap yourself and say ‘gotta remember.. not Tourettes’. Have a bit of fun with the disability, people will see it’s not a big deal.

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