Andrew Gregory is a gay parapole champion. He’s also an amputee. 19 years ago, he was in a motorcycle accident that caused him to lose his left leg.

“I don’t remember much, but the bike landed on top of my left leg and smashed what was below the knee to pieces,” he recalls in an interview with Attitude magazine.

After spending weeks in the hospital and undergoing over a dozen unsuccessful reconstructive surgeries, he made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated.

While that sounds devastating, Gregory says losing his leg actually had a positive impact on his mental health, which he wasn’t expecting.

“My relationship with my leg post-accident wasn’t good. To me, it was misshapen, scarred, and ugly,” he says. “With a prosthetic on, it’s even more beautiful and it gives me confidence in the rest of my body.”

In another unexpected turn of events, during his rehabilitation, Gregory discovered parapole, also known as pole dancing.

“I discovered pole accidentally,” he tells Attitude. “I was looking for a form of exercise I could do that would work with my leg, and first came across anti-gravity yoga. The same studio also taught pole–one of the teachers convinced me to have a go, and I was hooked immediately.”

Gregory says he was surprised at how difficult it was (“Having the strength in your grip to support yourself is difficult; I had countless blisters in the early days.”), but also at how much he enjoyed it.

“The feeling when I perform is indescribable,” he says. “Something takes over as soon as the music plays; you go into autopilot mode.”

Since taking up parapole, Gregory has gone on to compete in several international championships, often taking home the top prize.

“I am now a parapole world champion,” he tells Attitude, “and in October I took gold at the IPSF [International Pole Sports Federation] World Championships in Canada. In February, I also competed against able-bodied polers in a non-parapole competition and won.”

He adds, “When people watch me on the pole, the most common reaction is they come over to tell me I’m inspiring and, of course, I love to hear that–who wouldn’t? But what I really want is for people to simply think that I’m good. ”

Now that he’s officially conquered the parapole, up next on Gregory’s agenda is finding a boyfriend.

“I’m also going to get myself out there and look for a partner,” he tells Attitude. “I haven’t had sex since the amputation because I don’t know how guys see me, if they still find me attractive.”

He says he’s not interested in people who want to fetishize his disability, saying often for those people “it’s definitely more about the stump than what’s attached to it.”

He continues, “Although my fear of rejection has increased, I feel I’m just reaching the point where I possibly want to meet a significant other.”

Scroll down for more pics from Gregory’s Instagram page…

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