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Strange Fruit: What If You Use A Wheelchair & You Need An STD Test?


“I just tested positive for syphilis.”

That's the text message Andrew Gurza received from a recent partner, and like any responsible queer man, he knew what to do — if not exactly how to do it. Andrew wasn't sure if the local clinic would be able to accommodate the wheelchair he uses. "STI and STD clinics are kind of crammed in these really small areas where somebody with a big power chair like mine can't go," he says.

He would also need people or equipment to lift him out of his chair and help him disrobe (a full STD workup involves more than a blood test). He thought the hospital might be his best bet. "I think they were just surprised that I had come into an ER and not to a clinic that was for STI testing," he says.

A doctor initially tried to persuade Andrew that he didn't need the test, but he insisted and the test was eventually administered. The whole long process (including an hour-long bus ride each way) made him realize that something needs to change in order for people with disabilities to more easily access sexual health resources.

Andrew Gurza joins us this week to talk about an article he wrote on the subject for Out.com. He's also the co-founder of Deliciously Disabled Consulting and the host of the Deliciously Disabled podcast.

He says gay culture, with its focus on aesthetics, is not always kind to those with different bodies. Potential partners often seem to see his disability and assume he isn't sexual at all. "All guys can ask me in the club or online or on Grindr is, 'Uh, can you have an erection? Can you have sex?'" he says. "Why can't you ask me something more nuanced and sexier than that?"

We spoke with Andrew about the intersection of disability, queerness, and sexuality, and why our thinking about these things should matter, even to folks without disabilities. "In ten, twenty, thirty years, you might need some help too, and you might need a cane or a walker, and you might need some sort of assistive device," he says. "And when you do, wouldn't you want somebody to still find you sexy?"

In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, we talk about a Maryland theater's plan to stage a production based on the life of Paris Is Burning star Dorian Corey. And we pay our respects to Mercedes Successful, the twelfth (known) transgender person to be killed in 2016. As our auntie Monica Roberts at TransGriot reports, the 32-year-old pageant performer was found murdered in Haines City, Florida, and local media misgendered her in their coverage of the crime.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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