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The Freedom to Bottom: A Conversation with Adam Baran and Disability After Dark’s Andrew Gurza

The fun stuff |

The Freedom to Bottom: A Conversation with Adam Baran and Disability After Dark’s Andrew Gurza

by Adam Baran

In Future Method’s Bill of Rights For Bottoms, I affirmed that every gay person should have the right to bottom freely without fear, shame or anxieties. This listicle was based on my personal experiences becoming a bottom in my early thirties, a life changing experience that made me feel liberated from societal restrictions and at the same time more accepted within the gay community. But in an age in which marginalized communities are under attack, it is vital that we lift up the voices and stories of people who do not share our everyday freedoms. How else can we learn how to care for, include and support those who face more severe challenges than you or I? 

It’s for this reason that I’m on the phone with my friend Andrew Gurza, a Toronto-based disability awareness consultant and self-identified queer cripple content creator who, because of his disability and the physical and emotional challenges that come with it - tells me he can’t bottom. Those who follow Gurza’s hit podcast Disability After Dark know he has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Those who follow Guza on social media also know that Gurza is out and proud about his horny desires and his right to have them, and continuously battles the daily indignities of being rejected and subjected to abuse on gay hookup and dating apps, not to mention living in a society which desexualizes and excludes disabled people. 

Gurza’s ability to keep pushing forward is one of the things I most admire about him. His Deliciously Disabled Foundation recently kicked off a major research project that aims to create the first line of sex toys designed for use by physically disabled people and people with limited mobility. Earlier this year, Gurza also went viral after creating the hashtag #DisabledPeopleAreHot to help disabled people affirm their desirability in the often harsh world of social media. It’s no surprise that he was honored alongside Elton John at the “Queerty 50” awards this past June. He’s a fucking rock star. 

I wanted to talk more about what the freedom to bottom means to Gurza, so I rang him up on Skype late one weeknight after he had just finished working. 

Adam: Andrew, what does the freedom to bottom mean to you? 

The very first thought I had when you first pitched this interview to me was that it's a simple answer. Right? Because I just can't bottom. The freedom to bottom means you can douche yourself out, it means you can present your ass to somebody in a way that's appealing, you know? How we see people do it in porn, when bottoms present themselves to tops for sex. There's a very specific set of things that entails, and I can't do any of that. 

Can you talk a little bit about why you can't do those things? 

I can't get on all fours to present my ass to somebody. At least from what I've seen in gay porn and from talking to other gay men, I understand that there is very specific set of steps to bottoming. You tease the fact that you're going to bottom and then, whatever you're wearing or not wearing, you present that to the top. I can't, I physically can't do that. And then I can't douche myself out. So any discussion I've had around bottoming with another person would have to be like, "Hey, before we consider that, would you, would you want to help me douche out? That's a really awkward conversation. How do you have that conversation with a hookup?

Right. So much of the ritual of bottoming is that you know you're going to bottom and then you're able to just go and prepare for that, Or if you don't douche, you eat fiber and good food so you have regular bowel movements so you know you're going to be clean. And then this feeling comes over you, that's kind of your butt telling your body, okay, we're ready. 

Right. Well I also have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). 

So do I. I have Crohn's disease as well. 

So you know all about it then. I worry like, if I do bottom, what if I shit on the dude? And if I do shit on the dude, will he think I'm dirty? Does he already think I'm dirty? Will this just confirm what I am afraid he thinks about me? It brings up all these other shitty possibilities. 

There's a measure of autonomy that you don't have totally in the scenario. 

Yeah. Like the bottom takes care of himself so the top can fuck him. Which is not something I can do. So I'm happy to top somebody and I work with sex workers and they come over and douche out and we're good to go and I can fuck like a champ. I do feel like I want to try bottoming more and more, but I can't.

The shit shame is a constant with everybody. I do have to say that. Everybody I know worries that all the time, even when they are able to take the steps to douche. It's still this worry of did I get everything? I mean, I used to douche, you know, two hours sometimes, and a person doesn't need to do that. You really only need like, you know, a couple of tries. But I understand that it’s different in your case. 

Yeah. Another issue is that because of my disability, I can't really see my ass.

Really? Have you never tried to see your ass?

I see it when my care staffers are cleaning it or when I'm being transferred into my chair but they're fleeting moments. And because of my IBS, when sex workers come over, I'm always hesitant to be like "Would you take a picture of my ass?" I'm afraid to, because that's a part of my body that I don't play the control over. It feels like I should have seen it by now. Because the whole ritualistic part of bottoming where like, the bottom looks at his ass in the mirror, or you see it all the time on Instagram, like the bottom stands in the window and is like, "Here's my bum." I wish that I could do that. As a wheelchair user, my ass is not part of the equation which is why I make jokes all the time about my giant joystick because my dick is much more accessible than my ass is. I do feel like I'm missing out. I do want to know what it feels like. Even if it sucks and I never do it again, I still want to know what it feels like. 

When did you first understand what bottoming was and that you weren't able to do it? 

The first time I watched gay porn when I was 13. I was like, yeah, that's not possible. No way. 

That's a remarkable departure from most gay men's first experience watching gay porn, although on some level I'm sure many gay teens who look at porn think for the first time I'll never be able to do that. But in your instance it's very different when you know physically that those are things you can't do. 

I had this feeling even as I got older and watched porn. Like I was in college and I remember watching this porn, and the bottom like, threw his legs fully back behind his head, and I was just frustrated again, like, "Well that's not something I'll ever be able to do."

And there isn't going to be a magic invention or something that's gonna come along and make it doable. 

No, it would have to depend on having a partner who was willing. It couldn't be a one night stand, it would have to be a partner who I really, really trust. It has to be someone to whom I can say, you know, "Before we try this, can you help me clean out?" It can't just be a situation where I have to be ready instantly. 

What do you imagine bottoming feels like? 

Well, I've heard that it feels like taking a big shit. Or having to take it. Having IBS that's nothing new, that's how I feel constantly. So that doesn't scare me so much. But also, I have rods in my spine. I had spinal fusion when I was a kid and other surgeries too that were really painful. Pain doesn't scare me. 

How common is not being able to bottom experienced by people in the disabled community? 

I'm sure it's a lot more common than people talking about. The queer disabled people I know obviously have varying levels of disability, but I would imagine the people I know who use wheelchairs have to deal with this issue and it should be talked about a lot more.

I think for most gay men bottoming is the ultimate threshold. We still associate it with losing our virginity in some way and. Do you feel like you haven't fully lost your virginity in some way? 

As a queer disabled man, yes, I totally feel at times like I haven’t really done gay sex properly, or male on male sex properly, because i haven’t bottomed. It’s an experience that I want to be able to share with my queer male peers. I feel like I’m missing out. There’s something tantalizing about the idea of bottoming for somebody. And I do feel like I’ve missed out. I do. I mean, I think intellectually I will tell myself like, I can fuck someone up the ass, so I've done it, or I can suck cock like a champ, or eat ass like a champ. But there's a part of me that really wishes I could get fucked, and feels ashamed for having to be in the situation where I have to ask someone for help with that. I really want to know what it feels like.

Did the sex toy project you're behind come out of the realization that you couldn’t bottom?

No. The sex toy project came from the fact that so many people with disabilities have limited hand dexterity and limited hand ability. We wanted to create a toy that took into account that so many people with disabilities can’t use their hands in the “conventional” way. So really the toy had nothing to do with bottoming, per se, but we do want to look at toys down the line that can help people achieve anal pleasure if they want to.

How is that project going?

The project is going really well. We need about two thousand more dollars to complete our research. We would love for people to donate to our project. They can head over to deliciouslydisabled.ca and click on the donate button, and tell their friends that we at Deliciously Disabled are trying to create the first line of sex toys for and by people with disabilities. 

Everyone deserves access to toys to help them have more fulfilled sex lives. I’m really glad you’re doing that. 

One other thing that I think is worth noting about my desire to bottom, is that I actually really like the idea of being submissive in bed. In my life as a disabled person day to day I have to be in control of so many things. I manage the people who take care of me. I direct all my care needs. So it is nice to go to bed with somebody and let them take control of things and tell me what I need to do sexually. That feels really nice. I really enjoy the idea of being the submissive person in bed and letting someone else take control of the journey I am having with sex and enjoying that. There’s something really powerful about letting go, as a disabled person, letting go of that control.

What in sex makes you feel the most free?

Eating ass makes me feel the most free in sex because I don’t actually have to do anything with my body. I don’t have to move my body around. There’s no positioning. Somebody just has to sit on my face and I can use my tongue and my mouth, which is a really accessible thing for me to fuck somebody with my tongue and give them pleasure that way. So eating ass is a very, very accessible sex act to me. I feel the most powerful and most in control of my sex, as a queer disabled man when I’m doing that.

What are some simple things that our readers who are not disabled can do to help disabled people enjoy more sexual freedoms?

Honestly I think the biggest thing that people can do is listen to queer disabled people when they talk and when they tell their stories and when they talk about ableism, especially sexual ableism. Just listen to them tell those stories, and let them be angry and let them be upset and let them share that with you. Listen to us when we tell you what we want you to call us in terms of our disability identifiers. Listen to that. Fundraise for queer spaces to actually be accessible to queer disabled people. Want to fuck us. Want to go on dates with us. Want to be around us. Understand that disability will be a part of your life one day and that it’s okay. Queerness and disability are way more connected than I think people realize and that’s okay and we should be championing each other’s causes rather than running away from them. So listen to queer disabled people but understand that you can help things become more accessible by organizing queer fundraisers for accessibility. There’s really simple things you can do.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Future Method, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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