See Me, Not My Disability: Wendy Temple discusses what it means to be queer and disabled.

  • See me, not my disability (and the tall blonde isn’t my carer).

Being queer and disabled? I don’t even think about it. My disability doesn’t impact upon my queerness. My queerness doesn’t impact upon my life. Surely that can’t be true? When I think about what it means to be disabled and queer, I draw a complete blank. I know what it’s like for me to be a lesbian; I know what it’s like having a disability. But the two together?

I’ve got nothing. Am I simply not joining the dots? Missing something completely obvious?

So I went off and had a good think about that…

What does and does not matter.

I can’t really travel and that does impact upon my life. Even when I do, I’m pretty exhausted and can never really get across properly the points I want to make. When I’m tired, I’m forgetful and have problems recalling the names of my own characters, never mind anyone else’s. This is a problem when I meet authors and readers. There are so many conversations I want to have, but it’s difficult. Thank goodness we live in a digital age! I would be incredibly isolated otherwise.

I’m a disabled queer woman who loves sport and enjoys writing. I embraced my sexuality; I never fought it. But when I became ill, I really struggled to accept the change.

My disability impacts upon my life big time. What about the queer bit? Dating? Still been at that, lucky me. Sex, certainly not as energetic as I was. The thing is, I’ve found my soul mate since I’ve become ill. While I feel incredibly unlucky that I got ill, I also feel incredibly lucky at the same time. I have a loving family, a loving partner, and a good group of friends. I feel fortunate, and maybe that’s why I can’t easily come up with an answer.

wheelchair and heart, outline icon. Drawing sign with LGBT style, seven colors of rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet

“I’ve always liked a challenge.”

My disability has majorly changed the path my life has taken. It’s certainly made life a lot more challenging. Everything is difficult. Every single task I undertake. I’ve always liked a challenge and this is monumental. My disability hasn’t challenged my sexuality — it’s the same as it ever was. I love women. In fact, I do a lot more reading of lesbian fiction since my illness. I barely read any lesfic until I became unwell. I certainly didn’t write lesbian fiction before my illness.

People I meet who knew me well before I was ill usually always say, “You haven’t changed.” Maybe that’s why I’ve found this question difficult to answer. Deep down, in flashes, I’m still me. But now I have a wheelchair and most of the time, I’m shattered and in pain. I’m still funny, kind, caring, impulsive and cranky, but now I have to rest a lot.

In and out of touch.

There are things I miss, like clubbing and socialising, and at times I feel completely out of touch with the LGBT+ community. It’s like so much has happened and I missed it. Maybe I would have missed it anyway, but I doubt it. I always liked to immerse myself in what was happening, what was now and relevant. I can’t do that anymore. I can read and watch shows, but I’m not out there living and experiencing what’s happening. I really miss that. So this is definitely an area of my life that my disability has affected.

Does being disabled and queer impact upon my writing? Yes, let me write something set before 2010 and I’m good, but bang up to date? It actually terrifies me. Expectations in writing have shifted and moved with lightning speed, and I struggle to keep up. So that’s the answer. I’m out of the loop. I’m not living the queer life that I would have been had I remained healthy. So that’s how being disabled has affected my queer life. I struggle to keep up and I’m out of touch. Does it matter? Yes, when it comes to writing, it can present more of a challenge, but as with everything that’s been thrown at me in life, challenge accepted.


Wendy Temple is an author with Ylva Publishing and published her novel Defensive Mindset in 2017.

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  1. Aj June 7, 2019 at 01:29 - Reply

    Really interesting, thanks. I hadn’t thought about how being out of the loop as you put it, can have an adverse effect on writing.

  2. Fran June 7, 2019 at 08:50 - Reply

    Glad you are accepting the challenge! I really enjoy your writing and was delighted when you got published as I still reread your older online stuff. You write people well and I don’t think people have changed. This article is of course well written – you are a writer after all, but I like the matter of factness of it.

  3. Pat O'Hara June 7, 2019 at 20:05 - Reply

    I’m glad you are challenging your disabilities. I was raised by a grandmother that had polio and spent her life in a wheelchair. She insisted she was not a cripple as some called her. She was a professional tailor/seamstress that made a ball gown for President Kennedy’s inaugural ball, she sewed for Bishops, District Attorneys and the list goes on. She said her disability would not slow her down. So from that example I got an attitude about people who played to their disability made me angry. You facing your challenges so bravely and with an attitude that I commend is refreshing to say the least. Keep on fighting because you are worthy of a normal life. Good luck

  4. Victoria June 7, 2019 at 22:59 - Reply

    As a 53 year old singleton with a walking disability (not as bad as yours mind) and a breast cancer survivor (with all the scars to prove it) your article gives me hope that I may not be alone forever. Fingers crossed! Vx

  5. Debbie Fahlman September 27, 2019 at 16:04 - Reply

    I can relate to all of your post. I had just started seeing someone and 6 months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I tried to push her away before we became totally invested in each other. I loved her and she loved me, but would I survive? Went through chemo & radiation and she stuck by me.
    If that wasn’t bad enough, 2 tears later I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and confined to a wheelchair. Talk about depression & wondering where this relationship would go, always kept me on edge. For 2 years she worked with me as I struggled to get out of the wheelchair. She was loving & supportive and always tried to keep me upbeat! I am walking now, with assistive devices & there is still a lot I have trouble doing, but 22 years later, she is still by my side.
    She won’t let me wallow in self pity & allows me to be as independent as I can be. There is hope for everyone, you just have to try to keep going!

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