I told my mom I hire sex workers and her response changed our relationship


Andrew Gurza and his mother, Sher
PHOTO/Andrew Gurza

As a disabled queer man who uses a wheelchair and loves sex and getting naked with men, I have had to navigate the coming out process a number of times and in a number of different ways.

I first came out as gay when I was 16. At that time, I was struggling with the fact that I used a wheelchair and I was terrified that by opening up about my sexuality, I would only be adding another burden to my life as a disabled person.

After searching for a term that felt like it fit me more authentically, I came out as “queer” when I was 27. I didn’t feel comfortable using “gay” anymore. Because of my disability, I am not muscular, “masc4masc” or any of the things that are so often culturally associated with that word. Using the term “queer” felt safe. It meant that I didn’t have to subscribe to a narrative that conjured particular images or ideas that my disability didn’t or couldn’t fulfill.

At 30, I came out as a “queer cripple.” This was during my “Fuck you! I‘m disabled and if you can’t deal with it, get the fuck out” phase. I knew what people thought about disabled people and sex, and I wanted to take those misconceptions, turn them inside out and wear them like a badge of honor. If I reclaimed the word “cripple” and said it first, maybe the ableism and prejudice I encountered on a daily basis wouldn’t hurt as much, right?

Throughout my life, I’ve had to reveal my different identities to the personal care workers who help me with daily tasks like showering and using the bathroom. Each time I came out to one of them, I hoped my honesty wouldn’t offend them, as I am dependent upon their help. There were many times I hid who I am from them, so I wouldn’t lose my care.

I had made the decision to employ male sex workers almost two years ago… I was exhausted by being asked if my genitals worked and being sent messages telling me that I looked ‘too cute to be disabled’ or that I ‘looked retarded ? nobody wants you.’

I’ve also had to come out to members of the disability community. To my surprise and dismay, coming out to them has often been the hardest. I’ve been told that all I needed was an able-bodied girl in my life and everything would be all right. Each of these coming out stories has shaped my queer disabled identity in significant ways, but I believe my most recent coming out experience has been the most transformative and powerful in my journey as a queer cripple: I told my mom I hire sex workers.

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