''I couldn't name one famous sexy disabled person when I was growing up'

When Kelly Gordon first became sexually active, she was so terrified of men finding out she was disabled that she would invite them over and wait for them in her bedroom, not leaving it until they’d left.

‘I was probably quite ableist to myself. I thought that disability was a bad thing and that no one is going to find me attractive if they know I’m a wheelchair user,’ she admits.

‘I would meet them on the internet and not tell them I was disabled…That’s really f***ed up. I was so confused and so angsty about the whole thing.’

Kelly, head of creative at sex tech brand Hot Octopuss, appears on Metro.co.uk’s latest Smut Drop podcast to talk about sex positivity and inclusion. Her own fight for representation – Kelly had to lobby for a ramp to be installed at her school at the age of 11 – has informed her whole career. But it has been a long road, she tells host Miranda Kane.

Kelly, who has spinal muscular atrophy and has used a wheelchair since she was a teenager, lost her confidence at an early age after a boyfriend was bullied at school because of their relationship.

‘When I was younger, sex education in general was pretty pathetic,’ she tells Miranda. ‘There was no mention of disability and sex and that made me want to be the first one in my friend group to have sex – just to prove that I was “normal”. I felt like there was this point to prove that disabled people were attractive,’ she says. 

The pair became sexually active when they were ‘really young’, and when he bragged about it to his friends, Kelly admits it made her feel proud, because she belived she’d proved disabled people could be beautiful too.

‘Then it completely backfired and his friends were bullying him for having sexual activity with me,’ she remembers. ‘And I was like: “Wow, I did not expect this. This is really traumatic.” I don’t think we ever spoke again after that.’

When one of the bullies called her a vile slur, Kelly’s self-esteem was shattered.

‘That was the moment in my head where I realised there was something wrong here,’ she explains. ‘I’m not what I think I am. I’m different. And then I went into my lesson and I just sat there, spaced out thinking – what’s wrong with me? And I shouldn’t have thought that at all.’

Kelly has since built a career around sex positivity and educates others about disability and sex. She also runs a recruitment company that helps disabled people access creative roles and uses disabled people in promotions so that other disabled youngsters don’t feel the way she did.

‘I couldn’t name one famous sexy disabled actress or actor when I was growing up. I couldn’t even picture anyone on TV with a disability,’ she says. ‘So that does make you feel different. And I was the only disabled person in my whole town that was visibly disabled – apart from my own brother… I think if there was some representation, some conversation about disabled people, I would have felt a lot more comfortable, I would have felt a lot more seen.’

She is still fighting ignorance now, though says it can be ‘exhausting’ having to educate people all the time.

People assume that disabled people only like vanilla sex, she says, or that they should be grateful for whichever partner they can get.

‘I’ve been with some f***ing horrible people,’ adds Kelly. ‘And they’ve been in the eyes of the public, a saviour, a saint because they’re with me, a disabled human, you have nothing to offer the world. So it’s still that kind of education that needs to happen for society, for sure.’

When Kelly did eventually start posting pictures of herself online in her chair, she says she was shocked at how many amazing people she met.

‘So many people found me attractive and it wasn’t fetishised,’ she remembers. You still get those people that are like, “I’d love to bang someone in a wheelchair”. But, you just don’t reply to them – unless you just want to bang somebody that wants to bang someone in a wheelchair.

‘It’s been a ride, for sure. Literally.’

Smut Drop

Smut Drop is a weekly podcast with host Miranda Kane from Metro.co.uk, touching on sex, dating and relationships.

With no holds barred, it’s the home of sex positive chat, where Miranda will be joined each week by sexperts and special guests to explore the world of the erotic.

And we want to hear from you, too! As part of our podcast we’ll be sharing listeners’ experiences, thoughts and questions on a different theme every week.

So if you want to be involved in something brilliant – either anonymously or using your bold and beautiful name – drop us an email to [email protected] or slide into our DMs on Twitter @smutdrop.

With new episodes dropping every Wednesday, you can download Smut Drop from all your usual places.

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