When you think about things that people generally find sexy, disability probably doesn’t spring to mind. But there are some people that find disabilities a big turn on: Devotees. I’ve been exploring one of their online communities – Paradevo.
Paradevo is a message board for Devotees, people who are sexually attracted to the disabled. There are lots of websites for devotees (or devs as they are known for short) each catering for different tastes. Paradevo is designed for those attracted to disabled men. So it is a community consisting of many disabled men, mostly female devs and gay male devs too. A few months ago I signed up and have been interacting with other users of the site. I didn’t know anything about devs when I first started, but since then I’ve learned a lot.
I was interested in why devs find people with disabilities (PWDs) attractive. However most devs don’t know themselves why they feel the way they do about PWDs. Some think it’s genetic, and some think it was triggered by a childhood experience, but they don’t really know. They just are. However, this is true for any sexual preference. What causes homosexuality? Why do some people like licking feet? Why do some people like sniffing bike seats? Yes, that is actually a thing.
A preference for the disabled is just another part of the seemingly unlimited spectrum of human sexuality. However, it’s not ALL disabled people a particular dev may find attractive, but specific types of disability. According to a Poll on Paradevo the most attractive disability is Spinal Cord Injury. Low severity SCI (paraplegics) came top in the poll and high severity SCI (quadriplegics) came second, with blindness coming third. On other dev websites amputees were the most attractive disability, so attraction does vary depending on where you look.
How to turn on Devotees
So what are the turn ons for devs? Well some people like scars. A lot find “quad hands” (tight and contorted hands that quadriplegics usually have) arousing, and spasms. Some say they liked the uncoordinated way paraplegics or quadriplegics move their bodies. Or they like the contrast between the more muscular upper body of paraplegics and the paralysed muscle-wasted lower half. Some just want to “take care of” disabled people. They like it when disabled people ask them for help. Others get turned on by disabled people’s “vulnerability” and they like to help them overcome barriers. Some are aroused by disabled people struggling to perform actions like picking something up or crawling across the floor. Some are turned on by disability equipment like leg braces, wheelchairs, crutches, catheters and even leg bags. Even mundane activities like transferring out of the wheelchair could be a major turn on for a dev.
Some devs write their own fantasy romance stories involving disabled characters and post it on the Paradevo blog for others to enjoy. These stories provide a fantasy way for devs to explore their sexuality if they can’t do it in real life.
Most devs feel ashamed or guilty for finding pleasure in other people’s misfortune. They don’t think it is “normal” to get turned on by disability. So Paradevo was created to give them a place to talk about their feelings. Some of them have been keeping their feelings a secret for years and have only recently decided to “come out” to their friends. However most just keep it to themselves as they are worried about what other people might think. Some disabled people don’t like devs and think they are patronising or weird and don’t want anything to do with them. However there are good devs and bad devs.
A darker side to Devotees
Bad devs have a reputation for being predatory, creepy, manipulative and exploitative. Some devs (not all of them) might take advantage of or exploit disabled people just to get sexual gratification. I’ve seen stories of devs taking photos or videos of disabled people without their knowledge or consent. Some don’t care about disabled people’s personality or feelings and completely objectify them. Some just like the feeling of power they have over more vulnerable people, and when this is the case we start to get into dark territory. This is the reason that consent is so important if a dev and a disabled person start a relationship.
However, all of the disabled people on Paradevo, including me, are on there by choice. Also it does say on the paradevo website that they are not interested in people with learning disabilities because they may not be able to give consent. I must say that I personally have not encountered any negativity so far on Paradevo. The site is self-moderated so any inappropriate or offensive content is removed. So Paradevo seems to be a community of good devs, who in my experience do treat disabled people with respect.
For example I’ve spoken to a dev who works as a carer at an SCI centre in the US. He loved quadriplegics, but resisted his feelings at work because he did not want to risk losing his job by being “unprofessional” towards the clients. Although it is debatable whether he should be working with vulnerable people at all. I have to take his word for it that he knows what is and is not acceptable behaviour. However, some devs may be more malicious.
Personally, I have an open mind about devs. Girls who aren’t put off by my disability. I’ve had zero success on online dating websites, because in my cynical opinion most girls don’t want to date a disabled guy. So devs in this respect are great because they don’t see the disability as a negative. The ones I’ve spoken to are very open-minded about all aspects of disability and happy to answer questions. I don’t think devs should feel ashamed for feeling the way they do. Everybody wants to be desired and disabled people are no different. If a CONSENSUAL sexual or casual relationship between a dev and a PWD were to develop, and both parties know exactly what they’re doing, I don’t see a problem with that. However, it is the bad devs who are more predatory in nature that we should be worried about.
The only barrier is society’s perceptions and I think they need to change. There seems to be a general misconception that disabled people can’t have sex or are not interested in it. So if a person says they find disabled people sexy this could be perceived as shocking or weird by narrow minded people. But why shouldn’t disabled people be considered sexy? Just because we may not conform to the standard of beauty that society demands does not mean there is something wrong with people who fancy us.
Paradevo is an interesting insight into what makes devotees tick. At the end of the day they are just normal people (most of them) who happen to be physically attracted to disability. However, yes there are some more predatory bad devs and disabled people need to be wary of them. But in a society where most people probably don’t find disability attractive, it is reassuring to know that there are some people who think that PWDs are actually pretty hot.