In How I Have Sex, we bring you candid accounts of the sex lives of people who explore the multidimensional nature of this human experience. In this episode, 23-year-old Rakshit recounts his experience of navigating privacy while living with partial blindness.
I have partial visual impairment – in this I have 90% visual impairment. If you are around me then maybe I can identify that a human is moving around me but I cannot describe your characteristics or anything about you. If you don’t talk to me, I won’t be able to recognize you. This condition is called Retinitis pigmentosa.
I think I started to feel sexual urges quite early on, but my experience was too late. The eighth standard is where we learn reproduction and the like, but our teachers would generally avoid discussing the topic – and the diagrams that I couldn’t see. So for me, for a long time, sex was the fusion of the male and female gamete. But what is the gamete? Where is it situated? I did not know. You could go on the Internet to find out more, but it was also a time when I was adjusting to my disability. So I was not able to go through the Internet.
I still have a memory of this incident when I was on my Facebook. Whenever I use social media, on my phone or laptop, the font size is larger. So I came across this pic of a guy and I was zooming in, but I didn’t know my brother was there – so for me it became a haunting memory. Because if I could manage my handicap by zooming in on things, I would also have to make sure that it happened as a secret so that it wasn’t observed by the public until I knew it.
As a queer person with a disability, the story of coming out doesn’t end when we step out of the closet. That I am this visually impaired is a story that keeps repeating itself on dating apps.
I think I started to feel sexual urges quite early on; maybe when I was in the sixth standard. But ultimately I think I was 19 when I experienced sex in terms of personal pleasure and intimate interaction with someone else.
Things would get difficult when I didn’t want a relationship or partners; when I just wanted some sort of casual thing. For example, given my disability, I have to make sure [on a dating platform] that the other person is safe for me because I cannot escape a situation on my own if it goes wrong. This way it becomes difficult when I don’t want something.
Virtual interactions are difficult for me as I have to adjust the camera to make sure the other person can see. But at the same time, I can only see the other person if the screen is near my eyes. If my camera is so close to me, how will the other person see?
The exchange of images or videos and the like, like nudes, is even more difficult. For me, I cannot distinguish a blurry image from a non-blurry image. So I wonder if the photo I took is blurry; I wouldn’t even know if the thing that is supposed to be visible is visible or not. And obviously, I don’t want to expose my face in such pictures. So if I have to consider all of these things, then the pace of the interaction slows down. The passion somehow subsides and then you either get frustrated or you lose interest.
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The world finds us – we as people with disabilities – as people who shouldn’t or don’t have sexual desire. But “normal” desire [for disabled people] is not really found in common wisdom.
For me, I think it’s the disability that slows down my experience of sex because I need time to find people and trust them. Sometimes I think about letting close people know that I am going to meet this person here, but I also don’t want to compromise my privacy. This is what I call the security and privacy conundrum: either you sacrifice your security and keep your privacy intact, or you compromise your privacy and keep your security intact, but the two cannot be combined. produce at the same time.
The degree of vision that I have (90%) is enough for me to judge where the bed would be, how is the posture of the other person, is the person facing me, how can I approach the body of the other person. But most of the experiences I have had are from my home. In the ones I have had outside: whenever there is a possibility of obstructions in my path – whether there is a bed or something else – the other person makes sure that they are m ‘warn of it or that it be withdrawn. In this case, half of the other person’s bed was full of books and the room was quite dark so I couldn’t see it. I was told the rest of the bed had plenty of books so I adjusted the position accordingly. Likewise, there are times when it’s possible that people are already removing this item for me – books, fingernails, or any other sharp object.
During sex, you don’t always to say things; there are gestures and other things that tell the other what they want to be done to us. I am not able to interpret this all the time – if I can feel it I know it, but if it is happening through my eyes or at a distance that I cannot see then I cannot judge what To do. In this specific case, they wanted me to please their nipples, but I couldn’t really see their movements. They were probably touching that part of the body for me to understand, but I couldn’t figure it out. So they had to express it. The other person should let me know if there is anything specific.
I think that’s why I find erotic novels the best because my screen reader or the audio setup can read to me what’s going on and it’s, you know, audio porn.
I realized a long time ago that I have a foot fetish. I find it very attractive sexually. Sometimes I feel like it’s more on the asexual romantic side, but there are times when I feel like it’s more on the kink side that I’m falling. I’m still not sure. What also attracts me is when the shirt is unbuttoned from the top and a patch of skin is visible – I don’t know if that can be considered [attraction for the] neck or “mid-chest” areas. Even the sheen of the sweat is extremely attractive – if the sunlight gets inside the room and falls on the other person’s skin, it turns me on too much. Sweat, in general, turns me on, but more so when I can see the glow of light falling on the skin. Or any bodily interaction turns me on – sipping from the same cup, sharing a cigarette. Sometimes I like whether the person is sloppy – you know messy or groomed, like when the beard isn’t groomed or the hair isn’t shaved – it’s appealing. Even someone’s voice is encouraging. What I also like is when the other person is holding their hand, or in a dominant position where they can tie their hands or control my hands, it feels very orgasmic.
I didn’t like the penetration experiences so much [so far]; I like the foreplay – it satisfies me more or even the romantic part satisfies me more. The face of the person is important for me to have a constant connection with the front face. I feel when the other person’s face isn’t nearly visible – or the other person is in the back or I’m in the back – then the passion subsides. So it is important for me to have a sustained connection with the face of another person. Any missionary position is the most satisfying for me because of it.
What turns me off are these labels – up, down – people want to know what label I identify with before entering into a sexual interaction. I don’t think ejaculation is the goal of sex all the time, at least for me. Identifying with a particular label makes me feel confined, which limits my feelings. Maybe vanilla sex makes me happy sometimes, but sometimes hot foreplay makes me more satisfied.
I find the idea of ââcock rings very fascinating, but I had to ask a friend to get them for me. If I had been nondisabled I might have explored these things openly. I wanted to explore sex in different places: toilets, stairs, hallways, parking lots. For me the risk is higher because I can’t see if anyone is actually seeing.
With my disability, and in terms of sexuality, I think my home is a safe place. One in which I am powerful, maybe even more powerful than the other person even without a disability. Because when I invite someone over to the house, then I know my house – it’s almost like my disability isn’t crippling at home, because it’s accessible. So even though I’m a little unsure, I just call people home because I know it’s a place where I have responsibility.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.