Rediscovering her sexual identity was an important aspect of life for Ali after sustaining a spinal cord injury. Ali is a quadriplegic with limited hand function who is paralyzed from the chest down. She took to online dating to find her potential suitors.
Ali admits that she was not looking for a relationship at this time of her life. She wanted to explore her sexuality and get comfortable with her body post injury.
“You must remember that this was a time in my life when I wanted to experiment sexually and I was not interested in a relationship. I needed to explore my body sexually and figure out what worked for me, and what did not. Clearly this would require a little bit of experimentation, a great deal of humor, and a carefree attitude.”
Ali requires help with her independent living skills. For her to get in bed, she says, someone has to lift her, take off her clothes, clean her catheter, and get her into position. She did not want her mates to have to do these things for her, as they are not seen as the most ‘sexy’ of activities. Therefore, Ali came up with the idea of having her caregivers get her situated in bed before the date arrived. Hence, the term “Underwear Dates” was created.
“The next question that was playing in my mind was how to tell these guys that I would be ready for sex and all they had to do was walk into my apartment. I agreed with my caregivers beforehand that they would hide in their room when the guys walked in in order to not make them uncomfortable.”
Ali does not go into details about her dates, but she does highlight some of the funny moments. Ali gives her dates a ‘run down’ of her body, what is comfortable for her. Ali’s suitors were interested in her and everything seemed to go as planned. This concept of dating gave Ali the confidence she was searching for.
"To my fellow quadriplegics who have not yet embarked on discovering their sexual identity I will say this: planning is everything, curiosity is key, openness is crucial, and fun is mandatory!”
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