“Why shouldn’t I be in a relationship? “

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A panel of guests discuss their dating and relationship experiences while living with a disability.

  • People with disabilities are often excluded from conversations about desirability, dating, romance and sex
  • Weekend Breakfast Host Sara-Jayne King moderated a panel discussion on dating experiences while living with a disability

People with disabilities also deserve a love life, relationships and sexual pleasure.

However, living in a capable society means that people with disabilities are often invisible, impaired, or seen as asexual.

Weekend Breakfast Host Sara-Jayne King chats with a panel of guests about their dating experiences and views on relationships.

Laura Wagner-Meyer is a fashion designer and model born with a congenital neural tube defect that caused her to need crutches to walk.

In conversations about dating and relationships, Wagner-Meyer says many people unknowingly reinforce the misconception that people with disabilities are meant to be alone.

She says much of the ignorance in society is caused by a lack of disability awareness and education in South Africa.

If I met strangers it could be anywhere, for example at a party, they would come up to me and say “You don’t need a man anyway”, which implies that this isn’t even an option for me or that I’m completely left out of that.

Laura Wagner-Meyer, fashion designer and model

There is certainly this misconception, but I think it just stems from the lack of education on the subject in our country.

Laura Wagner-Meyer, fashion designer and model

I’ve done the Tinder thing far too many times than I would have liked … I think I’ve had a lot more friendships than relationships with Tinder.

Laura Wagner-Meyer, fashion designer and model

Motivational speaker Oscar von Memerty was born with Maroteaux Lamy syndrome, which is characterized among other symptoms by dwarfism.

Von Memerty takes issue with the idea that people with disabilities should only go out among themselves. He says compatibility and connection should be the key factors.

Von Memerty tells CapeTalk that he has been on various dating platforms and is transparent about his life. “I am very open, I post pictures where people can see my height. I am not ashamed.”

He adds that dating apps are a fluke for everyone, disabled or not.

You connect with people and hope they respond. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. This is the thing. I think dating someone you just have to keep trying until you find a connection or someone, whether it’s a friendship, a sexual connection, or a potential life partner – just enjoy the process.

Oscar von Memerty, motivational speaker

I think it ultimately comes down to the connection whether it is an able-bodied person or a person with a disability will not matter.

Oscar von Memerty, motivational speaker

I have been on every dating platform you can imagine … I fish everywhere … I have so many passwords that I forgot!

Oscar von Memerty, motivational speaker

Writer and disability inclusion counselor Makgosi Letimile was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2016 and lost the use of her legs.

After becoming a wheelchair user, Letimile did not have an appointment for four years. She says she finally got back in the saddle last year after feeling isolated during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Someone on social media once suggested that she couldn’t be in a relationship because of her disability. “And he’s a complete stranger on the internet, well, why shouldn’t I be in a relationship?”

Letimile says she started using vibrators to manage incontinence and now she reviews sex toys online through her @wheelsntoys account on Instagram and Twitter.

She launched the hashtag #DisabledSexMatters and says people with disabilities are still sexual beings.

I didn’t go out for four years after my disability, I only became disabled in 2016. For four years, I could imagine myself being with anyone.

Makgosi Letimile, writer and disability inclusion advisor

We are disabled, yes, but we are still sexual beings.

Makgosi Letimile, writer and disability inclusion advisor


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