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People with disabilities can 'have a personal life' too, says London, Ont., man looking for love

John Travers says he's tired of the single life and is using social media to find his soulmate, but a lot of women assume he can't have a personal life. "Don't let my disability or the fact that I'm in a wheelchair fool you," he says. Some of the relationship challenges people with disabilities face has to do with their portrayal in the media as being asexual, an expert says.

John Travers, 47, who uses a wheelchair, says he has 'wants, needs, desires, and feelings as anyone does'

John Travers of London, Ont., says he loves music and before the pandemic enjoyed going to live venues. Now, he's using social media to look for a partner 'for my last first date, my last first kiss, my forever love, my soul mate, and my best friend.' (Bob Klein)

John Travers, 47, is looking for love.

"I'm looking for my last first date, my last first kiss, my forever love, my soul mate, and my best friend," Travers recently wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.

Travers is also quick to tell you he has the same "wants, needs, desires, and feelings as anyone does."

Yes, I'm able to have sex, and I'm a very affectionate, very loving man and I believe in lots of cuddling and affection.- John Travers

The London, Ont., resident has cerebral palsy and lives in an apartment on his own, supported by Cheshire Independent Living Services. He requires a personal support worker to get out of bed each morning.

At the start of the year, Travers wrote a Facebook post addressed to "single women." 

"I'm disabled with cerebral palsy. So if you can't accept that about me then we aren't a match," he wrote.

"I'm able to have a personal life. Yes, I'm able to have sex, and I'm a very affectionate, very loving man and I believe in lots of cuddling and affection."

Read Travers's full Facebook post here:

Travers has been engaged twice before, but has been single since 2018. In a Facebook message to CBC News, he said he's tired of the single life, which is why he "put himself out there."

"I think a lot of women see that I'm disabled and they assume that I can't have a personal life or be intimate," he wrote. "Don't let my disability or the fact that I'm in a wheelchair fool you," reads his New Year's post.

The media keep getting it wrong, prof says

Jeff Preston, a professor at King's University College in London, says people who have disabilities are often viewed as being asexual.

"One of the reasons we don't see disabled people as romantic partners, perhaps, is because of the ways we see disabled people as child-like or innocent," said Preston, who's also a community advocate.

"We have a habit of associating disabled people with another group of people who are dependent and in need of care: children," says Preston, who has muscular dystrophy.

"This can certainly cause difficulties when dating as, in my own experience, when asking someone out, I have gotten the response, 'Oh wow, I'm sorry I never thought of you that way.'"

The media portrayal of people with disabilities is often focused on individuals being asexual, said Preston, pointing to suggestions that they lose their sexual ability.

"For many, many people that's, just not the case."

Looking for a soulmate

Travers said he's started searching for a partner in part because, "I hate going to bed alone and waking up alone."

Jeff Preston, a professor at King's University College in London, Ont., says, 'We have a habit of associating disabled people with another group of people who are dependent and in need of care: children.' (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

He shares intimate details about his disability and his personal life in his Facebook post, writing he wears "pull-ups for underwear by choice" and "feeds himself unless it's messy." He also says he doesn't have "any kind of special computer" and can type well on his own.

He admitted he's a social smoker and drinker. As for what he enjoys, he loves music and is keen to get out to live venues again once the pandemic is over.

"So if there are any open, mature, and fun single women who are also done with games and BS ... let's chat and see where we go from there," Travers wrote in the final paragraph of his Facebook post.

Travers, 47, says cerebral palsy doesn't stop him from being able to have a personal life. (Submitted by John Travers)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 20 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.

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