Devotees and Amputee Enthusiasts.
Fetish and sex is a topic that spreads its erotic tendrils into many nooks and crannies of our modern life. Apart from obvious dating resources like Fetlife or Fetish Wombat there are many sites that serve the little known devotee and amputee market. Although these are seen as niche disability dating sites catering to a wheelchair community they also resonate with ‘devotees’ and amputee enthusiasts.
Emily Yates, who uses a wheelchair due to her cerebral palsy, was first confronted with the idea of so-called “devotees” in 2011 when a friend commented that she was a “pretty cripple” under her photo on Facebook. Emily Yates, who uses a wheelchair due to her cerebral palsy, was first confronted with the idea of so-called “devotees” in 2011 when a friend commented that she was a “pretty cripple” under her photo on Facebook.
People Turned on by Disability
Ms Yates, 24, has since explored the scene in BBC Three’s Meet the Devotees: The People Turned on by Disability. As part of the documentary, Ms Yates films herself moving from her wheelchair to her car to test the reactions of “bad devs”. The video was viewed over 4,000 times. Writing about her experiences on the BBC News website, she said she was “shocked” and “hurt” to be described as a “pretty cripple”.“After an angry Facebook rant, I found myself being introduced to a community of people who are sexually aroused, and attracted to, disability as friends pointed me towards some websites about people known as devotees.”
Ms Yates said she found the websites exposed her to “pretty dark stuff” but that she surprised that she “found it strangely refreshing at times” to find a community where people would “love and accept every little bit of me”.
The freelance travel writer who is currently advising on inclusion in the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games also met a sex worker who broke her back and became reliant on a wheelchair.
Leah Caprice shows Ms Yates one of her videos in the documentary. The footage depicts Ms Caprice revealing her bra to the camera while sat in a wheelchair, before removing it from under her top.
“I wanted them to see a girl in a wheelchair flashing is just as sexy as a girl who can walk getting naked in public,” Leah tells Ms Yates.
One devotees she met named Gary told her he viewed leg-braces and wheelchairs like others see party dresses. I discussed this with a psychologist who said that the ‘leg brace’ turn-on is very often seen in older fetishists who grew up during the polio epidemics of the 1950’s and it was then that they became fetishised to young women limping with braces.
“I think there’s also a problem when you fetishise something, that it can hamper you from having feelings for the full person,” wrote Ms Yates.
There is also a thriving community on Yahoo Groups and Facebook serving the amputee devotee market where members trade photos of amputees and quite explicit videos. The commercial nature of the amputee devotee fetish has led to some weird groups of elective amputees who often suffer from body dysmorphia and persuade surgeons to operate on them. They then crop up all over amputee sites selling pictures and videos of their new amputee lives. Even more strange are ‘pretender’ amputees
Pretenders go to amazing lengths to build prosthetics and equip themselves with all the amputee paraphernalia such as wheelchairs and crutches. Typically they are active on amputee and niche fitish message board posting messages such as:
i still hope to meet somebody who also likes pretending to be an amputee. i think it would be a great pleasure doing it together. so i bought a second prosthesis which i would give away to somebody who would like to pretend too. if there is somebody out there who would like to…
So if you see someone pushing a wheelchair proudly along the street you might be watching a ‘devotee’ strolling out with the disabled object of his desire.