I was elated to find my first love in the disability LGBT space—another blind man named Frank. It happened after chores on a Sunday. Skype rang. My screen reader, through my Bluetooth earpiece, told me that it was Frank. I answered it right away.
The banter was like a vice; I was trapped. He was tech savvy. He was charismatic. And, most of all, he was much older and more attuned to the LGBT space. I knew the disability better than I knew the LGBT world. Up to this point, nobody was interested in me. I was twenty years old at the time.
Now I was in heaven. I got what I wanted from Frank. He’d text me throughout the day telling me that he hoped this event would go well or that editor accepted my article pitch. He celebrated with me when I sold an article and he listened to me vent when I ranted and raved about the political disaster that was capitalism. He comforted me when I wanted to tell him that life wasn’t fair, and I gave him advice on cheap adaptive technology that he was going to purchase. This was becoming true love.
I listened for a year when he would get mad at his mother because she wouldn’t drive him somewhere—a forty-year-old man with his own booming computer repair business. After a year of talking and stretching our obvious true love to the farthest inch, I bought a Greyhound ticket and left for his state with a small suitcase in one hand and my red-and-white cane in the other, with the backpack that held all my electronic equipment.
It didn’t matter that nobody knew where I was. It didn’t matter that I’d just vanish from classes and the newsroom where I was an intern. I had to embrace this true love. There wouldn’t be another chance. Days before my departure, however, Frank kept testing our love by asking me if I’d really do what I said I’d do and come to be with him. He predicted that I wouldn’t, but he didn’t know how much I valued our love. I’d show him.
I arrived with open arms into his life, and he returned the favor. He showered me with kisses and bubble baths, and he would even help me get dressed in the morning and at night. Frank and I were inseparable. It was true love, after all. He wanted to bask in my presence constantly, even when I wanted some alone time to write. He needed to be with me. He needed to be held by me. Luckily, the laptop was the only distraction. My cellphone didn’t work out there where Frank lived. It didn’t matter though, because Frank and I were going to get through the good times and the bad, together. We were going to let our true love flourish.
I started to wonder if his love was smothering. I’d want to have space so I could write. He needed to hear me and feel me beside him at all times. He really needed someone to be there beside him, because he didn’t have anybody with him at all. I was all he had. He didn’t like it when I’d say I didn’t want wine, or I wanted to wear headphones when e-mailing someone. He needed to make sure I wasn’t getting into trouble on my computer. He’d never hurt me in any way, so I was going to help him drink all of this wine he bought. He was looking out for me. He reminded me that it was what people who are truly in love do. I wasn’t sure if this was true love.
Months later, his friend and I started chatting on Facebook. I was doing some writing advice sessions online, and his friend really enjoyed my feedback. Frank became furious that I was talking to him. I explained: “Babe, I’m helping him write his cover letter.” Frank stomped around his apartment and kept muttering to himself. He told me that Terrance was a man snatcher and would try to take me away from him. I asked him why he didn’t trust my intellect enough to let me judge that for myself.
That was when the strike sent me sprawling on the floor. He told me that I was never to back talk him again. I realized that his kind of love wasn’t the kind of love I wanted. That night, I stayed up and packed my bags as Frank slept. Cabs didn’t come out there, so I begged his mom to take me to the Greyhound station. She agreed, asking me if the love didn’t work out. I didn’t know how to answer her.
As I sat on the bus to Chicago, where I now reside, I heard a newly engaged couple gushing about their wedding plans. They were tweeting their excitement and furiously squealing the news to anyone who would listen. I gave them a small smile when they looked at me sitting beside them. I told them how happy I was that they had finally found true love. They asked me if I was with somebody special of my own. I replied: “Not yet, but I know my true love is out there, somewhere.”
Robert Kingett, a gay blind journalist, ; contributes to blogs, magazines, and newspapers; and maintains the website https://
Robert Kingett, the author of Off the Grid: Living Blindly Without the Internet, loves listening to fiction podcasts when he’s not writing. Visit him online at http://www.blindjournalist.