The origin of language and its meaning has been the topic of scholarly discussions for several centuries. Each word, every sentence, and a phrase, when spoken or thought, has a meaning. You, the reader interprets these words in your own way. The very mention of a term has the ability to instantly paint a vivid picture, set a mood and create images in your mind. With that being said, whenever the age 45 or the term sexy is mentioned what appears in your head immediately? I want you to close your eyes and envision that. Now, when I say 45, sexy and disabled, is the image you initially imagined altered at all? Isn’t it mind-boggling by merely stringing a few adjectives together and adding another could instantly alter the image? I can’t speak for everyone but for a major part of the world's population, the disabled individual isn’t thought of as a sex symbol. In fact, some people don’t think of the disabled community as sexual beings at all. So in conversation when I hear Christopher Coleman loudly and clearly proclaim,’45, disabled and still sexy!’ I had to admit some people, myself included, have numerous preconceived notions, several stereotypes and countless questions about this statement. Being the analytical journalist that I am, this thought quickly turned into a conversation and that conversation resulted in the following interview.
What inspired you to agree to this article?
I wanted people to awaken themselves to the disabled world. As I said many times, you can't change your race or your sexuality but in the blink of an eye, we all can become disabled.
Do you think people find you attractive? Do you find yourself attractive?
Growing up I use to think I was the ugliest person in the world. I looked at the way my body moved and thought that was the deciding factor for how attractive I was. Now that I am older, and a little wiser, I am very comfortable with who I am. I sense most people are attracted to a confident person. I believe, my confidence and intelligence mixed with my okay looks make me attractive to a lot of people.
Do you get hit on a lot, if so, how does it normally go?
Due to people’s preconceived views on a person with a disability, I don't get initially hit on a lot. There have been many instances where a person who gets to know me in a more social setting, gets more comfortable and approaches me. I am usually flattered by it but it takes me a while to take them seriously because I am aware of most people’s preconceived ideas (about individuals with disabilities).
Does your disability change your needs and desires for love and intimacy?
I think for some it will increase their needs and desires. Also, not to sound cocky but I do believe that some people have found exactly what they are looking for in me but allowed my disability to blind them from that.
Relationships & Dating
What are you looking for in a relationship?
Even at 45, I am still a hopeless romantic. I look for unconditional love, commitment, and laughter, something beyond the temporary feeling of (physical) attraction.
If you were dating a person what would you want a partner to bring to the table with them?
I would like them to have Honesty, Faith in God, Independence, and a serving heart.
What's dating like for you? Was there ever private dating?
There was private dating with women when I wasn't being true to myself. Mostly in college, some of those relationships were behind closed doors. The girls seemed to be a little embarrassed that they were in a relationship with a disabled person. Then there were others who actually flaunted our relationship in public. When I realized that I was attracted to the same sex I stopped dating altogether because I knew and I decided to put my feelings aside and live in the closet. Even now at 45, I will say that I have not entered into a serious relationship with a member of the same sex.
What is an ideal date for you?
For me, whomever I am with on a date I want them to make it known for those who are watching. It doesn't need to be PDA but if there is a vibe between us I don't want them to hide it from the rest of the public. I like dinner, movie, meaningful conversation, wine, and laughter.
What advice would you give a single individual with a disability seeking a relationship?
Be true to yourself. Don't let superficial people impact your self-esteem about yourself.
What advice would you give a single individual with a disability seeking an active dating life?
I don't think most people with a disability are just looking for a dating life. If we are honest with ourselves even if we say we are just dating we are still looking for someone who is going to love an accept us for who we are. Therefore that simple date can prematurely turn into a relationship. So with a person with a disability who says they only want to date the key would be to take it very slowly, don't give your heart so quickly and most importantly don't' rely on that person for anything until there is a long-term commitment.
I know that within the last 5 years you made your same-sex attraction to public knowledge, does your job ever interfere with your personal life? Is there a definite line between the two?
(In) The beginning of my career definitely affected my personal life having a strong belief, faith in God and doing a lot of speaking within the church made me feel that I had to hide my sexuality by living in the closet. Once again being a little older and wiser and changing with the rest of the world. I realize that a person’s sexuality has nothing to do with their career or their spirituality. My beliefs set guidelines for an appropriate same-sex relationship just as it sets guidelines for a heterosexual relationship.
How has coming out affected you personally and professionally?
On a personal level, coming out had really had a negative effect on my life for a while. Being a black disabled gay man in the South I had my own fears of what it would be like to be out as a gay man. Unfortunately, most of my fears came true. Being ridiculed, ostracized and in some cases hated for being gay on top of being black and disabled, really put me in a state of depression for a while. I got so depressed to the point where I wanted to take my own life. Just like most men in America, what we do professionally also mirrors a large part of who we are. Coming out has made a wonderful impact on my life professionally. As I began to look beyond my immediate circumstances, I realize that being a black disabled gay man along with a motivational speaker set me up to be an ICON for diversity, inclusion, and equality. So it has played a major role in my professional life.
Did it take you longer for you to embrace your disability or your sexuality? If so, why did one take longer than the other?
One didn't take longer than the other. For the first 15 to 16 years of my life, I was not in tune with my sexual identity I was more aware of my disability and how it separated me from my surroundings. By the time I worked through being a person with a disability my sexuality began to take root. It took me about 20 more years to accept all that. Though it was longer, it was more gradual, whereas my disability was given to me all at once the day I was born.
How would you contrast yourself and your sexual self? Or is there no contrast at all?
The only thing I can truly say is my sexuality is 5% of who I am. People who knew me in the closet and maintained a friendship with me while coming out of the closet would say that I am the same person.
Do you believe that people have a moral issue with having intercourse with a person with a disability?
Yes, I know a lot of people who have found me to be sexually attractive but because of their lack of understanding about an individual with a disability along with the way society may view them they would never approach me in that manner.
How do you find a balance between your sexuality and your spirituality?
I truly believe that there is no balance that needs to be found. I believe that the Bible has a guideline on how we should experience sex. I believe that the guideline is for both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Just like 99% of the people with the same beliefs, there have been moments in my life where I have messed up. But in all fairness, I do believe that society and some churches have made it more difficult for a person who is attracted to the same sex to follow the biblical guidelines.
What are your views on celibacy? Are you celibate?
I try hard not to have sex with people simply because as I said before, I am a hopeless romantic. I like the idea of falling in love and sharing that part of you. It is something that is special and not giving too many. However, there have been occasions in my life that I have not pursued celibacy.
I believe that most people assume that individuals with a disability are not sexual beings. It's almost as if they think that part of their bodies has been directly affected by their ability to walk etc. I can assure you that’s not the case.
Love & Marriage
What are your views on marriage? At any point in your life did you see yourself getting married?
I understand that marriage isn't for everyone, but I think it is a beautiful thing I want in my life one day. When I was in the closet and deeply grounded in barbaric church tradition I convinced myself mentally that I wanted to marry a woman. The reality is, I have never been emotionally attached to a woman to commit my life to them. Being attracted to the same sex is not only sexual it is also an emotional and mental bond I am able to establish with a man and not able to establish with a woman. I hope that anyone that is in a relationship with another person is not just there for his or her sexual needs.
After this informative unconfined conversation with Christopher I quickly had a light bulb moment: Contrary to popular belief, things aren't always what they appear to be. Individuals with disabilities can be seen as sexual and desirable, with an open-minded partner those desires can be met in a very organic manner. Disabled individuals have the ability to court, date, experience love and manifest that love just as we, able-bodied individuals, do. I hope many will view this article as a reminder that even if a person is disabled the spirit within them isn't.
More About Christopher
Who is Christopher Coleman? 45 years ago, Christopher D. Coleman was pronounced dead at birth and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Doctors told his mom that he would never walk, talk or simply think for himself. Today, he travels all around the world as a motivational speaker giving insight to the masses about equality, diversity, inclusion and unconditional love. Through many speaking events, online research and various YouTube videos one can feel as though they have had the pleasure to meet the professional Christopher. I asked to do this interview and actually sit down with this extraordinary man and give the world a greater insight into his personal life. My goal was to gain a greater understanding of who Christopher Coleman essentially is and what it means to be ‘45, disabled, and still sexy.’
I don’t have to tell you how astonished the world was when he wrote his first book ‘Solitary Refinement.’ In ‘Solitary Refinement’ he focused on, not only educating readers but also giving them a blueprint to live what he calls an ‘unconfined life.’ He carefully chronicled the steps one needs to take to live a life without physical and mental boundaries. After the success of his first book, he was nominated and received several awards in various arenas and gained the respect of his peers and other literary circles.
In 2014, Christopher penned his memoir: ‘No Longer Confined: One Man’s Triumphant Pursuit Toward Truth, Wholeness, And Freedom.’ In case you couldn’t tell from the title, he actually shows the reader how he put his unconfined life motto into action to reach where he is today.
Christopher released his third book in 2017. An eBook entitled ‘D+I= EI (Relational DNA).’ It is the science behind diversity and inclusion in one’s social setting, work life, and home life.
He continues to travel around the country as America’s Unconfined, Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Author & Diversity Expert.
This article was republished with the approval of Tony Suarez-Smith.
For more information please visit www.christophercoleman.net.
To schedule an interview with Mr. Coleman, please contact, Tony Suarez-Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Photography: Trevor Green, Atlanta, GA