Disabled people on Twitter are sharing the many beautiful ways in which their partners make them feel loved.
Imani Barbarin, a communications professional from Paris, encouraged fellow disabled folks to share their stories using the hashtag #YouCanLoveMeButYouCantHoldMyHand.
The hundreds of responses she received are varied, unvarnished and very moving. Check out a selection below.
Honestly by NOT initiating intimacy because he knows how painful endo has made sex for me. He waits (and often waits some more) for me to feel like maybe it won’t hurt too much or at all, and then let him know.— 🐥Bacon theFett 🥓 (@Bakpaksgotjets) June 22, 2018
For me, it’s massages. I have severely tight muscles because of skeletal issues and honestly, we both know massaging them won’t help and is like throwing money out the window, he does it anyway because it feels good at the time.— Melanie😎🤕🤨, #BedBoundBabe, Spoonie Style Guide (@spoonie_style) June 22, 2018
My partner asks me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. we talk, "How is your body doing? How do you feel? What can I do for you?" It is the most loving thing I can imagine. He knows it can change drastically every minute. #youCanLoveMeButYouCantHoldMyHand https://t.co/O9YUC1J0jn— Aubrey Anne (@toomuchaubrey) June 22, 2018
This isn't the first time Barbarin has initiated a trending hashtag. In March, she created the hashtag #DisTheOscars to draw attention to the lack of disabled representation at the Academy Awards and in film and TV generally.
Explaining why she created the hashtag, Barbarin told SMA News in April: "It is more than important, but imperative that the realities of the disabled experience be told truthfully and with disabled bodies."
Barbarian went on to explain that representation matter because "there are many children that grow up, and adults that become disabled later, with little knowledge that there are those that came before them, that move through the world in the same way, that have made life a touch easier.
"There is also a community that goes unseen that is welcoming and life-saving — and the stereotypes that seem to define this community from the outside have little to do with who we are and what we are capable of," she added.
However, just 6% of respondents to a 2016 Scope survey said they had been on a date with a disabled person they'd met on a dating app. Only 16% of respondents to a previous Scope survey said they had ever invited a disabled person into their home.
Representation in the media can be a significant tool in changing prevailing social attitudes; as Imani Barbarin says, it's time we started telling disabled people's stories more truthfully, more comprehensively and more frequently.