At first, I left my disability off my profile, and decided to speak of myself in extreme generalities, hoping to attract more people. After about two weeks, I realized that this wasn’t a suitable dating strategy. So I modified my profile, got specific and proudly self-identified as being on the autism spectrum. Within a twenty-four hour period, the number of messages I received daily (or even hourly) trickled to an absolute stop.
The more time I spent on OKCupid, the more I realized just how invisible and ignored the subject of disability was on there. The only real discussion of disability that came up for me was on one particular “match” question, which asked, “Would the world be a better place if people with low I.Qs were not allowed to reproduce?” I answered “No” and filled my explanation box with an angry screed about the evils of eugenics. The question turned out to be a useful barometer for determining who was worth my time. Anybody who answered “Yes” was automatically disqualified from entering my matches. But that was the extent of the conversation surrounding disability.
Even people who very obviously had some sort of a disability seemed to go out of their way to disguise the fact. I saw many people pass by my profile who were wheelchair users employing creative camera angles, forced perspective and other methods to disguise their use of a wheelchair. Mental health was only mentioned in the context of admonishments along the lines of, “I don’t want any drama from crazies (sic) message me only if you’re normal and stable.” To be disabled was to be invisible, to be mentally ill was to be undesirable.