‘Disabled people in porn are important’: Meet disability activist Andrew Gurza

Andrew Gurza’s path towards activism solidified about seven years ago, when he had a vibrating penis sleeve device on his genitals and found that he couldn’t remove it.

Gurza, who uses the pronouns ‘he/him’ and ‘they/them’ interchangeably, uses a wheelchair and has limited hand movement, so needed help from his carer to use an Octopuss device he’d been sent to review. Unfortunately, rather than pleasure him, the device hurt him – and he couldn’t remove alone it due to his mobility issues. He had to call his carer, who had left him to enjoy the device after placing it on him, for help.

At that moment, says Gurza, “I realized that most of the sextech industry creates toys not for a disabled body – they create toys for able-bodied people.”

Experiences such as these helped inspire the company Bump’n, which Gurza co-founded with his sister Heather Morrison. Bump’n was founded in Australia (Gurza lives in Toronto now) and is set to roll out its first product, the Bump’n Joystick, later in 2022.

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The Joystick is designed to help people who may have limited hand movement use sextech devices such as vibrators. It has a long, huggable body that devices can be attached to, meaning that they don’t require complicated hand movements to operate.

andrew gurza 2
Andrew Gurza and Heather Morrison go ‘Steve Jobs’ for their company Bump’n

As well as working on Bump’n, Gurza has gone full throttle into sexuality activism for people with disabilities. He has appeared in porn, worked as a disability consultant, and is vocal about people’s rights to have full sex lives and not be viewed as non-sexual because of any disabilities.

With the Joystick getting close to launch, SEXTECHGUIDE.COM caught up with Gurza to see how his plans are progressing.

SEXTECHGUIDE: Hi Andrew! What’s the latest with the Bump’n Joystick?

Andrew Gurza: COVID really slammed us with a production – our plan was to have it in bedrooms by May 2022, because it was masturbation month. The factory shutting down really threw us, so the goal is to get it out by September or October.

What has the response from the disabled community been like?

The community is excited but it has been slow going. We need to sell 500 for the toy to go. There’s a lot of, “Ooh, this is cool”. It’s a new product, it’s geared towards disabled bodies, so that’s a whole other conversation that people are not quite ready to have. When people understand how important it is, and when we give them that light bulb moment of, “Oh, people with hand limitations can self-pleasure”, this is what the toy actually will achieve.

How did your experiences feed into the design?

For most of the off-the-shelf toys, masturbators or anything like that, you have to use fine motor skills to turn them on. Having something I can grab or hug to do that kind of stuff was pivotal in the design. So, my experiences were front and centre for the design. I explained to Heather [Morrison, his sister and Bump’n co-founder] that I couldn’t self-pleasure. I’ll show you my hands [Gurza raises his hands to his camera] – they have a lot of spasticity, a lot of CP [cerebral palsy] in them, a lot of tightness. I can’t do things like tie my shoes or touch a small button.

bumpn joystick
The Bump’n Joystick

How was your experience talking to others in the community, who might have similar issues?

When we pitched it to the 100 respondents on our Reddit, 92 of them said they wanted a toy like this. We asked them, “Do you have trouble masturbating?” and 63 percent said, “Yeah, I have trouble masturbating due to hand limitations”. We realized that those percentages translate into hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, who can’t self-pleasure.

I talked to a tester a few months ago who said, “The toy changed my sex life, changed my relationship to my disability and my body”. So, I think the feedback within the community has been positive. It shows that there’s a need for something like this.

What are your views on the wider sextech industry with regard to inclusivity?

Inclusivity is a buzzword a lot of industry people are trying to get in on. I understand why. But a lot of them aren’t doing the work in terms of talking to the disabled community, doing testing with disabled community members, and saying to them, “What works for you?”.

They all want to be inclusive, and that’s great, but they have to do so much more work in actually connecting with that community to find out what is actually viable, and what accessibility actually looks like.

Will a product like this always be a super-niche thing?

I don’t think so. The toy is designed for people with disabilities, but also it’s designed for people with injuries, the elderly, people who want to use their hands for other stuff when they’re self-pleasuring. We’re just ensuring that this [disabled] community is front and centre. Maybe as you get older your hands will hurt, maybe you’ll have an injury, and you’ll still want to have pleasure.

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What other devices can we expect from Bump’n in the future?

Our goal in the next year is to create dildos and toys that are compatible with the Joystick. I think you can create toys that are [suitable for disabled people] from top to bottom, but it takes a lot more innovation and discussion than just slapping on a strap or putting some Velcro here and there.

What are your views on the wider issue of people with disabilities not being viewed as sexual?

I fully agree that that’s a problem, and that’s why I do what I do. Because we’ve been excluded from the conversation, we’ve been turned away, we haven’t even been thought of in these markets.

Part of the reason why we’re not included in these conversations around sex is because no-one asks us, and no-one wants to have the conversation because they’re afraid of offending us. Everybody with a disability has a funny or sad or tough sex story to talk about. The exclusion we feel highlights ableism. I want to shine a light on the fact that disabled people are sexual beings and they deserve to be a part of those conversations.

You can play with disability if there’s a comfortable level, and you can play with that agenda if you trust the other person. But if it’s marketed in a way that is full of fetishization, it’s a problem.

Andrew Gurza, co-founder of Bump’n

What are your views on the visibility of disabled people in porn?

I’ve done some porn – it was fun. Disabled people in porn are important because it not only can be erotic, but in the film that I did, it was almost like a ‘How to have sex with a hot disabled person when you have no idea what to do’ [guide]. I walked the viewer through how to get me in bed, how to position me properly, how to make sure I’m comfortable, how to provide sensual pleasure as a non-disabled partner. And then it showed me providing pleasure.

There needs to be more porn created around disability. I would caution, though, that it shouldn’t be fetishized. You can play with disability if there’s a comfortable level, and you can play with that agenda if you trust the other person. But if it’s marketed in a way that is full of fetishization, it’s a problem.

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What was your first experience with a sex toy like?

I was asked to review a toy for Hot Octopuss – they sent me the Pulse. When I got to the post office I couldn’t even pick up the box, so I had to get somebody to put the box on the back of my chair.

I brought it home and realized I couldn’t open the box because of my dexterity issues. I had to get one of my care workers to open it, but I let it sit there for two weeks because I was nervous to have that conversation with my caregiver. One day one of my caregivers, who I really trusted, came in and I said, “I’ve been asked to test a sex toy from this company, would you help me?”.

She put on gloves and did all this medical stuff, so it was hard to get in the zone of self-pleasure. She put it on me and said, “I’ll be back in 20 minutes, have fun”. She turned it on and put it on my penis, but it was hurting me. I couldn’t get it off, so I called her and she took it off. I couldn’t press the buttons, and realised how inaccessible it was for me.

andrew gurza and heather

What advice do you have for people who might have similar mobility issues to yourself?

It’s OK to be afraid of it, but everybody deserves sensuality. Sexuality is a human right, this is something you deserve. I know it may be scary for you, and maybe something you’re shy about. But I would urge you to work through that fear. Once you realise how you can access pleasure it can change your life.

A lot of disabled people live with depression and anxiety because of disability. Once you’re able to have sex with yourself or a partner, and actually enjoy your own body, it can change all that. Push through the discomfort to get to the pleasure.

Read next: Lovewear is hi-tech underwear that simulates touch for people with disabilities

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Jamie F

Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice.

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