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Devotees: The secret world of people with a fetish for disabilities

A BBC Three documentary has devled into the community of so-called "devotees"

Kashmira Gander
Monday 14 March 2016 11:49 GMT
Leah Caprice appears in a video catering for "devotees"
Leah Caprice appears in a video catering for "devotees" (BBC Three)

A writer and accessibility consultant has devled into the underground world of those with fetishes for people with disabilities.

Emily Yates, who uses a wheelchair due to her cerebral palsy, was first confronted with the idea of so-called “devotees” in 2011 when a friend commented that she was a “pretty cripple” under her photo on Facebook.

Ms Yates, 24, has since explored the scene in BBC Three's Meet the Devotees: The People Turned on by Disability.

The writer is shown meeting both disabled people who film pornography as well as the devotees who watch it. This includes so-called “bad devs” who enjoy watching those with disabilities struggling with daily tasks.

As part of the documentary, Ms Yates films herself moving from her wheelchair to her car to test the reactions of "bad devs". The video was viewed over 4,000 times.

Ms Yates also interviews devotees who cannot be sexually satisfied by able-bodied partners.

Writing about her experiences on the BBC News website, she said she was “shocked” and “hurt” to be described as a “pretty cripple”.

“[I] was even more offended when I later discovered that, to some, it was the biggest gesture of admiration he could have given me,” she wrote.

“After an angry Facebook rant, I found myself being introduced to a community of people who are sexually aroused, and attracted to, disability as friends pointed me towards some websites about people known as devotees.”

Ms Yates said she found the websites exposed her to “pretty dark stuff” but that she surprised that she “found it strangely refreshing at times” to find a community where people would “love and accept every little bit of me”.

Emily Yates has investigated disability fetishes (BBC Three)

The freelance travel writer who is currently advising on inclusion in the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games also met a sex worker who broke her back and became reliant on a wheelchair.

Leah Caprice shows Ms Yates one of her videos in the documentary. The footage depicts Ms Caprice revealing her bra to the camera while sat in a wheelchair, before removing it from under her top.

“I wanted them to see a girl in a wheelchair flashing is just as sexy as a girl who can walk getting naked in public,” Leah tells Ms Yates.

But she said that as she delved deeper she became “wary” and concerned the attraction “was more about vulnerability and power”

One devotees she met named Gary told her he viewed leg-braces and wheelchairs like others see party dresses.

“I think there's also a problem when you fetishise something, that it can hamper you from having feelings for the full person,” wrote Ms Yates.

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