​Date Me

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on March 05, 2021 # Lifestyle

I was single in 2017, I was dating in 2017, and 2017 felt like a lifetime ago. I also published my first book, Greater Things, in March of that same year. I quit my job one month before its release, and hoped for the best. That is: I was looking for a reason to leave my job at a mortgage company, and I found it.Date Me cover

Roughly 3 months after my book came out, money was drying up and I had a decision to make: either I get another job, or publish another book. The obvious preference was to publish another book, but that left the question: about what? More specifically, what was something I have a lot of experience in, know a lot about, and can publish another book about?

My answer: go on bad first dates. So, I redownloaded a dating app, updated my picture, and kicked into gear.

In respect to what I call “research,” I went on a total of 32 dates in 2½ months. That looks like: a lunch and dinner date on the same day with different guys; a first-hand experience at a majority of the restaurants in my city; and a lot of patience from down deep. The positive side of my research was that I got to meet a lot of new people, and the downside was truly a downside; I had to grow a tough skin for this part. In meeting all those new people, I endured a lot of rude comments thanks to my disability, way too much conversation surrounding my disability, some miscommunicated intentions of a Saturday night-meetup, and more than a couple of nights that felt “wasted” on a bad experience.

Here's where I turned those “wasted” nights into something worthwhile: my second book would be about my struggles with dating. More specifically, dating in a wheelchair. With that intention, my mindset changed: no matter how bad the dates were, I was getting a story out of them. That way, they didn’t bum me out so much. I wasn’t dating for the stories but, rather, I was justifying my wasted nights and hurt feelings with a story. Think of it as my way of coping.

My routine was this: come home from an unsuccessful date (in my experience, this was usually the case), change his name, draw a comic about the date, and move on from the frustration of another failure. That way, I had my own [comic] documentation of what happened, but I didn’t need to think about it anymore. I could put the experience behind me and, beautifully, I usually didn’t have to talk to them anymore, either.

My dating comics, along with some comics about everyday life with a disability, things people say to me because of my disability, and the wacky experiences that come with living as a young adult in a wheelchair are what make up my second book, Date Me. The release of this book and my ability to share my experiences with the world was my first dream coming true.

In early 2020, I reached another level of aspiration: I was approached by and teamed up with SaltFire Studio to turn Date Me into a streaming series. In 6 months’ time, we brought together a professional crew, an outstanding cast from all over the country, and a community of people who supported our dreams of getting my story of disability, dating, and difference out to the world.

The first episode, released on YouTube in February, tells the stories of me, Kristin, and my struggle; the situations and scenes are taken directly from the book. In the first episode, we meet an actor who plays Dad, my best friend Katie, a fencing rival, and 3 different men my character goes on dates with. The audience is introduced to wheelchair fencing, Kristin’s family, and some of the struggles that are ingrained in the lives of people with disabilities.

Until now, disability is so rarely represented in media and popular entertainment. As a result, our community of people is under-represented, unheard and, a lot of the times, misunderstood. It’s time for that to change, and I hope Date Me can be the first step toward it.

Please watch and enjoy the first episode and share it with friends.

People with disabilities deserve the spotlight just as much as anyone. Enjoy the episode!

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.