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This Gay Fitness Instructor Teaches Classes from his Wheelchair: ‘Disability is Not Inability’

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Gay Star News reports — 20 years ago, Kris Saunders-Stowe was your typical gym-loving gay man and never thought he would end up in a wheelchair.

Now 47 years old, he suffers from a degenerative condition in his knees causing constant chronic pain. But it was a slow process to get where he is today.

Kris grew up in an Evangelical church. In fact, the first person he came out to was somebody he was at church with.

‘I was part of a church youth group and I told my group leader,’ he told Gay Star News. ‘Her opinion was tactful but it wasn’t acceptable.’

She ended up keeping it confidential, but Kris couldn’t keep it in anymore.

One day when he was 18, his female friend came over to his house to hang out. His mother enforced a strict ‘no girls upstairs’ rule and he had to stay downstairs so his parents could supervise them.

Kris got so frustrated, he blurted out: ‘You don’t have to worry because I’m gay!’


His mother and church minister could not accept his sexuality. His minister even suggested Kris turned out gay because he saw a clairvoyant when he was 15.

So they both forced him into what he calls ‘faith healing.’

Kris explains: ‘It’s a laying of hands in prayer and it went on for a couple of months.’ He just pretended he was cured and they stopped the healing sessions.

It all came to a head years later in 1999 when they had an argument. After years of her trying to sway him to be straight, he was fed up with being disrespected.

He called his mom and after a heated exchange, ended the call with ‘If you can’t give me respect, then you have no place in my life.’

Kris didn’t see his mother until she passed away the next year.

‘I remember going to the funeral home and I walked straight past her,’ Kris said. ‘I didn’t even recognize her.’

Dean and Kris. | Photo: supplied

Then the pain began

That same year in 2000, the discomfort in his knees started. He was referred to a physiotherapist, who gave him some basic exercises to do.

Then he had to have his kneecaps taped in place and told him he had underdeveloped muscles.

Kris told GSN: ‘I found this bizarre because I was a regular gym person and I’d go to the gym seven to eight times a week. I was very active and in very good shape actually.’

The pain persisted for many years later, then doctors told him he had arthritis.

He explained: ‘The doctors said there was damage to all the heads in the bones of all the joints and all the kneecaps were damaged.’

In 2008, he was in ‘constant, constant pain’ and absolutely nothing was working to relieve it.

His legs would constantly give out on him and he also had numerous growths on his joints.

Doctors gave him crutches but it was affecting his mobility.

Kris Saunders-Stowe teaching Wheely Good Fitness class. | Photo: supplied

‘I got in the chair and I was free’

Then, one day in 2012, his partner Dean suggested he try a wheel chair.

Kris joked: ‘My response started with an F and ended in two Fs (fuck off).

‘Like a lot of people, you see a wheelchair as a very negative thing. That is how a lot of people see it,’ he explained.

It wasn’t until friends of his wanted to go to Alton Towers – a theme park – that he really gave it much thought.

Kris Saunders-Stowe. | Photo: CARA Centre Ireland


Read more here. Full story at gaystarnews.com