If you’ve used sex toys, you probably have some memorable sex toy stories. Hear several from listeners, as well as Andrew Gurza (they/he) and Heather Morrison (she/her) of Bump’n—plus how these siblings ended up launching an accessible sex toy company, with a mission that goes beyond the toy itself. Learn much more in this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode!
Stream it on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Stitcher Radio or below. Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
“Sex Toy Stories + the Bump’n Joystick”
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If you have used sex toys, you probably have some memorable sex toy stories. And according to recent studies, many of you have. A survey, from Statistica showed that sex toy use has been increasing steadily in recent years, with some 65% of people with a vulva owning at least one. Another study showed that over 3/4 of gay and bisexual penis havers have used at least one type of toy, such as a dildo or cock ring. Couple’s toys have been gaining popularity, too.
Similar to sexual experiences in general, sex toy experiences range from negative to positive. Some are funny, some are deeply moving or intensely erotic. Others are, frankly, sad.
In my latest email list survey, I asked folks to share their own most memorable sex toy experience. I selected a few to share here today, without their real names or voices. Sammie shared this:
“When my wife was on a business trip. I bought her a large dildo as a gift for when she got home. She had always kept that desire to herself in our marriage. The anticipation while she was away for her was incredible and she sexted me nonstop. She was so excited. That alone was so much fun. Upon return, her eyes widened when she unwrapped it and I could tell she had always wanted to try one. We had so much fun that day. It was erotic and also intimate.”
“The first time I came using the wand internally and my vibrator externally taught me that combined internal and external stimulation can lead to a much more powerful orgasm.”
Then there was Thomas’s reply:
“The first time my wife used our strap-on on me. I was excited to experience receiving this type of pleasure while she was excited to be on the giving end. An incredible new way for me to climax.”
And from Georgia. She told me that she got one of those yoni eggs stuck in her vagina:
“I wanted to do this sex ritual thing I read about before me and my honey got down and dirty and instead I had to be like, uh honey? We might need to go to urgent care.
That’s right! I had to go to the doctor to get it taken out. I think my anxiety made everything so much worse. (If I had been calmer, my body would not have been so tense.) Anyway, lessons learned. For one thing, occasionally size – at least of toys – does in fact matter.”
Georgia has a point… Gia wrote in with this:
“My vibrator started buzzing inside the machine at airport security. And when I tried to turn it off after it came out and the TSA person dug through my bag, I made it go even louder. So I just stood there, all ready, took some deep breaths and then laughed until I cried in the bathroom.”
[acoustic chord riff]
I kinda feel like I lived those stories just now. And admittedly, I’ve hoped and wished that airport security would find my goodies in my bag. So far, no luck. I mean, I’m always up for a convo about pleasure.
Voice artists, Rosa Delgado, and Lquiverba helped bring those true stories to life.
Andrew Gurza and Heather Morrison from Bump’n are bringing something else to life. I recently spoke with Andrew and Heather about their own sex toy memories—and a newfound mission in their lives. You may recall Andrew from a couple of past Girl Boner episodes, about their advocacy in the disability space and their decision to hire a sex worker, and talk to his mom about it. Here’s what he remembers about sex toys:
The most salient memory I have of sex toys, is going into the Condom Shack in Toronto way back in the day, and looking at sex toys and thinking, ‘Oh, cool. Like, I’ll never be able to really use any of those.’ And kind of giggling because ‘Oh, my goodness, there’s a sex toy.’
But I mean, in terms of toys that I’ve used, the best story that I can share is when I started doing this work, probably about five or six years ago, I was contacted by a company. And they sent me a toy and said, “would you test this for us and see if it’s successful?” And I said, “Sure.”
So I went to go pick it up and I realized, even when I went to go pick up the box, that I had to get somebody else to put the box in my bag and carry it home. So I realized that oh, even bringing it to my house wasn’t accessible. And then when I tried to open the toy on my own, because of my dexterity level, I realized that I couldn’t even open the box to get to the toy. And then when the toy was there, I was like, ‘Oh, now I have to get someone else to help me with the toy.’
So there are all these layers of like, how do I even use the toy if I have to ask for help? And I remember finally finding a caregiver that I knew kind of well and I was comfy with saying, “Hey, I was given a sex toy by this company. Can you help me test it?” She said, “Oh, sure, no problem.” And I was shocked because I thought she would say no, she said, “Sure, I’ll help you.”
So she helped me put the toy on. But as she’s putting the toy on me, she’s also getting gloves, and blue pads, and all these things that are typically used for disability stuff. And I was like, well, this is not sexy. This is not turning me on. This is really weird. And then she’s like, “Okay, I’ll be back in like, 20 minutes. Bye!”
And she left me with this toy on my junk. And I very quickly realized that I couldn’t use any of the buttons because they were tiny. This thing was on my generals. And it was vibrating, but it said to hurt me. So I was like, ‘oh, no, how do I get this toy off?’ [half-laughs] And so I had to call her back and be like, “Can you come save me from this, like, rogue toy that I can turn off?” And so I never really was able to experience the toy super independently, because of stuff like that.
Heather first delved into toys during a relationship, as part of shared, couple exploration.
You know, we started to get into toys to kind of like experiment and push the boundaries. We were pretty young. And so it was a very, like experimental relationship from a sexual point of view of what does this feel like? And where could that go? Literally. [laughs]
Included within that was, like, we watched quite a bit of porn together, and then we would pick little things that we might want to try and that included things from like, you know, dress up in lingerie all the way through to, like different toys, but more from like a partner play point of view.
It wasn’t until that relationship ended and Heather had been single for a while that she started see toys through a different lens: How could they benefit her, on her own? And help her discover more about her body and what she enjoys? That exploration started paying off quickly.
Definitely, the first time I really had a proper orgasm was with – like a really full one, I mean – definitely, I was able to get there on my own, but God takes a lot longer. And I couldn’t believe like how much deeper and faster the orgasm came.
That toy was a little bullet vibrator, the small, discreet toys that are literally shaped like, well, bullets. Most are meant for stimulation on the outside of your body — the external part of the clit, especially.
Heather liked that it didn’t look like a vein-y penis, as so many toys did at the time. It was like a little “pocket rocket” she could keep in her bedside drawer or take with her, if she wanted to.
And the exploration continued to bring benefits, which carried over into relationships. For one thing, she knew how she wanted to work a toy into partnered sex to make sure her experience was orgasmic.
In that first relationship where she used toys, orgasms weren’t all that big of a priority.
Maybe this is more from like a vulva owner point of view is like – it wasn’t even the point to have an orgasm. It was just like, while we’re playing with stuff and seeing what was going on. I didn’t Yeah, I don’t even think as exploratory as that relationship is I actually ever had an orgasm in that relationship. Because that almost like was like a secondary consideration. And we were just kind of seeing like how things felt. And it wasn’t until I’d had my own personal time, and then introduced it into partner relationships where I was like, “No, no, no. Here’s how I want this.” [laughs]
Andrew and Heather started their company, Bump’n, not only because toys have been inaccessible for many disabled folks, but because they were becoming more of a need for Andrew–which shed light on even more inaccessability.
I lost the ability to masturbate a couple years ago, due to my hand, to my crappy dexterity—thanks, disability. And just hand pain, it was just really hard for me to even want to master it, because I was never able to masturbate in the way that typical penis-havers masturbate, which is like the pumping motion. I could never do that. So I would use my forefinger or my thumb on the head of my penis to get pleasure.
And because of my hands being — I’m showing them on camera — they’re a little bit full of CP.
Meaning cerebral palsy.
It was hard for me to do that.
In 2017, Andrew was featured in a documentary written and directed by Jari Osborne called “Picture This.”
And in the documentary, I talk about how I can’t masturbate anymore, and how it’s hard for me to masturbate, and kind of how that made me feel. And how I kind of lost a sense of my manhood, my masculinity. And then that documentary went all over the world and happened to land in Sydney, Australia, where Heather is. And she watched that coc, and kind of had a light bulb moment of like, “Oh, I didn’t know this about Andrew.” Because it’s not like, brothers and sisters sit down and have deep convos about their masturbatory habits.
Well, we do now. [group laugh]
Yes, Andrew and Heather are siblings. And watching “Picture This” was completely eye-opening for Heather.
So Andrew had talked about this documentary, and Heather, you watched it. Would you share a little bit about what that experience was like to realize that your loved one, your brother, was dealing with this challenge and you didn’t know about it?
Yeah, the documentary is absolutely awesome. And I think a must-watch for anybody. As a sister, and I think just another human being watching it, because it talks so much about, not just sex, but relationships and dating… I’m a single girl, and relationships and dating are hard! It’s real hard.
Like it’s, you know, it’s hard to have the confidence to go up to people. It’s hard to navigate relationship’s ups and downs, and especially today with like, millions of platforms and being ghosted and gaslighted and all these things in terms of what the hell’s going on?
She’s right. Dating these days can be tough for most everyone. But when she watched the documentary, saw her brother sharing his real experiences on-screen, she was really struck by some of the added challenges he’s faced, and his confidence.
In the film, Andrew talks about going to gay bars. When he spotted a guy he was interested in, he would roll up in his power wheelchair to flirt with him.
And I don’t have the confidence to do that, let alone being visibly disabled in the power chair. That takes such fucking confidence.
At one point in the film, Andrew recalls a time when he’d hit on a guy who was interested and agreed to carry the fun on at Andrew’s place. But on the elevator ride up, the guy had second thoughts.
And so Andrew gets out of the lift, and he’s going to unlock his door chatting away.
And he looked behind him and the guy never got out of the lift. And so for me as a sister, and as a person, actually watching that documentary was a bit heartbreaking, because you just see how freaking awful people can be.
You know, that’s awful in the best of times. And, you know, there’s so much there’s so many nicer ways that that guy could have backed out and just not get off the lift.
So it was confronting for me, because like I hadn’t, you know, maybe known as many of those sort of heartbreaking stories that Andrew has gone through, and he puts himself out there. And I think it’s so incredibly brave and hard to do.
And then the film delved into the sexual nature of things—longings to be seen as a sexual being, longings for pleasure and connection—something the pair hadn’t ever really talked about.
A few months after she watched “Picture This,” Andrew went to visit her in Australia. And the topic of self-pleasure came up.
We were on the beach. And she’s like, “Oh, I saw the documentary and I saw you had talked about this. Can you tell me more?” And I was just explaining that my hands don’t really work that way. And she says, “Well, aren’t there any toys on the market?” And I kind of rolled my eyes. I was like, “Well, no, none of the toys on the market really work for me.” And she goes, “Well,” kind of naively, “What do you want to make one?”
The way that you were like, “Hey, we have this idea and let’s talk,” made me wonder – is that a dynamic that you had growing up? When you were kids, did you ever do projects together?
Forced projects, I think. [laughs] There like little things like um like more things like dress up or, which Andrew claims he didn’t like, but I think now realize that that’s true. [all laugh, in an endeared way]
A couple of weeks ago, Andrew posted an image of him wearing a hot pink wig and a strappy leopard print dress on Instagram. The caption reads: “My first time in drag circa 2004. You’re welcome.”
When Heather brought the notion of creating a sex toy together up, Andrew was intrigued.
I said, “All right. Well, let’s talk about it.” So we did some research on Reddit, and put out just questions like, “Hey, is this something you want? Is this really a problem?” Just to see if it was larger than just “Let’s make a toy for Andrew to get off.” We were really excited to see that 92% of the people we spoke to said, “we do want to toy like this.”
And that was only the beginning of their research. Over the past two-and-a-half years, they’ve brainstormed, partnered with RMIT University for what Heather described as “mega diligent research,” into barriers around toys and unaided masturbation for people with disabilities.
They’ve worked with industrial designers, occupational therapists and product engineers. Andrew and others people in the disabled community have tested toys, to help them land on key features for the Bump’n premiere product, which they’ve named the Joystick:
For one thing, they knew it had to be large enough to address dexterity issues.
The thing I kept saying to Heather is, because of dexterity, you need something big because big is easy for me to hold onto.
And they learned that Andrew is far from alone. As they state on the Bump’n website: “Hands are the biggest barrier to sex toys on the market and to an unaided wank.”
Really, for me, all I wanted was a toy that I could use. So it was really collaborative with the team, looking into what we could come up with and so when they would send me toys, one of the things that I liked in the toys that they would send me even though I couldn’t really use the toy was vibration.
So we also talked about what is comfy for somebody to get pleasure, even if they can’t use a vibrator in a conventional way. So we would feed back things like vibration, things like, you know, the texture of the toy. Is it soft? Is it easy to hold on to? But the big thing was make it big and make it something that somebody in my position and could actually access.
You can hug the Joystick— it’s that large. It’s also soft, flexible for various positions and body needs, and fits your favorite sex toys inside. It’s designed to hold a toy, such as a vibrator, dildo, wand or sleeve, exactly where you want it. In other words, it makes so many toys already on the market more accessible. It also suits all sexes and gender expressions and has features a lovely shade of purple.
It’s like if a body pillow and a foam roller, had a sexy, naughty love child.
[laughs] I love it.
It’s about a meter in length. um And the top of it is a soft, pillowy cushion. And so the goal of that top part is for you to hug into it so that somebody without dexterity could grab onto this piece. Heather’s bringing it right now. So you can see.
Oh, very cool.
Yeah, it’s like if you wanted to hump a body pillow that was designed to hold your favorite sex toy. And like who doesn’t want that? [laughs]
Right. Sign me up. That is amazing.
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The Joystick really is awesome, and a lot bigger than I imagined when I first saw a little illustration on Instagram.
The Bump’n team is approaching the final phase of testing for the Joystick, where they’ll send fully factory prototypes out to testers, all in accessible, easy-to-open packaging. Based on folks’ responses, Heather explained— how they feel about the entire process, from opening and using the toy to cleaning it — they’ll go into final testing and then final designs.
One of the biggest challenges Andrew and Heather continue to face is something pretty much all of us in the sexuality realm deal with on some level: stigmas and shame, brought on by cultural messaging.
What we’re finding now with the toys and preorder is getting people to also to be interested in toy and understanding why they might be hesitant to buy a sex toy? Or why they might be concerned about buying. So it’s talking about what is your internalized shame around being disabled and maybe not wanting to buy a sex toy? Is it because you don’t think this toy is for you? Is it because you don’t think that you deserve pleasure? So we’re looking into ways to not only sell the toy, but also started a larger conversation on, you know, what are the barriers to converting you from being interested in the toy to actually like, picking one up or considering one more readily?
And what we’re finding is that there’s a lot of pushback, but people are hesitant, because I don’t think a lot of disabled people have these conversations openly. And now we’re saying, “wow, it’s for you!” and people are excited. But they may also be internalizing a lot of shame. And so I think a barrier for us, and an opportunity for us, is to look at how do we have conversations around shame and disability, that make people feel seen — not that we’re pressuring them to buy a toy, but we want to also dig past the shame so they feel confident so that if they want to buy one of our toys or another toy, they don’t have to feel scared about that.
You’re told in society for such a long time, and it’s reinforced in culture and in school systems and in friendship groups, etc, that as a disabled person, you’re not really that sexual, or people are surprised that you are. And even like people who are like more sexually open about their sexuality, I don’t know how much this occurs, but definitely like there’s this taboo or this cultural taboo, that society kind of reinforces that, you know, people disabilities, oh, like, they’re never represented sexually in the media, like, you know, you’re not really a sexual being, it’s all these like myths and untruths.
So you’ve grown up kind of hearing that, and even if you know that that’s not true. And we’ve been doing this for now for two years openly since we launched the brand, and so we have been having a lot of these conversations, we’ve had a lot of supporters, people, I think, are really happy to see what we’re doing and are backing us but we need to build a I guess a bit more of a bridge for people because you know, and then it’s like, okay, cool. Now we’ve got this toy, and I think people are like, “amazing, that’s so needs to exist, but is it for me?”
Even though it’s designed for people with disabilities, that’s a physical functional design aspect, but what what are the underlying emotional barriers that are coming up for people who have maybe deselected themselves from actually like – we don’t know, we’re still kind of digging into this is like, is there an emotional barrier for people who their whole lives have been told, like, “Oh, you’re disabled, you’re not really that sexual, or you’re not supposed to be?” And then it’s like, cool, there’s a toy for you and they’re happy that that exists, but maybe they still don’t think it’s for them.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
Andrew has built a substantial community online, through his advocacy, his podcast, Disability After Dark, and his viral hashtag, #disabledpeoplearehot. And he seems to feel a responsibility to that community, as they offer both giddiness and questions about the Joystick.
The overwhelming response I get is, we’re really excited by it. They want this. But again, like Heather was saying, the questions may have been asked, “Is it for me? Can I access it? Can I afford it?” They really come with some of the basic questions because disabled people have been so marginalized. While they’re excited, they’re still not sure. And there’s still some hesitancy and so my job is to be like, “Okay, let’s talk about that.”
What we’re doing now, with a lot of people, is we’re going on zooms with them, and saying, “Okay, let’s just have a chat about sex toys, about what would work for you? What is the barrier? Tell us outright what the barrier is. Don’t hold back. Tell us what it is, let us know.” And then we’ll take that info, and see what we can do.
And I think hearing that feedback from community members, even when it isn’t feedback that we like, want, it’s still important because it helps us to create a better product, and to also open up a conversation around disability and sexuality that I don’t think we’re having enough of.
And I think those conversations are more important than any product we produce. Obviously, we want to sell the toy, of course, but the conversations that are coming out of that are really something that I think had been in the shadows for a long time.
And so the fact that we’re having them openly with people is really, really it’s eye opening even for me and I’ve been doing this for myself now for a decade. And hearing people say like, “I don’t know if I can get this because I don’t know if I’ll have enough money,” or “I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this thing” or I don’t know if” Realizing the disparity within the community and how much work we have to do to get over the shame is like wow, even for me I am somebody that like, also has a lot of shame around my own disability and my own sexuality, even as sex-positive as I am. But hearing that from other people, and knowing that it’s a real thing, I think helps move us forward.
That’s really important, given how moving forward is something both Andrew and Heather have grappled with. Heather told me they have both wanted to call it quits at times, because creating a product alone tends to be incredibly challenging—and that’s without all of the stigmas and taboos. But then something happens, often during one of those conversations, or through a grateful DM (someone who says, “thank you for doing this”), that reminds them of how important the work truly is.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
Learn more at getbumpn.com (bumpn is spelled b u m p n), where you can preorder the Joystick, make a donation and order “The Bump’n Book of Love, Lust and Disability,” a book that features 50 stories from disabled people around the world, answering questions like “What’s it like to have sex with chronic pain? What’s the worst thing someone has said to you about sex and disability? What’s the best thing? What’s the sexiest part of your disabled body?” You can also follow the brand on Instagram at @getbumpn.
[acoustic, encouraging music]
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[Outro music that makes you wanna dance…]