More than twenty years after it was initially published, Rich’s critique of compulsory heterosexuality is indispensable, the criticisms of her ahistorical notion of a “lesbian continuum” notwithstanding.2 Despite its continued relevance, however, the realm of compulsory heterosexuality might seem to be an unlikely place to begin contextualizing disability.3 I want to challenge that by considering what might be gained by understanding “compulsory heterosexuality” as a key concept in disability studies. Through a reading of compulsory heterosexuality, I want to put forward a theory of what I call compulsory able-bodiedness. The Latin root for contextualize


denotes the act of weaving together, interweaving, joining together, or composing. This chapter thus contextualizes disability in the root sense of the word, because I argue that the system of compulsory able-bodiedness that produces dis ability is thoroughly interwoven with the system of compulsory heterosexuality that produces queerness, that-in fact-compulsory heterosexuality is contingent on compulsory able-bodiedness and vice versa. And, although I reiterate it in my conclusion, I want to make it clear at the outset that this particular contextualizing of disability is offered as part of a much larger and collective project of unraveling and decomposing both systems.4