Why All the Fuss

The Sessions seems to have really caused a ruckus due to its taboo subject matter; Sex and then to add fuel to the fire; disabled people having sex, all mixed together with a priest who sanctions the actions of an unmarried disabled man to pay for sex. For some this has been too much to cope with.

For me the issue of sex, paying for sex (I have good experiences with Long Island Escorts) or of disabled people having sex, or anyone having sex for that matter are not issues at all but really just about individual choice. (The issue of the priest I will ignore as religion is an area which is particularly sensitive and not really relevant to Accessible Sexuality.)

So what about the film, well for me I thought it was great, I thought it was sensitively done and having read the original article written by Mark O’Brien, it is a fairly accurate account of his experiences. The subject was dealt with in a manner which enabled the viewer to empathise with a man who for much of his life had had no other physical contact with people other than to have his personal care needs met and a fleeting kiss of sorts. The narrative which dealt with Mark’s feelings, his hopes and his dreams showed him to be an intelligent human with feelings and personality but much more than that he was a man who was likable; he was attractive and clearly as the story line goes on, a sexual being capable of giving as well as receiving love and being in love. But for me, most importantly he was a man who had the capacity to make decisions about his own life.

Mark was not, as some people may view disabled people a vulnerable adult needing to be saved from the depths of abuse. A view that unfortunately many but not all people have of disabled people who, for one reason or another, need assistance with, or more to the point ask for assistance with anything more ‘risky’ than just personal care or domestic support.

So what has the film achieved? It has certainly raised the issue of sex and disability, it has made people think about the subject and for the majority of people, in principle it has highlighted that they seem to consider the need for sexual fulfilment is as important to disabled people as it is for everyone else. Long Island Escorts.

The film has also for disabled people split the ranks, not to the extent that disabled people feel that no other disabled person should have the right to a fulfilling sex life, but over the subject of paying for sex and more to the point whether sex with  a sex worker or surrogate sex counsellor is a valid experience. I am not really sure what is meant by a valid experience, but assume those that argue it’s not, mean sex which is not in a ‘loving relationship’.  Going back to my teens and early twenties, ‘valid experiences’ were few and far between, particularly when on holiday or on a night out. That said they were valid to me, they gave me the very experiences which Mark O’Brien and many disabled people couldn’t have.

Mark O’Brien was unsure of his ability to have sex and was scared in case he couldn’t, he wanted the experience that others of his age have and didn’t want to die a virgin. Also, he was horny and frustrated. He wanted the confidence to know that if and when he found someone he loved he knew he could have a sexual relationship with them; the Sessions with the sex surrogate enabled him to do this in a safe and comfortable environment. Those people, disabled people in particular who find it offensive that people might choose a surrogate sex worker or any sex worker for that matter to achieve an outcome which they have no opportunity to achieve elsewhere, in my opinion, need to stop being self-righteous.

I find it rather odd that as disabled people we have fought for the right to have choice and control over our lives, to meet our outcomes in the way we feel fit, yet the manner that certain disabled people meet their own sexual needs is considered an affront on equality for disabled people by some. Is it not the very nature of choice and control that each is to their own? I believe. The discussion should be on having enough resources to access the opportunities to meet sexual needs, how this is achieved should be a personal decision.

I personally am a disabled man who has been fortunate enough to have found relationships within my everyday life.  Because of this one might think I would view the idea of disabled people paying for sex as being unnecessary, but then I do not view all people as having the same ability or the same taste even for that matter. I have friends, some are disabled others not, but their sexual tastes vary and I can assure you these are not governed by their physical ability.

I think for me the biggest shame of all is that it has taken here in the UK a film from America to bring the subject of sex and disability into the public arena in a positive light opposed to the scandals which hit our tabloids, the most recent being the residential care home which has enabled residents to meet their sexual needs through visit from sex workers. Whatever next, takeaway or pizza deliveries? or even worse ‘beef’ ready meals? I would expect the latter three should raise more concerns, but alas people need to eat, let’s face it; it is a human need after all – hold on one second isn’t sexual fulfilment one too! Click here

The Sessions

The Sessions (originally titled The Surrogate) is a 2012 American independent drama film written and directed by Ben Le win. It is based on an essay by Mark O’Brien, a poet paralyzed from the neck down due to polio, who hired a sex surrogate to lose his virginity. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt star as O’Brien and sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene, respectively.

The Undatables

Right – I have finally got myself up-to-date with the new series of The Undatebles.

First of all, I have had to find it in me to excuse the terribly insulting (or ironic?) choice of program title in order to let myself watch it, but, having managed to overlook this, I have actually found The Undateables to be quite a sensitive, sweet and in many ways positive vehicle for looking at the difficulties faced by those who are considered by some to be ‘different’.

The off-screen interviewer has at times come off as patronising and a little judgmental, but there is minimal input from them during the program and fortunately the majority of the material comes from the participants of each episode (who I have found all to be lovely, funny and charmingly original in their own right).

 Before actually watching this series myself, I had seen a number of comments being banded around the Internet about the show. Many people are supportive and are getting caught up in the stories of these individuals, but there are other less positive opinions out there too – I’ve see some outright prejudiced comments, along side less overtly poisonous but ill judged, uneducated and unintentionally ‘positively negative’ comments (from the ‘Pity Party’).

I noticed a large number of the negative comments on Twitter particularly were specifically aimed at Sam, the doctor of psychology who has dwarfism in episode two.  Many of comments focused on her “attitude” and her being “full of herself”. Having now watched the episode I personally was captivated by Sam – her dry sense of humor, enthusiasm, positivity and charm were very appealing to me and I’m sure would be to many people. Now, for those people who did not enjoy her strength of character or sense of humor and chose to put her down, I ask this:  If the same characteristics were seen on a person who they themselves would have viewed as an attractive woman, would you still think she was annoying? Or would she then be viewed instead as strong sexy and funny? I’m sure some people would still not be attracted to her of course – I don’t expect everyone to be turned on by the same characteristics – but I dare say a high number of those people would not be of the same opinion if she had looked different.

 A comment on Twitter about Sam was particularly shocking to read: “For a dwarf she has a huge chip on her shoulder! Rude is not attractive & you lack physical attractiveness!” It goes without saying – but how dare they! “for a dwarf…”! So – if you are different you are not allowed to have opinions, ambitions and desires?! And how dare they judge who does, or does not, have physical attractiveness!! Another Tweet tells her to “ lower ur standards.” (sic) –Sam did not in any way suggest she had high standards – only that she fancied certain kinds of men – if we are asked what type of person we fancied, aren’t we all entitled to say what we like?? Why should anyone think that anyone else should have less right to an opinion?!

 Twitter, by it’s ‘incognito’ nature though, does sometimes attract the mean spirited ‘out to shock and insult’ brigade who hide behind harsh words and unidentifiable profiles … there are also lots of other forms of expressing opinion on the internet and I was happy to find a lot of supportive, positive and inclusive comments about the show out there too (including lots of positive tweets as well I’m happy to say).

I’m looking forward to next week’s episode very much (I might even try to watch it on the right day this time!) and I’m sure there will be a hell of a lot more viewers out there cheering along and maybe slightly falling for the participants (as I have for most of them!) than there are ‘twitter nasties’.

If you are watching the show too, let us know what YOU think…

 Ruth

Personal lives and Personalisation

We at Accessible Sexuality believe that sex should be considered important to everyone’s life – some people choose to abstain for many reasons and we respect that choice too – but it is wrong to make an assumption that someone is not wanting to have a sex life unless they explicitly express that this is the case.

 Some people live with disabilities that limit, in various ways, their ability to feel sexual relief or provide themselves with relief; others have disabilities that make it very difficult for a person to meet potential partners or procure sex workers in order to have the opportunity for sex and personal relationships.

 We absolutely believe that ‘equality’ means every human being whatever their ability have the same desires and should be given support to have the opportunity to try to find the same intimacy and sexual fulfillment that is afforded able bodied people.

 One issue we feel sometimes distorts this argument is whether groups such as ourselves are viewed as fighting for a disabled person’s right to a relationship, rather than just a right to be able to search for a partner, access sex or find sexual relief. Let me explain further – we at Accessible Sexuality do not believe simply that everyone deserves to have someone who will love them and want to have sex with them – something that requires the mutual agreement of another person can never be considered a ‘right’. It’s a fact that most human beings desire a sexual relationship – some of us find it, others don’t. Having limits based on disability can make it harder to achieve this goal, but enforced celibacy is certainly not limited to disabled people – there are millions of people out there without discernable ‘disabilities’ who do not have such sexual encounters or companionship in their lives. The equality we are searching to find then is not that disabled people deserve a relationship or sex but that they deserve the opportunity to try to find it and to relieve sexual tension.

 Social Care should exist to create an equal society – to assess what an individual needs in their life in order to be able to have the same quality of life, opportunities and pleasures as anyone else.

 Often, within our roles as disability support workers, we hear social workers refer to the ‘Activities of Daily Living’ when looking at a person’s eligible needs. So, what really are the essential activities of life that everyone should be able to do, with support if necessary? Even the medical model of nursing (as defined by Roper–Logan–Tierney, Model of Nursing 2000) mentions sexuality in the list of activities:

 Maintaining a safe environment

Communication

Breathing

Eating and drinking

Elimination

Washing and dressing

Controlling temperature

Mobilisation

Working and playing

Expressing sexuality

Sleeping

Death and dying

I find it odd though – when I do a quick Internet search to check I’ve got the list right – that it took me ten attempts before I found any social care organisation that referred to the list and did not miss out  ‘expressing sexuality’ as an essential activity of daily living.

 Why as a society are we avoiding supporting people to achieve this ‘essential activity of daily life’?

 There are a number of articles / sensationalist reports written on the subject of disability, sexual expression and Personalisation. Just tap it into Google and you’ll see for yourself.

 It seems the main arguments you can find out there are either; sex is a personal subject and not something to be discussed with ‘support workers’ (or, possibly – support workers find the subject too embarrassing to bring it up) or, more often, it seems to be avoided because there is a fear of backlash and scandal from the general public and media against using taxpayer’s money to pay for sex.

 Typical comments I’ve read are that ‘having sex is not a matter of life and death’, ‘I can’t afford a sex worker – why should we pay for someone else to have one?!” along with the underlying implied opinion that disabled people don’t really want or need sex anyway.

 So, how do we go about answering these comments and opinions, which threaten the very fabric of what Personalisation is?

 We agree that sex itself is not life and death – but we argue that intimacy, touching, sexual fulfillment and acceptance of our bodies is essential to a great many peoples’ sense of self worth and good mental health. Take the opportunity away from someone to look for these life affirming moments (which is essentially what happens if a disabled person’s sexual needs are not addressed) can lead to frustration, depression and into a downward spiral that may very much limit a person’s life.

 “I can’t afford a sex worker – why should we pay for someone else to have one?!”  There are many things which are funded by social care, which most able-bodied people would, if they could afford, consider to be a luxury and would want to have done for them, the main ones which spring to mind are household domestic work, manicure/pedicures etc… However, when these services are provided to disabled people, there is little or no uproar as they are simply viewed as tasks a person can’t complete and it is just and right that they are helped with such tasks, just as they are with personal care. These tasks are generally considered as essential and basic human needs.  I would imagine that most people when asked would also consider ‘sexual relief’ as a basic need.  Some able bodied people without partners choose to find this relief through masturbation or hiring a sex worker to help, others don’t. However the ABILITY to provide yourself with sexual relief, or to be able to speak and arrange your own sex worker is essential in order to find this sexual relief. There are many people both disabled and able-bodied who do not want to masturbate / use sex workers for many reasons and that is their choice and their right. However, by not supporting those with disabilities who may not be ABLE to do so without support, is removing the choice as to or not.

It appears this argument on affordability is more strongly applied to sex than any other social care need and we believe that underlying this type of argument may be a moral opinion, rather than it being simply an argument regarding funding.

 The third opinion that is often experienced by those with disabilities and their partners, but rarely explicitly said openly, is that a disabled person is asexual. (On a personal level, being out socially with my partner in his wheelchair, I am often referred to as a carer and I have seen the surprised and sometimes shocked looks on faces when I lean in for a kiss…). This is an assumption I really can’t begin to understand – why do people think that being disabled changes our sex drive? Even for the few people with disabilities who are not able to fully engage in sex, it does not stop them feeling excitement and being sexually attracted to someone, nor finding sexual relief. I have wondered if maybe on some level this belief is a projection of what they themselves are afraid of, along side the result of the media stereotype of the ‘perfect sexy body’ – the projection being; if I had a disabled body that did not look ‘perfect’ I would not be able to see myself as sexual nor expect others to be attracted to me either” – you hear the same prejudicial arguments about other bodily changes too, such as being overweight (“If I were that fat there’s no way I’d want to leave the house”) where in fact, being overweight has no effect on libido, only negative thinking does this. I feel also that disabled people are sometimes also portrayed as vulnerable and childlike – someone who needs caring for and looking after – an idea which would be hard to reconcile alongside the thought of wanting to have sex with them as it would then feel abusive. Whatever the reasons, one thing is definite, disable people are just as likely as anyone to want to have relationships, engage in sexual activities and provide themselves with sexual relief.

 So here at Accessible Sexuality we are striving to get sex openly onto the agenda of Personalisation and find a way to show the general public that everyone deserves an equal chance for love and sex, just as much as they deserve to eat well, keep themselves clean, socialise and experience life.

 We’d be very interested to hear from anyone who has tried to find support through Social Services or another care organisation to help with finding sexual fulfillment, accessing sex workers or getting help with masturbation. Let us know your experiences, both good and bad.

 If you need advice or support with trying to get sex onto the agenda of your own support plan, you can access help by emailing; mail@accessiblesexuality.org.uk or you can visit our sister site www.accessibleindependence.com who specifically deal with Personalisation and are happy to discuss sex as an essential activity of daily life.

Disabled Early, Gay Late

Accessible Sexuality has wherever possible cited the sources of the information and put a link back to the author.

I was born in 1943 in the west of Scotland, and with the exception of a year at a school for children with cerebral palsy in Edinburgh, I lived till the age of twelve with my parents in Glasgow.

The school for children with CP, Westerlea, had assessed me as fit to attend a small mainstream school with other children of my own age, where my abilities, notably a mechanical ability, skill with words, and musical talent could have been developed. Back in Glasgow, however, all disabled children were required to attend special schools where the pace was that of the slowest. Because I was more physically fit or more mentally agile than most of my classmates, I had no friends at school, the beginning of a life of loneliness.

At home my sister and my girl cousins created their own society, so once again I was isolated. My father couldn’t be bothered with my interest in mechanical things. Instead he tried to cram the subjects of his own expertise—politics, economics and social studies—into my head even before I was of school age, which is five in the United Kingdom. When I finally made it into mainstream education, at Alloa Academy in Clackmannanshire, east central Scotland, I came out with the required passes for university entrance, mainly languages, but that was really all I got out of school. Unable to participate in physical education and games, my isolation grew. I wasn’t bullied for not playing rugby, as I might have been at a school supported by public funds, but still I was excluded from the company of other pupils.

Instead of helping me to find pursuits that might have given me the company of my peers, the school found nothing for me but extra lessons. Now that I have gay friends for the first time in my life I realize that many gay people understand what being “non-sports” was like as a child, much better, I believe, than most straight people do. At a conference in Belfast, for example, I met a gay man who had been educated at a Roman Catholic school for boys. He was always in trouble, he told me, for not being good at PE and team games. When I mentioned that I had been left out for being “non-sports”, there was no need to explain. He got the point straight away. “Yes,” he said, “isolation.”

Another example relates to a specific activity. When I came to Edinburgh at the age of forty for further degree study, I got the chance to learn to swim by a method specially designed for disabled people. A gay journalist I met, who had been sent to one of the “good” Edinburgh schools, had been taken to a swimming pool at the age of eight and literally “thrown in at the deep end.” Terrified, he could never face swimming again, yet when I told him about learning to swim he could appreciate the feeling of independence that being in the water gave me.

Outside of school I was fortunate that relatives on my mother’s side of the family, keen on outdoor activities, encouraged me to go for walks in the country. These were mostly solitary excursions, so when I read Exile and Pride I was struck that Eli Clare was allowed to take part in a cross-country run, a group activity. Even so, the adults involved reacted to Eli exactly as they had to me, by setting the experience apart. I recall this same feeling when I had to endure an “interview” with one of the tabloid newspapers about an essay I had written. In no time the whole county had heard of “the boy that looks at old buildings.” Singled out in this condescending fashion, I felt myself a freak and was put off the subject of architecture till after completion of my first degree at St. Andrews University.

The contrast between Alloa Academy in rural Scotland in the late 1950s and early 1960s and Eli Clare’s school in Ohio in the 1970s makes me wonder whether it reflects a change of attitude over time, or whether this kind of difference between Britain and America always existed. I know that pupils with disabilities are now being helped to do PE in two of our primary schools in Edinburgh, but I still don’t know what would happen at secondary level.

My inability to dance when I was a boy inspired odd and often contradictory attitudes on the part of adults. Sometimes I got the impression that my not being able to dance was a sign of how “good” I was for not getting involved with girls at an inappropriate age. Learning about the lives of other gay men has given me a larger view of all sorts of personal experience. One able-bodied couple I met both suffered from their enthusiasm for dancing of different kinds. One partner, originally from the south of England, was seen as effeminate when he was the only boy in a children’s ballet class; his partner, from the Edinburgh area, was tormented in primary school for being good at Scottish country dancing.
Does this suggest that my inability to dance was seen by some adults as evidence that I was a “real” man, not effeminate? I cannot be sure.

Sex and Isolation
The first thing I learned about sex came from my father’s warning that something would happen to little boys who played with their penises—as I tended to do. I began to wonder if that “something” was “become homosexual”. Reading a magazine article that addressed medical myths about homosexuality only confirmed my suspicion. A gay friend a few years my senior said that in our school days the gay (able-bodied) boy attracted to other boys in the changing room might, to avoid trouble, put on a show of being inept at games. Remember that homosexual acts were still a criminal offense at this time.

Looking back, I think that I came to realize at an early age that there were many ways of being isolated, and that while being left out was something done to me, it was also something I could embrace as a form of self protection. In my case the typical “I hate girls” stage persisted longer than the regulation age of fifteen…

Teasing about girlfriends ceased having an effect by my late teens, and when careers were being discussed, I knew that I had missed out on so many childhood things that I was unsure about school teaching and being able to control a class. Gay dads and lesbian mums abound, of course, but not all gay men make good fathers; for my part, I was dubious about being able not only to control school children in a class but to raise children of my own. My unsettled feelings about children proved to be deeper than I’d realized: they got me sacked from my first job when I lashed out and hit a child full force because it was the only way I could think to deal with a difficult situation.

I wonder how widespread these feelings are among gay men of my generation. One gay man of my acquaintance told me that he had to warn his brother-in-law not to let his children rush up to him clamoring for sweets because he was liable to hit them; another man said that he couldn’t communicate with children until they were of an age to think about university; and a gay friend in London with manic depression said that parenthood suited some gay people, suggesting that it probably wouldn’t suit him.

I realize now that the disabled person’s uneasiness over gender roles has to do with more than parenting. Where able-bodied gay men and lesbians may do things they aren’t supposed to do conventionally (a boy might do embroidery, a girl auto mechanics), those of us with a physical disability may find that we fail at “male” or “female” things in more ordinary ways, something I realized from reading Eli Clare who, in Exile and Pride describes a family photograph that makes her remember being forcibly got into a skirt at the age of thirteen. She recalls asking her mother, “Am I feminine?” As an adult, since she can’t put on a skirt without help, she wears jeans instead. Most people think she’s a teenage boy, or, as she puts it, “neither a boy nor a girl.”

After reading Clare’s account, I recognized several things that symbolized my inability to “be male” as a teenager, including tobacco, alcohol, and driving. Because my ability to focus visually is diminished by paralysis of one eye I could not manage to light things and, consequently, was terrified by flames. When I was about sixteen my father expected me to start smoking a pipe, like him, or, on special occasions, a cigar. It was the pipe, however, that was the sign of the “real” man, and, for my Labour-voting parents, enjoyed extra cachet as a left-wing symbol, but as soon as cigarettes or cigars came near me I panicked. With a scream of “No!” I would nearly jump through the ceiling.

At home the result was a lecture on manners and, in public, comments from strangers about cowardice. Sometimes I was told not to be “like an old lady.” I was even told that smoking “soothed the nerves.” How could something frightening possibly soothe the nerves, I wondered? Alcohol consumption, too, as a measure of manliness, was something I failed at. With no taste for whisky I suppose I make a thoroughly second-rate Scotsman.

Although smoking and drinking no longer loom large as symbols in my life, somebody who discovers that I have never run a car and have to get household repairs done by others, might question my “manliness”. The truth, of course, is that I simply can’t manage those things physically. Looking to opposite stereotypes, a visitor seeing no sign of sewing or embroidery in my home might conclude that I am a “real man” after all, while the truth is these are things I can’t do because of my partial vision. Some might despise men who engage in those pursuits; I have every admiration for them.

Stereotypes like the ones I’ve mentioned above help to create attitudes that result in gay-directed hate crimes, but if I were to be assaulted it would probably be because of my disability. In fact just such an incident did take place in 1999, when I was stoned by a group of children as if it were 1850 and I the village idiot. Because this attack started soon after the revived Scottish Parliament met for the first time since 1707 I do not think it far-fetched to assume that the children’s behavior might have been part of a perverted sense of reborn nationalism, as if someone had taught them to revive a venerable old Scottish custom.

Coping with Learning Disabilities
My learning difficulties, first detected at Westerlea, include something similar to severe dyslexia that results in a failure to manage arithmetic, as well as difficulty grasping abstract ideas. The latter upset my parents unduly because each of the four Scottish Universities then in existence required a philosophy course as a requirement for an arts degree. Even after I passed my philosophy course with the help of extra tutoring I was still expected to understand discussions of politics and economics. I began to wish for a brain transplant so that I could become numerate and enter banking or accountancy. At other times, particularly when being bullied for lack of concentration or application, I thought I was either mentally deficient or would have been better off that way. At least a certifiable incompetence would have proved I was incapable of coping with subjects my parents and the educational establishment insisted were important.

It was not until I learned Transcendental Meditation that I was able to come to terms with my learning disabilities. TM gave me confidence in the skills I did have while at the same time it helped me to see parental intolerance for what it was. To put it another way, instead of being “cured” of my learning disabilities I was enabled, finally, to lose my obsession with them. At last I was able to see myself not as somebody incapable of coping with economics or politics, but as someone capable of other pursuits instead. I became a Gaelic scholar.

It was after learning TM that I went to Edinburgh University for Celtic Studies. I had learned Gaelic after my first degree, and with a background of English, French, and classics (and no distractions from subjects I was incapable of managing), it all came very easily. I attained full speaking, reading and writing ability in three years.

Learning to be Myself
Early on sex had been added, tacitly, to the long list of things I supposedly could not do. For a long time this was not an issue, since I was not attracted to girls; perhaps the knowledge that sex with other boys, and later with men at university was a crime might have suppressed my natural inclinations. After all these years it’s difficult to know. I suppose because I didn’t meet anyone who admitted to being gay I was indoctrinated into thinking that love for men was “unnatural” as well as criminal.

Not until 1974 in Edinburgh was I first aware of a gay rights demonstration. By then my perspective was so skewed I immediately got the idea that these were people getting jobs at the expense of the disabled and were probably anti-disabled themselves. This attitude persisted until 1983 when, settled into study, some freelance work, and some volunteer work I gradually forgot all about being homophobic. When I discovered that many of the scholars who had become my friends were gay, there seemed to be no point in snubbing them and losing their friendship.
In my late fifties, after the death of my mother, I first began to wonder if I might be gay myself. I mentioned it to a gay friend, asking if he knew of any gay groups. He was in the Gay Outdoor Club, whose swimming session I joined. Later I found good company at their socials, but the first real evidence that I was gay occurred one day in a straight sauna when another man invited me to share the shower with him. We went into a cubicle, where he started to massage his penis, then leant over and began doing the same to me, asking if I liked it. I said it was a new experience. It certainly felt nice, this first ever experience of sex with another person. I later decided that it must prove I was gay. Since my attitudes had been formed by those of my father’s generation, surely if I had been heterosexual I would have been shocked by his action, would have pushed him off and reported the “offense” to the staff.

The other incident, in fact my first experience of falling in love with somebody, followed my sending a piece to the Gay Outdoor Club newsletter about finding the Edinburgh branch of the club and learning to swim. I asked if anybody would like to get in touch, saying that if I was anything at all now I was probably gay. I got a reply from London (the friend with manic depression I referred to earlier). He said he was probably the same. I went to visit him, and as soon as I saw him, a tall young man in his late twenties, I found him attractive.

During an enjoyable weekend spent together we one afternoon found ourselves sitting in his flat wearing just T-shirts and shorts. I surrendered to a sudden urge to touch his leg, something that had never happened with anyone. He took my hand and we sat holding hands, then went into a cuddle. When it was time for me to return home I was almost in tears leaving him. In a letter thanking him for the weekend I asked if he would be willing to be my boyfriend, but he said that because of his depression he would be happier for us just to be friends. This proved to me that I really must have been gay all along. By the late ’ 90s it was, of course, perfectly safe to be that way. When we kissed on the train as I was leaving London, no railway official stopped us, something that would have happened in my younger days.

Going on from Here
There is a U.K. organization for gay disabled people, but being based in London it doesn’t really benefit Scotland, so I have become involved in a steering group established to bring gay disabled people together here. We meet alternately in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This is a form of socialization and, if you will, of education, for even among people with disabilities hierarchies and prejudices get in the way of communal feeling and the possibility of concerted action. Eli Clare writes, for example, that when among disabled people with severe mobility problems or those who use wheelchairs, she is out of the group, a “walkie”, and although this word isn’t used in the U.K., the attitude is the same.

Among wheelchair users I may be perceived as “too fit”, because I am on my feet and able to swim, although some disabled people may be inappropriately overawed by my university education. Different kinds of distinctions may exist among nondisabled people. Clare observes that among lesbians she is accepted as a writer; I have had similar experiences among abled gay men impressed by my involvement in Gaelic studies.

If my life has taught me anything it is that education is called for so that disabled people can enjoy wider acceptance, both among the general population and among their gay peers. Eli Clare observes that even in cosmopolitan New York City a man sitting down beside her on a bus might suddenly jump up when he perceives her athetoid disability. Sometimes, Clare maintains, adults will still stare at disabled people in public. When it happens in Britain nowadays it usually involves young children, whose parents will reprimand them.

My own experience has convinced me that it is parents who need the most education, in the private sphere as well as the public. They need to be shown that their children, particularly if they are disabled, should not be forced into opposite-sex relationships if they exhibit no such inclinations, nor should they be coerced into adopting stereotypical masculine or feminine attitudes that may be foreign to their natures.

My journey toward recognizing my essential nature has shown me how much damage stereotypes can inflict, how difficult it can be for people (even for parents) to see the person instead of the disability, how even one’s own perception of self can be disguised or distorted. It is late in life to “come out”. I wish there had been no necessity to do so.

by Charles Coventry

http://cregs.sfsu.edu/article/disabled_early_gay_late

Forum

Following a number of issues with accessing our Forum Page we have chosen to remove this page and add topics to our general pages for discussion and comment.

A current topic which is on the agenda and being debated between disabled people and professional is should sex be viewed as a valid outcome of a social work assessments.

The question we asked on our Forum was this:-

Do you think disabled people should be assessed as needing sex and if so should funds be made available to buy sex?

Below some of the comments made.

Mike on

Sex should be assessed as a human right and disabled people should be supported with accessing sexual encounters so as to relieve the frustration. I know in the current financial environment this will be low on the agenda, but why? I think it should be up there with personal care and any other care needs.

Cat lover Lady on

I tried to bring the subject of my sexual frustration up when my social worker visited me – but they just looked embarrassed, laughed it off and changed the subject

Accessible Sexuality on

Thank you for your replies to the post.
Accessible Sexuality has been working with a number of disabled people who are in receipt of Personal Budgets. Each time we breach the subject of sex, there is as ‘Cat Lover’ has said, a change of subject or a medical response, which turns the subject into a sexual health need and talk of referrals to the appropriate nurses etc. It would appear that social care systems do not view sex as a social need but as a medical issue which requires medical intervention.
Has anyone had this experience? Or even better has anyone been supported by their social worker to access ways to relieve sexual frustrations?

Simon on

There is a real issue here which strikes at the heart of sexual equality. As nearly all assessment for personal budgets via social services are based upon what they used to called ADL (activities of daily living) this is an occupational health model and nearly all these models do NOT accept that sexual activity or sexual needs are an activity of daily living. This is clearly prejudiced and wrong and perpetuates the myth that we are as disabled people asexual. The problem will never be solved until sexuality IS recognised by the assessing bodies such as OTs and the models they use. Without this funding will never be forthcoming as a right and only be given at the discretion of individual people or social services departments.

The whole area of sexuality still lags behind where equality is concerned and unfortunately some of our own disabled people with influence and high profile personalities do not speak up about this.

Eroticon 2013

Les & Ruth Browne

Les Browne is a wheelchair user and Ruth is his able bodied partner.

Les and Ruth met through a shared interest and passion for supporting disabled people to live independently. They have worked within the area of disability for many years and have strived to support people with disabilities to meet their needs and live fulfilling lives.

Through their work, they have encountered many couples and single disabled people with questions, concerns and an interest in sex. They have found that there is little support and advice to pass on and found mainly factual information, but little information out there that promoted the positive fun adventurous side of having an active sex life.

As a very open and communicative couple, Les and Ruth have found that being able to discuss sex together – desires, wishes, fantasies, worries, insecurities – has helped them to form a strong bond and to develop a sex life that suits them both and works along-side their different abilities.

Les and Ruth run a regular blog focusing on sex and disability, write articles concerning issues around sex and personalisation and Les is also a writer of erotic inclusive short stories.

Les and Ruth are eager to share their knowledge, experiences, ideas, advice and general enthusiasm for the subject of sex and disability to help disabled individuals and couples, as well as promote a positive attitude within society towards disabled people, their sexual needs and desires.

Morning has broken

I am a morning person – there is no two ways about it.

At 6am I’m awake.

Bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Ready to chatter or to debate, to have a heart to heart outpouring or a full-scale row, to sing like no one can hear me or to jump up and dance like no one can see me. And also – to plan … oh god, how I like to plan! All those thoughts that have been running through my head all night for all sorts of crazy schemes just come pouring out at 6am …. In short I drive my partner loopy with my early dawning shenanigans!

Also, at 6am I’m usually feeling very very horny!…

But, when I wake, I look to my left and there is my Hubs – snoring away, dead to the world … Hmmm

Guess I’ll just have to get up and dance around the kitchen alone then…

But come 10pm – my hubby is full of energy and I’m a sleepy little munchkin, desperately trying to keep my eyes open whilst hubs wants to chatter, discus and plan his own crazy schemes. I nod along, make the occasional noise of agreement and try my best to look like I’m taking it all in…

Of course HE is a night person, nothing better than a cuddle and more at bedtime he thinks – my sleepy head disagrees! Admittedly, once we hit the sheets at 11/12/1am – I’m easily talked into a little ‘how’s your father’, sometimes I’m even the one making the move! But, once it’s all over, I always say the same thing – we really should do it in the mornings – I’m much better in the mornings!

Well, last night, as is often the case, I hit the sack saying the same old line – give me a nudge in the morning and I’m all yours! (But, as usual, I wasn’t holding my breath).

This morning was a Sunday morning, but usually it makes no difference to my body clock, Sunday lie-ins mean nothing to me.

However, unusually, today I woke late – 9am! AND – even more strangely – when I opened my eyes, there was hubby, looking back at me, bright eyed and bushy tailed! But there was also a look in his eye – an odd look, a kind of  ‘annoyed crossed with gloating’ look – “ey?? What’s up with you?” I asked…

He told me…

Oh.

Because, on this particular Sunday morning, after my polite sleepy shrug-off last night and my ‘in the morning I’m all yours’ line, my hubby had laid there awake whilst I gently slept beside him (or, apparently, snored like a grizzly bear! Cheeky git!) And he had decided to surprise me.

Despite his love of lie-ins (Sunday lie-ins especially), he had set his mobile alarm to vibrate for 5.45am (knowing I’m always awake by 6) and had placed his phone under his pillow.

So, at 5.50am, after he’d yawned, stretched and tried to unpeel his eyelids, he had apparently moved over to my side of the bed and had gently and tenderly stroked my arm “mmm that’s nice” I had responded (so I’m told).

Encouraged, he had gotten a little bolder and moved down to my waist “mmmm’ and then my thigh “MMMMMMM.

At this point, encouraged by my reactions and starting to see the pull of horny early morning sex after all, he had moved his hand to caress me in an all together different spot…

“………”

Wow, she must be loving it he thought, she’s so deep in ecstasy she is can’t even make a sound…

“………”

I am so good at this…

“………”

And then he heard a deep intake of breath from me.

Here goes, he thought, any second now…

V

V

V

“zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

Oh.

Sorry hubs! I’m sure you were really good! But sometimes even an early riser needs a lie in too!

I guess I could try to reciprocate tonight, to make up for it. Put on my sexiest outfit and whisk you off to bed for a night of passion …  yes, I could do that, but let’s be honest, you know me too well, the chances are at 10pm you’ll find me once again in my slippers and my fluffy onesie, coco in hand and only sleep on my mind – and in the morning I’ll be dancing around the bedroom with my hairbrush microphone in my hand whilst you snore away in sleepy ecstasy…

I don’t know, maybe we should give afternoon sex a go? At least we should both actually be awake at that time then!

Love ya Hubs!

Ruth x

I dream of Ladyboys!

Good morning Blogees!

I’ve just woken from a naughty dream – don’t worry, I’ll spare you the details! – but it has reminded me about a great night out me and the other half had a few weeks back now – Watching the Ladyboys of Bangkok! So, instead of subjecting you to my wild and weird world of dreams, I thought I’d share with you all my experiences of that night instead!

So to the Ladyboys – It was one of those nights that you decide to try out, not knowing what to expect at all – would it be great or gruesome, sexy or silly, professional or pitiful? (I was hoping for sexy!)

I’d never seen the Ladyboys before, but me and my chap both loved the idea of seeing a show that advertised overt sexuality and a little naughtiness and we hoped the audience would be like-minded souls – open, accepting and with more than just a hint of dirty – and we weren’t disappointed on all counts!

The show was a lot funnier than we had expected, with a good mix of theatrically stunning pieces and filthy comedy!

There was a lot of audience participation and I think this was one of those times where my chap was grateful he had his wheelchair – ‘cos otherwise I have no doubt he would have been dragged onto that stage in jiffy. (Although, seeing the look on his face when he checked out one particularly gorgeous ladyboys, maybe he wouldn’t have minded too much anyhow!).

The audience loved the show as much as we did and most people seemed happy to leave their inhibitions at home and just have a bloody good time.

Personally it just left me wanting more – although in truth; the ‘more’ I wanted was to voyeuristically get a glimpse of the Ladyboy boobs! (No moobs in sight at this show!). Maybe I need to go to Thailand and search out a whole other show entirely!

On the way home, whilst the other half drove, I bored him half to death with my Wiki quotes regarding Ladyboys, mostly it has to be said, quotes about boy bobbies!

The Ladyboys of Bangkok is a great night out for the open minded – It allows you to get dressed up, leave your inhibitions behind and just go with the flow! But be warned – once seen, never forgotton – so don’t blame me if you too have some very interesting dreams afterwards!

 Also remember - if you don’t want to be dragged on stage or gyrated on by, lets face it, some of the most gorgeous human beings ever, then make sure you book a table way back! (For my fella and I, I think we both were a little disappointed we didn’t sit closer after all … as I think we’d BOTH have quite enjoyed a little ladyboy gyration!)

Thoroughly recommended and can’t wait for next years show!

Ruth x

Vacant postion to be filled?! :D

Is it just me or does anyone else out there, who likes to peruse sex shops, have a secret fantasy about the staff there?

What is it about the job that attracts these people?

Being a kinky thing myself, I think that – if I but had the nerve and gumption to apply and the luck to be offered the job – then I’d be sure to be sacked within a week for gawping at customers, watching way too many DVDs and basically being a bit of a sad sex perv! So maybe not the job for me then…!

But the staff there, in these off the beaten track ‘sex shops’, ‘private shops’ ‘pleasure Parlors’’  – what was it that made them apply for the job?

I often wonder (probably more than is healthy!)– are these staff in a constant state of arousal at work? Or do they get so bored of sex after a hard day at the office that they just go to bed with a cup of tea and a copy of Woman’s Weekly or Tractor Driver’s Fortnight? !

Well, personally I like to fantisize that – when I and my fella walk (and roll) into that sex shop, looking all timid, nervous and flushed – that the staff member there is just a little aroused by our presence!

I imagine it takes all of his / her strength to resist coming over to us and helping to demonstrate how to use the odd and exciting devices I’m fingering in the shop!

And when me or my fella go into the cubicles to try on horny garments, I like to secretly fantasize that the assistant will at any moment pull back the curtain, offer to help us dress and then close the curtain behind him/her as they take us in their arms, remove our clothing and have their wicked way with me and my fella right there on the cubicle stool with the big mirror reflecting our passion and wantonness…!

However – the reality of the matter is usually a tiny cubicle with no room to swing a cat (o’nine tails), being ordered to ‘not touch the merchandise in the shop’ if I dare to have a little stroke of the big black dong winking suggestively at me, followed by a miserable and bored looking assistant disinterestedly putting my new toys in a boring brown paper bag.

Not quite living up to my fantasy hey?!

But – as the alternative is being over charged and over fussed (Can I help?!!! “No thanks” – Can I help??! “no thanks” – Can I help?!! – “NO!!!!”) by the local high street sex shop staff, I’ll take the back street sex shop misery any day!

Hmmmmm, writing this has got me in the mood for a little trip out for another sexy shopping day – maybe today will be our day! (I can always live in hope! – plus I’d probably run a mile if it actually happened!)

What’s your experiences (or fantasies!) of sex shop staff? Come tell me all :-)

Till next time

Mrs T

To say or not to say?

I’ve been pondering this one for a while now – dating sites and disabilities – to say or not to say? That is my question for today’s blog!

Last year, before I met Mr Right (well, occasionally right – I’m obviously right most of the time!), I had a few months of trawling through the Internet dating scene.

Until this year, I’d been on my own for a long time, I was lonely, I didn’t have the opportunity to get out very often to meet people day-to-day (due to the kids) and so internet dating seemed a good idea at the time.

I do not have an easily visible disability and only use a wheelchair occasionally when things flair up, so it’s something I have never felt to mention on my dating profiles – I only tell people I trust and who I feel may be in my life for a long time and will need to know – so that counted out ALL of my internet dates!

I remember one guy however whom I met that stuck in my mind. He was nice (which came as a surprise!) and he also had a disability, which affected his mobility.

Being an open minded and pretty laid back woman, I thought little of it – to be honest the only thing I remember thinking was that – when I am well I love to go dancing – if we did hit it off, dancing would not be a hobby we could share. That was the end of my consideration, other than how it may affect something I enjoy doing, I really didn’t feel any negative feelings regarding this man’s disability.

Now – on his dating profile he did not mention his disability. For me, it meant nothing, when we met I could see it and I must have pondered the implications for all of 5 seconds.

But, what if he had mentioned it on the profile? I am certain that personally it would have had no consequence, but what about other potential daters?

If he had said, “Hi, I’m Paul Jones and I’m a wheelchair user”, would that have had an effect on how much interest he got?

I personally am in two minds about this – the morally driven and politically correct side of me says; of course he doesn’t need to tell strangers about his disability! If they can’t handle it when they meet face to face, then that’s their problem! But the emotional and sensitive side of me can recognize that it is not only a waste of time and effort to arrange dates and then find the other person just isn’t interested – but more importantly – it can be really quite painful to see the look on someone’s face when they see you aren’t what they expected and really don’t want to be there (I’m talking from experience here, as I did once see ‘that face’ when I met a date who hadn’t read my profile properly and wasn’t aware that I am a big woman – and it really hurt me at the time.)

Actually, I’ve just realised that – although on my own profiles I didn’t mention my disability (as it is essentially invisible), I did choose to tell people about my size – but not because I felt they needed to know, just to protect myself from hurt and disappointment.

Ultimately though, all the dates I had where disappointments in one way or another anyhow! The ‘miserable farmer’, the ‘I’ve forgotten my wallet’, the  ‘I don’t fancy you but can we have sex anyhow?’ and the ‘I’ve brought some condoms along – just in case’…!

Even ‘Mr Nice’ (who I’ve discussed above) turned out to be a disappointment too – as, although he seemed great, I did have a little difficulty with his habit of telling me about the ‘spirits’ he could see sat with us at the table…! Not mentioning your disability on the profile is no problem for me, but please mention if you are bringing along lots of deceased family and friends next time!

I’d be really interested to hear of others experiences of dating sites, if you mentioned disabilities or not, and what reactions you got?

Until the next time

Trish x