Two years ago, I began writing about sex in terms of the disability context. My learnings since have continued to teach me that, in New Zealand anyway, the disability community remains in a state of discomfort when it comes to sex.
Sex is a normal, but most importantly, achievable part of all our lives. Whether that be with a partner and taking place in a relationship, or with an escort in a hotel room, this is a normal part of life that disabled people can, and do, partake in. But the road toward this is often filled with such alarming excuses as to why it can’t, or shouldn’t happen, and this is the very thing I am trying to challenge in the disability community, and also, outside out of it.
There are already too many stigmas placed upon disabled people, including sexual stigmas, but I want to challenge anyone who is interested in challenging those stigmas, to go ahead and challenge them. If we are all about liberating disabled people on a global scale, then we can’t pick and choose what we perceive to be achievable and healthy to be having discussions about when it comes to disabled people. Isn’t absolutely everything, regardless of your morals toward it, open for discussion and activism?
Before we get into the blog, I want to start by telling you all something that you should know already:
Every day that you wake up, open your eyes, and take a breath is a day that you should feel fortunate because many who came before us failed to make the change they wanted whilst the had that very same privilege.
My name is Michael Pulman (of course, you already knew that), and the words above mean more to me now than they ever have before. It’s easy to get fed up, to say you want to quit, and to compare yourself to the situations of others. It’s also easy to overthink your own place in this world and to worry about how’re your going with that. Most of us have a social media account of some kind and we are connected to others, so that means, anything and everything we put out there will be seen, and likely, reacted to by others.
This reality for many of us can lead to fear, and this can often be the direct cause of us staying away from entering into any sort of dialogue about certain subjects.
Take the disability community for example, where a more edgy subject like sex is often spoken about in hushed tones. When I say “a more edgy subject like sex”, I almost scoff at the words I’ve just written because it all seems so crazingly pathetic to me. Sex, if we are talking about intercourse, isn’t just a natural (and hopefully pleasurable) part of life, but the whole liberation of sex and the activities surrounding it have become an accepted part of the modern pop culture.
Disability Representation and Discussion in Sex is Needed
Now, the issues facing equality for disabled people are many, and sex certainly isn’t the highest on that list in terms of priority. In fact, discussing sex and creating opportunities for disabled people, to access sex services as an example, is not even on the priority list at all. To me, that is both a terrific shame but also a complete non-surprise. It is a shame because sex (whatever that means to you and yours), is something that everyone, disabled or not, should have the opportunity to both talk about, and when the time is right, experience in an enjoyable and safe way. It isn’t a surprise, however, that sex for disabled people if often a difficult subject, because there are so many other factors at play that can place some big barriers in the way of the person having a sex life. Barriers including privacy, physical, sensory, and permission (yes, I just said that) just to name a few.
As a wheelchair user, I face barriers in my own sex life. Before entering a relationship and experiencing a fairly active sex life, I knew just about nothing in regards to my own sexual abilities, desires, or even if/how I would be able to “perform” in the bedroom. All I had to go on was the help of a few friends, but more so, the determination that when my time came (yes, I get the pun), I would do everything I could to ensure that it was the best experience possible.
I imagined my first time would be with a girlfriend, or a close friend, perhaps even a fuck buddy. But no, my first time came with a hired professional, an escort. To this day, I have absolutely zero regrets about that decision to pay to lose my virginity. Never have, and never will.
Well before alll of that, I always had a burning desire to try and encourage as many disabled people to talk about sex whatever that means to them.