The biggest problem when writing a blog is to start getting too obsessed with how many people are reading it. This trap I have already fallen into. No sooner have I grabbed my first mug of coffee in the morning, then I am racing off to my computer to see how many hits I’ve had on the blog overnight. Just like in the world of television, you are then tempted to chase ratings. And what is the number one way to get ratings? Unfortunately its not to discuss equality or discrimination but to write about Sex.
Sex is something that is now discussed and debated ad nauseum. Even my mother discusses it with me – which is frankly wrong, but that’s enough story.
However there is still a real taboo surrounding sex and disabled people. Some people feel we shouldn’t do it. Some people even think we shouldn’t think about it. And a lot of people think that we should definitely not be doing it with non-disabled people.
Unfortunately this is actually making some Disabled people think that sex is ‘dirty’ or ‘disgusting’ and they do not feel able or supported to express their sexuality. A few weeks ago I watched a programme on Channel 4 about a dating agency specifically for people with learning difficulties. Before watching the program, I was not entirely happy with the concept, however the program convinced me that the agency was fulfilling an important role. The agency was set up and run by two women with learning difficulties who had found dating a minefield. The programme illustrated very well how family and ‘care staff’ needed to feel comfortable with the relationship in order for it to work. My favourite part was when one of the couples featured, felt they had to go and ask the chaperone from the agency whether they were allowed to kiss goodnight.
Another dating website I ventured upon whilst researching this blog, is called Whispers4u. They seem to be hedging their bets with their terminology as the site uses ‘differently-abled’, ‘disabled’, ‘people with disabilities’ even ‘handicapped’. Now purely for research you understand, I decided to join this website and although the target audience is obviously disabled people, I was surprised how many non-disabled people were on there and seem geninuely interested in chatting. Most of the people I spoke to, either already have close disabled friends or family members or they had worked with disabled people in the past. (Anyway, I got a date out of it so I’ll let you know how it goes – then again maybe i won’t).
Disabled People may need support to explore their sexuality and this may be even more important if you are a Disabled Gay Man or a Disabled Lesbian. Regard is a national organisation based in London to support Disabled People who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender. Unfortunately, due to funding cuts, they have slimmed down in recent years, however they are still a good source of information and support.
SCIL currently have 12 basic rights which we feel are necessary in order for Disabled People to fully participate on an equal basis within society. We are now considering whether to add a 13th basic right to cover relationships and sex. Your comments are always welcome.