Sit Down/Stand Up

OK, I know I’ve been terrible about putting stuff on my website. To be honest I’ve had an awful year so far with technology. My computer died on me, thanks to a Windows 10 update that killed my Windows 7 operating system. I was also still recovering from my broken leg, a saga I will regale you with another time, and to be honest not much was happening I wanted to tell the world about. However, I’m now out of my plaster and life is fun again. There’s loads to catch up on too, so keep you eyes out for more posts soon.

Mik on stage doing his stand up routine, with a BSL signer next to himIn March I found myself in a packed comedy club in East London, about to do my first attempt at stand up. I’d been asked by the BBC to take part in an event called Storytelling Live, that was being put on by BBC Ouch. I was one of seven disabled people, some comedians and some not, who were going to tell their story about love or relationships. I chose to tell the story of how i came to terms with my sexual dysfunction, but in a way that would put the audience at ease. And it worked, phew! The room laughed all the way through my set, despite it being a rather personal one, and I left the stage buzzing, sure I would do more comedy.

Mik backstage being made up, by a blonde makr up artist.

The event was being filmed by the BBC and soon an edited version of my set went live on the BBC News On-line website. Within the first 24 hours of going live, it had been watched by over 1.5 million people, and was number 6 in the most watched on-line videos for the BBC. So now everyone knows about my willy! Since then I’ve been asked to help on a project that aims to advise GP’s and medical professionals how to help people who have lost the ability to work like they should in the bedroom department, which is amazing. I am very lucky, as I am totally happy with the way my body works and have an amazing sex life, but I know most people who loose the ability to sex like they teach you in text books think that’s the end of their sex life. So to do something to change that, however small, is amazing.

Anyway, without further rambling, the article I wrote for the BBC and the video clip of my stand up routine can be found here. As soon as it goes live on Youtube I’ll put the link up.

A cartoon of Mik talking to a woman standing next to him

Before I go, this is the cartoon of me from the BBC art department. Cool huh?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Getting Sexy

It never rains but it pours, and this month is nothing different. But I must never complain about being busy eh?

Today two videos what I wrote and presented went live online, and I must say I am rather proud of them. They are part of a special feature run by the Wellcome Trust’s online science magazine Mosaic on the subject of disability and sexuality, written by journalist Katherine Quarmby. I was interviewed by Katherine and this led me to meet the Mosaic team, which in turn led to recording the videos.

The first explodes the top ten myths around sex and disability. I really feel it is vital that society re-examines the way it thinks about disabled people and sex, if for no other reason than anyone can become disabled… but they don’t suddenly change how they feel about sex. It’s a normal part of life and pretty much everyone can enjoy a sex life, disabled or not. Society needs to move away from this freaky image of disability and sex. And I for one am doing something about that. So this what lies behind the first of the videos…

The second video came out of discussions during the filming of the first. I was explaining about a technique I helped develop that allows disabled people with loss of sensation or function in the sex organs to regain the ability to orgasm. The crew was intrigued and so we shot a quick clip explaining how to allow yourself to create orgasmic zones anywhere on your body…. enjoy!

I hope you agree that as well as being informative they are loads of fun. I would like to thanks Barry J Gibb and Chrissie Giles at Mosaic and Katherine Q for getting the ball rolling.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Sexpert Mik

I can now officially announce that I am part of a team of non-expert sexperts giving out advice for the charity Enhance The UK. They run a advice section for disabled people seeking help around sex, love, relationships and body image, so if you think I might be the right person to help you with any of those please get in touch via the Love Lounge.

In the meantime, here’s my introduction video.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

New Article Round-Up

Here’s a round up of some of my recent articles.

First is a  piece on Wheelchair Dance in Disability Now, as it doesn’t matter whether you live on wheels, legs or both you can cut a rug on the dancefloor.

Then I have an article on sex and disability published on Miss Alice Gray‘s website. It’s the first of a two parter, with the second art being more of a “how-to” guide to sexiness and disability.

I have also joined the writing team at Disability Horizons as an occasional contributor. My first story for them was about dressing up for the party season if you are disabled, called Festive Fashion, but it works for all times of year. You know me, I never need a reason to dress to impress… or shock! The next article for DH is on the recent casting at the BBC for the cream of disabled acting talent which asks Is It Time For Our Close Up? Ages back I wrote my views on Assisted Suicide, so if you missed it maybe check it out.

You can also check out my column in PosAbility magazine at their online portal. It’s not the most recent, but keep checking back as they update it regularly.

So that about it for now. Got loads of new articles coming up, so I’ll keep you all posted.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

This Morning Brothel Discussion

Here is the video of the This Morning Debate between myself and Becky Adams on the issue for a brothel Becky is planning to open which is specially designed for disabled customers. I have already written several blogs on this issue, which can be found in my blog section. Please give it a watch if you haven’t seen it and I wonder which side you fall down on, if you excuse the very mild pun?

First shown on ITV Jan 18th 2013

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Disability and Sex…. it’s not just possible, it can be amazingly amazing!!!!

Anyone who has been reading my blogs recently, as well as watching This Morning, listening to the radio or reading various newspapers who have interviewed me will know that I have strong feelings about the subject of disability and sex. But this isn’t a new thing, I began my media career working as a sex-pert on two Channel 4 Yoof shows, and have been working to champion the right for disabled people to have a sex life ever since. However, I want disabled people to treated just like the rest of society so I am dead against this current push to create special crip friendly brothels and for disabled people to get free visits to sex workers on the state. But I don’t want to only be negative on this subject and so I have written a column in this issue of Disability Now giving my tips on chatting people up, under the title of “Mik’s Rough Guide To Pulling”. It’s a humorous piece, written with my tongue firmly stuck in my check, but all the tips have worked for me. In fact I would go so far as to say that these tips have allowed me to be the sexually confident person I am today.

On top of these tips, I feel this is the time to put online an article I had published in a woman’s magazine called Scarlet (yes I got the job by ringing them up and saying “I must write for you… Scarlet in Scarlet” and they went for it). The piece outlines some of the techniques that I have used during sexual confidence workshops with people with spinal injury, but in the article I have applied the tips to the wider community. Yes I am so arrogant that I decided to give sex advice to everyone, disabled or not. But shock horror, it was really well received and was syndicated worldwide. You see I have always believed that the wider society could learn a thing or two about improving their sex life from disabled people like me, and the reaction to this article proved me right. But more importantly, it is essential for disabled people to know that not only is sex possible for them, no matter what their impairment, but it can be so good that it is better than the sex that the majority of non-disabled people have.

So whoever you are, and whether you are disabled or not take a look and see what you think. It’s very honest and open, but I have always felt that this is a topic that is so important that if I want to ensure a change in the way the world thinks about sexuality and sex and disability then I can’t only tell half the truth.

Right here goes….

WHEELIE SEXY

SEXY TIPS… FROM A SEXY CRIP!?! by Mik Scarlet

Let’s face it we don’t live in a society that thinks of disability as “sexy”. Most able-bodied people think that coming to a disability as an end to sexiness, and in a way it is. When I found myself facing a life in a wheelchair after my spine collapsed when I was 16, I could not see how I was going to form sexual relationships. Due to nerve damage I was not only left with legs that didn’t work any more, but I also had to face my future with sexy bits that while they still had full feeling (which was lucky I admit) had no motor function. Put simply I was left looking forward to a future where Mr. Wobbly stayed wobbly all the time.

I considered trying to forge relationships with men, but found being very heterosexual got in the way of that. (I still have no idea how you girls put up with stubble on a bloke’s face, and I won’t even mention the taste of a cock….urk!) So with a heavy heart I got used to the idea that I was to face a future alone.

You see I had brought into the myth that sex is all about erections and penetration. Luckily for me, this was back in the early 80’s. Thanks to the whole New Romantic fashion (of which I was a HUGE fan) it was a time when young people questioned all of the sexual stereotypes. Most of my friends turned out to be Gay or Lesbian and through their friendships I learned the truth about sex.

The main reason for sex now we have evolved beyond shagging to reproduce is pleasure. Whether it’s in a loving relationship or between ships that pass in the night, great sex should leave you sweaty, knackered, fulfilled and very happy. All of my Lesbian friends made me an Honorary Lesbian once they learned I could have no part in the penetrative act (it was a different time folks – Lesbianism was very political life choice, and all penetration was considered rape). With their help I began to see myself as a sexual being, and even ended going out with one of them for two years.

I also read every sex manual I could lay my hands on. In fact I read all manner of books that I thought might be useful if I was going to be able to please any future partners. I even went as far as to read a S.S. torture manual for the WW2 just in case I ever ended up naked with a masochist. (On retrospect it hasn’t ever helped my sex life but it did completely freak me out at the time).

Well now you know why I think I am in a position to give you, lovely reader advice on sex. I promise you if you try out some of these tips, you will end up having a great time…

*Tip 1 – Open you mind (part1)

The major sex organ that we posses is our minds. Fantasy and imagination can make sex so much more rewarding. So forget any hang-ups you might have, ignore any baggage you might have from up bringing (either from religion, parents or bad experience) and most off all never feel guilty.

*Tip 2 – You’re only making it harder on yourself!

Penetration can be a prison for sexuality. Yes it can be fantastic, but getting too hung up on the “old in-out” can lead to a very unfulfilling sex life. While some women can only reach orgasm through being filled up, most find themselves getting there thanks to the most perfect organ, the Clitoris. But every girl’s “Love Button” is different. Some like gentle stimulation, some enjoy a more aggressive direct approach and others change their tastes like the wind changes direction. There is no right way to give the Clit the attention it needs and deserves, so experimentation is the only way forward.

When “giving” to your partner use your imagination and try everything. Watch the response. If it seems favourable, change what you are doing slightly and see how the response changes. More favourable – carry on, less favourable – try some thing else or go back to what you were doing before.

When “receiving” please, please, please talk to your partner. Tell them what you like, and if you don’t know let them experiment and say “Oh Yes!” when they are getting it right and “Oh No!” when they aren’t (but be gentle with them – nothing ruins your confidence like a partner knocking your technique – you always get more bees with honey than with vinegar). Try making it part of your role playing – being “The Boss” or playing “The Virgin”. If it works don’t knock it!

*Tip 3 – Open your mind (part2)

Role-playing and fantasy brings me to my best tip. I call it “Hands Free Masturbation”. In short this is a tip that once you’ve worked out how to do it will make sex a whole new ball game (if you’ll excuse the pun).

To learn H.F.M. you need to make yourself a gap in your day, preferably just before going to sleep. Lay yourself down, and basically think the sexiest, dirtiest thoughts you can imagine. It doesn’t matter what you think of, as long as it hits your spot. Remember to forget guilt, and just go wild. Now hopefully this will get you turned on nicely. When you feel your body starting to respond to what’s happening in your head,

DON’T TOUCH YOURSELF!

Instead make your fantasies go even wilder. Really let yourself go. At the same time start focusing on the “nice” feelings that will hopefully be getting more and more intense as you fantasise. For the first few times you might need to touch yourself, but only give in if you really have to. If you keep resisting the urge, you will find yourself orgasming just through the power of your imagination.

This fantastic skill can help in many ways. It can be used to ensure you cum together, to make any sex that extra bit special and lets you wank any time, anywhere.

*Tip 4 – The Real Head Fuck

The best part of learning H.F.M. is that you can then use the technique to make other parts of your body as responsive as your genitals. It is something I teach to disabled people who have lost sensation in their sexy bits. It means they can start to really enjoy sex on an equal footing with their partners. What it means to you able-bodied shaggers is the ability to make any part of your body a “Love Button”.

All you have to do is when you are trying a bit of H.F.M. move your focus from your groin (where the “nice” feelings tend to start) to another part of your body. I would advise you to start with your nipples. They are already an erogenous zone, and so it easier to focus the sexy feeling to them. But any part of your body that you enjoy having touched will do. Try to push yourself over the edge without focusing on your groin. If you need to touch the part of your body you are focusing on, just to make the sensation more intense.

Now you can go wild and cover your body in “Love Buttons”. I even know of a guy who was a tetraplegic (broke his neck – think of Christopher Reeve) who turned the end of his nose into his sex organs. Just imagine how much it made having a cold.

*Tip 5 – Never say Never

All of my other tips involve some effort on your part. I have used them all to great effect, and I have taught them to others to equal effect. However the best thing that I have learned on my way to becoming the sexually confident Crip I am today is “Never be afraid to try something”. In fact it’s more than that. In the words of Diane, my fiancé and the love of my life, “If you try something and you don’t like it, try it again just to make sure!”

So, there you go kind reader. Give my tips a go, and see what happens. I mean what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Oh and one more thing before I go. If you ever want to try a bit of bondage, try using a wheelchair. They are covered in fixing points, and it means you can wheel your “captive” all over the house. Not that I’d know of course… Tee hee!!!!!

©Mik Scarlet 2005

Well I think that is enough on sex for now. I hope that my arguments around this attitude that disabled people can only experience sex if they pay for it, and my advice, both in my DN article and the tips above, go some way to changingthe way you, dear reader, think about sex. If nothing else, I hope you give some of my tips a try. Might make for a fun night.

If any groups or disabled people’s organisations reading this would like to me to run a workshop around sexual confidence and disability, please contact me using the e-mail address on my website – www.mikscarlet.co.uk

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Has the everyone just started taking crazy pills?

Just when I thought the topic of disability and sex couldn’t get more media focus, something else catches their attention. Alongside the proposal from Becky Adams to open a special “Disabled Only” brothel that I explored in my last blog there is now the story of Chris Fulton who is looking for a solicitor who will help him fight for vouchers from the NHS to pay for disabled people to visit sex workers on the state. I can’t even begin to explain why this is a non-started of an idea. But I will try…

Disabled people who have impairments that effect their mobility or their ability to carry out daily activities easily already get payments through the DLA, which is soon to change too the PIP payments. It’s our choice how we use those payments, so if a disabled recipient feels that they need to visit a sex worker they can use some of that money for that purpose. To claim that sex is a human right opens up a can of worms that might lead to many other members of our society demanding that they also have the right to visit sex workers of the NHS. I’m sure this idea will drive those people who believe the propaganda that disabled people are already getting loads of free stuff from the state into a rage. A visit to the Daily Mail online will prove me right I feel.

Of course at the minute disabled people are facing a mirriad of cuts and changes in how their lives are run. One of the biggest is the closure of the Independent Living Fund. The fund used to provide funding to cover the costs of paying for Personal Assistants, who allowed people who need help with dressing, washing and eating to living independently. These costs are now going to expected to be covered by local authorities, but there is no legal expectation for them to do so. This means that many disabled people are facing the prospect of a future in residential homes, after living their lives in their own homes totally independent. Surely this is the kind of thing that people like Chris should be campaigning for? How can you use your hooker vouchers if you can’t get dressed, washed or fed?

But even if you ignore that bigger issues, how would this work? Who says who is so disabled that they are entitled to use the voucher scheme? Would the government get in Gok Wan to cast his eye over the claimants to decide who isn’t sexy enough to get laid? Or even worse, would Atos being hired to run Sex Capability Assessments? Would you need to be assessed by a panel of Atos experts before you could claim for a freebie sex sessions?

Then would those pesky fraudsters start trying to get the vouchers even though they weren’t entitled to them? Would non-disabled people be greasing down their hair and acting all disabled in the attempt to get some free sex? Or would sexy cripples try to down play the gorgeousness as they feel they should also be entitled to some extra sex? Maybe the BBC’s Saints and Scroungers could run a sex special exposing those terrible people who are really able to get themselves sex but who have pretended to be unshagable to defraud the state.

In all seriousness, is state funded sex the real answer to the way disabled people are considered by society? I would hope that we would campaign to change the way we were thought of by the wider world. More disabled people in the media, more opportunities to find work and accessible housing and an end to the targeting of the benefits that allow disabled people to live an independent life would all be campaigns that might help a little. Now it might seem a bit like a “Giz a job” idea, but I really feel that more strong, confident and attractive disabled people in the media would help loads. It would show the non-disabled world that their stereotype of disability is wrong and create role models for disabled people. I know that I have met loads of disabled people who have told me that seeing me on the TV back in the 90’s gave them the confidence to dress up, go out and have fun. Whether we like it or not, that is how most people meet a partner. I must also admit that I used to get a lot of steamy fan mail when I was a kids TV presenter. All those mums watching TV with their kids had no problems with the idea of sex with a wheelchair user that’s for sure.

Disabled people want equality in choice and experience. Expecting the state to pay for us to have sex is so far away from this dream it hurts. On top of that it damages the way society sees us further. I want the wider society to start seeing disabled people are great protective partners and not tragic charity cases that all have to pay to get their bits felt.  So come on folks, let’s stop shouting about such silly ideas.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Brothels for the Disabled? No Thanks!

Yesterday I did a radio phone in on BBC 3 Counties Breakfast Show on the subject of a proposed brothel that will specialise in providing a service for disabled customers. Yes, a brothel for cripples. Many of you will know that I do a lot of campaigning and work around the topic of sexuality and disability and so might imagine that I would be in favour of such an idea. However this could not be further from the truth. While I got a brief chance to air my views on the radio, I think it is really important to explain fully why I feel it could be so damaging for all of us, not just disabled people. It breaks down to three key reasons.

The first is the idea that disabled people have a greater need for the services of prostitutes. This is an attitude that runs throughout our society, yet the proof just isn’t there. While I know and have met some disabled people, well disabled men, who have paid for sex, most have not. They have gone out in to the world and formed sexual relationships in the “normal” way. Ones that spanned from casual flings to long term love and flowers jobs. Not just those disabled people who could be said to have the sexier disabilities, like Paraplegics or Amputees, but people with all manner of impairments. People who have little or no ability to speak and who need 24 hour personal assistance who have had or who are in loving relationships. Yet time and time again, when the media focuses on the subject of sex and disability the story we mainly see revolves around a disabled person seeking paid sex. More than that, the prostitution industry uses this attitude to attempt to legitimise what they do and to further their campaign to legalise it.

The effect of this false belief that disabled people need the services of prostitutes more than anyone else is the second reason why I am opposed as it causes issues for the way society thinks about disability. It not only effects disabled people but everyone. For disabled people, it means they grow up in an atmosphere that makes them believe that they just aren’t sexy or potential sexual partners and for the non-disabled community it plays a part in continuing the prejudice around disability. More than that, as all non-disabled people are just disabled people before an illness or injury, it means that if they acquire a disability part of the grieving process they will have to go through revolves around the loss of their sexual confidence. I know as even though I have been disabled since birth, I went through it when my impairment changed and started using a wheelchair at the age of 15. Even before then, when I one of the walking wounded, I was unsure that anyone would want to go out with me. But when my spine collapsed and I lost the ability to gain an erection, I was positive that my chances to form sexual relationships were over. Yet I soon found I could not have been more wrong. With much of the work I do with newly disabled people this fear around them no longer being able to have sex or form relationships is a massive part of the journey they go on as they learn to put their lives back together. Much of this feeling of asexuality stems from the focus on disabled people having this deep need to pay for sex, which most people really don’t want do to. So of course you will get down about being newly disabled is you truly believe that the only way you will be able to have sex from now on is if you pay for it. Why would your partner want to stay with someone who is now that lacking in the sexy stakes? I also think that this attitude leads to the need that there is for paid sex. If you grow up or become disabled so assured that the only way you’ll ever experience sex is to pay for it, then that is what you will do. Thus the need for this proposed service is fuelled by the attitude, so it becomes self fulfilling.

Lastly, the idea that there should be a special place for disabled people who do want to use the services of prostitute is also wrong. The law states that any new business should ensure that the goods or services that they provide should be accessible to disabled people, so any brothel that opens should be open to disabled people. Not just one specializing in cripple sex. You shouldn’t have to travel to Milton Keynes, or where ever it might be sited, if you want a paid sex experience, but you should be able to pop down to your local knocking shop. Remember that currently brothels are illegal, so if the law is changed and they can be opened then all brothels will be new businesses. So to comply with the law every single one of them should be fully accessible. If they aren’t you can sue them! Thus getting you get your paid sex for free… tee hee.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing that disabled people should not visit prostitutes. I want disabled people to have the right to choose how they live their lives, so if you want to pay for it then fine. But I refuse to stay silent as yet again this option is held up and the only choice for disabled people. No disabled person is so unattractive that this is their only solution to their needs, and if that is how some people feel then we should all be fighting to do something about that. We should not be fighting to make a world where it’s easier for disabled people to pay for sex as they feel they can get it no other way, we should be fighting for a world where disabled people are seen and see themselves as viable sexual partners. During my career I have made several programmes and written loads of articles on the subject of disability and sex, and have met with quiet a few disabled people who paid for sex. Almost all them have said that the experience eventually left them feeling empty and depressed as there it was only sex. At the end of the day what we all really want is an emotional bond, friendship and companionship. Sure orgasms are nice, but sex is always best in a loving relationship and why shouldn’t we all have the chance at that?

I know I could be described as lucky when it comes to this subject. I am happily married, and have had a succession of beautiful girls in my life before I met “the one”. I am definitely always being told how lucky I am as I come across as confident, and recently my good friend Julie Fernandez told me I was overtly sexual, which was a bit of a shock to me. You see I might appear to be all these things, but I have all the same hang ups and insecurities as everyone else. Don’t forget I can’t get a hard on so conventional sex is out for me. So I do understand why some disabled men might feel the need to pay for it. It’s just that this subject is bigger than personal need. It says something about disability that I refuse to accept and do not want the society I live to take as truth. Whatever our impairment, disabled people can be and are sexy, sexual and superb potential partners. And focusing on the minority who bang on about paid sex being their only option hurts us all, and does nothing to further disabled people’s lives.

A final issue I might raise is that if this special needs brothel (catchy name huh?) does open will all the people who work there be fully trained to work with disabled people, will it be able to find full liability insurance in case of something going wrong and will it have the ability to cater for all disabled people, spanning the full gamut of their physical and mental needs?

At the end of the day, if you want to visit a brothel you should be able to. I just feel that the idea of a special one for disabled people won’t work, will do more harm than good to those how use it and does nothing to make the world a better place. It might sound a bit optimistic and utopian but I thought that is what campaigning is all about. I don’t want to work in the real world, I want to work towards making that world better. Allowing this brothel to open just won’t do that in any way.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Sex: Are We Really So Different?

I read the article “Sex: some facts of life” by Kirsty Liddiard in the April issue of Disability Now with great interest. I once trained to go into social work, with the aim of working with newly disabled people. I also recently decided to change my studies from a Psychology degree (to one in English and Creative Writing) after finding that the medical model is still being taught as the only way of describing disabled people’s identity. It was really encouraging to see someone examining the issue of disability and sexuality from an academic approach. With Kirsty being a trained sociologist and disabled herself, I hoped that the article would finally confront the issues disabled people face around sexuality and relationships in a rounded manner. However the piece actually seemed to blame any problems disabled people might have on disability itself and how society sees the disabled, without any broader conversation.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have an experience all of the issues covered in the article, from abusive relationships through poor body image to a lack of confidence over a change in the way my body functions sexually, and fully appreciate how each one can deeply effect someone’s identity and ability to form successful relationships. My own journey to the place I am at now, in a very successful and happy relationship with someone who loves me the way I love them, was a long and painful one. I also appreciate that the way I feel about my disability has had a serious impact on that journey, and is still key to my psyche and effects how I really feel about my own attractiveness. But I do not agree that these issues are something that disabled people face alone.
 
A key factor to being able to begin the task of looking for love is self confidence, and this is an area that effects everyone in our society. We only need to consider the huge growth in the number of people undergoing cosmetic surgery to understand that issues of confidence have an impact on members of society that we disabled people might see as examples of “physical perfection”, and that this is not what they see when they look in the mirror. Most sociologists and psychologists agree that low confidence around body image is a growing problem throughout our society, effecting both sexes. However much we might see our issues with body image as being more valid or obvious, the truth is the emotional and psychological impact of low self confidence is the same for anyone who suffers from it.
This lack of confidence can lead on to forming unhealthy relationships, which the article also covered. But yet again the stories of every one of the people interviewed could just as easily be those of non disabled people. I spent many years of my 20’s in a relationship with someone who abused me, both verbally and physically, and they went on to repeat this behaviour with their next partner, who has not disabled. I used to feel that it was my disability that caused this person to act the way they did, and this led me to stay in an unhappy relationship so long, but I now understand that is incorrect. While my lack of confidence was tied to my disability, it was the confidence issue itself that made me stay. The same goes for anyone stuck in an abusive relationship.
A deeper factor in disabled people’s lack of confidence can be due to a difference in the way our sexuality functions or our inability to have sex in a “normal” manner. While I was disabled from birth, my sexual function changed when my spine collapsed at the age of 15. This led me to spend most of my adult life wrecked with self doubt about my ability to satisfy my partners sexually and to what would happen if anyone found out about what did and didn’t work in the trouser department. So I spent years lying to everyone I knew and praying any ex’s would keep my secret. When I met my wife, being with her gave me the confidence to “come out” about the way my body worked. When I did so in the most public manner possible (i.e. on TV) I found that nearly everyone of my male friends sidled up to me at some point and admitted that they to suffered from serious sexual dysfunction issues. The fact that Viagra is now taken as a recreational drug demonstrates how big this problem is for all of male society. I do not feel informed enough to discuss the issues faced by those people who might need assistance when having sex, but can see how that might effect not only how you feel about yourself but how you approach sex entirely. I do know that it is normally these people who are expected to use prostitutes if they ever want to have sex.
Thankfully the article did finally dispel the idea that sex with a prostitute is a solution for disabled people, especially men, who are seeking sexual experience. There are many people who campaign for legalising prostitution who use disabled people as an excuse for their argument, yet it should be obvious that it will be an empty experience whether you are disabled or not. For anyone lacking self confidence, visiting a prostitute can only reinforce these issues. No one will feel better about themselves if they feel the only way they can experience love or sex is to pay for it. But there is more than one way of paying for it. I once was in a relationship with someone who expected me to pay their rent, buy their clothes and cover all costs when we went out and seemed to think that was fine as they gave me sex. It made me feel cheap and made me mistrust prospective partners too. If I hadn’t met my wife I don’t know what kind of barsteward I might have become. I also know from those non disabled friends who have visited a lady of the night that they have exactly the same experience of emptiness afterwards.
We now come to the issue of fetishism. I spent most of the 90’s partying on the fetish scene and will admit I found the acceptance and tolerance I was met with really liberating. I even spent a short time going out with someone who admitted they “dug the wheelchair”, if you get what I mean. I left the whole world because as it became more accepted by the wider society, the ignorance of the wider society bled into the attitude this underground scene. Once people understood that a disabled person wouldn’t be in a fetish club if they couldn’t have sex, what ever type of sex that might be, but I eventually found myself explaining on a nightly basis that my wife and I could have sexual relationship (on a nightly basis if we wanted).
Just because I spent time in the world of fetishists, that doesn’t mean I have no understanding of why so many disabled people find the whole thing offensive. No one likes the stereotype that the only people who might want to have sex with them could be called perverts. Back when I was part of the London fetish scene I filmed an item for Channel 4’s “Freak Show” series that I hoped would explore the subject of disability and fetishism in a serious yet light hearted way. Instead it was edited to imply that my wife was only with me because I was disabled, so I know how hurtful this idea can be. It especially upset my wife, as she had actually said that she loved all of me and my disability was part of what made me, me. Never trust a TV producer and their editor. The crazy thing is I admit that I chatted up my now wife partly as I saw she had a scar all down her right arm. I think scars are really beautiful and the way she paraded it so openly said something great about what kind of person she was. But does that make me a devotee of her and her scar, or is it just another facet of how perfect she really is?
All of this is OK and it is only my own opinion, but does it help us find a solution to love, sex and relationships? Well I hope it does. If we as disabled people realise that all of the issues we face around the subject are the same as those faced by everyone, whatever the cause, then we should hopefully feel able to enter the world of love on a more level playing field. Yes we do have our own issues to face, but the way they effect us emotionally is not so different to the way the rest of society’s issues effect them. All I know for sure is many of my non disabled friends are desperately looking for the same thing we are all chasing, a happy and loving relationship and they wouldn’t care if that was with someone who disabled or not. At the root of this whole subject is the fact that self doubt is part of the human condition and how we cope with it makes us who we are. So let’s stop seeing disability as a barrier to love, and instead embrace it as part of what will make us a real catch.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Love, Life and Cripples

On Wednesday I took part in a phone in on the Channel 5 morning show The Wright Stuff. The topic for discussion was ” is a relationship between a disabled person and some who is able bodied different that one between two able bodied people?”, and so I felt I had to contact the show. Now I doubt anyone reading will be amazed to know that I wanted to make it clear that of course there is no difference, but I was also kind of amazed that anyone would think something so strange.

As I waited on my mobile for my turn speaking to Matthew Wright and his panel, I could hear the discussion in the studio. It transpired that the topic had been picked after an article in a magazine about a relationship between an able bodied woman and a disabled man who cannot speak. The reason why it had led the production team to pick the subject was the question of how love could blossom if you had never spoken to your partner or even heard their voice. One of the panel, the flamboyant Craig Revel Horwood, who is a favourite of my Mum (She seems to have been born with no gaydar at all – she fancied Freddie Mercury and still can’t believe he was gay!), told the story of a choreographer friend who feel in love with someone who was deaf and so obviously they were in relationship were at least one person had not heard the other speak. In fact the able bodied partner loved the signing so much they now include it in their dance shows.

As my turn came, I told the story if my relationship with my wife Diane, and how I see the prejudices that I have witnessed in the past as a kind of filter that allowed me to discover what kind of person I was with quickly. I must admit I was playing up to the panel and my stories caused much mirth and laughter in the studio. The people that also phoned in all had stories of love between disabled and non-disabled people that proved just how good it can be.

But I was left with a weird feeling about the fact that people are still put off by the idea of dating someone who is disabled. What is so strange to me is that surely everyone realises that able bodied people are just disabled people waiting to happen? So if you wake up one day in a hospital bed and discover you’ve joined the disabled gang why would the person you are and your wants and needs have changed? Us disabled types are just like anyone else. We can be great life partners and we can be total gits. We can be caring and generous lovers and we can be selfish “wham bam”ers. I just think it is sad that many non-disabled people still hold so many stereotypes around disability and especially around sex, relationships and disability. Even the panel trotted out the old clichés about only really caring people dating disabled people and how our sex lives were all about touching and stroking.

The truth is a disabled partner can be just like anyone else. They can be the love of your life, they can be a great one nighter or they could be a bloody nightmare. My only piece of advice to anyone who isn’t disabled is don’t be put off by disability. You won’t have to end up being a nurse or wiping our arses (unless you’re both into that kind of thing), but you may find the person of your dreams. Sure you might end up with yet another story of a crappy relationship, but if you don’t try… you won’t know. Oh, and even if you do find yourself with a dud, it’s not a sign that all disabled people are like that. You just picked badly. I mean Diane thinks I great but there are quite a few of my past lovers who would not describe me as anything other than a total pig. I leave it up to you all to decide which I am.

To Watch the episode go to – http://www.channel5.com/shows/the-wright-stuff/episodes/episode-218-15

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube