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We’ve had extensive conversations with people, with a variety of disabilities and sexual orientations that revealed confusion and frustration relating to sex and intimacy. If anything, the situation is even more confusing for those in their early teens growing up with a disability. Adolescence is an uncertain time for the abled-bodied; it is many times more difficult for someone with a disability that may have limited access to the resources and opportunities of able-bodied teenagers
Running sexual health workshops has shown us that people with disabilities are looking for a deeper intimacy. While it’s difficult to make generalizations, people with disabilities are not necessarily looking for sexual intercourse – the actual sexual act is a very small percentage of the sensual experience, after all. People want to find someone that cares for them, with whom they are able to become intimate in a safe, positive environment.
There are many alternatives to sexual intercourse, alternative sources of sensual pleasure that turn out to be more subtle, and a lot more complex. We can gain pleasure from giving other people sensual pleasure. Being able to sexually fulfil a partner changes the way people view themselves.
Barriers to hooking up with a like-minded partner can be psychological as much as physical. A man in his forties with a disability who, if truth be told has never dated, is going to need mentoring before being confident enough to meet that special person.
Taking things a little further, sexual surrogates can work through these anxieties and hang-ups with a client, with coaching techniques ranging from relaxation techniques to social skills. . . to intimate touch.
Of course, anybody can visit a massage parlour or call an escort service, but most sex workers in these locations do not have experience of working with clients with disabilities. It can become an awkward situation. In addition, there may be unwritten rules that may prevent kissing, for example. (Hint: ask if they offer girlfriend or boyfriend experience GFE/BFE.)
EASE Canada works closely with Vancouver-based surrogates Sensual Solutions to offer a full range of intimate mentoring services. We find them to be a caring, compassionate group of people who are familiar with the needs of people with disabilities.
EASE, which stands for Equitable and Accessible Sexual Expression, works on many different levels. We raise awareness of issues and advocate for people with disabilities, and educate people in the ways they can achieve intimacy. We work with services that provide surrogacy, if that is required, but mostly we provide mentoring and peer networking. We work with the province’s most established disability organizations, including the Disability Foundation and Spinal Cord Injury BC.
Sex Talk in the City
Sex Talk in the City is a multifaceted exhibition at the MOV that teases out how people in Vancouver learn about sexuality, define pleasure, and respond to particular politics.Sex Talk in the City addresses issues of sexual expression, diversity, politics, and education in a fun, approachable, and thought-provoking manner. Sex isn’t only biological, it’s cultural.
This Museum of Vancouver exhibit runs from Thursday, February 14, 2013 to Monday, September 2, 2013
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EASE is thrilled to announce that we will be co-hosting a screening of Scarlet Road and the amazing Rachel Wotton, the sex worker featured in the documentary, will be present for the screening and a panel discussion. The screening will be on April 13 at 6 PM at Scotia Bank Banff Centre, 677 Davie St..
The panel discussion will feature Rachel, Kerry Porth board member of Pivot Legal, GF Strong sexual health educator Marie Carlson and EASE cofounder Dave Symington.
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National. The Modern Dilemmas panel tackle Down syndrome and disability. Well worth a listen.
Presented by Natasha Mitchell
A Life Matters listener has emailed this dilemma: ‘My 24 year old son has Down syndrome and the issue is one I haven’t heard anyone talk about. It is regarding adults with moderate intellectual disabilities and sexuality. Most live without the pleasures of sex that the rest of us take for granted. It is not lack of desire, but an inability to adequately communicate their needs and a lack of access to partners. How do parents and carers know what the person with an intellectual disability wants, and even if they do know, what do they do about it? How do they facilitate personal interactions between their young adult and another person?’
From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio National. 360Documentaries presents The Too Hard Basket. John Blades, featured in Scarlet Road, tackles the topic of sexuality and disability in this exceptional radio documentary. Again, worth a listen.
Disabled people are rarely touched in a loving way or thought of as sexually desirable yet they have the same need for a sexual life as everyone else. In this confronting program John Blades, who has a major disability himself, talks to sex workers about why they work with disabled clients and the importance of touch to every human being.
And with thanks to our brothers and sisters at the African Sex Workers’ Alliance, here are interviews with Rachel Wotton and “Scarlet Road” Director, Catherine Scott:
Today we have a frank and enlightening discussion on the reality of being disabled and finding sexual intimacy and expression. From a project training sex trade workers to accept disabled clients .. to the debate on who should pay and the many misconceptions.
EASE was featured in Spinal Cord Injury BC’s autumn edition of the Spin magazine.