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Two hands clasped together with the hands and arms painted in the pride flag

Pride Month? Why not a Pride year?

By | Disability, Undressing Disability

A guest blog by Carley Owen, Event Project Manager for Pride in London.

This is the first time I’ve ever written a blog, now I’m writing one in Pride Month, as an openly gay woman about LGBTQI+ and all the scariness and greatness that comes with that.  Although a daunting concept to voice one’s opinion in a world of endless criticism and trolling, never has the LGBTQI+ community needed awareness and support more, so here they are stuck with me.

Carley Owen sits at a table in a restaurant wearing a black top and a huge beaming smile

I never was one to ‘fly the flag’ when at university or in a wider capacity related to my sexuality.  Maybe this was because I was the sporting extrovert still stuck in ‘Narnia’ (my first and probably last educational reference). Maybe I enjoyed less lesbian drama (those of you who know, know). Or maybe I lacked the knowledge and understanding of what a powerful difference it can be to speak up.  This has now all changed, and I’ll shed some light on the reasons why.  This isn’t going to be a blog that rants at you but hopefully one that can provide clarity and some understanding from someone who has been there, done that and wears the rainbow t-shirt daily.

Why do we need awareness?

Let’s kick off with a good old statistic from the report ‘A long way to go for LGBTI equality’.

42% of LGBTQI+ people have suffered discrimination in the last year, compared to 39% in 2012.

Some of you may think that’s not a significant increase but the fact is, it’s an increase and it’s moving away from that world we all would like, equality.  We have made strides towards equality in recent times with the approval of same sex marriage in certain countries (maybe now I’ll find a partner…. wishful thinking).  Yet still in 13 countries being a homosexual is punishable by death and in some carries a prison sentence.  This is astounding to me, all for loving someone of the same sex.

The recent protests in the UK against teaching LGBTQI+ relationships in primary schools and the attack of a lesbian couple on a London bus, just shows how far we have yet to go.

I’ll never forget a member of staff in authority at one of my workplaces saying this to me ‘…because you’re northern, fat and a lesbian you’ll need to try harder in a London work setting to be accepted’.

Since when did my sexuality or the fact I’m chunky around the edges effect how I run an event or send an email?  Answers on a postcard please…. Needless to say, I left the company pretty swiftly after that, which should never have had to happen. If only they could see me now, all gay and proud at work!  This is not even the tip of the iceberg with why we need now more than ever to recognise Pride as an important movement. Whether we are in lockdown or not Pride is a time to demand more, to demand better.

A brightly coloured float and a crowd of people attending pride and having a brilliant time

Why do we have parades? 

Pride parades around the globe are being postponed due to Covid19.  Some pessimists may just see this as a glittery piss up in the street, but it is in fact a huge dent in the spirit of pride, tolerance and awareness for and of LGBTQI+.  The Stonewall riots back in June 1969 were the reasons we all now don our most flamboyant outfits and strut our stuff down the capital’s streets without a care in the world, the way it should be every day.  The parades are a celebration of this fight back.  This was the start of a new beginning for us all.

I will be forever grateful of the stand those brave people took 50 years ago for me to be able to do what I do today from writing this blog, to singing Britney at top note on a float in the parade, to being just me.

Last year saw the celebration of 50 years since that uprising and the largest gathering of people in Central London, 1.5 million celebrating as one.  When I read and hear that it was only 50 years ago that you were tormented, harassed or killed for loving someone of the same sex or for changing sex,  it absolutely boggles the brain. It sounds like something from the stone ages (apologies to anyone from that era). But the scary thing is, it wasn’t and isn’t.  This is why educating not just the Gen Z generation is so important but everyone across the board right down to the Baby Boomers, who may need a little more hand holding, hopefully by the same sex.

Changing Perspective

An image of legs wrapped in a pride flag, a flash of left bum cheek is showing where Carley has Enhance The UK and the word Jennie tattooed in black ink

Changing that one person’s perspective can make all the difference.  Let me set the scene on what was a pivotal factor to leading me where I am professionally and personally today.  I was in the mountains of Serbia, supporting in the training of a group of males all various ages who had disabilities with a charity I support, Enhance the UK.  Serbia is well known for housing homophobic attitudes, so for someone like me who was born with jazz hands it was the first time in my life I felt worried about travelling and doing what I love most.  I lived, laughed, trained, drank (sometimes too much) with the group but never disclosed my sexuality when asked, very unlike me to those reading that know me.

It came to the last session of the week which was a debate.  We decided to pick the topic of ‘Pro LGBTQI+’ and ‘Against LGBTQI+’ much to the disapproval of some of the team leaders.  As you can imagine the most talkative and enthused group were those speaking against LGBTQI+, when it came to talking for LGBTQI+ the room fell silent.

A guy I had made a great connection with throughout the trip (and evidently had asked me on a date- little did he know he was in for a shock) responded with ‘Carley there is nothing positive about being LGBTQI+’.

I began to get a little shaky, whether it was anger or nerves of the setting I found myself in I’ll never know, but my friend saw this and posed the following question to the group ‘Is anyone in this room LGBTQI+?’.  I didn’t know I would put my hand up, but I’m glad I did. The reaction was one of shock (as apparently, I didn’t look gay, I still need to find out what this look is) discussion and acceptance, followed by endless selfies – I now know how Kim K feels every day.  There was 30 people in that room who had one idea of what LGBTQI + was, and when they left, I hope to think one if not all had a different perspective. I have a tattoo of Enhance The UK on my backside as a positive reminder of this experience.

Bringing community together

Carley is dressed in black and jumps in the air in front of a rainbow coloured archway which is situated in a parkIn my role as Event Manager for University of East London I was overjoyed to plan the university’s first entry to the Pride parade last year. There was no better feeling then bringing each part of the university community together.  We had individuals who had recently ‘come out’, families of students wanting to share support of loved ones or just allies who simply wanted to show their solidarity for the day.  I was immensely proud of my workplace that day and what I had help achieve.   We had recently launched a brand new LGBTQI+ Staff Network and the parade was our first major event.  It was euphoric to be on a float making friends with everyone and anyone in eye sight.  If you can get the support of your University, SU, business that’s fantastic, but even if not, the application process is simple to be a part of the parade and can be at a cost that suits your budget, a limited cost for a priceless memory.

Staying In / Coming Out

Although the parade can’t happen this year the great people of Pride in London and many across the world have been adapting to the virtual norm.  I have been lucky enough to help create that feeling of euphoria by working as the Event Project Manager for Pride in London, albeit virtual euphoria (it’s a thing, I swear) by leading on the Staying In/ Coming Out virtual events site.

This is a year-round events platform for all LGBTQI+ events.  We promote, deliver and support all events and will continue to do so when Covid19 is all over.  If you or your society / charity/group have an event, or just an initial idea do get in touch with us and we will help make it a reality.  Events, social media and even blogging helps amplify the voices of those who may feel marginalised or isolated in these times. And all of this helps grow towards increasing acceptance, so let’s continue even after Pride Month.

It may be Pride Month but let’s make it a Pride Year, every day of the year.  Let’s keep talking, keep learning and be open to things we don’t know (it’s ok to not know it all).

From a first-time blogger, which I can now add to my CV wahoooo, I hope this helps.

Learn more about pride in London by following them on twitter @PrideInLondon or by searching hashtag #YouMeUsWe! 

Thanks to Carley for guest blogging. Say hi @CarleyOwen5

Online Dating when disabled - a womans hands hold a mobile phone whilst cartoon hearts and words fly out from the screen

Online Dating when Disabled: Is it worth it?

By | The Love Lounge

Online dating when disabled. This is a very hot topic that we receive lots of questions about at the Love Lounge. We invited Ted Shiress, one of our sexperts, to share his thoughts, personal experience and advice.  Ted, who writes from a straight guy’s perspective, offers these pearls of wisdom.

Finding Love

I met my partner on a dating website. In the five or so years before that, I changed from thinking of myself as a complete romantic write-off to someone who knows what they’re doing. My experiences of it arguably buck the trend of most things I read by disabled daters. But the reality is for online dating to work, you’ve got to put some effort in! My practical tips and honest advice are shared below.

Introductions are Everything

Hi. How r u?

Hey. How’s it going?

Hello. What’s up?

Are you still reading? I hope so. Still, I can’t blame those who have clicked away. I have (at least on a non-ironic level) made no effort to arouse and sustain your interest. So it’s totally understandable if you’ve been distracted and turned to the flashiest thing on your screen. 

Introductions are everything. So get creative. Send imaginative messages, but also make sure that your profile sells you well.

Everyone’s Superficial!

“Everyone’s superficial!” I hear you cry. Well yes, there are lots of people who are superficial on dating sites. Why are you wasting your time with them? Ultimately, if your entire message is solely saying “Hi. how r u?” they probably think you’re superficial too! That’s probably the same message they got from other guys who were panting like a dog in heat at a flash of cleavage. Not the epitome of feeling wanted!

In my experience the average woman on a dating site isn’t short of messages. So, she’ll have little desire to give a seemingly unimaginative message any attention. Here, you have two options:

1) Only message matches you can see genuine common ground with

2) Or maybe slightly overplay the potential connection to spark a rapport 

Admittedly, the second is slightly shady, but sometimes potential takes time and exploration!

 

Perfecting Your Profile

I see people focus purely on their disability when writing their dating profile. I’m going to be harsh but honest here. If someone has little to no prior experience of disability, they might be thrown off-kilter. So, write interestingly and positively to counter that. Write about your interests: the places you’ve visited, books you’ve read, and music you love. Pull the reader in and get them hooked on what you have to say, rather than the equipment you might use to navigate the world. That’s perhaps a more intimate chat for later on.

Choose Your Dating Site Carefully

OK Cupid was my personal favourite dating site, and where I met my partner. This was because it gave me the most opportunity to go into detail and put myself across well. Honestly? It took a nudge from her housemate (Thanks Chrissie!) to get her to reply to my first message, but it worked!  In fact, it’s not a bad idea to ask friends to help you write your profile. Together, you might create the perfect dating pitch.

OK Cupid also had a good matching system, based on values rather than interests. An endless bank of questions you could answer gradually built up a kind of moral profile of who you were. It then matched you in % to potential partners. Obviously, it was a vague estimate but I often found the matches in the 90%s the most easy to talk to. I think my partner Astrid rocked in at 95% – see, my dear, stats don’t lie!

Is it Worth it?

So contrary to a lot of opinions, I say yes, online dating when disabled is worth it! Just don’t take it personally when you don’t get a reply. Your message is probably one of fifty!

Follow us on twitter @ETUKUndressing and on Instagram @UndressingDisability. #UndressingDisability #LoveLoungeUK

More articles about online dating as a disabled person:

Online Dating As A Disabled Person

Rejection, dating and disclosing disability

I'm judging New Blood Awards 2020

D&AD Awards – Creativity, Diversity and Durex

By | Undressing Disability

D&AD, or the Design and Art Direction is an educational charity promoting excellence in creative advertising and design. Their New Blood Awards give applicants, often students, the chance to get ahead and gain the exposure they require to start or accelerate their creative careers. Each year, real, big name clients set the briefs for the awards, with 2020’s challenges being set by the BBC, Barclays, LEGO, Nike, Durex and Penguin amongst others.

Emily wears a stripey top, dungarees with a pattern of planets and sits in front of orange patterned wallpaper

We are delighted to say that Enhance the UK were asked to support Durex with their written brief and Emily, who leads our Undressing Disability Campaign, will be one of the judges. The Durex brief is based on:

‘fighting for diverse representation and empowerment in sex for disabled people.’

 

Judging Panel

Live judging starts today, Wednesday 3rd June, and we are delighted that a Durex is challenging sexual conventions. We’re also incredibly impressed with how many creative applicants have worked on this brief, read or watched our content and got in touch with us. It is essential that we remain impartial, so sorry that we couldn’t give any of you advice but we wish you the very best through these next judging stages!

The Awards

To find out more about D&AD, the amazing New Blood Awards, and the Durex brief, please visit: https://www.dandad.org/en/d-ad-new-blood-awards/ 

Our Undressing Disability Campaign

Read more about our Undressing Disability campaign and free Love Lounge advice service.

Follow the Undressing Disability campaign on social media. We’re @ETUKUndressing on twitter and @UndressingDisability on Instagram.

How safe is sexting? written in black capital letters with a stress level sign below

How safe is sexting?

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

The Question

Hi Love Lounge. How safe is sexting? My boyfriend and I got together 3 months ago and enjoy an active sex life. We met at the gym and got talking as we both have lost a limb, him to cancer, me to a car accident.

Funny how people come into your life at the right moment. I had recently split up with my ex and was feeling a bit down about myself and he is the pick me up I needed. We are both on the same page when it comes to sex and had been getting it on a lot prior to lockdown.
Now both living separately we’ve started having phone sex, using the video apps to get down and dirty. My boyfriend asked me to send him some saucy photos to keep and look at whenever he likes.  I’m feeling hesitant to do that. He doesn’t understand why and it’s caused an argument. I am wary of photos of me in the buff being stored somewhere and now he’s quizzing me on trust and making me feel bad. But I worry. How safe is sexting? I feel it’s a bit early in our relationship for him to have these pics. The video sex is different as we are both together in the moment and afterwards its gone.
Is it safe to send images to other people? Am I being a prude?

Our Answer

Communication

Firstly, it’s brilliant that you’ve been honest about how you feel about sexting. The fact that it’s caused a row is not necessarily a bad thing, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Setting boundaries and communicating about why these exist, and what they mean to you is important. It’s how we learn to respect one another, appreciate each other’s values and show consideration.

So how safe is sexting?

Good question! Sexting is very popular amongst consenting adults. For me, it comes back to one main factor: personal identification.

Even if you don’t post photos that show your face, your body may be identified by:

  • tattoos or birth marks
  • where you live – (posing in front of your fantastic wallpaper)
  • the data stored within an image

Reducing Risk

I’d recommend you read this article on 7 Crucial Tips to Safe Sexting . It provides information on how to remove the data from any images you choose to send. Remember that screenshots can still be taken from video calls too, so be careful there – especially if your face is in shot.

This article provides advice on How To Sext Safely.  It suggests which sites may be safer and the risks of using an app like Instagram which links to your identity.

Trust

Of course you should wholeheartedly trust anyone you send a nude to, that goes without saying. Try having an open discussion about your worries. Raise the points around the safety of sexting and what your boyfriend might do with the images (no need to argue!). Set some boundaries that you are comfortable with.

Don’t feel pressured

If he doesn’t understand or try to calm your worries by reassuring you, maybe he isn’t the guy you should be sending sexy photos to. Don’t feel under pressure to do anything you don’t want to do. Someone who respects you won’t put you in that position.

Hope this helps, and sending all best wishes,

Emily x

Have you got a question about sex and disability or intimate relationships? Write to us and our sexperts will help. Keep up to date with all our Love Lounge questions by following us on social media. On twitter we’re @ETUKUndressing and on Instagram @UndressingDisability.  #UndressingDisability

Boring, routine sex - a woman in her 40s wearing a bra and jeans looks in a mirror, which is placed on top of a chest of drawers, applying make-up

Boring, Routine Sex

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

The Question

Dear Love Lounge,
I am a visually impaired woman in her 40’s and my question is about boring, routine sex. My husband of 15 years has always been a very sensual and a loving lover but lately any bedroom action has become routine like. I can’t even spice it up by fantasising in my head.  And talking to my fella about it only makes it worse. He gets really moody and implies I’m criticising him when I suggest we shake things up.

My friends and I discuss our sex lives and I don’t know if it’s an age thing, or a long term relationship thing but I know I’m not alone in needing more in the bedroom than I’m currently getting. Any tips for approaching this topic in a way that won’t bruise my husband’s ego would be ace, thanks.

Our Answer

Hello.  Boring, routine sex, as you put it, is not unusual for many couples. Especially if you’ve been together a while or have had a change in the circumstances of your relationship recently.

Communication is key

Communication of some kind is the only real answer here. Maybe you could change your approach to discussing this with your husband who is feeling defensive?

Instead of talking about boring, routine sex perhaps take it back to basics and ask him about what he likes in bed?

When we’ve been with someone for a while, it’s easy to think we know everything about them, including their fantasies and desires . As with anything in life, our tastes can change, and he might have felt unable to express this change to you. A more open, honest and positive chat might just do the trick.

What do you want out of your sex life?

If talking it through doesn’t go to plan then it’s time for Plan B. Ask yourself. What do I want from our sex life? Figure that out then make a move with something new such as:

Taking the initiative and spicing things up in a way that makes you feel sexy and in control might be the wake up call your husband needs to respond in the way you want and be more inventive in general.

Give it a go, hope this helps!

Emily x

Got a question about relationships, disabled dating or sex and intimacy? Write to us and our sexperts will offer free advice.

Keep up to date with all our Love Lounge questions by following us on social media. On twitter we’re @ETUKUndressing and on Instagram @UndressingDisability.  #UndressingDisability

Doggy with CP - the word SEX written in orange paint on a white background with a hand

Doggy Style with CP

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

Our Question

Hello,

I am male, I have Cerebral Palsy spastic quadriplegia, I am a full time wheelchair user. I have been married for nearly 8 years to an able bodied woman and we have a great sex life. My question is about doing it doggy style with CP.

Due to my disability I find certain positions difficult. I am eager to push my boundaries though. At present my wife will either go on top or we have sex on the side. I would however like to try doggy style or sex on top as I am keen to have more control.

I do struggle to get on my knees but can do it. It is then trying to stay stable and thrust.

I wondered if you could offer any advice?

Cheers, M

Our Answer

Hello mate,

Firstly, I highly commend you in continuing to be adventurous and push boundaries, it’s the way to success in everything (not just sex, but yes, obviously sex included!). So, doggy style with CP. Speaking as someone with Cerebral Palsy myself I always underestimate just how hard it is to crawl on a mattress, the indent I make creates the perfect hole to fall into!
Have you tried experimenting with different surfaces? Perhaps something firm enough that you don’t indent but soft enough that you both feel comfortable? Maybe some kind of mat? Or perhaps you could incorporate a grab-rail for some extra thrust and stability?
I’m sure a subtly worded email to the council about difficulties you have moving in bed (maybe don’t add ‘while getting my leg over’!) could get you one installed. That would give you both stability and something to help you thrust.
Have a look at liberator.com – they provide sex furniture (wedges etc) that might enable you both to try different positioning with a bit of support. Whilst these are pretty pricey, they might inspire you to get some foam yourself and have a go!
Just a few ideas, hope it helps!
Ted

Follow us on Instagram @UndressingDisability and on twitter @ETUKUndressing. Learn more about sex and disability by purchasing our ‘Undressing Disability’ ebook priced at £5.99 All proceeds go to support our charity.

Sex when you have a stoma - a woman with long reddish hair sits on a bed holding a white duvet up and across her body

Sex when you have a stoma

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

The Question

Hey Love Lounge team,
My question is about having sex when you have a stoma. I’m 19 and at college. I’ve got a big group of friends and a busy social life but I’ve yet to have a sexual experience. I have a stoma which I’m grateful for as it means I can live a normal life and eat and drink whatever I want. But my inexperience with sex means I’m just not sure how it would work for me in a practical sense. I do get chatted up in the pub but anything beyond flirting I close down straight away. I feel panicked about intimacy, but I know I need to get over that. My closest friends know my situation and try to be supportive but as their bodies are different to mine they can’t really help. Have you got any advice?

Our Answer

Hi there, and thanks so much for writing in to us at the Love Lounge.
The good news is, we have just the person for you! Our good friend and colleague, Hannah Witton, has a stoma and talks a lot about sex and disability.  Hannah’s a fantastic YouTuber and her videos are always fun and educational.
In the video below she talks all about having sex when you have a stoma.

Her tips include:

  • emptying your stoma bag before sex
  • using stoma bags you can fold up during sex
  • and even wearing crotchless underwear to keep the stoma bag in place

So, have a watch and see if this helps you at all.

You’re only 19 – please don’t feel pressured to be doing everything your friends are doing. Only take the sexual steps that feel comfortable and right to you. And also please don’t let worrying about sex when you have a stoma make you feel any less sexy or worthy of attention and intimacy. I know lots of people who wish their partners would wear something lacy and sexy in the bedroom so, there might be that to thank your bag for in the long run!!
Good luck, and sending you all best wishes,
Em x
Follow us on Instagram @UndressingDisability and on twitter @ETUKUndressing. Learn more about sex and disability by purchasing our ‘Undressing Disability’ ebook priced at £5.99 All proceeds go to support our charity.
Rejection dating and disclosing disability - a black and white image with a hand hiding a persons face indicating STOP!

Rejection, dating and disclosing disability

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

Love Lounge Question

Rejection, dating and disclosing disability.

Hello,

I have Cerebral Palsy and I’m 30 years old. I’ve been online dating on and off for the last 10 years after I broke up with my first girlfriend. I haven’t ever had any success. I have met a few people on dating sites but ultimately I feel I’ve been used for sex as as after we get it on, there’s no more contact.

After a couple of years break from dating site I decided to give it another go.

I’m happy with the direction that my life is going, I’m learning to drive, I’m at college and I’m hoping to have a job in the near future.

To begin with I pretty much had a repeat experience in that I would message people, get a reply and start getting to know them. But I felt like I was lying as I hadn’t disclosed my disability in my profile. I always knew at some point I’d have to tell them how I am.
Now I am close to giving up. I’ve decided to avoid disappointment to be up front and honest,  changing my dating profile to reveal my disability, the way I want it to be. Nobody is interested. I will message someone, they’ll check my profile and not respond. Or I’ll talk to someone as before, they’ll check my profile and I’m ghosted.

I feel worthless.  Like no matter how much I have in common with someone they will never see me as someone to settle down with because of my disability.

I believe I’m a good person but that seems to matter very little. Any advice would be much appreciated. I need the help.

Our Answer

Reading your letter really resonated with me and, I’m sure, many other disabled people that have tried to use dating apps.
The familiar quandary of whether you are upfront on the profile about your disability, knowing that those who message you are obviously okay with it. Or do you hide it and let someone get to know your personality and then tell them, hoping they’ve liked you enough to give it a go?  It’s hugely risky and can be so damaging for ones self-esteem. No one can know the correct way, it’s a gamble – but do what feels best for you in order to protect yourself emotionally.

It sounds like it’s difficult for you to look at these dating scenarios objectively, without putting the emphasis on your disability being the issue.

Hearing you say that many times it feels you have been used for sex, I would say this is commonplace, regardless of ones abilities.  It might not be what you wanted but the reason for it doesn’t have to be because you’re disabled. It’s about re-framing your perception so that if such events occur, they don’t ruin your self esteem.
It sounds like you’re in a really good place in your life at the moment – hence you wanting to date again – with your driving and college. So perhaps when you’re left feeling ‘worthless’, remember to focus on what you have achieved.

Don’t let the negative feelings of dating suppress your achievements.  When you’re oozing confidence about yourself, this will spill out into the way you relate with others. Which leads me to another point…

It might be nice for your profile to show a fun side of your personality. Perhaps a funny comment regarding your disability, should you choose to disclose it.  Maybe be jokey or be flirty with it – “you never know until you try” type thing. If you sound comfortable and accepting of yourself, then hopefully the receiver will feel more at ease too.
Unfortunately, people are anxious about dating people with disabilities- it’s unknown territory for many.  I wonder whether choosing a photo which shows your disability may help to allow someone to see what your situation is. The imagination can lead people to think the wrong thing!

Again, only do what you feel comfortable doing.

If you give people a way out/excuse by saying ‘I know it will put people off’ then it may end up being a self fulfilling prophecy. Don’t give them the option to think that as they then might think they should be staying clear!
Again, it’s a true statement that if they’re not willing to accept you then they’re not right for you – and I understand it’s coming from a place of hurt and self protection.  I wonder whether you need to mention it at all, as the right people will come through whether you iterate this point or not.
You’re a good looking young man and obviously have focus, determination and goals to achieve.  I wish you luck with the dating and completely understand how disheartening it can be.  Remember your value.
** Pulling a positive from this Covid-19 situation – you won’t be going on dates anytime soon, so it gives you plenty of time to write and build up some good relationships with people, allowing them to get to know the real you.
Hope this helps, and sending all best wishes
Zoe
Follow us on Instagram @UndressingDisability and on twitter @ETUKUndressing. Learn more about sex and disability by purchasing our ‘Undressing Disability’ ebook priced at £5.99 All proceeds go to support our charity.
Mum, I'm an adult! - a young man stands outside a block of high rise flats. He is wearing a striped tshirt and navy jacket. His arm is across his face in frustration

Mum, I’m an adult! Sex and Disability

By | Sex & disability, The Love Lounge

Mum I’m and adult!

The Question

Dear Love Lounge,
My Mum has very strong views and believes that sex is something that can only happen within marriage. I’m 25 and think about sex a lot. Like 99% of the time. I can’t access porn as Mum has blocked those channels on our internet. I can’t have my girlfriend stay over because of her house rules, and I can’t afford to move out. Mum disapproves of me staying at my girlfriends house, her parents are cool with it as long as I’m not there all the time. Fair enough, it’s not a big house.
I had an accident when I was 12 which meant for a few years I relied heavily on both my parents whilst I got my health and mobility back.  The cause of the majority of our shouting matches is down to Mum treating me like a child. I still have some issues with movement on my right side but it doesn’t stop me having a love life, a job or living my life. When I say ‘Mum, I’m an adult!’ she says she ‘only wants whats best for me’ but I feel suffocated, and a mixture of frustration and guilt. My parents separated last year and don’t get along so my father prefers to stay out of it.  Can you help? It’s really getting me down.

Our Answer

Hi there, and thanks so much for writing in to us at the Love Lounge.
This is a really tough situation to be in, and a question we get asked a lot.
The key? Communication, communication, communication.
Whilst it’s so tempting to shout ‘Mum, I’m an adult!’, it sounds like you’re going to have to sit her down and explain how you feel a little.  Ask her if she’d feel the same if you hadn’t had your accident and weren’t disabled.

Is she worried that you’re vulnerable or could hurt yourself in any way?

If this is the case and she is treating you like a child through worry – calmly explain all the differences between when you were 12 and now. She might just need to see and understand from your point of view just how much you’ve changed and become a man.

Come to a compromise

Say that you are old enough to live your life, but you will respect her wishes whilst you are in her house. But this will mean that she will also need to compromise and relax when you stay over at your girlfriend’s place. And perhaps even support you to spend non-sexual time with your girlfriend – taking her on dates or having a baking afternoon in your mum’s kitchen, for example.
It might be that once your mum gets to know your girlfriend a little more instead of panicking about what you’re both doing behind closed doors, she’ll relax her rules a little. It might also be time to have an honest chat with your dad and ask for his support. Maybe you and your girlfriend could spend a bit of time at his place?
We really hope this helps – and good luck with starting a moving home piggy bank! 🙂
Em x
Have you got a question for our Love Lounge sexperts? Write in and we’ll reply privately to your question and then make it anonymous and share here on the website to help others in your situation.
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Charlotte Faragher smiles for the camera. She has long dark hair, a white top with blue stripes

Desirably Different by Charlotte Faragher

By | Disability, Undressing Disability

What pitfalls feelings and experiences befall people considered different in our society?

How best should we tell our stories and attempt to turn negative perceptions on their head, or at least encourage discussion on these issues?

What role do mental health struggles, feminism, and body positivity have in permeating the current problems we face as well as promoting change?

My name is Charlotte Faragher and since September 2018 I have been advocating the exploration of these issues through my initiative, Desirably Different. Right now it is essentially a Facebook page where I post relevant media related content and thought pieces from stand up sets, to TED talks, as well as my own views in regards to these topics.

Desirably Different
I believe the media hold a special ability to often allow us to laugh at, reflect on and question our life as we see it. And also give us the opportunity to see what society might look like, in both positive and negative ways, if we don’t alter many negative pervasive views in society.

As the Undressing Disability campaign focuses on disability, sex and relationships, it is only fair that I should share some of my own experiences.

I have had quadriplegic cerebral palsy since birth and have had little romantic or sexual attention, even though I know it is something that my body wants and needs.

 

Even though my cerebral palsy hasn’t affected me mentally or academically, I do need a lot of help physically and explicitly from others just to live day to day. This can make pursuing potential romantic partners tricky. It can prove inconvenient to stay out late at night in my current family situation. A care company is employed most days to get me up in the morning and put me to bed at night to take the strain away from my parents. But as they come at specific times I have to be home earlier than I may want to be.

I consider myself to be a strong feminist and believe every person has the right to conduct their romantic and sexual lives as they choose, but I have never been open to using dating apps. My reasoning is twofold. Firstly, some people use the apps to look for casual sex which is not something I would enjoy. Secondly, like it or not I am a vulnerable adult and if I get myself in an uncomfortable situation I cannot walk away from it as easily as others. So there is a lot of risk there.

Charlotte Faragher smiles for the camera. She has long dark hair, a white top with blue stripes

I have been in love once. I was 17 and I fell for a guy who was one of the helpers on a Christian holiday for disabled young people. I could not deny my feelings for him no matter how hard I tried. Heartbreakingly for me, he had a girlfriend and did not feel the same.

As a consequence I started looking for love in unhealthy and risky ways- it was one of my darkest periods. I’m sure I am not the first person with a disability who has done this.

I think my desire to go to such lengths stems from my view that many disabled people still aren’t seen as sexually attractive or potential dating partners by the majority of people. And those who do like us in this way, people known as devotees, are currently forced to hide this side of themselves for fear of judgement and persecution. Education is key. I believe if more of these people felt comfortable enough to share testimonies without discernment, and the general public educated, this would have the potential to liberate many.

At my lowest points I often wonder.. Do I deserve romantic love at all?

My life is rarely simple and if I did date would I be able to treat a partner as they deserve? In both the physical and emotional senses despite my disability. But then I remember it is my human right to explore healthy romance and sexuality just like everyone else. I just need to try and drown out the voices that say I don’t deserve it. Or that I’m not good enough, hard as it may be.

I hope many who read this will start to think differently about disability and relationships as a result. We are a group with more to give than many realise. More people just need to have the courage to destroy harmful misconceptions and empower disabled people in positive ways.

Thanks to Charlotte for writing this brilliant article for us. You can connect with her at Desirably Different on Facebook.

If you enjoyed reading this please share it with your friends. Keep up to date with all our interviews, guest blogs and Love Lounge tips by joining us on twitter @ETUKUndressing or on Instagram @UndressingDisability.

 

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