The true meaning of
Christmas ‘Undressing Disability’
Enhance the UK has been lucky enough to have a really happy and successful 2013. As you may have noticed, our ‘Undressing Disability’ campaign gathered global media attention and our calendars were flying off the shelves to the far corners of the world, most notably becoming a surprise hit in America. It’s pretty surreal seeing ourselves mentioned on Twitter nearly every day and generally popping up all over the web.
It turns out that disabled people in their pants is something you all want to see! As we hoped, the images are getting everyone talking and taking a closer look at some issues that are so rarely on the top of the agenda. Sex is still such a taboo subject in our otherwise increasingly progressive society and when you’re adding disability into the mix, people really start to squirm in their seats.
Our campaign, message and purpose is actually more complex than it first may appear. The initial goal was to make people realise that, of course, disabled people have the same wants and needs as everybody else and do not have to shy away in the backgrounds of society or apologise for their bodies. It is often forgotten that disability is something that could happen to anyone at anytime.
We asked for donations for the calendar to help fund our inclusive Sex and Relationships Education programme for young people with physical disabilities in collaboration with Brook, as currently no such facility exists. Without specifically tailored information to your needs you simply cannot properly learn about the risks able-bodied people have drilled into them about pregnancy and STI’s, leaving you vulnerable. Not only that, but you learn to not be ashamed of having sexual feelings and are taught to identify an abusive relationship, something disabled people of both genders are sadly high at risk to.
2014 will see us drive our project with full force and not only that, we want to become your number one online resource for everything sex and disability. Please start sending in the pressing queries YOU want answered by our ‘Love Lounge’ sexpert Sam Von Rood or our gay ‘Agony Uncle’ Andrew Morrison-Gurza to email@example.com
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
We hope you have an ‘Undressing’ calendar under your tree!
2014 is set to be our sexiest year yet and we just can’t wait to start it!
Within my work, I meet the most wonderful, open, honest, people. At the end of the day, all most human beings want is to be held, loved, to feel safe and to be part of a relationship. That relationship can mean with others, or a wonderful life journey with oneself. At some point, we embark on learning about ourselves and others and for this self-development, we often look for a helping hand from a friend or loved one. I am privileged to have been contacted by a beautiful man who is on a journey to re-discover his connection with intimacy; with himself and with his partner, whom he loves very much indeed. Together we’ll carefully explore, until making honouring and delicious love with his wife becomes the norm once again.
His first step wasn’t easy, though and he has very kindly written his story to share here:
“Lacking confidence, self esteem, not wanting to make a fool of myself, not to let myself or others down, I guess these are the feelings I have. This could cover a multitude of things, but for me at this moment in time, it’s sex.
It’s not a recent thing either. It’s been building, I guess, for the past few years. But, after a lot of soul searching, I thought it was time I did something about it; for myself and for my relationship. The hardest part is admitting to one’s self that there is something wrong. After that, it’s trying to fathom what the best way is to tackle it. I did quite a bit of surfing the net, seeing if there were others out there that may be in the same boat, trying to see if there was somebody out there who could help.
I’m a T5 paraplegic (paralysed from the chest down). Had my accident in the mid 80’s and now I’m in my mid 40’s. I’m pretty active and fit, have a good job and a wonderful family. Really, things are pretty good, my partner and I are very close. We have been through a lot in the 10-plus years we’ve been together and are stronger as a couple for it. The only downside is our love life, and now for fear of losing so much, I’ve decided to act.
I had my accident just at the time I was beginning to find out all about girls, so that initially set me back. Although I had had some sexual experience, it was certainly very limited. However, I wasn’t a bad looking lad, had a bit of a gift of the gab and so had my fair share of girlfriends in my late teens and early 20s. I was very sexual and enjoyed every part of lovemaking and my girlfriends also seemed to enjoy it as well. During these early relationships I wasn’t bothered that I didn’t climax and it never seemed to be an issue to others either. Although I was told at the spinal unit that there’d be no problem with me having kids, I didn’t think I would ever climax and wasn’t sure what feeling I was looking for and what to expect. Prior to my accident I masturbated quite a lot, so I knew the plumbing had worked at some point. I had tried masturbating a few times in the early years after my accident, but don’t think I ever got close.
This all changed one Saturday morning with a girl who’d I’d been dating for quite a few months. We were having a nice time, messing about as you do. I’d asked her to climb on me, I was just lying flat on the bed, but this time she faced away from me, straddling me. I’m not sure why, but for some reason this seemed to really hit my spot, a feeling I’d not had before. I think the fact that we were both relaxed yet very aroused also helped. Anyway, I did manage to climax, though to be honest, I wasn’t completely sure!! I can just remember an unbelievable surge through my body, lightness in my head and then a feeling of total bliss, almost as if a great weight had been lifted from me. I felt so relaxed, it was amazing.
This now was the problem, because I had experienced this, I wanted it more. However, it soon became apparent that it wasn’t going to work every time, and although frustrating, not the end of the world. We tried a few positions and the one that worked best for me at the time was me lying on the bed with my feet on the floor, my backside just on the edge of the bed, then my partner standing over me, with her back to me. This had the greatest success, but by no means 100%.
My next girlfriend is now my current partner. In the early years of our relationship we had a very active sex life. I do remember her asking me quite early in our relationship specifically ‘can you have children,’ to which I replied ‘yes’. We also adopted this position for me and again occasionally I would climax. After a couple of years we decided to try for a family, and this is where I feel my current situation manifested itself.
As is normal now, nature takes over so it’s all a case of timing. I now had the added pressure of ‘performing’ on cue. Typically, with the added pressure and all that goes with it, more usual than not I wouldn’t reach orgasm. There’s the usual ‘oh, it doesn’t matter, hopefully next time,’ but of course this doesn’t help things, and I became more frustrated and basically stopped enjoying any of the process. There it is, ‘process,’ that’s what lovemaking had become!
So, after a couple of years trying naturally, we went down the route of IVF. At first all seemed ok, although I had to have sperm surgically removed, which isn’t a great issue, but it would have been nice to have been able to do it ‘myself’ so to speak. We had eggs fertilised, placed back to where they should be, all looked very good but they never would ‘stick’ there. We had all sorts of tests, but to no avail. Nobody knew why we weren’t conceiving, which probably was the hardest fact. Again, this went on for a couple of years. Physically and emotionally it is destroying, but we came through it and as a couple were much stronger for it. I know a lot of couples who have not made it through this process, but I feel very proud that we have.
Still wanting a family, we decided to look at adoption. Again, it’s another process, more bureaucratic this time, but still a long process. There’s a lot of questions asked, some very personal, including ‘how’s your sex life?’ to which we replied ‘perfect!’ We both knew this was a lie, but I guess that’s what people do, it’s hard to admit. However, the outcome for us has been fantastic and we feel we have the perfect family!
During all this time though our sex life began to dwindle. For me there seemed no enjoyment. I felt as if I had that passion, drive, beaten out of me, and I didn’t feel anything coming back the other way either. We kiss and cuddle, hold each other, but at the moment that’s as far as it goes. We occasionally speak to each other about it, but it doesn’t come up very often and we seem to soon move off the subject.
During the IVF it was suggested I bought a ‘penile vibrator’ by Ferticare, specifically produced to assist spinal injured guys to climax. So I did. Unlike some other sex toys, this looks very medical, even the colour of it makes it look like a piece of medical equipment, rather than something you’d want to use in the bedroom. Because of this, I have never used it with anybody else, it has always been when I’m on my own, and when I first had it, it was just used to ‘clear the pipes’ so to speak. It was never sexual, just a piece of equipment I used. However, it did do what it was meant to do, but again, it’s far from 100% and it can take quite a while. For years it sat in the back of a draw and was never used; I had no urge to use it. I’m not sure what changed, maybe I was feeling a little aroused, may be even bored at home alone one evening about 18 months ago, but I decided to get it out.
Well, it may have been because it had been a while, it didn’t take me long, but I achieved an orgasm, and I must admit it was a fantastic feeling. It still didn’t feel particularly sexual, almost dirty as if I shouldn’t have done it, but there was certainly that release that I had felt the first time I had climaxed all those years back. After that I began to use it more often, only when I got the chance and was on my own and knew I wouldn’t be interrupted. I guess it was about once a month, may be twice. The more I used it, the more sexual it became, the more I enjoyed it. However, I didn’t always climax and sometimes it took a long time if I did manage to. When I didn’t, I felt quite low and I remember how I felt before when I didn’t perform ‘on cue’. I get so close, but can’t quite get over the top. I feel as if there’s another ‘button’ to press, something that would just make it happen that little bit easier. I know that until I can find that, I can’t see me using this vibrator with my partner. When I do orgasm, it is so body evoking, so explosive that I want to share this, I want her to see me enjoy it for what it should be. I know my climaxing isn’t the be all and end all and there is more to it, but I just want to have the confidence that if we do go that far, I get the outcome that I want, and I know she would want it to.
What I really want is to be able to is to climax during lovemaking; is it too much to ask? Right now I want to find that elusive position, the special technique that will allow this, but in a loving, passionate, lustful way with my partner. I want to share that moment I climax with her. Is this the quest for my ‘Holy Grail?’
As I said at the beginning, I want to find my confidence again, confidence in myself, my ability to turn my partner on. I know that I can’t go in all guns blazing, it’s been too long. But I also don’t want to go in all ‘fingers and thumbs’ and put her off and go into this whole cycle again. I know this will divide opinion, but I feel as if I can approach this as I did when I trained for sport. I had a coach that would help me, make me better, help my technique, show me what to do, pass on their experience, allow me to practice, to take what I had and give me the best opportunity of fulfilling my goal.
So, after much deliberation, I decided to make contact with somebody who I hoped would be able to help me. I wasn’t too hopeful, mainly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted, or if indeed it was something I could find help for. Again, I did as much research and reading as I could and I eventually summoned the courage to contact Caroline Dempsey. She let me have her email address so I could write down my concerns, feelings and what I would dearly like to happen, and to see if she thought she could help me. So I did, I think it’s easier to write down those initial feelings, and sent it off to her.
Soon I’d got a reply and it was with great relief when I read what she’d written. She was so very understanding and I immediately felt as if she understood my predicament, and suggested that she could indeed offer to help me.
So, we met for a coffee and I was able to explain more, it was nice to be able to talk to somebody. My feeling from the email was enhanced, and after some initial nervousness and trepidation, I now feel as if I have found somebody to help me. It is still very early, we have only met once and exchanged further emails, but I am hoping that there will be a successful outcome. My greatest feeling is that she understands what I want and is willing to help me, and it is this that has helped me get over the feeling of guilt that I should even be doing this, but I feel as if I had to, for me, my partner and my family.
I hope soon to be able to bring you the next episode on this journey of discovery and I would dearly like to think that I can help others out there in a similar situation and I also look forward to hearing from other people and how they have tackled such issues, as I do believe I’m not a lone voice.”
So, everybody has flaws. Some people are proud of their flaws, and some people tend to hide them because they can bring the hurtful side of other individuals out. Every disability is different, and comes with it’s own set of insecurities and obstacles to overcome. Sometimes, it only takes one strong, unwanted opinion to offend somebody. Disabled people are faced with foul, sickening comments every day of their lives. Even the smallest stare can make the person so insecure and small. This is because society, sadly, still hasn’t moved on and shallow minded people still exist.
People also use discriminatory and derogatory terms in every day conversations such as “retard” and “spack”. They don’t realise that these are actual disabilities and have been turned into an insult. I believe that people should be taught in the early years of childhood that derogatory terms will not be stood for and that there will be consequences for using such language.
Disabled people, as well as many able bodied people, if not all, have flaws. And when people point them out it can become very tedious because, that person knows that, that particular flaw is there. Making it known to the person and everyone around is not big. And it’s definitely not clever as you could make the person feel so small and vulnerable.
If you ever get the urge to taunt somebody about their appearance or disability, I strongly suggest that you rethink and put yourself in that person’s shoes for a moment. If you had a disability all your life, and you’d got that far, and become the person that you are today, would you appreciate somebody disrespecting you and the little flaws and mistakes you have or make?
I went to a meeting of SHADA (The Sexual Health and Disability Alliance) last week. It was such an eye-opener. I met many health professionals and sexual advocates, one who himself was an amputee. He teaches drama and dance to the disabled in Canada and has been in the UK for four weeks on a grant, bringing his wonderful work to London. The discussions that came up were passionate. One lady was a teacher in a school for the disabled with special needs. Helen Dunman, teacher at Chailey Heritage Foundation, where she has responsibility for Personal Social and Health Education and developing Sex Education. To hear how hard she works completely humbled me. She is absolutely 100% dedicated to her pupils, with ages ranging from the very young up to 19. Some, she explained, were very difficult to communicate with, even with all her experience. She works tirelessly for her pupils and I had so much admiration for her.
Sex and the young is something that’s brushed further under the radar than sex among disabled adults. I was appalled to hear how in denial the authorities are. As if it’s not difficult enough for young severely disabled with learning difficulties to communicate their needs, the powers that be would rather ignore an opportunity to improve the well being of our youth than make a bit of an effort and step up and do the right thing. People like Helen are spending endless hours writing policy to enable “good practice in terms of staff ensuring that clients’ sexual needs are recognised and met”. Of course, how policy is interpreted presents another challenge. So it’s up to Helen and those like her to try to put clear guidelines in place and hope that eventually, these become policy for bodies such as the CQC. What a hero.
The old cherry about carers and PAs came up frequently, in that it’s extremely difficult for a lot of them to know how to deal with the sexual feelings (and involuntary responses to touch) of their clients. It’s not their fault; they’re just not trained. So what happens is a whole lot of embarrassment, feelings of rejection, loss of intimacy and a lack of affection. It’s the saddest thing imaginable. My modest wish is to come into contact with as many as possible, to connect with and to share intimacy, to enhance sexual well being, and as a consequence improve general well being, healing, to demonstrate that being intimate and affectionate is achievable, can be maintained, and thus, can be shared with others. This may not even involve sex – it may just be enjoying closeness. As I’ve said before, it’s nothing to do with performance, experience, knowledge of anatomy or how many partners there have been. Honouring oneself and others is all that matters. Intimacy should be enjoyed and celebrated!
There was one very interesting guy at the meeting from Copenhagen. His job back home is to assist his disabled clients with masturbation. He gave a fascinating talk and described how, with different toys and implements, he could help folk to do it themselves. He doesn’t masturbate them; they are able to stimulate themselves, with his help. What a wonderful thing to do for people! He had my total respect and admiration. He’s kept very busy, too, which is a good sign for the folks over there.
I wish things were different, so that anyone who was unable to pick up the phone themselves, could tell their carer or PA that they’d like a sex worker to visit them, without fear of embarrassment (on either side) or loss of dignity. In fact, the term ‘sex worker’ makes people like me sound harsh, unsympathetic. This is not the case at all. I love any chance I can possibly get to brighten up someone’s day, fulfilling their needs as much as is within my power to do.
There’s a site called www.sexualrespect.com, from Tuppy Owens. Although predominantly designed for health care professionals, there is some very interesting reading.
Do you ever look at yourself and wonder what on Earth is that? I have to admit, I do. There’s times when I go past a mirror and I can’t even look at myself. But other days, I’m stronger and I can look in the mirror with a little bit of confidence. Due to being in a wheelchair I find myself immediately ugly and I’m ashamed of the fact that I’m in a wheelchair. I assume everyone thinks this of me, even when I know for a fact that they don’t. When I go out into town, I keep my head down and don’t really make eye contact with passing pedestrians and the public. I never feel safe. And this is one of my biggest issues.
I find that when I go out, I get stared at a lot and after a while this can knock your confidence down because you start wondering what they’re looking at and what’s drawing their attention to you. You think begin to overthink about everything and telling yourself all of the insecurities you have about yourself. Even when your friends tell you over and over again that ‘you’re beautiful and you’re amazing’ but you never take it in. You just thank them.
After a while it starts to really drag you down and you never talk about it because you feel like you’re complaining and you sound childish or you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Because you’re bottling it up, it starts to grind you down until you can barely take it any more and whenever you open your mouth you feel like you’re going to burst out crying.
It’s time that this changed. Schools should have Disability Awareness Training and so should big companies/businesses.
We have voices, and we want to be heard.
Hi. I’m Lauren Jessica. I’m 14 years old and I have a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2, or SMA2 for short. This means that I am confined to a wheelchair and cannot weight bare at all. I have struggled with my emotional side for a while now, and I am still battling. I find it hard to confide in people and I’m not a big talker unless I’m around my closest friends, or talking to people over the internet.
Here I am. 🙂
I’m blonde, I have blue eyes, and I LOVE bright colours. My favourite kind of music is heavy metal/rock and I love cats.
Things I find difficult/that anger me:
- Curbs that don’t have a lowered side so I can cross the road.
- Friends houses that I can’t get into due to steps outside.
- Being confined to my wheelchair and not being able to move myself without assistance.
- HAVING TO RELY ON SOMEBODY 24/7.
Things that I enjoy/make me happy:
- Being able to be a strong minded individual.
- Having freedom.
- Caring for others/making other people happy.
- People that offer great advice and somebody that’s a great listener!
I’d like to think that I’m a good listener and that I’m able to give substantial advice.
I also believe that I’m a kind and bubbly person.
Feeling like a sexual being, particularly with a physically disabling condition, can be something that society tries to rob you of. Relatives and carers may see sexuality as one of the last things to worry about with any given condition and those with disabilities can be left confused and uneducated about their bodies.
But denying perfectly natural sexual feelings can lead to frustration, loss of self worth and lack of confidence. Where there may not be the presence of a partner, sex therapists and surrogates can help delicately over come the personal issues associated with relationships and sexual discovery. While sex therapists work on the psychological and emotional problems a client may have concerning sex, a sex surrogate combines this while also working physically with the clients body. As vital an experience this has been for many disabled people, surrogacy has also proven to be a minefield of moral debate and a legal grey area. As the current UK law stands, sex work is legal as long as it is between two consensual adults and it is done privately. However, the socially ingrained image conjured up at the mere mention of a sex worker seems to be one of a vulnerable young woman. This then leads onto a whole separate, and rightly important, debate about women’s rights. But sex work is not a black and white issue, and where the system can be abused in horrifying ways, the good that can come of it when used responsibly is unmatched. It can empower and emotionally reward the workers (both female AND male) who CHOOSE this profession and it is no over statement to say that the work they do can essentially change their clients’ lives.
The hit 2012 film The Sessions starring Helen Hunt brought to life the thought provoking true story of the late poet-writer-activist Mark O’Brien. Originally an article written by him in the Eighties, it chronicles his emotional and physical journey with a surrogate. Mark contracted polio at a young age and was severely disabled from it, spending a large chunk of his life in an iron lung, a large machine encompassing his whole body to aid with breathing. He had sex for the first time at the age of 36. Because of his disability and his families’ Catholic moral code he was left with the assumption ‘that people should emulate the asexuality of Barbie and Ken.’
Finally feeling able to confront his inner demons, after just his first talk with a sex therapist, Mark felt that he ‘could take charge of [his] sexuality and cease thinking of it as something alien.’ After much deliberation, overcoming life long reservations about his body and the unfamiliarity of the opposite sex, he eventually has sessions with a surrogate. He learns that ‘sex is a part of ordinary living, not an activity reserved for gods, goddesses and rock stars,’ and emotionally recalls after his first sexual experience: ‘For the first time, I felt glad to be a man.’ His surrogate uses a variety of techniques and exercises with him in order to explore and feel secure in his body such as simple body massage. One of the most moving parts of the article is when his surrogate strokes his hair and tells him that it feels nice. Mark is emotionally mature enough to realise that his surrogate is not a full relationship replacement and usually they limit the sessions they have with a client so this type of bond does not form. Yet her simple words give Mark a kind of boost that he’d never experienced before, and he interestingly feels that, ‘having at least one attractive feature helped me to feel more confident.’
His story shows just how beneficial this work can be and through the surrogates, clients can learn that being confident, sensual and sexual doesn’t necessarily have to come from other people’s perceived perceptions. It instead could be regarded as an internal attitude shift and a gradual acceptance of self, but of course nobody is saying that comes easy. Insecurities are an inevitable part of human nature time to time, but the niche practices of Naturists (or Nudists) are in a different league of acceptance.
Maybe we could all take a leaf out of their free hanging book and learn to flaunt our form, no matter what shape it’s in. It may sound extreme, and perhaps not for everyone, but it has been suggested that more people with disabilities could learn to embrace the naked way of life. Not only does it help people get used to their bodies in a non-sexualised atmosphere, it can even be more practical and enjoyable whilst partaking in activities such as swimming which require awkward changing rituals. Naturists are a friendly and never judgmental bunch, occasionally misunderstood; they are always willing to show new people what they’re all about.
At the risk of sounding too flowery, sensuality can start with just being in tune to the world around you. Appreciating touch, sights and smells in everyday life can all help with getting to know your body, and far from being afraid of it, understand its power. As Mark discovered, sexual exploration is not a luxury and is just as fundamental and natural as eating or breathing. Knowing your own personal wants, needs and boundaries is essential before even considering a partner. And once those things are established, it can be hard to resist someone with that much self-respect.
Read more about the late Mark O’Brien’s film via the link below.
· TLC-trust.org.uk – Designed to connect disabled people to responsible sex workers, they have profiles of many surrogates from around the country, a forum and further links related to disability and sex.
I ended my last blog with a poem, written from the heart (by a songwriter, not me!), about how wonderful a gift that giving is. Some joke that giving is selfish, because it feels so good to do it. For me, that’s the right way to give; no strings, unconditionally. When I visit a client as an escort, I feel excitement, not just sexual, but like I do when I give someone a present and I can’t wait for them to open it, to see the look on their face, hoping they’ll like it!
I want my clients to be happy, of course. But I try to understand their needs as early on as I can, whatever they are, and some requests I get are as uncomplicated as ‘being held’. So I try to feel connected to my clients as soon as possible, so they get the best of me, get what’s best for them, and I can do as they ask. That way, we both enjoy the experience and give to each other. I like to have a chat on the phone first to find out what they want, so when I arrive, the ice is broken, sort of thing, and they can let me know if there are any particular requirements that’ll make my visit the best it can be.
I do believe, though, that a really important thing is, if it’s at all possible, to be able to ask for what you want. We can’t be truly ‘present’ if we’re distracted by thoughts of something, even as simple as needing to go to the bathroom, or wanting a drink of water, or wanting to move a part of the body to get more comfortable. And if our needs are more like, “I wish I could be kissed like this,” “I wish we could just cuddle,” or “I would like to know how to please her/him, but I don’t know how to say it,” then sharing the message becomes even more important. But things like this can be difficult for someone to convey, perhaps if speech is difficult, or if it’s been some time since intimacy, if ever, in which case, the right words may not exist. How could they? Shyness, embarrassment, fear of rejection; these are all things that can prevent us from speaking out. But I always find a way in the end! Just with a little mutually exchanged patience, usually.
Often, our conditioning has taught us that asking for what we want is wrong, especially if it’s very personal to us, and particularly if it’s to do with sex. Many of us were taught that sex shouldn’t be spoken openly about, should be kept private, perhaps it’s rude or dirty. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are a million ways to give and receive pleasure. As many as you can think up. But the same reasons that prevent us from speaking out can also prevent us from finding ways to give and receive pleasure, whether with another or on our own. It’s our right to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh – everybody’s right, we deserve pleasure! I’m just sorry that more don’t recognise this – it’s important to the well-being of everyone. Sex is a great healer. But also sex isn’t about ‘performance’. It’s about taking time to really feel and enjoy the other person, really wanting to please, taking time to understand and find out what makes them glow. And it’s just as important to know how to pleasure ourselves, using feeling, wanting, and time, for ourselves, in just the same way.
I’ve recently begun visiting an older gent in his own home who has had mobility problems for many years now, due to an operation that went wrong. He’s such a lovely man and very spritely for his advanced years and for someone who can’t get about! He talks to me about his family, makes me tea and offers me cakes. He also makes sure there’s plenty of time for pleasure. There’s no intercourse, but that doesn’t matter. And thank goodness he understands that there’s no expectation of performance. It’s just the mutual exchange of caring, love and respect. My clients are so special. They’re all so different and mean so much to me.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a lovely guy who’s been wheelchair-bound for 20 years due to a scuba-diving accident. He’s 42 now and lives in the care of a Leonard Cheshire facility. He was pronounced brain-dead and was in a coma for six months. He’s a miracle! He can’t walk or stand unaided and needs full-time care. However, he hasn’t experienced any kind of intimacy since before his accident and he has, as you can imagine, missed it! So not only has he had to contend with coming back to life, coming to terms with his disability, and maintaining as healthy a life as possible, but he also has all the feelings that a red-blooded male has. Of course he does! I was privileged to be his first sexual experience in all that time and it was passionate, and lovely. We chatted at first, got to know each other and had a few laughs about different things. He has a positive and inquisitive mind and keeps himself busy writing, amongst other things, and swimming when he can.
I consider myself fortunate to be in the sex industry, I’m taught so much, but I’m saddened at just how closed people are when it comes to discussing the needs of those who can’t make their own arrangements, like the guy I just mentioned. Arranging my visit to him wasn’t made easy because there’s no way to facilitate it. It should be a simple procedure so that disabled and those cared for are able to have as normal a sex life as the rest of us.
I mentioned in my last blog about carers at the care home I visit my gentleman with cerebral palsy not making eye contact with me. I can appreciate that they may be embarrassed, but I would love them to engage with me, so I could speak to them about their clients’ needs. I could help them understand that their residents aren’t asexual, and how easy it would be for them to help. I suppose it’s because I’m older, but I find it hard to think of someone in the ‘caring’ profession denying their clients something as natural as eating, breathing and sleeping. I can feel a soapbox moment coming on……
I started escorting about 15 years ago. I needed to make some money to get out of debt and so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s not for everyone, but somehow I knew I could do it – and enjoy it. I was living in Manchester at the time and called a random number from the Manchester Evening News. I spoke to a lovely lady who eventually took me under her (mature) wing and guided me through the early months until I gained confidence. At this, I signed up with three agencies, got the work and got out of debt. For me it was ideal. I had a full time job which acted as a professional facade for me and escorted in my spare time, which built my confidence, self-esteem and bank balance.
A few years on, I fell in love with a client. All very ‘Pretty Woman’-style. He swept me off my feet and I thought he was the sliced bread. Obviously he didn’t want me to continue escorting, so I didn’t – for almost eight years – during which time, we reached our fun and sexual peak together, then gradually slid down the muddy hillside into a swamp of disrespect and, ultimately, the end of the relationship. By this time, I felt empty, unloved and unappreciated, but realised it was my own fault for hanging on for so long. I’m sure he felt exactly the same, but we weren’t communicating by then and didn’t realise how much we were hurting each other. We saw the signs and ignored them. Everything’s a lesson, though.
Still, all that’s behind me, thank goodness, and in fact, we’re friends now! Where’s this leading? Well, after I’d grieved the loss of being in a couple (even though it wasn’t nurturing, I still missed ‘something’), I found myself wandering back to thoughts of escorting. Some years older, yes, but my attitude towards the art itself had altered. I wanted to go back to it, but, because I was more mature, and because my love of people in general had increased a thousand-fold, I realised I wanted to do it for giving, not for taking.
Please let me explain myself. During my early years, I had a mixture of clients, some able-bodied and others who weren’t so. I always gave of my best, and never got any complaints, but on thinking back, I also realised that my thoughts towards them were no different. Not in any way whatsoever. Nevertheless, the money got was very important, as this was helping my personal cause.
Coming to the present day, I’m happy to say I have a number of clients whom I have the greatest respect for, whatever their wishes and, again, they are a mixture of bodies. But what’s driving me more and more these days is my frustration at the fact that so little attention is given, and respect paid, to the needs of those not physically able to contact a sex worker, and, in many cases those who’re unable to self-pleasure.
I’m disappointed that, when I visit the care home to see a lovely gentleman with cerebral palsy, the carers won’t make eye contact with me. He, himself, was concerned that he’d be embarrassed in front of the staff about my visits, yet was desperate for some intimacy. His dignity is vehemently maintained, of course, and he and I share some wonderful time together.
Intimacy – a beautiful word. Most people think it means sex, but there are many levels to intimacy, even before nudity or touching of skin on skin. Sex – another beautiful word, also with many meanings. My heart goes into my work, whatever the ability of my client. My client is the only person on the earth when we’re together. It’s their time; whether we’re talking, holding hands, kissing, caressing, or having intercourse – and everything in between. Notice I didn’t say ‘just’ at any point. There’s no ‘just’ about people connecting. Every single one of us deserves it; human contact; affection; intimacy; friendship with benefits; however you term it. When we experience it, we feel high on natural elixir. It’s the best healing we can give, and in giving, we receive. I’m grateful for the opportunity to constantly learn from my clients.
Here’s a beautiful poem about this very subject:
I never feel more given to than when you take from me, when you understand the joy I feel giving to you.
And you know my giving isn’t done to put you in my debt, but because I want to live the love I feel for you.
To receive with grace may be the greatest giving.
There’s no way I can separate the two.
When you give to me, I give you my receiving.
When you take from me, i feel so given to.