It’s December, friends! Don we now our gayest apparel as we buckle up for the holiday season.
Ah yes, that very merry time of year when we come together to celebrate delicious foods, trauma bonding with family and friends, and the thrill of last-minute gift shopping. Got to love the holidays!
December, however, isn’t just about all that. It also brings another important commemoration we need to celebrate: International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Every year on December 3, the global community takes a moment to uplift, support, and amplify the voices of the roughly one billion people worldwide living with a disability. This day also seeks to mobilize support for the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities and the unique issues the community faces.
So, here at Sexual + Being, we want to use this important observance as an entry point for something important: dispelling the inaccurate — and sometimes ableist and painful — myths about the sex lives of folks living with varying abilities. Let’s get to myth-busting!
Myth #1: We can speak of people with a disability as a monolith
This is, of course, categorically false and the reasoning is very simple: there is no “one way” to be disabled and no “one experience” unifying every differently abled person.
There are a number of different physical and intellectual disabilities that people across the globe are living with every day and each of their experiences may differ from the rest. Some may impact their bodily functions (moving, standing, thrusting, etc.) and change their sexual needs or appetites. Some may change approaches or thoughts or attitudes.
It varies, like all things, by person and that’s critical here. Differently abled people are just that … different and able.
Myth #2: People living with disabilities aren’t sexual
Yeah … no. Many people of varying abilities are sexual, have different sexualities and appetites, and crave that intimacy with sexual partners. Just like almost every other person on the planet.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says sexuality is a basic need and an aspect of a person that cannot be separated from other aspects of life. One’s ability to have sex — or lack thereof, at times — does not negate the wants or needs many of us have.
Some individuals may not crave sex but that has much more to do with how they identify than their ability. Asexual or ace folks often feel little to no desire for sex and exist regardless of ability. Not all differently-abled people are inherently ace and viewing the community as such plays into an ableist and discriminatory stigma unfairly attached to the community. Don’t even try it.
It is far too obtuse to assume someone’s sexuality these days anyway. C’mon, it’s almost 2023!
Myth #3: People with disabilities don’t have sex
Absolutely, positively, wholly incorrect. Of course, people of varying disabilities are having sex.
As just discussed, many differently able folks have the desire for sex and sexuality. And, much like a majority of the world’s able-bodied horn dogs, they will find a way to scratch that itch.
That said, some research shows that up to 50 percent of those in the disabled community do not have sex or a regular sex life. Much of that is connected to the stigmatization and untrue characterization of the relationship to one’s ability to want or need for sexual attention.
So, yeah, people are having sex even in the face of such harsh discrimination.
Myth #4: Disabled people cannot consent to sex
This one looks at the “problem” from an improper vantage point.
There is no denying that some folks with varying cognitive abilities may be unable to clearly give consent in sexual situations. As it is always true, sex requires a commitment to action and desire for the deed shared by all present parties.
So, what do you do if you want to have sex with someone who is unable to speak, for example?
According to Touching Base, a non-profit focused on the intersection of sex work and disability, it is on all of us to “learn how people are communicating, whether it is with words, pictures or adaptive devices.” It’s important to think beyond what the societal norm of the situation may be and find a safe, mutually agreed, and clear (if not verbal) version of consent.
But, again, this isn’t an “issue” for people with disabilities. It’s one for everyone who has sex and a reminder that the norms of sex do not necessarily change based on ability. Noticing a pattern?
If you leave this article with one takeaway, let it be this: the sex lives of differently-abled people may differ in some ways, but the root is the same. Many of us get horny; we all just find our own ways, positions, and experiences to get off. It’s as simple as that. For more safer sex tips, check out sexualbeing.org for more. Happy humping!