This is our truth, tell us yours
Disability, from a number of perspectives is something both Carter and I have written about and experienced. As with so many things our lives are intersecting Venn diagrams which may not be apparent to the casual observer. Its one of the reasons I lost my temper when someone was ranting about “cis het vanilla” people attending Rocky Horror Picture Show nights.For I know I would, on that all too brief first glance, be that cis het vanilla person, a tourist according to those who feel able to judge who meets acceptable levels of queerness.
Thus it is that when writing on disability one is sometimes wary of being asked to prove your credentials, to somehow prove your authority. Of course if you claim to have lived experience of a specific issue then it is only right that you have that experience before you speak, and that you do not speak over others with lived experience which differs from yours.However gatekeeping takes many forms, and perhaps stops me from writing about certain experiences. So it is that I always approach discussions of sex work and disability from the perspective of being a sex worker with disabilities, rather than as a person with disabilities. As I wrote here about how no one has a right to sex. What one has is a right to have your sexual expression respected, and if needed help with enabling that sexual expression.
Given all of this the first time I came across the Outsiders Trust there was an inward cry of “They get it”. Founded by the force of nature that is Tuppy Owens the trust has had in many ways the most simple of demands,that people with disabilities be seen as people, with all that entails. It is not the “inspiration” narrative stars and spirals writes so movingly of here however. Outsiders, by its very name understands that abled society is not willing to accommodate those with disabilities, and often turns away in horror from the idea that disabled people are also sexual people.
The TLC is an eminently practical off shoot of this attitude, an advice and listings site where sex workers can be contacted and potential clients for want of a better word educated. It is a hard balance. I have always thought that abled clients would do far better reading the TLC advice than the rubbish talked on punting sites. Whilst I would like to see a less ciscentric site, and an understanding of the greater breath of sexualites and genders that exist, it is amazing, and wonderful it exists at all. In my overlapping venn diagrams I am all too aware that if I point out I have learning difficulties and autism many people will instantly assume that I cannot consent to sex, never mind consent to selling it. The Outsiders trusts, understands on a fundamental level that the person who could not work out which feet her high heels went on yesterday (yay dyspraxia the gift that keeps on giving) is the same person who orgasmed as they were facefucked.
Each year the Sexual Freedom Awards are organised, part celebration, part fundraiser. Sexual freedom, two words which in so many ways describe so many aspects of my life. As a sex worker I demand the freedom to sell sexual services, the right to keep the state out of my bedroom. As a sub I want to same right, and the right to see porn which reflects the sex I have, uncensored by people who seem to believe women cannot possibly consent to *that*. As a disabled person I want to be seen as fully sexual. As a survivor of rape and child abuse I want my right to chose my own sexual freedoms not to be pathologised. Sexual freedom means respecting me, and so many others, seeing us as fully human, as adults, as able to make our own choices about our bodies (a freedom denied so many with disabilities.)
You can imagine then my amazement, and joy, at being nominated for a Sexual freedom award this year. Some people might see a fun party, and from the looks of the website, it most certainly is. There is a lot of pain and heartache in fighting for sex workers rights, for the rights of those who are othered, for the outsiders in our society. For one night I think we all deserve a night of celebration.
If you would like to join me, and lots of far more famous and worthy people, you can buy tickets here