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Undressing Disability

I want to start dating. When should I disclose my disability?

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Mik Scarlet, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

I am pleased to have seen your website through my Open University website and module I am doing.

My name is Naomi I am a 39 year old disabled woman, from three years ago so all new, I have come to a point in my life where I don’t know how to date, when to disclose my disability but also an illness without a prognosis.  I thought about dating other disabled people without sounding rude, but wouldn’t even know how, what I would put on a dating site as in disclosure,  sorry so many questions,  I think I’m excited about finding your website.
Naomi

Hi Naomi,

Lovely to hear from you, and thanks so much for writing in to us.  In terms of disclosure, it is of course totally up to you when you decide to disclose your disability, but if you feel confident in doing so, mentioning it in a dating site bio might be a good start. I’m not sure if your impairment is visible from your email, but I’m a wheelchair user and have previously added a photo of myself using my chair in my profile, and also mentioned that I play wheelchair basketball – that often does the trick in terms of disclosure!
When it comes to dating other disabled people, asking open, honest practical questions has always helped me.  Without sounding too crude, it’s of course important to find someone that has similar interests/preferences (just as you would want in a non-disabled partner) but who you will also be able to be compatible with practically – with everything from whether that person is able to drive (if that’s important to you) to intimacy. There are specialist sites for disabled people wanting to date other disabled people – just google ‘disabled dating in my area’.  Also have a look at a site called Meet Up – there’s great groups that you can join whether you’re into partying, book clubs, arts and crafts or having a coffee and a natter! I’m a big fan of the meet up site as it can often be a very ‘natural’ way to find someone you’re attracted to, by doing something you both love.

Would love to chat to you more Naomi, and hoping this is a good start 🙂

All best wishes,

Emily

Is it worth it? How can I stop feeling so ugly and alone? – Love Lounge

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Mik Scarlet, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Hello:

My name is Sarah.  I’ve already been in contact with Mik Scarlet and he referred me to this page.

I have been made to feel unattractive/ugly from quite a young age, and was subjected regularly to sexual abuse from the age of 4. Needless to say I grew up with a very warped view of physical intimacy and a feeling of being undeserving of being in a relationship. My marriage ended due to violence on his part, which stemmed from our lack of communication and my inhibitions on a sexual level stemming back to my childhood and the associations with molestation and abuse. This element led to the end of my next long term relationship which started shortly after my marriage ended.

I was a carer for 9 years and I am now in my mid 50’s. I know it is never too late for love but part of the reason I have given up looking is because of the issue raised by Dr Phil which led me to contact Mik – the fact that as I age my care needs will either outstrip my partner, or I will end up trying to care for my partner when I am no longer physically able to do so-and social services will separate us, leaving me alone and vulnerable at a late stage in life.

So with all that said, is it worth it? I still consider that people would perceive me as  ugly, because I recently saw a comedienne who looked exactly like myself giving an interview representing women who are “proud to be ugly”, thus confirming that I am doomed to be perceived that way by society’s gauge of attractiveness! Leaving my disabilities out of the equation of course, relationships always start with physical attraction, before you go deeper…

Your thoughts/advice would be most appreciated.

Many thanks

Sarah

 

Hi Sarah, many thanks for writing in to us and being so honest and open with a difficult topic.

The first thing I’ll say is… Dr Phil has a lot to answer for! I’m a wheelchair user and needing a bit of extra physical help/care/support is absolutely part of my package when it comes to relationships.  The men I’ve been in relationships with have had to ‘step up’ on a practical level, whether that’s meant lifting my wheelchair into the car for me, or helping with cooking, cleaning and even helping me to wash and dress on my more difficult days.  Do I think they value me any less as a lover? Absolutely not.  In fact, I’d argue that practical intimacy often makes sexual intimacy even stronger! It also upsets me that people tend to never see what us disabled people do for our partners, too.  Since meeting me, my boyfriend has travelled to 4 continents, left a job he hated and started one he loves, moved house and made some amazing new friends.  He’s done these things for himself, of course, but emotional support and encouragement from me has definitely played a part.  What I’m trying to say is don’t ever underestimate what you can provide in a relationship – physical care and support is but one part of many, many successful partnerships.
On the topic of attractiveness, it sounds cliche but everyone possesses so much beauty in their own way.  I know many people who aren’t conventionally ‘pretty’, but their fierce fashion sense, brilliant humour or passion for what they do make them incredibly striking and attractive. I was watching ‘Queer Eye’ this weekend, and something brilliant was said: ‘You’ve done all you can if you present yourself to the world in the best way possible every day’.  We think we will be happy with ourselves once we’ve lose weight, got a boob job or have enough money for expensive make up and jewellery, but if we do the best we can with the body and resources we’ve got at this moment, there’s a quiet confidence in that that I believe with radiate from us into further attractiveness.
Keep fighting the good fight and believing that trying again is worth it.  Having the confidence to open up and write to us already says a lot about the honest and passionate person you are.
Hoping this helps, and please do get in touch if we can help further in any way.
Thanks,
Emily x

How can I find love and stop feeling so lonely – Love Lounge Q&A

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Hi Mik and Emily

This is a particularly difficult email to write.  Basically I am a single,  divorced 42-year-old bloke living with Friedreich’s Ataxia – a progressive, genetic disease of the nervous system.
I am lucky enough to have plenty of good friends and I get a lot out of these relationships.  However, I do find myself suffering from loneliness and feel lost when dealing with issues of sexuality and intimacy?
I am not interested in simply calling an escort as I want to build a special friendship based around respect and trust.
I have quite a busy social life and I have recently led a disability campaign in Wales.  This has increased my profile but simply turned me into the most popular lonely person I know.
I think my confidence needs working on and I really enjoyed watching Mik’s recent YouTube video about Dr Phil.  I am not sure which way to turn and was hoping for some advice from your good selves.
Look forward to speaking soon
Nick
Hi Nick,
Many thanks for writing into us with such honesty.  We will certainly do our best to help!
The first thing that popped into my head when I read your email is whether you can use the resources around you to your advantage. It’s wonderful that you have such a supportive network of friends. If you don’t already, can you go to events or on trips with these friends to places that will increase your chances of finding someone in a romantic sense? Have you heard of the site MeetUp? I suggest this to a lot of people because it’s a great way of finding out about what’s going on in your area.  Let’s say that you enjoy cooking, for example, there’s bound to be a MeetUp group in your area that focuses on cooking, or trying out new local restaurants every week.  It’s a great way of meeting people weekly, building up friendships based on similar interests and, who knows, maybe it could lead to romance?!
Have you tried online dating, or are you interested in trying it at all? If mindlessly swiping on Tinder isn’t your thing, how about a site focused on communication and similar interests, like eHarmony? I’m a wheelchair user and met my boyfriend on Tinder, and many of my friend now have very successful relationships from online dating!
You say that you’ve had a busy time recently (and the campaign sounds brilliant!) Don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too.  We often radiate a bit more confidence when we feel good about ourselves, so don’t feel guilty about buying a new outfit that you feel great in, or going and treating yourself to a spa day, if that’s what you’re into!
Hoping this helps Nick, and good luck!
Emily

Online dating – a love/hate relationship

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Online Dating – A love/hate relationship

Tinder, POF, eHarmony, Bumble and God knows whatever else, online dating is EVERYWHERE.  Meeting people in cities seems increasingly impossible unless you’re looking on your phone, going up to someone and introducing yourself seems almost alien, and does anyone really fancy you unless they’ve ‘super liked’ you?! Regardless of what we think about online dating, it’s here to stay.  Here are our top tips on navigating the world of swiping, sexy selfies and aubergine emojis…

Tip 1: Think about Disclosure

If you’re online dating as a disabled person, one thing is often on your mind more than anything else: disclosing your impairment. When, where and how you choose to do it (and whether you choose to disclose at all) is totally up to you, but before you start online dating, it might be a good idea to think about what suits you best. Disclosure doesn’t mean shouting from the rooftops, either.  Mentioning that you play wheelchair basketball, or suggesting that you go somewhere with a little bit more light than a basement nightclub are all statements that could lead to fuller disclosure.  Whether you are proud of your impairment or still taking the steps to come to terms with it, knowing how to have conversations around it in a way that makes you feel most comfortable is never a bad thing.

Tip 2: Bucket Lists and Fetishists

We all have preferences, things that excite us and things that we simply just want to try when it comes to sex.  As a disabled person who is online dating, you will, without doubt, come across people who want to sleep with you because they are an admirer of your impairment and also people who want to get you in the sack so they can add a nice, big, fat tick to their sexual bucket list.  If you’re cool with this, and want to try some new experiences yourself, who the hell are we to stop you! Having an awareness and educating yourself around these issues is highly recommended, though.  Have a little google of disability devoteeism, and always beware of someone who goes straight onto their group WhatsApp after a shag to announce the news!

Tip 3:  Teach where possible

Dating, both on and offline, is supposed to be fun (and flipping sexy, too!) Whilst we don’t want to ruin that fun for you, remember that you may well be the first disabled person your new interest has ever spoken to, nevermind dated! They may well say the wrong thing at the wrong time, ask awkward questions and not quite know what to do with themselves at the best of times.  If you like them and they have the best of intentions, there is nothing wrong with taking the time out to educate them around disability, the requirements you have and how best they could help you if and when you need it. Sharing is caring, as they say!

Good luck in that crazy, complicated but ever so fun world of online dating.  Should you ever have any questions or concerns, we are here to help.

Statement on the new CQC guidelines on relationships and sexuality

By | Business, Disability, Sex & disability, Undressing Disability | No Comments

We greatly support the new guidelines that have been released by the Care Quality Commission on Relationships and Sexuality in adult social care services.  This is a brilliant step in ensuring that both service users and care staff are receiving the support, help and advice needed in managing sexual needs and desires.

This guidance has been released to support all disabled people who require care services.  When an impairment is acquired, through ageing or injury, sex and relationships are the focus of many questions that a newly disabled person may have.  It is often vastly important to them that they feel able to maintain existing sexual relationships, or confident and comfortable enough to find new ones.  The conversation around sex and relationships can often be even more difficult for those who have always been disabled; some have never been regarded as sexual beings and have instead been communicated with in a child-like manner, with their sexual needs and desires being overlooked or completely dismissed.  A different body that works in a less conventional way can still be sensual and sexual, and intimate desires are still very much a part of disabled peoples’ lives.

Talking about these things and supporting service users with their sexual needs can understandably be seen as a daunting and scary prospect for many care managers and members of staff, with several ‘grey’ areas surrounding this issue in terms of consent and assisting pleasure.  It is vital that staff have a way of checking that what they are advocating is correct, and have clear boundaries to adhere to in order to ensure the safety and comfort of both parties in question.  Providing disability and sexuality training that is easily accessed, with knowledgeable and approachable trainers with lived experience, should be an obligatory step in this process.

Through the Undressing Disability campaign, Enhance the UK has been petitioning for inclusive sex education and delivering frank, open and honest talks and workshops on disability and sex to organisations and educational establishments all over the country.  The Care Quality Commission’s acknowledgement of the need for everyone to be able to express themselves sexually, regardless of impairment, is a much-needed step in the right direction in this arena, and the start of a conversation that desperately needs to continue and progress.

Explaining fetishes and fantasies – Love Lounge

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Some of us will have most definitely been there: enjoying a perfectly nice shag on an evening, but thinking how much better it would be if our partner did this, said that, looked at us in a certain way, focused on a particular body part a bit more, dressed up in that outfit that makes us melt… We all have fetishes and fantasies that we’d love to have fulfilled, however simple or dark they may seem to us (and, of course, disabled people are no different!). But communicating our likes and dislikes and asking for them to be incorporated into our sex lives can be tricky for even the most confident lovers amongst us. If you’d like some hints and tips on how best to explain your fetishes and fantasies, read on!

Tip 1: The type of person often reflects the type of approach
I’m very fortunate to have a partner who loves to please me, but he can also get a little flustered and go into ‘thinking’ mode if I blurt out something he didn’t expect in the heat of the moment. What are you like, what’s your partner like, and how might they respond to your preferences and desires? It goes without saying that anyone that closes their mind off immediately and refuses any kind of involvement or interest may potentially not be the best sexual match for you, but it’s important to think about the type of person you’re with and bring up fetishes and fantasies in a way that you think they’ll best digest (cos, let’s face it, you’re looking for a positive response!) If you’re the kind of couple that debriefs after sex, maybe mention that, next time, it’d be amazingggg if they added a certain thing into their repertoire, if you’re both impulsive, shout what you want from the rooftops mid-session if you want! Whatever way ends up working for you, tailoring your approach for comfort, honesty and open mindedness from you both is a great step in the right direction.

Tip 2: Is it a ‘must have’, or an added bonus?
Is what you’re into an exciting addition to your sex life, or do you find it difficult to get turned on without it? Be honest with your partner about how important your fetishes, preferences and fantasies are to you, and how often you’d like them to feature in your sex life. And if you don’t know, that’s fine too, as long as you explain this. Being as transparent as possible with your partner will undoubtedly lead to better things for you both in the long run.

Tip 3: Patience and encouragement goes a long way
It can be tempting, when you’ve told a partner about what you like, to expect things to develop quickly, or to experience those fetishes or fantasies every time you get intimate. It’s important for us all to remember that it takes time for others to get comfortable with things that seem obvious to us, and patience and encouragement will be huge factors in your sexual journey together, whichever amazing direction that takes you both in.

Hopefully this article has given you a little more confidence in expressing your desires, whatever they may be. Here’s to great sex for us all, all of the time. We deserve it 😉

So… you fancy a disabled person?

By | Emily Yates, The Love Lounge, Top tips, Undressing Disability | No Comments

As we are sure you know by now, the Love Lounge isn’t just for disabled people.  It is a platform for everyone, disabled or not, to gain awareness of, and learn about, dating, relationships, sex and love in a thoroughly accessible and inclusive way.  Sadly, disabled people don’t yet have the voice that they deserve when it comes to these issues, and we believe that encouraging everyone to educate themselves so that they too can ‘fight the good fight’ can only be a good thing.  In light of this, we are regularly contacted by non-disabled people who, very often, all have one question in common: ‘how can I let my disabled acquaintance know that I want more than a friendship? I’m terrified of saying the wrong thing, or doing something to offend them!’ If you feel this way, or know someone that does, you might want to read on.

 

Tip 1: Think about why you feel differently

Why do you like the person? Are they funny, gorgeous, smart, stylish, kind, passionate about what they do, or a mixture of all of the above? They certainly sound like a catch to us, and the fact that they are in a wheelchair, Deaf, visually impaired or struggle with communication shouldn’t take that away from them.  Disabled people are sexy, too! Are you terrified about what they will think if you let them know how you feel, or are you actually worried about other peoples’ opinions? As the famous saying goes: those who mind won’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind.  There’s no doubt about it, you’ve (sadly) got to have inner confidence and strength to go out with a disabled person in today’s society, but that makes you a bloody good catch, too!

Tip 2: Good intention is everything

For so many people, worrying about patronising or offending disabled people is a real issue, and of course it’s something that you don’t want to be doing when you’re asking someone out, on a first date with them, or even about to get it on.  That’s why good intentions go such a long way; don’t worry too much about slipping up or saying the wrong thing if you truly mean well. Us disabled people have a bit of a sixth sense when it comes to intention, and can often easily ‘weed out’ the people who we know are trying to mock us rather than show a genuine interest. Other than that, why should what you say to a disabled partner be any different to how you would address a non-disabled one? Unless you’re discussing the most accessible hotel to stay in during a romantic weekend away, or new sexual positions to try that you want to ensure are inclusive to the both of you, there’s no need for disability to even really be a factor.

Tip 3:  Enjoy the ride!

Don’t let your worries or lack of knowledge around disability stop you from having what could be an amazing date, night between the sheets or long-term relationship with a disabled person.  If you meet a disabled person that you find attractive, go for it! Who knows what adventures you could both go on together?

 

 

Accessible bedroom antic hacks

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Love Lounge Top Tips – Accessible bedroom antic hacks

I’m certainly not telling you anything you haven’t heard before when I say that those of us who are disabled are often considered less-than-sexy by society.  Well, quite frankly, society doesn’t know any better and, after reading this article, I hope that you can show anyone lucky enough to get into your bed just what they’ve been missing out on.  Some of us might not be as agile, pain and care free as our non-disabled peers when it comes to sex, but we do have some interesting aids and objects in our households that can support great, accessible bedroom antics.  Introducing to you: my top hacks for some mind-blowing accessible bedroom antics.  Enjoy!

 

Tip 1: The Bed Rail

Many of us have grab rails near, or connected to, our beds to enable us to transfer in and out with ease. Admittedly, plenty of them are not all that attractive to look at, but have you considered tying rope, ribbon or handcuffs to them to make things that little bit more exciting in the bedroom? It’s such a great way to make what is otherwise quite a medical and clinical aid into something you’ll appreciate, and maybe even have a little grin at every time you see it!

 

Tip 2: The Hoist

Hoists are somewhat of a necessity to many of us.  Yes, they get us from A to B, but what if they could be a part of a brilliant and varied sex life too? If your partner is able to get into a few flexible positions, or if you just fancy a different position for some solo fun, try using your hoist as a bit of a sex swing next time you’re in the mood.  Who knows, it might just become a staple in your sexy repertoire.

 

Tip 3:  The Wheelchair

This last one might sound like an obvious one, but the wheelchair users amongst us sit in a very versatile bit of kit every day.  Yes, they grant an amazing amount of independence and are great for getting around, but they can also provide a seat for some saucy sexual experiences, too.  Next time you fancy getting it on, try using your wheelchair in a different way.  You might want to use it as a base for tying you or your partner to, as an aid for seated oral sex, or even stay seated in it whilst you use a sex toy (have a look at last week’s post for some amazing inclusive sex toy options!)

 

Switching things up in the bedroom and incorporating aids and devices we wouldn’t usually see as sexy is a great way to spice up your sex life and have a whole new appreciation for the things we use every day. Here’s hoping you have plenty of fun doing so and, as always, we’d love to hear if you have any accessible bedroom antic hacks of your own!

 

 

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Inclusive, sexy companies

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Top tips, Undressing Disability | No Comments

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I think I’d be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t let you know about some of my favourite inclusive, sexy companies that you should totally check out at this time of year (or at any time of year! Let’s be honest, pleasure doesn’t have a time stamp).  So, whether you’re searching for products to surprise your partner with, or looking forward to an orgasmic night in for one, this week on the Love Lounge, we’ve got you covered! Read on for my suggestions, and I can’t wait to hear about yours…

 

Tip 1: Hot Octopuss

The first thing that’s enticing about Hot Octopuss is their brilliant branding.  Edgy rather than flirty, with tattooed, striking models that are a far cry away from the blonde, busty images that often saturate the adult world, it’s fair to say I was instantly hooked.  Hot Octopuss are on a mission to make masturbation more inclusive for every body.  Their selection of pulse male toys can be used with or without an erection, and their new Queen Bee clitoral stimulator sets new standards for female toys, not least because it boasts a long handle that is perfect for those with limited dexterity and movement.  With affordable pricing and display-worthy packaging to boot, Hot Octopuss truly offers something for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

 

Tip 2: Rocks Off

Rocks Off need little introduction; they are the UK’s leading sex toy manufacturer, and sell their products on pretty much every mainstream sexy website you can think of. They need to be praised beyond measure for an inclusive sex toy that is right up my street, though! The Ruby Glow is the ultimate answer to a hands-free orgasm for the seated females amongst us.  Imagine a miniature, battery powered version of a sybian that you can slide underneath you without moving out of your wheelchair (the dream, I know!) True to its name, it dazzles in ruby red velvet silicone, has ten powerful functions, and can even be used through clothing.  You can thank me later.

 

Tip 3:  Liberator Sex Furniture 

On the more luxurious end of the scale is Liberator, a company that prides itself on selling Bedroom Adventure Gear.  Whether you’re looking for a headrest to make positioning less painful, or a chaise lounge that can innocently appear as stylish furniture when your parents come to visit and become a playground for your wildest fantasies behind closed doors, this is the site for you.  There’s wedges and ramps that can be combined to make difficult positions more accessible, and even specialist beanbags to take pressure off your joints and limbs whilst you Netflix and chill (and we all know where that leads…!)  This stuff is far from cheap but, if nothing else, Liberator may well give you the inspo you need to make your sex life all the more inclusive and fun.

Wishing you a very pleasurable Valentine’s Day indeed 😉

 

 

Feeling sexy

By | Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Typing the word ‘sexy’ makes me squirm a little bit, but it’s important! It sometimes seems that, by
not choosing us for films, adverts and campaigns, society is trying to tell us disabled people
something: that we aren’t desirable, or worthy of attention based on our looks. Excuse the
language, but that is utter bollocks. Sadly though, it can often have the desired effect, and we can
feel less-than in so many ways, not least sexually. So, how can we get our mojo back and ensure
that feeling fiiiine isn’t just for the non-disabled? Read on for some of my personal hints and tips
(and feel free to add your own!)

Tip 1: You are Enough
I read so many articles that encourage readers to focus on everything other than their impairment
when it comes to feeling attractive. There’s no need! Instead, we need to start believing that every
bit of us is sexy, even the bits that don’t work properly, or do the opposite of what we want them to!
First things first, take the time to appreciate the whole ‘you’, even the parts of your body or
personality that you’ve always been insecure about. It’s easier said than done, we know, but it really
does make quite the difference when you can look in the mirror, give yourself a little smile and think
‘yep, you’ll do!’

Tip 2: Unravel the attractiveness
One of the things that annoys me most about how many people view disability is weirdly also one of
the things I find most attractive about myself. I’ll try to explain… There is nothing that makes me
feel more attractive when meeting someone new on a night out than when they’ve all but cast me
aside because I’m a wheelchair user, and I ‘unravel’ other parts of myself – my interests, opinions
and humour – and can see the person that didn’t want to know a minute ago suddenly changing
their mind. Their initial narrowmindedness probably means that I won’t be going home with them,
but knowing that their mentality has changed just a little bit makes me feel so good, and powerful in
a way. Find what it is that makes you feel powerful and attractive, and work it!

Tip 3: Haters gonna hate.
And that’s okay, don’t let them grind you down. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea – none
of us are – but its important not to let one opinion define you. Change the things you want to and
can, and move forward loving the bits you can’t, because worrying about and apologising for who
you are and what you’re about isn’t sexy; owning it is.
Here’s to you, you sexy thing. Go get ‘em!

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