My Experiences with Disability & The Kink Community
Content Note: While this post isn’t going to talk about sex at all, and it’s only going to briefly touch on some things that get grouped under “kinky” sexuality, I would recommend against it being read at work.
Here is an image to give you a chance to back out! (Image is totally safe for work.)
Image Description: A sign that reads “Wheelchairs and Strollers Please Detour Through Bears”
Here’s the jump!
The sort of conversations I have with the general public (I do most of the talking when Don and I are out because of his vocal cords being damaged through surgery) go something like this:
“I actually have no idea how a wheelchair could get into our store, I’ve never thought about it.”
“Maybe you could try lifting the chair?”
“I don’t know anything about accessibility, sorry.”
“I’m not sure, you could ask my manager, I guess, but she’s not in today.”
“We don’t have to be accessible/accommodating to people with disabilities because we’re a heritage site and we’ll lose our placard if we change anything.” [Note: this is not true in Canada.]
“Umm…. I don’t know anything about it.”
I actually do believe people genuinely have no idea about accessibility-related accommodations, and I don’t think it’s some conspiracy or willful ignorance. It’s just the way things are.
Except, in my experience, in the kink community.
Without getting into too many details (as they are not mine to give), part of the Halifax celebration of Pride Week includes a variety of workshops and talks about sex toys and sexual activities. These are often hosted by our local feminist book store/sex shop, Venus Envy, either in the store or in other locations related to Pride.
I’ve attended these for three years now, and one thing has been 100% consistent: Whenever I ask about disability, the person giving the talk has answers.
So far I’ve been to talks & demos that have included discussions about how to use various sex toys if the user can’t hold the toys, I’ve been to one talk that’s had a ‘terp for two Deaf attendees (the only ‘drama’ being shuffling chairs so they could sit near the front), and asked multiple times about how one could do various sexual activities with a mobility-related disability. They always have answers. The most recent talk I went to included the person demonstrating the toy discussing with me how to adjust weight, angle, position, and speed in order to best work with someone with a mobility-related disability, and an offer to meet someplace a bit more private to have further discussions that included Don, should that be what we wished.
Venus Envy also routinely carries a variety of books about disability, both focused on sexuality and not, and whenever I go into the shop they’re happy to discuss the books with me, make recommendations, and act like people with disabilities can be and often are sexual people.
While I have not gone online looking for disability & kink-related discussion (I never seem to have the time…), I’ve talked to people who have, and I’m told there’s a lot of discussion out there, and the bulk of it is positive and inclusive of disability.
That said, I don’t know how universal this experience is. If you’re both disabled & kinky, or one or the other, what has been your experience (in general) with the kink community and disability? If you’re so inclined, please feel free to leave links in the comments, but please note the content of the links! (For example: Kink & Disability at Let Them Eat Pro-SM Feminist Safe Spaces, which talks about BDSM & disability, written by a woman with a disability. NSFW!)
Commenting Note: I am, sadly, still on thesis-time, and will be for the foreseeable future. Comment approval may be slow because of that. This discussion here is meant to center the voices of people with disabilities. If you’re looking for a place to discuss how kinky you think it is to have sex with disabled people, there are other places to do that. There’s a link right below this to our commenting policy.