Disabled people deserve to have fulfilling sex lives, you'd surely have to be a raving lunatic to think otherwise. But discussing sex is messy (undoubtedly the first of many puns to... come) at the best of times, so how do you go about addressing a real, and very sensitive issue still faced by many disabled people in Britain (the misconception that disabled people only date, and fornicate with one another), without coming across as condescending or tacky? Grey London and disabled charity Scope have tackled the issue by relying on those tried and true tactics; light comedy and compassion.
“F is for Flaunt it” has disabled models showing off their sex appeal
This October, Scope is tackling one of the last taboos by showing us that it shouldn't be a taboo with the vibrant and racy “A to Z of sex and disability.” From waking up next to a stranger and being unable to locate a limb, to those whose impairments encourage them to push the boundaries of their sexuality, the A to Z sees disabled people revealing their sex and dating stories to break down barriers and challenge assumptions around sex and disability. Devised by Grey London and illustrated by London-based graphic artist Pâté (aka Paul Pateman), the A to Z includes such heading as “H for Happy Endings,” “M for Myths,” “E for Experimenting,” and (of course) “O for Orgasm.” The campaign is based around research showing that just 5% of people who aren’t disabled have ever asked out, or been on a date with, a disabled person, and that less than one in five have even invited a disabled person round to their house. These are sobering statistics indeed, and only underline the need for initiatives such as this, which remind us that we all deserve to be treated with the same level of respect.
Scope and Grey London are tackling one of the last taboos by showing us that it shouldn't be a taboo with the vibrant and racy “A to Z of sex and disability”
It's the latest offering from Scope’s “End the Awkward” campaign, which aims to change attitudes by shining a light-hearted spotlight on the awkwardness people feel around disability, even if they don't want to admit it! Scope hopes the campaign will help people feel comfortable when talking to (or in this case dating) a disabled person, and they are definitely going about it the right way here by using public ambassadors such as The Last Leg star Alex Brooker, who stars in the first video for the campaign, which finds the comedian (and amputee) sharing an awkward moment when he woke up one morning after a one-night stand and literally couldn't find his leg!
Disability consultant Emily Swiatek, who discusses how her disability has positively affected her sex life in “E is for Experimenting”
Other content for the campaign includes various blogs, stories, films and images, each based around a letter of the alphabet. Brooker's video, from production company Blink Art, is titled “A is for Amputee,” and other activations include “E is for experimenting,” which see disability employment consultant Emily Swiatek discussing how her impairment has affected her sex life in a surprisingly positive way, with her disability encouraging experimentation, and why there’s a need to talk about the positive side of sex and disability. “K is for Kama Sutra,” meanwhile, has disabled comedian Romina Puma using her stand-up set to discuss the ins and outs of the Kama Sutra for disabled people. Letters A to H have already been released on Scope's bespoke A-Z of sex and disability portal site, and the rest of the raunchy alphabet will follow throughout October.
Content for the campaign includes various blogs, stories, films and images, each based around a letter of the alphabet
Richard Lane, head of campaigns at Scope, said of the campaign: “End the Awkward is all about challenging attitudes to disability in an open and light-hearted way. We hope our cheeky A to Z will be a conversation starter and will help end the stigma that still surrounds sex and disability.” Lex Down and Jamie Starbuck, creative directors at Grey London, added “For too long the topic of sex and disability has been a taboo. With this campaign we hope to change that and get tongues wagging…in more ways than one (sorry, we couldn’t resist).” I told you that first sentence wouldn't involve the only innuendo... In your end... o... damn it.
Blind performance artist Amelia Cavallo who performs as part of a Burlesque troupe in “B is for Burlesque”
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK who evidently watched far too many Carry On films growing up.