Sex & Disability: The Sector’s “Complex” Topic

As I will state on social media when I post this blog; I want to reaffirm the message that I am writing this blog as myself, and not a representative of any organisation in the sports journalism field or the disability sector. These thoughts are entirely my own and are my version of events.

It was December 2015, and I’d been thinking about sex and disability for a long time. I knew that I really needed to turn my thoughts into action.

I started writing as much as I could about the subject. I came at it from the perspective of a disabled person, but I wanted to advocate for those who weren’t lucky enough, or brave enough, to make the decisions that I’ve made in the past. That’s right, seeing a sex worker, and especially losing your virginity to one, is a brave choice to make for anybody. It’s not the way you’d imagine that first experience going, and it’s very daunting. Following that, all the moralistic thoughts and emotions are another battle on their own.

Without CCS Disability Action, my employers at the time, the thing with TV3 would never have happened, and that’s when the subject reached a national audience.

To the surprise of nobody, the feedback was relatively negative. The ‘powers that be’ at TV3 Story turned it into a profile about a guy in a wheelchair asking the government to fund sex worker visits for all disabled people. However, most of the country saw it as the guy in the wheelchair wanting all the money for himself, and it sparked massive uproar.

In that story, I am quoted as saying that sex is more accessible for most people than it is for those with disabilities. What I should have said was that it was more acceptable, acknowledged, and probable. Because it is; people with disabilities are not seen as sexual beings capable of having sexual thoughts, desires, or abilities to engage in a “good” sex life.

The week after the story hit the media, CCS Disability Action wrote a column in the NZ Herald that labelled the topic of sexuality as it pertains to the disabled “a complex issue”. Due to my employment with them, I couldn’t exactly go public with how infuriated I was at some of the things Joy Gunn wrote in that column, and I congratulated her on social media.

The story had drawn so much criticism, and many people in CCS Disability Action were uncomfortable. An insider has informed me that the whole reason why TV3 got the tip of my work was because of a partnership between CCS Disability Action and a company called Ideas Shop.

Apparently, the story had put sexuality for the disabled into a somewhat negative light, but I was just glad that the light had been shone on it at all, because it was about time.

Joy Gunn left the organisation just a couple of months later.

One of the things I was disappointed in was when Gunn said that the organisation didn’t support my idea that the Government should fund “his need”. It was never about my needs at all, I was simply sharing the experience of how I had lost my virginity, I wasn’t asking the government to pitch in financially towards my own sex life.

Secondly, Gunn never once discussed the lack of access to money that many disabled people in New Zealand have. Yes, some disabled people work, and others are on the Supported Living Payment, but particularly in that second example, many aren’t able to save any money, let alone save enough to hire a sex worker.

In the months following that saga, CCS Disability Action released their first Sexuality, Gender Identity, and Intimate Relationships policy.

It’s my hope that CCS Disability Action and other leading organisations really do begin to start more robust discussion around this area. Advocating on sex and disability is indeed a very complex task, but it’s not an impossible one. Government funding sex workers for those with disabilities isn’t the ideal scenario, but it’s an option for some disabled people in very unique situations. Perhaps more research into such unique situations needs to occur.

PERSONAL: Getting over a girl you can’t be with

As much as it doesn’t help when you hear it, the fact remains true that having a crush on someone you cannot be more than a friend with is something that we all go through at least once during a lifetime.

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I don’t like the word crush.

I’ve always believed that feelings I have had for girls have been so much more than a simple crush.

So, how do you get over (for lack of a better phrase) somebody you have feelings for but can never be with?

Reasons you cannot be with this girl will vary.

She could be in a relationship with another guy, she may not like you in that way, she may be crushing on someone else, or she might just want to be a friend to you and nothing more.

Maybe the two of you just aren’t meant for a relationship.

The first thing you need to do is find a way to accept the situation and accept that you cannot be with this girl.

It is ok to be sad, sadness will be with you for a while during this period, but eventually you will come to realise that you can feel sad and unlucky for days on end, but eventually the time comes to get over it and move forward.

You really like this girl right? So, of course you’re going to be quite sad about not being with her in the way you want.

Next I think it is important to find a way to talk about how you feel, to the girl herself even.

It is easy, so very easy for things between the two of you to become awkward so you really need to find a way to tell this girl how you feel, but do it in a way that doesn’t make her feel guilty for not feeling the same way, but a way that helps her to understand how you feel, while at the same time you need to realise that she doesn’t feel the same way about you and she cannot really say anything that you will want to hear.

Find a way to talk, remember you and this girl are friends and as much as seeing her beautiful face day in and day out will make you yearn for her to be yours, just remember friendship is still a good thing!

At times you will feel so jealous, especially if she has a partner. But if you do anything, make sure you don’t make her feel guilty or bad because some other guy got there first.

Your feelings are yours and yours alone at this point. To be blunt, it is a problem and a problem only you know how to get yourself out of.

Lastly, you are going to be ok through this.

You’re not crazy, and you certainly aren’t needy or emotionally unstable, you simply like this really amazing girl who sadly will never be more than a friend to you.

It just isn’t meant to be, because if it was you wouldn’t be going through all this emotional turmoil just to be given a chance at being her boyfriend.

There is a girl out there who is better for you, but she has to find you and no matter how amazing you think this girl that you like but cannot be with is, there is somebody out there who is better.

Yes I said it, someone better.

I myself have been through this many times, in actual fact I am right at this moment as well.

DREAM BELIEVE ACHIEVE.

My Journey To Sex: Part 3

It wasn’t just the moment I lost my virginity, but the entire experience that afternoon which absolutely astounded every sense of my being.

It felt like I had been on this journey for years, almost a lifetime, and so many questions along the way had suddenly been answered all in the space of a couple of hours.

I performed, I had my first orgasm, I made her orgasm, and I finally knew what sex felt like.

It was such a terrific moment of clarity, and share relief. I had never been so relieved, so thankful, and so floored by such a powerful and quick feeling of emotion which came as quick as it left.

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My first orgasm was indescribable. I didn’t know what the hell was happening to my body, at first I actually thought I was about to pass out or that maybe I was having a stroke or something., my head kind of exploded and went all dizzy, I lost focus on what I was doing, and then out of nowhere that wave of pleasure hit me, so powerfully, and so quickly. It’s like you’re entire being shifts into overdrive, it just feels amazing. Better than any feeling.

When you reach your end you kind of lose all sense of reality. The world around you just explodes into a massive rush of excitement, relief, and pure pleasure.

But greater than that, if sex is done with the right person, the cuddles after the act itself are just as pleasurable as anything you do when getting all hot n heavy.

I love cuddles, sometimes nothing is said, you sort of just lie there with the girl and hold hands, kiss for a bit, and just enjoy being close.

To me, sex is more about being close with a person than actually getting the person to orgasm.

On January 15th 2014, my sex life began, and in many ways my entire life changed in a small way as well.

I had hoped, prayed, and wished for sexual performance, that was all. I just wanted to be able to do that stuff, and despite all my concerns and doubts going in, there was not one thing I wasn’t able to do. I was able to give and receive oral, do penetration, orgasm, and every other thing you do in the bedroom. It was a surprise in many ways, but one that was welcome.

You have to remember, I didn’t even know 100% wether or not I could even get an erection before my first sexual experience.

So in summary, and I really don’t know how to finish this blog. All I can think about is how relieved I am that I can actually sit here tonight, and finish by saying yes, I can actually, and did actually have sex.

Again, the reason of knowing if I could or if I couldn’t, is completely unknown to me. Even now.

Losing my virginity, my journey to sex, all the doubts and concerns, and all the taboo of the subject, it is clear to me that sex was perhaps the greatest challenge that my disability threw my way so far.

There will be many more challenges in the future, some of which I wont be so successful in, but I made a promise to myself long ago that I would try, just try to not let my disability stop my belief in anything, including having a normal and healthy sex life.

I don’t feel like I am in a position to give advice to anybody with a condition like mine, and I won’t do that. Because make no mistake about it, this disease effects people differently, and you have to be prepared to accept that you may not be able to have sex, but go into it hoping against it all that you will.

That’s all you can do, just hope.

And keep in mind, sex isn’t all there is to life. It really isn’t, things that are more important are what should motivate you. Like school, family, love, hobbies, work, being a good person, keeping true to who you are and what you believe in.

You can’t describe what sex feels like, and no matter how OCD and obsessed I become in trying to do so, I wont ever be able to describe that wave of pleasure and how powerfully it takes over you. It just feels like a tremendous surge of everything pleasurable. Lets just say, think about how great you THINK sex will be before you do it, and then triple that by around 100, that is how awesome an orgasm feels.

That’s how it feels to me anyway. And no matter how many times I do it, it never ever stops feeling that great.

Finally, I just feel very proud and quite privileged to have shared this story with you. I hope you enjoyed the last three blogs. I was scared to share this story, but I wanted to tell it as well.

My next challenge?

I don’t know really, I am busy as hell with Wintec these days and working on my Journalism degree.

There are many girls in my life too, haven’t quite found the right one yet, and I am quite scared to try as well because I have been hurt so many times before, but as I proved recently, it doesn’t scare me away either and I hope date 3 with the girl from my class goes well.

You can’t force love, it comes to you. Sex is awesome and I glad I can do it, but it isn’t the end goal for me.

My goal is to be myself, and be true to the girls in my life. After being true to myself.

I will make my mistakes too. In fact, I have already. My confidence with girls is terribly low and it will take a long time to gain it back. But like everything, you believe in what you are doing, and I guess you just have to hope.

Plus, I have dates to go on soon, and that girl is awesome too! Don’t know if it is officially dating or what, we are just mates.

I hoped with sex, and I achieved it. I hope with a girlfriend one day, I want to be the best boyfriend in the world, and I will achieve that too. I just believe in that.

Regards,

Mike

My Journey To Sex: Part 2

Even today, I don’t know why being able to perform sexually meant so much to me. All I knew was, if I couldn’t, I would be heartbroken but somehow would have to find a way of dealing with it. It was hard to not think negatively, but I just tried to hold onto hope that everything would work out.

I may be disabled, but I was damn sure that it wasn’t going to motivate me to shy away from this goal.

I was fortunate enough to have a few days notice before my first sexual experience occurred. It gave me time to think, and while thinking may sometimes not be the way you want to go into something like sex, it did me a world of good in the end.

As I said in the last blog, sex was something I had desired for so many reasons but all those reasons I couldn’t explain or justify to anyone, including myself.

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The first reason was to experience sex. The second, to know if I could or not, and the third reason was the biggie, to achieve something that so many of my friends with either MD or SMA had passed away without ever attempting or knowing if they could or not. This was the hardest justification of them all, because a handful of them had almost given up on sex, or at least that is the vibe I got from them when they were still alive.

It was a myriad of reasons, reasons I couldn’t justify to anyone, including myself as well sometimes… most of the time… all the time.

I had the best part of a week’s notice before my first sexual encounter, so I had time to prepare my mind for the event. Much time that week was spent on my own, deep in thought, as I had been in the sexual sense since the journey began all those years ago. I never talked to anyone about my fears, and the week of losing my virginity, I kept the nerves as much to myself as I could.

The few people around me who knew of the pending event were well aware of just how nervous I was becoming.

It was a nervous excitement, a fear of the unknown, and a worry that after all this time and all this toil, including the decision to finally take a leap of faith and do it, sex may not be all I imagined it to be. I was worried that I would go through all these years of wonder, only to be disappointed.

“Ok, maybe I will be able to perform in the bedroom, maybe I will orgasm, but what if it just isn’t that good?”.

I can hear those words in my head like it was yesterday.

I think you could easily put sex up on a massive pedestal, thinking it will be something out of this world. I think everybody who hasn’t experienced is in danger of doing that, some will have realistic expectations while others will be a little more out there in what they think will happen when the clothes come off.

I was in both camps, and on reflection I think most of my thoughts about intercourse and how it would be and feel were fairly realistic.

I mean jeez, I had enough time to think about it that’s for sure!

My disability and how it works is restrictive. Physically, I probably have the ability of a baby. My arms are weak, I can’t move my legs, I can’t move my hips, I can’t even reach my private areas.

A lot of people who are in the know wonder why I don’t masturbate, the reason why is because I can’t. I have never masturbated, never had any pleasure from my own hands. I don’t have the arm power or the hand power. The man zone is just not a place where my hands go. They never went there.

My point?

Everything about sex was so unknown, and the week’s preparation was so vital in me coming to terms with all that. There were countless times when I wondered what I would actually be able to do in the bedroom. I questioned if I would be able to get her off and make her feel as amazing as she was going to make me, I wondered if it would hurt when it came to penetration, I was worried that I would not be able to get an erection, I was worried I would break my hips, I wasn’t sure if I would know if I was doing the job right. The list just went on and on and on, there were so many reasons to back out of the whole thing, to save the potentially damaging results to my mental state if things didn’t work, but so many reasons to bite the bullet and try as well.

I ended up having a coffee with the girl I lost my virginity too a few days out from the event.

It was so crucial for me to trust her, and also for her to know what my limitations were and would be once we got to the bedroom. We had a good few conversations about it all. She really was amazing at calming me down, and it was quite easy to trust her in the end. She was experienced, and while someone who had been around the block a few times wasn’t how I always imagined my first time girl would be, it benefited me ten fold. I needed a girl who knew what she was doing.

I was scared because I wondered if my reliance on her would scare her away, despite all her experience, I was worried that she would back out because she thought she’d hurt me, and I just wanted the whole thing to fly off without a hitch.

But in order for it to be a success I had to put myself in a position that could have easily taken the whole thing away. I am VERY, VERY proud of the courage I showed in that conversation with her in particular.

Casual sex, or picking up girl in a bar and bringing her back to my house wont ever be an option for me if sex was going to occur just randomly out of the blue, because there will always need to be some sort of discussion about how things have to work in order for sex to be a success for myself and the girl. Like most things with the disability, my sex life also requires pretty much total 100% reliance on somebody else. Getting ready before hand, during sex, and after sex too, it is all pretty much out of my control and I have to rely on the help of somebody else.

But through all the worry, it was such an exciting time too!

That was the longest, but in many ways most enjoyable week of my life. The days just dragged on and on and I couldn’t settle myself down. If anything I was getting more excited and I wanted to forget my worry and just soak up the whole experience. Whilst asking myself if I could move on and live my life if I couldn’t perform sexually, I also tried to ask myself what I would do with my life if I could have awesomely amazing sex. I didn’t come up with any answers to both those questions, but I just knew that either way, I wouldn’t regret what I was about to do.

The other lingering factor in the back of my head was if this whole thing was “right” or not.

I guess I am a little old school, but sex should be a good thing and it should be with the right girl. Plus, virginity is special, and it shouldn’t be taken too easily. Just keep that in mind. I don’t have any regrets, but lets just say I worried that I would have had massive regrets if it didn’t turn out like I hoped.

Two things to keep in mind.

Be prepared to accept that you may not be able to have full on sex, but also be confident or positive enough to believe that you will.

And so… D Day arrived.

The sun came out bright and early on Wednesday January 15th 2014, and I knew that no matter the outcome, this day would be remembered for the rest of my life. I remember the first thing I did that morning. I got up, had breakfast, and went outside listening to music on my iPod. Nothing was done differently than any other day.

As the morning wore on, and the time till my first sexual experience drew closer and closer, I was feeling more and more excited. I took a shower, and that’s when it hit me.

Out of nowhere, an amazing sense of worry threw itself over me. It was one of the most exciting, but terrifying feelings I have ever had. I don’t know why, I think I was just scared that sex, something I so yearned for to settle a question I had been having with myself for years, just wouldn’t be something I could do. My disability, like it has for all of us, had taken so much of my physical capabilities away from me, I didn’t want my dream of sex to be taken away too, because I knew what it would do to me if it did.

It was all so important to me.

But I had to go through with it, worry be damned, self belief and hope shone on through and before I knew it, the time had come and it was about to get a whole lot more real very, very quickly.

You cannot describe that level of adrenaline, my heart was beating quicker than it ever had before, and my panic buttons were being pushed in every direction possible. All the pep talks and advice were ringing loud and clear in my head, and all the ways I had imagined sex would be were racing through my mind like a silent movie, a montage of pictures, what felt like a lifetime of questions and second guessing about to be answered.

Before I knew it, I was having sex. I was no longer a virgin, and everything had worked out well.

Regards,

Mike

My Journey To Sex: Part 1

January 15th 2014 will be a day that I will never forget.

Throughout my life there have been many moments that will be fondly remembered, but losing my virginity, in what I think was a good experience, ranks right up near the top of the list, and for so many reasons.

Before I had experienced intercourse, I was always a very sexual person I think. I say this without any evidence, but it didn’t take much to get my mind going down that path, guess I was easy to seduce. Isn’t every male a little easy to seduce? I was no different. Still aren’t.

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The opportunities for physical experiences were nil, but in my mind I had been thinking about what sex would be like for years and years. At the age of 12 I began to get interested in sex for the first time, and I think like many kids at that age, my eyes were first opened to the whole thing when we had sex education classes at school. But back then I was more interested in the company of girls, I didn’t care less about sex because I didn’t even know the mechanics of it. Getting a girlfriend was a big goal of mine, but I didn’t really understand what a girlfriend would be, it was more a friendship based thing I suppose because at that young age you simply are not ready for a proper relationship, chances are you don’t know what a relationship really is.

My journey to sex began so long ago now that it feels like ancient history. It is a history I know every single detail of and could list every major milestone off the top of my head.

For anybody, going through the teenage years was brutally tough for me in the sexual sense. It was tough for many reasons, but a big one was the dawning of sexual curiosity, and the beginning of what felt like sexual abandonment. I don’t want to generalise modern society, because there are some good level headed teenagers out there, but in today’s world, sexual experiences are occurring at younger ages. By the time I was 17, I think nearly all my friends had experienced sex in some form. Throughout the teen years I spoke with a few different specialists and doctors about my sexual concerns, and most people were helpful, but as it had always been for me, there was always something a little taboo about sex in general, and that made my frustration all the more worse.

It was an elephant in the room at MDA too, but an issue that was effecting so many young people with these muscle conditions, but no one really wanted to address it. Sex is so taboo, mainly because it can be a very controversial and uncomfortable topic.

The frustration was deep rooted, for the most part I tried to rise above it, but as the disability slowly started to take more of a powerful effect on my body, the fear was beginning to creep in.

If the disability is making my body so restricted, then surely my sexual capabilities will be affected too. I don’t think, as a guy who was very sexually minded, I could explain to anybody reading this how scared I was. I was terrified that I would never experience. Utterly terrified. I couldn’t talk about it because if I did I would cry.

There were no clear answers, I didn’t know for sure if I would ever be able to achieve sexual gratification, it was just the way things were. Over time I began to wonder if it would ever happen. Deep down I knew it would, but I also knew that potentially, sex would be something that I would have to make happen for myself.

But how do you make something as amazing, important, needed, natural, complicated, impactful, and enjoyable as sex come to you before its ready to happen?

It felt like sex would happen for me when it was ready to, but my impatience and growing concern about my sexual capabilities for the present, and into the future, were also completely natural and expected as well. It was always going to be one of my greatest, and most natural challenges.

Like I am today, back then I was always a very passionate person. I kept myself busy, as you do, and the reality that I was a virgin and had never had a single sexual arousal or feeling was difficult to accept, but made easier to deal with by how happy I was in all the other areas of my life. I grew up in a terrific family, with two parents who were supportive, nurturing, understanding, and above all else they kept me on the path of positiveness. With a disability such as this, or any other, positive thought and proactive action is key to keeping the belief alive in the person dealing with the disability, which could easily take over your thinking if you let it. I don’t want to sound like I was always positive, because there were many times when I wasn’t, but for whatever reason why, every day was a new beginning.

I tried to never let the fear that I may not be able to have sex stop me from believing that one day I would.

The root of the frustration was the inner confliction I was having with myself. On the one hand, I wanted to have sex but I didn’t know why I wanted it so badly, maybe it was just because I could say I had done it, as if it was something that would make me feel a little more normal so to speak. But that only aided the inner confliction to grow, because I believed I was just as normal as anybody else and for my entire life that hadn’t changed, even with a disability which in many ways does make you different. The third confliction was that I didn’t want to perceived or thought of to be just another horny teenager, but I couldn’t help but think that I was. So I didn’t talk to anyone about it really, for years I kept my concerns primarily to myself.

Those few years as a teenager where you think you can deal with it all on your own, and honestly sex isn’t always something you should talk about with all in sundry anyway.

I knew for sure, one reason why I wanted to have sex, and it was to know wether I could or couldn’t. But the issue was, I was never going to know the answer until I did it.

* TMI WARNING.

My body was that restricted, that weak. I couldn’t even masturbate. I didn’t know if I could get an erection, I had never even orgasmed before.

So I had no idea whatsoever what I was going to get into, get out of, and if that would effect my life in a terrific way, or a terribly depressing way.

So to end part one of this series of blogs, probably my most personally revealing piece of writing ever, I have this advice.

Before you have sex for the first time, be prepared to live with the real possibility that you may not be able to. I mean not be able to, no sex, no performance, no nothing. That’s what I had to ask myself. Could I live without ever having those experiences. It would have been such a blow to my belief, in myself as a man, and it was so scary to think about, but think about it you have to. I don’t know why it was so important to me, maybe it was because many of my friends with the disability had died without ever experiencing, maybe it was all just a giant over thought on my part, maybe it was fear, I just felt as though I had a set timer ticking away and I needed to act, and act fast.

Fast forward, even days out from my first time doing anything sexual, in the hot awesome summer of 2013/2014, my journey was only just beginning, and I had absolutely no idea just how life changing it would be.

Regards,

Mike

Because I’ve Been There

When you have a crush on someone, or you like someone that you are close with, it can often be be a really difficult thing to deal with.

I firmly believe that a crush is actually a really sweet and heartfelt thing. Every time I have had a crush on a girl it has started so innocently and before I knew it, I was emotionally invested, and for the most part, I ignored the possibility of the crush being a bad or unhealthy thing. Not because I am selfish, or self centered, I just thought that everything I felt for the girl in question was for the good. Some guys are well tuned at hiding their feelings when they like a girl, others aren’t, I think I fall into the latter. I am not ashamed of that either, but when I look back I do wish I had have pulled the reigns in on my feelings a little more, maybe cooled my jets a little, slowed down and thought things through some more.

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When you really like a girl, I mean really like her, you like what’s on the inside a hell of a lot more than what’s on the inside.

You actually care about her, more about her feelings than your own, and you will listen to her cry to you on the phone about her problems with the boyfriend, all the while knowing it is killing you inside because you wish you were that guy, and not the dude on the phone offering advice to her that she shouldn’t need because she shouldn’t be being treated that way in the first place by a guy who claims to care about the girl you love.

Its that emotional connection you feel towards her, and while sometimes that connection may not be as strong for her towards you, it often doesn’t matter to you because your feelings sometimes lead you to miss even the most obvious of signs that she isn’t interested in that way.

The friend zone. Oh my favorite term of them all.

Often, a crush is developed for the person you’d least expect, and the one who you are close to. Guess you have two choices, try your luck and hope it works out, or try to move on from your feelings while keeping the friendship alive and as strong as ever.

That’s the tough bit, but if you are a true friend, you will accept that she just likes you just as a mate, and also accept that you are only human and you will take time to move forward. But move forward you will.

Am I making any sense? I dunno.

My advice is don’t be too hard on yourself. I have tried and failed on many occasions to talk myself out of liking a girl, I have tried changing my thinking, but one thing I never tried was changing who I am. Sure, I am not the perfect guy, I don’t think anyone is perfect, but don’t judge yourself on a rejection, don’t sum yourself up as a human being by what you couldn’t achieve.

Place your self worth on the things you did achieve.

Sometimes the most heartbreaking things, like rejection, bring out the very best of what a human being has inside of them. People may argue that I try too hard, but every time a girl has rejected me, sure it sucked and it hurt really bad, some days it continues to hurt, but once I calmed down and actually reflected on the situation with a new clarity, I never felt like trying again with love some day in the future was an impossibility. Then I fall back into the traps of anger and sadness again, and make a very stupid decision which self destructs the friendship. But I never mean to, at least that is what I believe.

In simpler terms, just don’t give up on the belief that one day your time will come.

Enjoy what you enjoy, be the person you are, but don’t be afraid to put ya heart on the line with love, dating, or even friendship.

That’s all I got. I hope this made a bit of sense to the reader.

Regards,

Mike