Setting Boundaries on Social Media

I have learned I need to set boundaries on social media. This may come off as rude, but it is to keep myself safe and to keep my attention focused on my work. These are my own thoughts. I am interested in hearing other opinions and thoughts in the comments, but I will not participate in any debates.

I have never used Social Media for dating purposes. In the past, I have used dating apps specifically for that purpose. I use social media to make new friends and nowadays, I use it to network for my business.

I also work on my own business at home during the day and sometimes in the evening. This work often involves creating posts for social media; most often Facebook, but Twitter and Instagram too. So though, I am often seen online, I am also busy working.

Before I had my business, I really only added friends that I knew in real life (IRL) Since starting my business though, I have added many people I don’t know IRL, particularly, if they are either a part of the sex educator community or the disability community.

I have noticed when I add new friends, I get a lot of generic “Hi” or “How are you” private messages. I’d like to think some of them are well-meaning texts from folx just trying to be friendly. Unfortunately, there have been too many times where I have answered these texts and then it quickly becomes someone flirting and/or asking me inappropriate questions. I typically do not respond to these. I have two reasons. First, to protect myself from someone being inappropriate. Second, to protect my time and stay focused on my work.

I wish there were a way to warn folx that just because I add you as a Facebook friend doesn’t mean I want to chat with you in messenger. I don’t have the time and honestly, I don’t have the interest, when 95% of the time, it is someone trying to flirt with me. I am not looking for a hookup on social media.

Even worse, some people will continue messaging me when they don’t get a response from me. When I see this behavior, I will delete them as a friend. That is a red flag for me. If they become belligerent because they expect a response back, they will be blocked.

On the other hand, there are new folx I add that I genuinely want to connect to. I have many friends on social media that I have never met IRL. We follow each other’s lives by following each other’s posts and getting to know one another slowly over time. This is how I prefer to get to know people.

Please understand, my health and my work is my priority. I am an introvert so I have limited spoons to be online and limited spoons to socialize. I prefer socializing in person to online.

To my new friends on any social media platform, I would love to connect and get to know you over time. If you have a direct question or comment, please feel free to message me. Be aware, I am much more likely to respond to something direct than something generic. If you message me with “Hi” or “How are you”, I am sorry but you won’t hear back from me unless I know you or we have some connection.

Please understand, also, that if I do respond, it will likely not be right away. I may respond to you later in the day, or even a few days later. Give me time to finish what I am doing and get back to you at a more convenient time. If you can be respectful of that, hopefully we can be build a friendship over social media.

On Carpets and Submission

(Note: I came across this old writing today while I was writing in my journal. My Sir and I are currently living together and our relationship has evolved from D/s to M/s over the past four years. This post was written in April 2016 in the beginning of our D/s journey.)

I need to replace the carpet in my living room. I need to decide between laminate flooring and carpet. I can’t afford hard wood floors. I do some research online. I go to the store in person and I make my decision…Laminate. I go home. I can’t sleep. I worry that I can’t afford it. Thoughts running through my mind…What if something major happens with the house? What if the cats ruin the floor? What if? What if?

I wake up determined the next day to get carpet. Back to the store I go. I pick out the carpet. Back home. I still can’t sleep. I am still not satisfied and I’m filled with anxiety. Did I do the right thing? I am wishing I didn’t have to decide.

I see my Sir that night and tell him about my last two days. After a brief discussion, he tells me…” Go with the laminate.” Suddenly, there is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I go home and I can finally get some sleep.

When I first joined the BDSM lifestyle, I honestly wasn’t looking for anything more than play and kinky sex. I learned quickly that I enjoy submitting physically. I have told my Sir that I need to take things slow when it comes to D/s outside of the bedroom. However, I am now learning the attraction of being fully submissive in every day, practical matters as well.

I like to say that I am a strong, independent woman capable of making such household decisions as whether to get carpet or laminate flooring. On the other hand, it is even better that I don’t have to. It is so nice to be able to let go and trust someone else enough to hand over the decision-making. The peace and serenity that comes over me is incredibly powerful.

It makes me realize that I don’t always have to be the strong one. Maybe letting go and handing over the decision-making to someone I love and trust is the strongest thing that I can do for myself.

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

We probably have all heard this line from someone, or we have used this line with someone else. Whether it is a relationship breakup, or it’s someone telling us they are not interested in us from the start.

It’s the kinder, more polite way to reject someone, right?

Last week, I wrote about being the person being rejected. This week, I want to focus on the even more difficult position…being the one to reject or turn down someone else’s advances. This could be turning down a dinner or coffee date, it could be turning down a sexual advance, or it could be breaking up a relationship. I have had more experience with breaking up relationships than I have with the first two so I will mostly share my thoughts on that. I want to explain my thoughts on how to turn someone down in a mature, respectful manner.

The reason we hear “It’s not you, it’s me” so often is because it is polite and not threatening. It may also be true. I have found the best way to reject someone is to authentic and honest, but still polite. Starting with “I” statements, just like you would in a conflict”. Examples could be:

“I am not looking for a relationship right now.”

“I am interested in someone else and I am focusing my attention on them.”

If it is a sexual advance, you want to be clear on whether you are giving consent, both verbally and in body language. Step back/roll back from the person if need be. Put your arm out if possible to block someone from giving a kiss. Don’t make eye contact, turn your head. All while saying No if they are coming towards you. Verbal consent is important but we must not forget to look at body language. Some people with disabilities are not able to speak so they will show consent/non-consent in another manner, mostly body language. Our words are best to use, if possible, but our body language is also very important.

When you are rejecting someone at the flirting stage, it is easier than when you are breaking up a relationship, of course. You can simply say “I am not interested”. Relationship breakups require more attention and honesty.

First, you have to be aware of your own feelings. For me, there are signs of a problem when I can’t sleep or concentrate on other things. You want to look at the reasons you are staying in the relationship versus leaving. I know I did the right thing, if I feel a sense of relief after breaking off the relationship.

Breaking up with your girlfriend via text or email is not only inconsiderate, but can be viewed as childish and immature. There may times when a face to face breakup may not be possible, such as long distance relationships, but when possible, please have the break up discussion in person.

When it comes to relationship break ups, you still want to keep the focus on yourself and your feelings.

“This isn’t working for me any longer because I feel…”

This puts the responsibility on yourself rather than on your partner. This is best of you are hoping for an amicable breakup.

Being part of the kink community in my city, it is important to me to have amicable breakups. I will continue to run into my exes, because we have the same circle of friends. This could be the same case if you have mutual friends or co-workers with your soon to be ex-partner.

So being respectful and taking responsibility for your own feelings is important.

I also recommend taking a break from seeing the person if possible. It may or may not be possible to “be friends” with an ex, but it takes some time and some boundaries need to be in place.

When I have had break-ups in the past, I also did my best, to keep the reasons for the breakup private. The reason for the breakup is between you and your partner. Talking about it, or worse yet, trying to ruin your ex partner’s reputation on social media makes you look bad, in my honest opinion. It may end up ruining your own reputation as it is another behavior that can make you look immature. When breaking off a relationship, or turning down a romantic gesture, it is best follow the golden rule and think about how you would want to be treated.

Learning to Flirt and Handling Rejection

I have always had a hard time making friends, let alone, getting involved in romantic relationships. I didn’t date at all when I was young. This may or may have not been related to my disability. I do remember having a lot of crushes, and having those crushes make fun of me or tease me when they noticed my feelings for them. I was pretty awkward and high schoolers can be cruel.

As a result , as an adult, I never really understood flirting or when people were flirting with me. I can still be pretty awkward in social situations.

I have a hard time figuring out if someone is actually “into me” or not. I often wonder if it is related to my disability as many people are so sweet to me, out of pity. I get the smiles as I cross the street. I get people being polite and being overly complimentary. I get the people who will talk to me whenever I call them…but never take the time to call or text me.

The few times where I realized someone was flirting with me, I have taken their flirty behavior to mean something much more than it actually was, and then I have ended up humiliated. I remember being in my 30s, and a man was flirting with me, and I got all excited like a teenager because someone was finally paying attention to me. So I threw myself at this guy. I got his number. I continued texting and calling him. And he had quickly moved on. Looking back, there were definitely clues that this person was just not into me. Of course, I didn’t see any of that at the time. I was in my thirties but felt like I was a teenager when it came to flirting. He was always nice to me and would chat with me whenever I texted him. He would never text me out of the blue though. He would spend time talking with me when we were at the same event. I was the one making all the effort to stay connected outside of the event though. I would invite him to go out on a date. He would give me excuses why he couldn’t or conveniently “forget” that I had asked him. Now I am sure this guy would do these things to try to spare my feelings. For the purposes of this writing, I refer to these types of behaviors as being “falsely sweet” to the disabled girl. I know it happens to abled bodied people as well, but I have to wonder if it happens to us disabled people more. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

I think people are “falsely sweet” to me as to not hurt my feelings. People really don’t want to hurt the girl who walks with crutches as they see her as pathetic and lonely. Problem is once I get to the realization that it was just an act and they are just stringing me along, it hurts more. By that time, I may have gotten to know them and I am more invested. Then it hits me that they just see me as the cute little disabled girl with the crush on them. It is more cruel than the kids in high school who teased me.

For me, a kind rejection would be much better than this sweet ambivalence or “false sweetness”. I would rather hear a firm “no” or “I’m not interested” rather than “Ok. Let me get back to you. Sounds good. Let me check my calendar…And it never happens… And I ask them again… Because I can be a bit persistent when I want something and I think there may be even the slightest possibility of a connection between us.

I may seem weak to you but, I can handle rejection. I have handled rejection in the past from friends and romantic interests. It is easier to handle if you are upfront about it. If you don’t want a friendship or a relationship with me, I understand and I can take no for an answer. If you don’t tell me though, I won’t know and I will keep trying. Unfortunately, this gives me a false sense of hope, and then I feel like a big fool once I realize you just weren’t into me from the beginning.

It not only hurts in the moment. It hurts my chances of flirting and opening up to another person in the future. The feelings of embarrassment lead me to not want to “put myself out there” anymore.

There have been many times since where I lost opportunities because I didn’t realize someone was flirting with me. I let them walk away, because I had these negative thoughts in my head “That person would never be interested in me. Why would they be? They are just being nice to the disabled girl. I must be misreading signals.”

So if someone you are not interested in (even someone with a disability) is flirting with you, please find a way to politely say “No thank you”. It is the much kinder thing to do. Be polite about it, but please make sure they understand you are not interested so they can move on.

Of course, I recognize that letting people down and saying “No” can be uncomfortable to do. What are some ways that you have said “No” to someone who was interested in you? We will talk more about that in my next blog. Be sure to subscribe to and stay tuned.

Disability Representation in Erotica

Disability Representation in Erotica is tough topic for me to write about, but I often get asked about it, so I will share my thoughts. It is difficult for me, because there is often a thin line between including people with disabilities in erotica and fetishizing disability.  Unfortunately, most of the erotica I have seen seems to be more fetishizing disability. Positive representation of people with disabilities in erotica, to me, would be focusing on a person who happens to have a disability, but is also sexy. Fetishizing disability is where the primary focus on the disability itself. This fetishizing is harmful to people with disabilities.

How can erotica include people with disabilities in a positive way? I would love to see more people with disabilities producing their own erotica, or at least having a say in how the erotica is portrayed. For example, it can be very empowering for a person with a disability to be in erotica and to be seen as sexy AND disabled. The focus needs to be the person…it is the person who is portrayed as sexy. It is Not about sexualizing the disability itself. It is not about sexualizing their mobility devices…wheelchairs, canes, etc. Sometimes even well meaning producers of erotica too often make it more about the disability and less about the person. When the title of the books or film is based around the disability, I personally think it is fetishizing. It ultimately hurts those of us with disabilities.

The goal in including people with disabilities should be to make that person feel sexy, not make them feel like they are there just because of their disability. It should empower, enrich and make that person feel good about themselves.

Fetishizing, on the other hand, can have a detrimental effect on people with disabilities. It can damage the self esteem of the actors as well as observers who also have disabilities. Fetish erotica plays into how we are different. In my opinion, as a woman with a disability, we do not need another thing focusing on our differences and making us feel separate.

Positive representation means people with disabilities are included with able bodied people. Positive representation would have the benefit of allowing others to see people with disabilities as adults with same sexual needs and desires as everyone else. It would show that we can have a disability but we can also be sexy. 

I was interviewed for this article in The Mighty last year, and the author, Renee Fabian, also includes her recommendations for positive representation in erotica. I haven’t seen them all personally, but this may be a good place to start if you are seeking to see disability portrayed positively in erotica. Links are adult only 18+ and NSFW.

Inclusive Erotica Featuring People With Disabilities You Can Read, Watch and Enjoy

What did I find in a BDSM Dungeon? Acceptance

What do you think of when you think of a BDSM dungeon? What do you think of when you think of a Master/slave relationship?

Most people think of these places and these relationships in a negative light. There must be something wrong with the people who go there. Why else would they subject themselves to that? Right?

Wrong! Let me share my experience with you.

I have Spina Bifida. I am used to people telling me that I am so cute, so inspiring..blah, blah, blah.
Before joining the lifestyle, I felt like a child. I never felt like an adult, let alone, a sexual adult.

My husband would tell me that I was beautiful and sexy. The problem was that I never felt that way about myself. I let too much of the vanilla world tell me how I was versus how I should be. (Vanilla refers to those not into kink or bdsm.) I looked too young, too short, too overweight. I was “too handicapped and too helpless”. I joined the kink community over 7 years ago with my late husband. I came in because I was bisexual and I was looking for other poly folks. However, after going to events like munches and play parties, I became more and more curious about BDSM. BDSM can be used for multiple dynamics described here; BD: Bondage and Discipline, D/s: Dominance and submission, S/m: Sado-masochism.

In my experience over the past 7 years, the kink world has not been judgemental like the vanilla world. Everyone is welcome there. Men, women, gender-fluid, white, black, short, tall, skinny, overweight. It is the most accepting group of people I have ever known.

Coming into the lifestyle, I was very shy and socially awkward. People here were different than in the vanilla world as they approached me, took an interest in getting to know me, and answered my questions regarding bdsm and kink. I made friends who gradually grew into chosen family. I learned early on that I was submissive in the bedroom. I tried switching for a while and found that wasn’t for me.

In the lifestyle, I am no longer odd. I am not judged for being there. I found a place where I fit in. I found a place I can be free to let my hair down, take my clothes off and just be me. I can trust and I can be vulnerable. I can feel pain yet I know I am safe. I can scream and let go of all the pain I’ve been holding in. Pain is pleasure and pain is freeing

I never saw myself as a 24/7 slave. Then I became a submissive to a Dominant I knew and trusted.  He saw the potential in me. He noticed that I had slave-like tendencies before I ever did. We slowly developed into a 24/7 Master/slave couple over the past four years. We don’t personally use the terms Master/slave. We prefer the terms Sir and girl, but we have a total power exchange Master/slave relationship nonetheless.

Who knew this shy little girl would one day be exhibitionist, a masochist, a slave? The girl who has trouble making small talk and making friends, can suddenly be naked in front of a room full of people. I can be flogged or I can be lit on fire. I find myself. I can accept myself. I feel sexy for the first time in my life.  I learned that is exactly who I am and where I want to be.

We have learned about these power exchange relationships through our kink, leather communities, local MAsT chapters and M/s conferences. As an M/s couple, we take the time to learn, negotiate and discuss our relationship much more than I ever have in a vanilla relationship. Today, we also help teach newer community members.

I have a physical disability so our M/s dynamic looks a little different than others. We have our own rituals and protocols. I am not able to kneel, but I can sit next to him and unlace his boots when he comes home at the end of the day. I still provide daily service and He is head of our household.

Sir and I have given presentations on Disability, Kink and Power Exchange in our local community and we are open to future conversations on disability and other topics related to M/s.

I have held off about talking about kink and power exchange publicly, mostly out of fear of judgement. Interestingly, I have met many other people with disabilities in the kink lifestyle. I have also met people at my vanilla presentations who had questions about kink, so I know I am not the only person with a disability interested in it.

Today I am living my truth and have decided to add my lived experience of kink and power exchange to my DISIRability presentations and blogs. I have learned a lot in the last few years and I am sharing my experiences openly in an effort to help others who may be considering a similar path.

You too are worthy of love (and lust).

This week I want to address how our body image affects our sexuality and relationships. A poor body image can lead to unhealthy sexuality and unhealthy relationships. It can lead to unhealthy promiscuity (I define that as someone feeling shame over the amount of sex they have or having sex with the wrong people). It can also lead to an unhealthy avoidance of sex. Poor body image can also lead us to unhealthy decision-making when it comes to our relationships.

Many people stay in unhealthy relationships due to low self-esteem and poor body image. We settle for bad relationships because we don’t believe we are worth more than that. This is especially true for people with disabilities. When I say unhealthy promiscuity or unhealthy avoidance of sex, I am not saying that promiscuity or the absence of sex are unhealthy in and of themselves. Everyone is different. Some people have high sex drives. Others have no sex drive. Both promiscuity and asexuality can be healthy if you do so safely and you are happy. I am not referring to those who identify as asexual. Asexuality in itself is healthy for some people. It is not healthy though when it is something you feel ashamed of or when the only reason you are avoiding sex is due to poor body image. For example, some people may never want to have sex only because they are afraid to get naked in front of someone, because of their breasts, or their belly, or some other body part. This is unhealthy because this is the person who really wants to have sex but avoids it due to shame. This avoidance of sex can make you feel even worse about yourself. It then becomes a vicious cycle. At least it did for me. When I felt so undesirable that I avoided sex, then I felt even more depressed because I wasn’t having sex. I had the sex drive, but I was letting my body destroy my sex life.

The other extreme is that some people feel so ashamed of their bodies and feel so unwanted that they will jump into bed with the first person who looks at them.  Often negative body image can lead one to think they are not deserving of love and attention, so they think they cannot be “picky” when it comes to choosing a partner.

I know for a long time. I was so focused on the idea that I was over-weight and I had a disability, that I thought I was unloveable. More so, I thought I was unattractive. I thought no one would want to have sex with me. So, when the first person came along that started to flirt with me, I ran with it. I was super excited. I made some poor choices.  These choices didn’t help my self-esteem or body image. These choices made me feel worse about myself.

I am not saying that having a casual fling is bad. If you are doing it for the right reasons and you want to, that is great. Maybe you find someone attractive and you want to explore. Go for it. A hookup can be negative though, if you are jumping into bed with someone, simply for the fact that they are a willing and able partner. If you are doing so because you think you might not get this chance again with another person. If the thought “Who else is going to want to be with me?” is running through your mind, that is a bad sign. Times when I felt this way and jumped in have made me feel worse the next morning.

Now let’s talk about relationships. There could be a case where you are in a relationship with someone just for the sake of being in a relationship. We might be so infatuated with a partner that we start to make excuses for them when they don’t respect us. We might even make excuses for them when they hurt us. We stay in relationships even though we are miserable because we may think “Well at least I have someone. At least I am not alone”.

Patterns appear that we overlook. It may start with being disrespectful. It may become emotional abuse and then turn into physical or sexual abuse. People with disabilities are more likely to be victims of domestic violence. The longer one stays in an abusive relationship, the harder it is to leave that relationship for a number of reasons. So it important to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship early on.

What made me realize that I had to stay away from unhealthy partners is that I realized that the fantasy of them in my head was so much better than the reality. I had built these partners up in my head to be so much better than they actually were. Sex with them really wasn’t that great because they really weren’t that into me. I was just another notch on their bed post. They didn’t respect me. They may not have even liked me.

I honestly never thought I would meet someone again after my husband passed away. I thought I might have casual sex, have casual partners, sex with friends. But I never thought there would be someone else out there who would want to spend their lives with me. I didn’t close myself off to the possibility though. I kept socializing, focusing on making friendships, and I kept going out to events and staying close to my core group of people. When I was lusting after someone who wasn’t healthy for me, my friends would call me out on it. I didn’t listen right away. I eventually had to learn for myself and I eventually stayed away from these unhealthy partners. I also took a chance on myself. When I found someone new attractive, I took a chance to get to know them. I risked being rejected.

And guess what? I found someone and have been in a happy, healthy relationship now for the past four years. And he treats me so good. Better than I imagined for myself. If I had continued to waste time being with people who were mistreating me, I would have cheated myself out of finding a new love.

If you are struggling with self-esteem or body image issues, seek out help. There are counselors, support groups. podcasts and self-help books out there. No matter what you look like. No matter what disabilities or medical issues you may have. Everyone has sexual desires and everyone deserves to have good sex lives. Everyone deserves good relationships and love. Everyone deserves respect from their partners. Know that you too deserve to feel special and feel sexy. Know that you too are worthy of lust and love.

Ableism and Consent Violations. Please Don’t Try to Assist Me Without My Consent.

I am writing this piece because this happens to me almost every day. Someone touches me or tries to help me without my consent. I am very active in my community with my work, classes, church, weekend retreats, 12- step meetings and physical therapy. I encounter able-bodied people every day. Able-bodied people are those who do not have disabilities (or, for the purposes of this writing, people who do not appear to have disabilities).  Able-bodied people often feel uncomfortable around me. I understand that because it is not every day that abled-bodied people see someone like me out and about. They see me walking slowly with my two crutches. They see me out of breath. They see me fidgeting in my seat trying to get comfortable. They want to offer me assistance. Sometimes they do. I am always grateful when they ask. Sometimes I say “yes”, and I am grateful for the assistance they provide. Sometimes I say “No” or more likely, I say “No thank you” because I am polite. When they listen, I am grateful that they offered and that they listened to me and respected my answer. Other times people insist on “helping me” even after I have said “No” and that frustrates the hell out of me. This is what I refer to as a violation of my consent. My close friends never do this. They have known me long enough to know better. It is the acquaintances I have or strangers I meet in my daily routine that usually will violate my consent in this matter.

You see, we often talk about consent when it comes to sex. Consent is important is so many other areas of life though. Consent should be asked for before you assist someone with a disability. Consent should be asked for before you hug someone or touch someone at all. Consent should be asked of children as well, so that they learn that they have the right to say no to any unwanted touch. Even if it’s a kiss or a hug from grandma.

I have heard able-bodied people say they don’t know if they should ask a disabled person if they need help or not. They don’t want to have their heads bitten off. I will give you my opinion on the matter. Keep in mind, I can only speak for myself. I cannot speak for every person with a disability.  I never get angry at someone for offering to assist me. I only get angry when people will try to assist me without asking, or if they start to assist me after I have already said “No”. I will give some examples below for clarification.

There have been many times when people have offered me assistance and I have said “Yes, please”. This is assistance that I appreciate and is very helpful. Here are some examples. I leave work for the day and walk out to the parking lot full of snow and ice. A co-worker offers to get my car for me. I say yes, hand him my keys, and he pulls my car right up to the curb for me. I give consent if I am at a restaurant with friends and they offer me the end seat. If I am trying to carry something in my hands along with my crutches (a cup of tea, a grocery bag, etc.) and someone offers to carry it for me.  If I am walking to my car in a parking lot and the parking attendant offers to get my car for me. I say yes thank you and they do so. Someone walking ahead of me holds a door open for me.  I go to a meeting and someone offers to get a chair for me. I say yes and they do so. These are all examples of times where there is a perceived need, assistance is offered, an answer of yes (consent) is given, and that help is gratefully received.

Now let’s talk about ableism. Let’s talk about when my physical presence makes you so uncomfortable that you feel the need to “help me” without asking for my consent or to “help me” after I told you “No”.  There are several times where I have replied No to an offer of assistance, and that “No” was either ignored or met with anger by the able-bodied person. Please note that “No” is a complete sentence. I shouldn’t have to explain to you in our 1-2-minute exchange, why I am saying “No” and turning down your offer of assistance. Please just accept “No” as my answer. I will explain further in this writing why I often say no, but it should not be required of me every time assistance is offered. The answer “No” should be enough. Here are some examples.

When you come up behind me as I am opening a door and you grab the door for me. I must always be mindful of who is around me when opening a door. Having using crutches for most of my adult life, I have learned how to open doors. I usually lean into them to help keep my balance. So, when someone comes up behind me and grabs the door, it can throw off my balance. This makes me very anxious and fearful when I am out in public.

When you see me walking to a certain door of a building and you advise me that there is a closer door to where I am standing. If I say, “No thank you”. Please accept that. Truth is, most of the time, I have been to this building before and I know the layout. I know that there are steps on the inside of that door, or maybe one high step, so I am choosing to walk a further distance to a better door for me. Maybe I know that there is a bathroom I can get to easily by that further door and it is less crowded with people outside of the building rather than inside the building. When you have a disability, these are things you pay attention to. I have my reasons for walking to a further door. I shouldn’t have to explain my reasoning to you. A response of “No” should be enough.

Another example may be when you see me carrying my backpack. I know… I am short and I look young. I know when I put the backpack on, I look like a little kid on their way to school. I have heard all the jokes. Truthfully, the jokes get old. Truth be told, backpacks are much easier to use when you walk with crutches. I appreciate you offering to carry it for me, but I have chosen the backpack so that I can carry it myself. Truth be told, I am carrying items I need in that backpack. These may include typical items such as a pen and notebook but also include items specific to my disability such as a couple of diapers, some pads, catheters and a change of clothing. I would feel very anxious with someone else carrying it for me. I shouldn’t have to tell you what is in my backpack. A response of “No” should be enough.

The next example has to do with ableism and disrespect, rather than with offering assistance, but it is another thing people do that agitates me so bear with me. When you see me and you want to tell me how inspiring I am, for just going about my day, please don’t. Many people have told me this. It gets old. I am just a person with a disability trying to go about my day the same as everyone else. It is actually not a compliment to hear “You are so brave” just for going about my daily routine, or to hear “When I want to have a pity party, I think of you and how, if you can keep going, so can I.” These statements are not complimentary. They don’t make me feel brave or inspirational. These statements bring to my attention the fact that you see me “as less than”. I don’t see myself “as less than” anyone else until I hear these types of phrases from people. Thinking of me as less than is not respecting me. Now if you want to tell me I am brave, because I write blogs, I do presentations, and I put my shit out there, go ahead. That would be a great compliment. That is something that I am proud of, but just going to the grocery store like everyone else, is not being brave. I hope you can see the difference.

I do recognize that most of you are trying to be helpful when you try to assist me and interact with me and I recognize that your behavior comes from a place of caring.  If you have gotten this far reading this blog, I want to thank you! It shows me that you care and that is the most important thing. We can all learn to be better in our daily interactions. I also want to assure you that I know my own strengths and weaknesses. If I need help, I will not be shy about asking for help.

I wanted to get this out there because I know people do not understand why I get frustrated. I need to get this off my chest so that I can continue my daily routines. I don’t want the anger to build up inside me. It can be dangerous for me if resentments build and I start to withdrawal from my daily routines. I would rather put it out there on paper and make an honest attempt to be better understood. Maybe if more people understand me, they can reach the place in my life of friendship rather than staying an acquaintance. If you have questions, please feel free to ask me. If you have a disability and can relate to some of these situations, please tell me how you handle them. Thank you for reading!

Ten “take-aways” from the Disability Pride Philadelphia’s second workshop on sex and disability

The Disability Pride Philadelphia workshop entitled “Let’s talk about disabled sex and disability. Yes we have it” was held on 10/26/19 and was a great success! I wanted to share ten things I personally took away from the workshop. Thank you to Vicki Landers and Isabel Kauffman, for putting this workshop together. I was honored to participate. Keep an eye out for the next one!

10. “FRIES” acronym for consent; Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiatic, Specific.
9. There are so many euphemisms for the words “penis”, “vagina” and “sex”. There are none for the word “elbow” because we are comfortable just saying elbow. Let’s learn to to get comfortable saying “penis”, “vagina” and “sex” too.
8. Tips on how to communicate with your partner. You can schedule planned arguments/heavy discussions with your partner for a convenient time for both of you.
7. Circles of sexuality. Sexual health is the one we talk about most, but the others are just as important. Other circles are Sensuality, Intimacy, Sexual Identity, and Sexualization. 
6. The City of Philadelphia only had one mural showing a person with a disability and it has since been taken down. We watched an amazing film  by Dykumentary that featured the mural while discussing gender identity and accessibility. 
5. WOAR is changing it’s name to…Philadelphia Center Against Sexual Violence.
4. Planned parenthood has a range of services including, but not limited to; cancer screening, treatment for urinary tract infections, and gender affirming care.3. How to put on an internal condom (used to be referred to as a female condom).
2. The function and accessibility features of toys from Passional.
1. That other people with disabilities besides me are interested in kink. We are planning next workshop! Yay!! 

Disability Pride Philadelphia, Inc. is committed to promoting visibility and mainstreaming awareness of the positive pride felt by disabled people and their communities.

For more information about Disability Pride and upcoming events, please contact:

Vicki Landers, Call (267) 788-5946

Please take this survey from Orchids Research

I am excited to share that I recently joined Orchids Research along with these sex educators whose work I admire.

Orchids research has distributed this survey which will help us to develop a free guide for people with disabilities to communicate better with their health care providers about sex. If you have not taken the survey yet, please consider taking it before it closes. Thank you!