I recently saw the film “The Sessions” with Helen Hunt, John Hawkes & William H. Macy and I Ioved it. Like any good film, there was some humor and some grappling. “The Sessions” is a film about a quadriplegic gentleman with polio who resides in an iron lung, his relationship with his personal care attendants, an accepting priest and his experience with a sex surrogate. A sexual surrogate is a person with a therapeutic background who assists a person with a disability in the exploration and expression of their sexuality.
I work with people with disabilities and I think I’m pretty progressive and sex-positive. I wish more folks would consider that people with disabilities are sexual beings, just like everyone else. Folks with questions and desires and dreams of love, intimacy and satisfaction. However, personal desires often go unaddressed if people can not take care of their own sexual needs or are not in a relationship with a consensual partner. That seems just cruel and unjust to me. Personally, I hope that anyone who desires to have such intimacy can find it. Hence, that is why I wholeheartedly support the idea of sexual surrogacy. It takes a certain, special, skilled person with healthy boundaries to do this sort of work. It also requires a adult person who can understand and properly advocate for themselves and provide consent. It is complex, but when properly addressed, a lovely, respectful and empowering experience. One more experience that so many folks are privileged to have and all too often take for granted.
Anyway, that is my take on things. Check out the movie for yourself. I’ve also attached a link to an interview with the sex surrogate that Helen Hunt modeled her role on. I’m confident it will provide a little food for thought.
It would be absolutely inappropriate for me to discuss all this without stating that people with disabilities (specifically folks who rely on personal care assistants/family and those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, etc.) experience a rate of sexual abuse in absolutely staggering numbers. More than any other population. It’s heartbreaking and silenced and absolutely unacceptable.