“A global festival is a great way for people to learn from each other and ask each other questions.” – Michelle Donald.
We talk of inclusivity and representation all the time, yet it is not enough. Beginning these discourses is the first step towards the normalisation we all crave. A big discourse that needs normalisation and support is the discourse on disability. Disabled folks have had to scrape the bottom of the representation barrel for years. It is time we broke away from the regressive ideals of binaries, when it comes to bodies, sex and love.
Dr Martha Tara Lee and Michelle Donald bring to you the world’s first virtual festival of love, sex, and intimacy for disabled people consisting of 29 sessions and 50 presenters, on October 15, 2020. Their aim is to challenge the belief that pleasurable sensations, orgasms and ecstatic states don’t figure for people with physical disabilities.
While it is often a subject that people are inhibited from discussing, the 5-day festival is aimed at everyone including disabled people, carers and health care professionals such as physios, counsellors and GPs.
Dr. Martha Tara Lee is a Singapore-based relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, and Michelle Donald is a psychosexual expert in the UK who specialises in helping people with their sex lives after a spinal cord injury and together they are leading the global gathering, called Love Abilities.
Dr. Lee, thinks that the part of the problem is a lack of positive role models, there’s a lot of good looking able-bodied people being featured in the media but not disabled. She said, “Add in inhibitions and lack of positive conversation and the whole subject becomes difficult to talk about. We’re going to bring fun, imagination – a bit of science – and lots of practical tips, techniques and tools so everyone enjoys sex and is able to express their sexuality with confidence and ease.”
Co-chair Michelle Donald, who’s worked at a range of spinal injury centres including the world-famous Stoke Mandeville, added: “We’re going to literally make the earth move – move on perceptions, misconceptions and smash the idea that having a disability is the end of intimacy. I had a motorbike accident when I was 27 which brought me a new way of living in a wheelchair. Able-bodied people have some very strange ideas of what we can and cannot do.”
So far, the festival’s packed agenda features 29 engaging and interactive sessions with 50 presenters, including renowned US-based experts Barry Komusaruk and Dr Marcalee Alexander, spans 6 countries.
Program consultant Dr. Mitchell Tepper adds: “To my knowledge, the Love Abilities festival is the first of its kind, to bring people with disabilities and their allies together from all over the world to share their sexual expertise and experiences with others who have disabilities, their loved ones, and health care professionals.”
The festival runs online with a series of Zoom conferences from 15-19 October, 2020. It is looking up to be a super inclusive, open and fun space to explore ideas of love and sex, de-establishing the age old myths of intimacy and disabled lives.
Head on to www.loveabilities.org to book your tickets for the festival. Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.