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Exploring Intimacy and Disability in a Virtual Setting at SFSU – Golden Gate Xpress




Disability Intimacy Panel: Redefining Love, Care, and Desire

Intimacy is not limited to sexual relationships; it includes romance, caregiving, friendship, and community. At least, that is the case according to some of the women behind the Longmore Institute’s Disability Intimacy Panel, a three-part virtual series that will conclude on May 25.

Background Information

Alice Wong, writer and activist, edited and released an anthology on April 30 titled “Disability Intimacy: Essays on Love, Care, and Desire.” The anthology includes pieces by 25 writers. These stories and essays showcase the relationship between disabilities and intimacy.

“We live in an ableist world that sees disabled people as broken with lives of pity, dysfunction, and pain,” Wong emailed. “When it comes to intimacy, our society has very narrow, rigid ideas of it usually limited to sex and romance based on white heterosexual norms. I have a feeling some nondisabled people might be uncomfortable or even disgusted by the idea of disability intimacy. Our culture can’t wrap their heads around disabled pleasure, creativity, and sensuality. While this book is first and foremost for disabled people, it’s going to blow the minds of nondisabled readers.”

Main Event or Topic

The first two panels of the three-part panel series “Disability Intimacy” were held on March 26 and April 25. The final panel will take place virtually on Saturday, May 25. The first event is already available on the Longmore Institute’s YouTube channel. According to Shaina Ghuraya, the access and events coordinator for the Longmore Institute, all three will be available on their website after the last event.

Alice Wong moderates each panel. The first two panels featured contributors to the book, including Sami Schalk and Yomi Sachiko Young. In the first panel, various writers read their work aloud.

Reactions and Impact

This kind of event aligns with various things the Longmore Institute hosts. The content centers around the various kinds of intimacy that people with disabilities experience.

“Some disabled people have sex, others don’t have adequate access to sex for a number of complex reasons, and there aren’t enough opportunities for making these conversations public and led by disabled people,” Beitiks wrote. “The book is also about more than sex though — intimacy is caregiving, friendships, and a whole range of desires. Disabled people are rewriting and defining all of these concepts to make space for disability.”

Expert Opinions

The many voices and perspectives in this anthology and these panels cover a variety of topics. Topics discussed included childcare, self-love, romantic relationships, acceptance, and community.

According to Wong, the first two panels were enjoyable and well-received.

“I had a great time moderating the conversation at the first two panels,” Wong wrote “Each one featured some brilliant disabled writers who gave so much of themselves with humor, vulnerability, and wisdom. I am so grateful for the experience. I think it was well-attended and received positive feedback after.”

Summary and Future Implications

In order to attend the event, register here.

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