Common myths about disabled people and sexuality include claims that disabled people are heterosexual or are asexual, and that all single disabled women are celibate.
Described as a first-of-its-kind, the Feel the Vibe expo will take place on March 14 at the North Parramatta headquarters of disability service provider Northcott. Attendees will hear from people with disabilities, parents and carers as well as others such as sex workers.
The expo has been organised after clients informed Northcott that such an event would help an area that was often overlooked.
41-year-old Smithfield resident Virginia Samuela, who suffered two strokes two weeks into her dream job at just age 34, said it was important for disabled people to not fear the traditional “alone and disabled” stereotypes.
“I am committed to advocating for, and defending, their right to live their way – including in the important areas of sexuality and relationships,” Samuela said.
“I think it’s important to say it’s OK to want to be sexually fulfilled if you have a disability, we have the same needs as able-bodied people.”
The expo will be held across two sessions, with a 3-5pm afternoon session targeting parents, carers and disability staff. Sex worker Rachel Wotton, who was featured in the groundbreaking documentary Scarlet Road, will be a guest speaker during the session to discuss her experiences offering services to disabled clients. The film will also be screened during both sessions.
The evening session from 6-9pm is aimed at adults with physical disabilities and will allow participants the chance to take a fun look at the nuts and bolts of sexuality, while also discussing barriers to achieving sexual goals and find out more about what products and services may be available. Disability sex worker referral service Touching Base will also be on hand to help with enquiries.
Other issues to be addressed include questions of consent and sexual assault, with research showing that disabled women and girls are at greater risk than their peers when it comes to serious sexual abuse.
Light finger food and beverage will be available for free while some alcoholic drinks can be purchased on the day.
Northcott supports more than 13,000 children and adults with disabilities, their families and carers across NSW and the ACT.
INFO: Feel the Vibe expo, Friday, March 14, Northcott HQ, 1 Fennell Street North Parramatta. RSVP essential. For more information, call 9890 0558 or email [email protected] or visit https://www.northcott.com.au
Image: Virginia Samuela (Supplied)