Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Student's Penis

I saw my student's penis and got excited. But I think I need to back way up to tell this story properly. Even so, I'm guessing I've caught your attention. But all is probably not as it may seem.

Years and years ago I was doing a series of sex education classes with about 40 people with disabilities. I met a couple there, she had Down Syndrome, he had cerebral palsy. They were, literally, hopelessly in love. So much was against them. Unsupportive parents, unaccepting staff. The only reason that they were 'allowed' to call themselves boyfriend and girlfriend was that everyone thought it was cute. Childish. Comical.

But there was nothing childish or comical about their affection for each other. Whatever they were outside, they were man and woman inside. I began sitting with them at the breaks in the class, they started staying a little bit after class. When I talked to them about the future, their joyousness died as if it had been smothered by the opinion of others. They could see no way clear to a life of love, to a life of marriage. They had given up even trying talking to people about their wishes and dreams.

"Let me tell you a story ..." I began. Then for ten to fifteen minutes every class, I told them a story about James and Janice (I can't beleive how clearly I remember this) a couple, surprise surprise, like them. Only he had Down Syndrome, she had cerebral palsy. This couple had to stand up to parents and staff, this couple had to insist on their rights. This couple had to demonstrate that they were adults. This couple had to love each other so much and so well that people really noticed that they were sincere, they were committed and they were unstoppable. They listened to my story about the two J's and asked questions.

Slowly they began to realize that they could do the things that James and Janet did. They could still speak for themselves. They could stand up for what they wanted. They could dream again about living and loving each other.

Each week I prepared for the class and I made note about the ongoing story of the two J's. The story gave them hope, the story gave them ideas, the story gave them a renewed sense of their love for each other. The story worked. Only a couple years later, they were married.

Now it must be clear that those two years saw a change in staffing, a change in the agency attitude about relationship, but it cannot be denied that there had also been a change in the couple's attitude towards themselves.

At that point, years ago, I began to imagine a three comic book series about James and Janet, one with Down Syndrome and one with Cerebral Palsy. Whenever I met someone who could draw, I talked to them about it. The idea scared off every one of them, some because of the content, some because there was not much in the way of money to be made, most because of the time it would take.

So you can imagine my reaction when I saw my student's penis.

During the last class of the Sexuality Summer School up in Barrie, a student, Andrew Bolton, drew a caricature of a penis - that lovely guy at the top of the blog with the glasses and cigar. One of the guys in his group grabbed it from him and showed it to me. I asked him if I could keep it, he looked at me like he thought the request was a bit weird but nodded agreement. "When the class is over can I talk to you about your penis?" Again, hesitantly, he nodded.

Later I told him about my dream of doing the three comic books for people with disabilities and he got the idea right away. We exchanged email addresses, I asked him if I could put this picture on my blog, and then we agreed to talk in a week or two.

On the way by my desk he said, "I never really thought that my penis would get me a job!"

I think he's going to be fun to work with.


lisa6wks said...

I never know what I will find on your blog Dave,lol. I think it's a fine idea though and I hope it comes to fruition.

Kei said...

Love the story and the idea. And yes, the drawing at the top and the title did get a smile and a chuckle outta me~ enough for my hubby to turn and ask what was so funny. :)

Nicole said...

Okay THAT is funny!

At the national conference in Boston a few weekends ago there were SEVERAL young couples out and about on their own that had T21. It was refreshing!

Tammy said...

That penis shows a lot of talent! lol. Really a cool idea for the comic books.
as said in the first book, ya just never know what ya will find on your blog from day to day. Love it!

FAB said...

I can't wait to see the finished product of your collaboration!

love the penis!

Betsy said...

Dave, you have to watch this!! Its a scene from the movie "Superbad" about a kid who can't stop drawing penis's, lol.

Liz Henry said...

That's FANTASTIC. It makes me so happy.

Hey Dave, delete that horrible spammy comment up there ! Please!

Veralidaine said...

Hah! Love it.

Gaina said...

Ok I am incredibly late catching up with this one but I'm so glad I read it. It just confirmed what I suspected, that you're a lovely man :). I wish people in England had advocates like you.

Rabczewska said...

My nookie days are over
My pilot light is out
What used to be my sex appeal
Is now my water spout.

Time was when, on its own accord
From my trousers it would spring
But now I've got a full-time job
To find the blasted thing.

It used to be embarrassing
The way it would behave
For every single morning
It would stand and watch me shave.

Now as old age approaches
It sure gives me the blues
To see it hang its little head
And watch me tie my shoes.

A Genuine Way To Permanently Enlarge Your Penis At Home - Using Just Your Hands

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