Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Questions. Emails. Love.

Image Description: A day planner opened witht eh word Wedding on the Friday date, above the word are two wedding rings.
I received an email yesterday from a young man with Down Syndrome asking me a question about relationships and sexuality. He said in his email that he had been in an abuse prevention class that I taught a long time ago and when he decided he wanted to write me he looked me up on the computer. When he 'googled' me he found an article I'd written about a young man with down syndrome called down syndrome off the clock. He read the article, loved it, and was then convinced that I was the man he wanted to get advice from.

He had a question that was about sexuality, disability and down syndrome. He is about to get married to his fiance and there was one aspect about his sexuality that he didn't quite understand and he'd tried asking his support worker, who didn't know and didn't know who to ask. He didn't want to ask his parents because, well, they're his parents and that's a bit, in his mind, icky. So, he looked me up and he wrote me.

Clearly I'm not going to give you any more information about the question that he had or what my response, which I sent right away, was to the question. That would be completely inappropriate here. I did ask him if I could write about him writing me, because that's what really excited me.

Let's look at the precursors to his email ...

1) He is in love and is about to get married. That is such a monumental shift from the days of forced sterilizations, gender separation and punishment for sexual loving behaviour. Relationships used to terrify us and they were driven underground. In the full light of day, this man is in love and is getting married. Just this fact tells you everything you need to know about his parents and the people who support him.

2) His fiance is his boyfriend of many years. Many years. He's 23! He has been out as a gay man with Down Syndrome for a long time. His parents are thrilled he's getting married and love his boyfriend. In my mind I can see the faces of so many men and women with intellectual disabilities whose sexuality has been systematically punished and who have brutalized by prejudice masking as therapy. OK, now you know even more about those who love  those who support him.

3) He had access to the world outside himself and inside his computer. He was able to look someone up, seek them out and ask them a question. I know everyone goes all apoplectic about people with intellectual disabilities and the dangers of the Internet but, come on, can we talk about the value of the Internet to everyone, including people with intellectual disabilities?

In my email to him, I had the privilege of congratulating him on his coming wedding and that I was honoured that he remembered my workshop and trusted me enough to approach me to ask me his question.

And I admit.

I cried while writing that, for all sorts of different reasons.

16 comments:

Liz McLennan said...

This one makes my heart sing.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

It is, indeed, awesome.

This young man has been allowed to grow up - by a system that in the past did not 'allow' that. Makes you so angry about the past.

I am more hopeful for the future after your post. And I wish them a lifetime of happiness.

Ben Drew said...

Thank you both for sharing.

Colleen said...

How wonderful!

szera said...

For the few minutes I was reading, there existed a "perfect world". Thank you for sharing, thank you for being you!
Thank you for being so open and approachable…I'm not sure you fully realize what a gift you have and are.
I hope this joy stays with you always; God knows you deserve it … I can hear those humble rumblings :) <3

Eileen said...

Thank you for always being there for everyone who needs you. Dave.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the young man on his upcoming wedding!

--Littlewolf

liz said...

I'm all choked up. PROGRESS!!

Anonymous said...

Lovely.
Claire R

Anonymous said...

I second what Eileen said.

Just Laura said...

That is so wonderful! When I think of the wasted life one of my dad's cousins lived -- kept at home, totally uneducated, illiterate till she was finally taught to read and write in her 60s, treated as an incompetent child all her life -- when she had what today would be considered a truly mild intellectual disability, I am so grateful that things have changed for people like this lucky young man! Mazel tov to him and his fiancé!

wheeliecrone said...

Brilliant! On so many levels, the fact that you could have that interaction with the young man was wonderful.

Wonderful that he had access to the Internet and the privacy to write emails about very private, personal matters.

Wonderful that he is able to marry someone whom he loves so deeply.

Your story made my heart sing.

clairesmum said...

Yes, hearts are singing.

Mardra - Grown Ups and Downs said...

<3!!!

Anonymous said...

Frame this post I have not cried so hard ever for what might be -- AND IS somewhere. 🍾

Anonymous said...

Not to mention so eloquently & succinctly written