As you all know I live at the intersection of sexuality and disability. I've been disabled now for coming on to 17 years, but I've been gay my whole life. I've been out for all of my adulthood and as such sometimes that really matters. I was at home when the phone call came, it was late. It was a social worker that I barely knew and did not work with so I was surprised to get his call.
He told me that he called me because he knew I was gay and worked in a sexuality clinic for people with intellectual disabilities. He knew my philosophy about providing service to adults was quite simply that we provided service to adults. In his work with people with disabilities he came across three men with intellectual disabilities who, not being allowed to have relationships in their home, were cruising washrooms and parks.
They knew almost nothing about safer sex and no one had even ever explained condoms to them in a way they understood. Condoms were for pregnancy protection and they certainly had no worries there. They had heard about AIDS but didn't understand it. After he explained the seriousness of it, they all agreed to get tested. I was to be the link, he hoped, to an anonymous testing site near where I lived. They were open and showed no prejudice based on any kind of disability.
The date was set and they came down to 'a movie'. That was their excuse for coming to the city, it was an outing provided by a selfless social worker. I met them just outside the testing center and went in with them. They were somber and scared.
They didn't know how to be angry at a system that completely ignored their sexuality and their sexual needs. They couldn't rail against the system that would allow policies to forbid love and banish relationships. They couldn't give voice to the very deep prejudice that runs through a system that support humans in need but without a shred of humanity in it's heart.
They couldn't because they had only known repression and denial.
They couldn't because their dreams had been governed and policed without mercy.
They couldn't because the life they wanted was kept behind doors built of privilege and power.
On the second trip down to get the results, they were all negative, we stopped at a gay bar, they wanted a beer. None of them had ever been in one. As they came in and slowly realized that most of the people they saw were of their community, a sadness overtook them.
It's hard to see people living freely in the life you want.
It's hard seeing what you will never get.
It's the International Day of Disabled Persons. This is supposed to be a celebration and we are supposed to 'build back better' ... but we are a forward movement because back was always bad.
Until adulthood really means something for people with intellectual disabilities it will remain a community wandering in the desert.
Pray God someone get them a glass of water at some point before I die.