So it’s been a tough uphill climb to complete this documentary but I’m excited to say that it’s finally finished and ready to share with you all.
Before I do though I want to take a look back at the process and all of the challenges that have arose. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to tackle an area that would shed light on a subject that hadn’t received the attention that it deserved. Being part of a minority myself, I decided that nothing would be more fitting than undertaking a project based on the biggest minority in the world – people with disabilities. I happened upon this subject by accident when I was googling key words to try and find some inspiration for my chosen subject. I realised that the dialogue around sex, intimacy and disability was severely lacking and needed far more awareness. On top of this I was also keen to learn about it myself and understand another minorities struggle. I was instantly passionate about my subject topic which is the biggest thing for me when taking on such a huge task. The passion I had to try and genuinely do this subject justice and make a difference was how I knew it was the perfect subject for me.
The biggest task for me was picking an angle and sticking to it. Even from my pitch, my lecturers feedback showed that whatever passion I had for the subject was severely let down by my lack of planning and confidence in the direction I wanted to go. It was then I decided I wanted to create the documentary about the stigma and taboo around sex and intimacy while having a disability.
The next thing was finding the interviewees, as this was such a tough and sensitive subject this proved to be tougher than I’d hoped. However, with the help of the internet and twitter, I’m really happy with the people contributed to my documentary and what they added to it. They each added a different element to my documentary from both a personal and professional point of view.
Although I’m proud of what I managed to produce in the end my biggest regret was the lack of planning during this project. Even though I got the structure I wanted in the end, in hindsight I wish I’d had a clear plan of what I was doing instead of figuring it out at 3am during a coffee-fuelled epiphany. I mean it’s what’s been working for me so far but in terms of practicality in the real world , I need to sharpen up my research skills and my ability to plan ahead. I tailored this project towards a radio 1/radio 1 extra audience through the use of the music, pacing and conversational style. It took serious trial and error, working and reworking to produce the end result you’re about to listen to but I think I got there in the end.
The single biggest thing I’ve had to overcome during this project is finding my confidence in myself and my abilities. I’m proud of what I’ve produced and proud of how I’ve grown through-out this process. I can’t believe I have managed to create a documentary that I can play and honestly be happy to call mine.
Last but certainly not least I want to give a HUGE thank you to Saleem Juma, Josh Hepple Emily Yates, Sue Newsome and Tuppy Owens. Without these people my documentary would be nothing. Thank you for allowing me to learn from you and participating.
Well, I guess it’s that time, here it is, I present to you – the taboo of intimacy.
Taboo of intimacy final documentary. Music by the passion Hifi (www.thepassionhifi.com) and A Himitsu (@a-himitsu)
I wrote a freedom of information request to the Department of Health asking whether there was outlined protocol in place for doctors/carers regarding sex/intimacy and disability.
I am sharing here the reply I received to my correspondence:
The Department’s Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England sets out as one of its recommendations that there be more accessible information and support for young people with learning disabilities and for their parents. This needs to include information about sexuality, abuse and consent and practical information about contraception and safer sex where appropriate.
The Department is also aware that the Family Planning Association (FPA) works directly with people with learning disabilities in schools and other settings such as supported living accommodation and day centres. It also facilitates workshops for family carers, as well as training and consultancy for professionals and frontline staff with a range of resources to support people with learning disabilities.
FPA can also provide organisations with expert training and support around sexuality, sex and relationships for people with learning disabilities.
They also provided a link with resources to support people with learning difficulties with sex/intimacy, which you can see here.
As well as a link for organisations looking to have training and support around sex and learning disabilities, available here.
Although there are recommendations regarding sex and learning disability, there are none for disability as a whole or a broad range of disabilities. Also, as you can see, there are no statutory, across the board guidelines or training for health services to administer in depth information about sex/intimacy and disability.
This is why this documentary is so relevant and important to shine a light on issues such as these and hopefully one day there will be statutory training in place.
I conducted a survey with questions around the subject of disability and sex. I have put the answers into a info-graphic below:
Overwhelmingly, most of the answers point to the fact that there was in fact a taboo around sex/intimacy and disability. This survey alone shows the lack of understanding around the subject and I hope that the finished documentary can begin a conversation about it.
Stay tuned for the finished documentary,
It’s been a long old road trying to wrap up this documentary. It is almost finished but in the mean time, I’ve decided to post this snippet until the full thing is ready.
Finding the right narrative for this documentary has been difficult but after listening to other radio 1 documentaries, I think I finally found my footing-thank god! In hindsight, I wish I had planned out the narrative I wanted earlier in the process but I guess I’ll have to save that for the next documentary I make! This process has been taxing to say the least but I’m proud of what I’ve managed to achieve and produce in the last couple of months.
I’ve put my blood,sweat and tears into this project(literally, I actually bled at one point). I hope that at the very least this documentary can make you think and can help to start a well needed conversation on ending this taboo.
Stay tuned for the final thing!
CraYon Impact, in association with Firstpost, presented ‘Sex and Sexability’ — India’s first comedy show where comedians (some of them differently abled) come together to bust myths and taboos around disability and sexuality. The show was hosted by Aditi Mittal on December 4th. The event was held in a venue that is completely wheelchair accessible- at the Daughters of St Paul (auditorium), Waterfield Road, Bandra West.
Through this, Rachana Iyer and Rohan Sabharwal, the founders of CraYon Impact are combating myths and misconceptions about disability, mental health, gender and sexuality.
(Sex and sexability trailer by CraYon Impact)
On using stand-up comedy to disseminate their message,speaking to first post, Rachana Iyer said, “Other workshops on mental health are very boring and restricted to definitions. But comedy is very powerful. Here you have people who are actually experiencing it, speak about it — which is always better because the stories are unique.”
*article first posted on first post
“This lively portrait of a young woman with disabilities and her ordinary hopes and dreams is an explicit, engaging challenge to our ideas of what ‘normal’ is.”
A newly released coming of age movie is set to break boundaries, including the sex and disability discourse.
‘Best and Most Beautiful Things’ directed by Garrett Zevgetis was premiered at the SXSW film festival in March and has gone on to earn a multitude of awards. It doesn’t end there either, the film is certified ‘fresh’ on review aggregate site ‘rotten tomatoes’, receiving acclaim from critics and average joe’s alike. Standout reviews on the site include MaryAnn Johanson’s saying: “This lively portrait of a young woman with disabilities and her ordinary hopes and dreams is an explicit, engaging challenge to our ideas of what ‘normal’ is.”
The film follows Michelle Smith, as a remarkably frank central figure in the Boston-based film. She navigates life, identity and sexuality while visually impaired and having Asperger’s syndrome. As she makes the rocky transition from teenager to adult, the young woman also breaks boundaries about disability and sex in ways the filmmakers never expected.
The film came out on December 6th and is sure to help end the taboo and challenge the stereotypes of sex, intimacy and disability.
Stay tuned for my full radio documentary on the subject or track my progress here.
So the rough cut is well under way. I’ve been surviving on pure caffeine adrenaline for the past couple of days just cutting clips and assembling the first cut of the full documentary. It’s finally starting to take some shape towards what the final thing will look like. I can’t wait to share the final cut.
The road to the rough cut hasn’t been without it’s challenges. Firstly finding interviewee’s willing to talk openly and frankly about their sex lives was a tough one. Luckily for me, twitter was invented and helped a lot to find people that are already passionate about the subject. After finding the interviewee’s another challenge presented itself to me- finding the time to interview them all! Unfortunately this led to couple of my interviewee’s dropping out, which,as you can imagine, was stressful to say the least! However I’m happy with what I managed to get in the end with Saleem Juma and Josh Hepple. Saleem wears many hats as a disability activist,blogger, model and actor. He has been published numerous times, including in Vogue magazine. He also has the blog ostomy bag swag , where talks about his life living with his disability. Josh who is a LPC graduate and activist has Cerebral Palsy and has also just written a piece in the guardian about his experiences with Grindr. They shared their experiences with me and added a real personal touch to the documentary.
I also interviewed, sex therapist Sue Newsome, who gave me a real professional insight into the problems/issues surrounding the services available surrounding disability and sex.
Tune in to see the final cut very soon,