This week: The UK’s first Love Abilities virtual love festival for disabled over-18s
Kinky boots, group hugs and sex surrogates: the love festival firing up a 1960s-style sex revolution for brain-injured and other disabled adults.
There’s a newly-qualified occupational therapist (OT) among the 50-strong expert line-up at the UK’s first Love Abilities virtual love festival for disabled over-18s (15-19 October 2020).
Her name is Katherine Sellors, and it was during her occupational therapy university studies that she realised sexual expression was “under-represented” in the field of disability.
There’s a growing body of scientific support for her concern.
But, much like the feminist movement and sexual revolution of the 1960s, people power could prove more potent than science in achieving change.
The Love Abilities festival will change the belief that people with disabilities have no desire for love, sex, and intimacy.
- Sexologist, Dr Martha Tara Lee.
“Everyone deserves pleasurable and fulfilling lives” is the ethos behind the Love Abilities festival.
And there are 50 expert presenters and 29 online sessions to help participants achieve that, including:
- Shauna Farabaugh (Support for Sexual Expression and Consent in Caregiving): in a workshop that will speak volumes to OTs, Shauna depicts the engagement in sexual activities as an act of daily living (ADL) but one that may require caregiver support for some disabled people to participate.
- Chris Dabbs (Men, Sexuality and Disability Panel): a journalist writing for Motorcycle News, Chris faced the prospect of never being able to have children after suffering a spinal injury in 1993. He didn’t count on new medical discoveries, however…
- Lorraine Stanley (Sexuality & Disabilities Advocacy Panel): founder & MD of SWAD (Sex With a Difference) and a wheelchair user, Lorraine is currently involved in a research project, ‘Sexual Citizenship and Disability – Implications for Theory, Practice and Policy’ by Dr Julia Bahner. 
- Emma Buckett (Women, Sexuality and Disability Panel): Emma, 40, lives with a disability called Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), a recessive genetic disorder characterised by the progressive degeneration of the spinocerebellar system.
- Jennie Williams (Dating with Disabilities Panel): founder of Enhance the UK, a campaign challenging mainstream expectations of disabled people and supporting equality and inclusion.
- Emily Yates (Dating with Disabilities Panel): Emily, a wheelchair user, heads Enhance the UK’s Undressing Disability campaign, which promotes disabled sexual rights, and its Love Lounge, an online Q & A forum led by ‘experts’.
- Trish St John (Facilitated Sex and Intimacy Panel): joining the panel from Canada, Trish is the founder of a health resource that’ helps adults with physical disabilities access their bodies for pleasure’. This includes facilitated or assisted sexual surrogacy – a hands-on approach involving physical contact with a trained surrogate partner, in collaboration with a therapist.
- Tuppy Owens (Sexuality & Disabilities Advocacy Panel): Tuppy is a UNESCO award winner for her innovative work in sexual health and human rights. She founded disabled social site, Outsiders  and Shada - the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance , and she created the TLC-Trust for disabled people to find responsible sex workers . The Sexual Respect Tool Kit to facilitate the work of health professionals.
- Francesca Cross (Sexual Aids/ Toys & Disability Panel): Owner of The Pleasure Garden, an inclusive online UK sex shop specialising in adapted products.
The live, interactive sessions aim to equip participants with tips, techniques and tools to express their sexuality and enjoy sex with confidence and ease.
And the organisers have put in place some stringent safety rules to ensure confidentiality and safe exchanges between Love Abilities attendees.
We’ll be bringing you updates from the event as it progresses.
Further programme information here: https://loveabilities.org/programme/