As Diverse As You Wanna Be
“In a diverse world, sexual health for all. This theme seems to synthesize the idea of celebrating diversity (including sexual and other diversities) and globalization with sexual health for all.”
--World Association for Sexual Health (WAS)
In prepping for World Sexual Health Month I naturally spent some time on the WAS website, and have been brooding over just what “sexual diversity” really is.
So what’s a sexually diverse world look like? Some broad-stroke things come to mind, sure: gay/straight/bisexual, male/female/transgender, young/not-so-young. I couldn’t help but think “It has to be deeper than that.” Maybe different sexual practices: some like to do this, others like to do that, some of us do it alone, others with one or even multiple partners. Ok, that’s a pretty big ball o’ diversity. Still….
That all seems somewhat mechanical, too straight-forward and obvious. I suspect that an encompassing definition of “diversity” would involve a subtle means of forcing us to challenge our thinking about what’s normal versus, well, what’s weird/odd/alien. Broaden our perspective.
For example: when I was in college, I took a graduate-level course called Issues in Rehabilitation Counseling that highlighted the challenges disabled persons face in society. Our forward-thinking professor presented a lecture on sexuality in the face of physical disabilities, and showed a film that the state government had apparently ruled off-limits outside of “officially sanctioned educational and professional activities.” (Honest, that’s what he told us.) It was a beautiful film (at least in retrospect), maybe five minutes or so in length, and it depicted sex between a real-life couple consisting of a paraplegic man and his female partner. Boy was that thing graphic. His attractive lover waiting on the bed, the guy rolled up in his wheelchair, plopped on the mattress, and the two of them disrobed. They proceeded to kiss, cuddle, stroke, mutually masturbate, give oral, and grind for all they were worth. I was mortified. For the love of God…..he’s disabled!!
What mystified me more was the professor explained before the showing that the man only had feeling in the tip of his penis and around his anus. (His partner explored both areas, thank you.) At the end, as if they just had to pay homage to the great cliché, they both fired up a cigarette.
I wasn’t prudish, so no worries about my eternal soul. It’s just that…well, he’s disabled and can’t really feel it. Dude, that’s not normal! This from a “professional” preparing for a career working in the field… Oh, and the one thing that got to me the most was how totally hot the woman was. I remember fixating on one thought throughout the film: “How in the hell did that guy get her?”
Of course it was all perfectly normal. No, it was awesome! The woman saw beyond the disability and had what was probably a relationship with a great guy. And how much courage did he show, gettin’ naked and busy on camera with a body ravaged by a spinal cord injury? I wish I had his guts. I remember the professor saying “The only unhealthy thing I saw the two of them do was smoke at the end.”
This obviously stuck with me, making an impression that’s vivid even today. I was forced out of my comfort zone, made to confront my assumptions about sex being the domain of the young and able-bodied. So that’s my lesson in sexual diversity: define it as you will, but be prepared to challenge what you view as “normal” and comfortable. There’s room for just about everybody!
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