Dating, relationships, romance and sexuality

Opportunity for discussion and exploration

Members of the disability and aging communities are often so focused on issues surrounding health care, transportation, and employment that some of the basic human needs—forming friendships, dating, developing long-term romantic relationships and exploring sexuality—remain relatively untouched. I’m guessing the very personal, private and sensitive nature of these topics contribute to the lack of dialogue. However, discussion-oriented workshops in June may spark new conversation surrounding these topics. Participation in these discussions are free and open to anyone—individuals experiencing various effects of disability/aging, family, friends, past/present partners, colleagues, professionals and the general public.

The discussions are a part of the 5th annual Sexy Spring Skill-Share. Sexy Spring is a free, radical, sex- and body-positive gathering geared toward addressing the many ways in which sex, gender, relationships, our bodies and our choices impact our lives. The variety of events includes guided discussions, workshops and demonstrations. Sexy Spring is organized by the Sexy Spring Collective, a local consensus-based collective of volunteers dedicated to improving access to sexuality education and helping all people, regardless of income, gender, body type or race, create connections and intimacy in their daily lives.

Sexy Spring is June 13-15, 2008 at Blegen Hall, 269 – 19th Ave South, which is located on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis Campus.

The first discussion is “Mingling Disability and/or Aging with Dating, Romance, Relationships, and Sexuality”. The informal and open conversation will provide everyone with an opportunity to pose questions, portray experiences, share knowledge, describe opinions/beliefs, and comment on dating, romance, relationships, and sexuality in light of disability and/or aging. This workshop will offer an excellent opportunity for individuals who do not experience or have little familiarity with the effects of disability/aging as well as potential future dates, lovers, and partners to share their curiosities, questions or concerns. Potential topics may include but are not limited to common effects, challenges, myths, stereotypes, prejudices, solutions, resources, strategies, techniques and assistive technology.

The second discussion, entitled “A Look at the Experiences and Perceptions of Relationships: What Happens When Disability Is Thrown into the Mix?”, will be an engaging open conversation discussing the challenges, perceptions and stigmas related to entering and sustaining an intimate relationship when one person has a disability and the other does not.

Both discussions aim to cover both heterosexual and homosexual relationships as well as perspectives from people with and without disabilities. In addition, both discussions highly encourage the attendance of couples and individuals who have first-hand experience with any of these topics to assist provide resources, knowledge and mentorship.

Participants are welcome to simply listen and are equally welcome to participate depending on comfort. Participants who don’t feel comfortable posing questions or sharing information with the group are welcome to provide questions and information prior to the discussion via email to lhhegland@precisainc.com or put the questions in writing to the facilitator immediately before the discussion begins. end of story

For more information, including full workshop schedules, see the web site www.sexy spring.org or contact the Sexy Spring Collective by email at info@sexyspring.org or by telephone 612-435-5490.