Meeting the sexual needs of a disabled man
August 17, 2012 11:39 PM   Subscribe

How to meet the sexual needs a disabled person?

Hi everyone. I’m writing on behalf of my friend. He unfortunately has a nervous system condition that’s left him almost completely paralysed from the neck down. This condition comes with a number of complications – e.g. inability to independently perform activities of daily living and chronic problems. One problem that most people might not think about, though, is the inability to meet one’s sexual needs.

My friend is a healthly mid-thirties worker otherwise. He’s friendly, witty and charismatic. He’s gay (as am I). To provide additional background, my friend has been trying to find someone to help him out in this area for quite some time (the sexual bits are not affected by his condition at all). I actually really sympathised with him and thought, why not help him out, so for a while did (i.e. basically just helped him masturbate). Due to various events in my life, however, I’m not able to help him out anymore (hence, the Metafilter)

In terms of things he's tried, he’s tried asking his close friends for help (at least those that would not be weirded out by the request) with no luck. He’s then tried this gay-themed forum where we live (Melbourne Australia) called Samesame. He’s posted on there and had a few back and forths trying to find someone (that’s how I met him). He’s gotten a few bites, unfortunately but no one’s followed through.

He has considered hiring a sex worker, but it’s easier said than done. Neither he nor I know any gay sex workers to call, and it'd have to be someone fairly understanding, flexible and willing to make a home visit. He’s obviously in a vulnerable position and so we would really want to find someone completely trustworthy (and ideally someone recommended). Cost is also a big consideration. I have no experience with sex workers personally, and have no idea how it would actually work.

I thought a good idea would be to have a carer who could also take care of his sexual needs. He currently has a few paid people who come over to help him out with things like grooming and personal care. I thought maybe he could have like a carer with benefits. He’s posted an ad on Samesame to that effect, again with no takers (if you know any way to find someone who would do that job, please let me know).

The other option (which I don’t think is really a good one) is to give up. But being completely celibate is really hard for anyone, and especially for my friend. It’s like he’s stuck with a body that doesn’t really work for him, and has a lot of physical and psychological pain associated with it; sex is like the only time he doesn’t feel like crap.

So we don’t know what to do. My friend really is an awesome guy. Anyone who’s met him would want to do everything they could to help him too. It would be nice find someone who wouldn’t mind helping out, but any other options or ideas are worth considering.

If you’ve any ideas or leads about any of this please, post here or message me ( or the friend ( Thanks so much for your time.
posted by loveandlife to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Forgive me if your friend already knows/does this, but the specific sort of person they'd be looking for in the US is a sexual surrogate. I recommend that anyone interested in this area either from the point of view of someone with a disability or one without, read Mark O'Brien's excellent article about seeing a sex surrogate. I'd also suggest reading The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disabilty which touches on some of these issues. There is, as you might expect, still some back and forth in caregiver communities about how much it's appropriate to assist a client with sexual needs but it's still very much an open question and one that is completely reasonable to bring up with a caregiver [more in a "how should I go about solving this problem?" way than in a "hey will you jerk me off?" way, at least to start] as part of the process. I wish you guys the best.
posted by jessamyn at 12:21 AM on August 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

In the UK the people to talk to would be the totally brilliant Outsiders. I am not sure who the Australian equivalent are as it's been too long since I moved here but I'd contact them and see who they can recommend.

And good luck! Your friend is not the only person in this position and there are people out there to help!
posted by ozgirlabroad at 12:38 AM on August 18, 2012

There are a couple of sex worker groups in Australia yhat are specifically focused on working with clients with disabilities.
Check out some of the work of Rachel Wooton, also the Daily Planet brothel is particularly disability friendly. If they don't offer what you are looking for they can probably give some recommendations for some men who work in that area.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 12:42 AM on August 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

Rachel Wotton, rather.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 12:46 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

A group called SECCA seems to offer free support and counselling on sexuality issues for people with a disability and might be able to help.

Plenty of male escorts advertise in the gay street press available in bars and clubs. You could phone around some and get a feel for prices and availability. Not "completely trustworthy", though, but you could always meet for coffee first to talk about the arrangement.
posted by dontjumplarry at 12:50 AM on August 18, 2012

Is he working with a therapist or counselor at all? It sounds like this could be beneficial in general ("and has a lot of physical and psychological pain associated with it"). Once he's comfortable talking to someone about how he's feeling, it might be easier to bring up his sexual needs as well and to consider options. A local disability group might be able to put him in touch with some counselors who have experience working with patients with similar disabilities. For a therapist who specializes in this kind of work, I'd bet strongly that this will not be the first time the question has come up.
posted by zachlipton at 2:55 AM on August 18, 2012

This is a tangent, but there is an upcoming movie about almost precisely this situation that you and he would probably be interested in:
posted by UncleBoomee at 8:00 AM on August 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Trivia Newton John!

There are also various sex toys designed for this purpose. If he has a little motor function, he may well be able to, um, have a personal care aide set these up and then split for a while. See here among many other sites (this one is pretty good, though). I know that there is, like, a Fleshlight-type thing with a long cord attached, but I can't find it at this exact moment (I don't have a dick, so maybe the site avoids me out of modesty.)

Also I am telling your friend not to give up on a regular relationship. I say this as a disabled person (prosthetic leg, though, not paralyzed): if Stephen Hawking can have a complicated personal life, then, by God, we all can. (And this I say as a former academic: Hawking's work is probably a much bigger obstacle to domestic happiness than any wack physical condition.)

Unfortunately I am not a gay man in Melbourne, Australia, or I'd have some more ideas.

And what kind of friends are these who won't help a guy out? Like, he is not asking you to have a commitment ceremony + black tie reception for 250.
posted by skbw at 9:26 AM on August 18, 2012

Here's another practical-approach site.
posted by skbw at 9:30 AM on August 18, 2012

Yes to Rachel Wotton - she just made a film about exactly this. Look up the credits for Scarlet Road and even ask Scarlet Alliance if they have any ideas. I believe there's an organisation in Australia (likely based in Sydney) for this.
posted by divabat at 10:10 AM on August 18, 2012

Have you read this article? Interview with a volunteer sex nurse 97% safe-for-work
posted by 2manyusernames at 2:43 PM on August 18, 2012

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