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    HomeNewsMark Chaney on the Disconnect Between Sex and Disability

    Mark Chaney on the Disconnect Between Sex and Disability

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! As a gay therapist and disabled man, l would like to step into 2023 with a talk on sex and disability. The two combined are not often spoken about. I can say personally in the past, Sex and disability often felt like taboo to me. Something undesirable, unattainable or impossible. Part of that could be because I did not grow up with a model of what sex was being gay, let alone what disabled sex was. Disabled felt like it was synonymous with undesirable. This was a massage I have received throughout the years both actively (people making statements about my disability and its undateability, anti-sex appeal or weirdness) and subconsciously (assumptions of what i can and cannot do, what my body is capable of, or incapable of). I have been told more than once that people assumed my genitals did not work. So I have a message as both a therapist and as a disabled man, disabled people can be desirable. They have desires. They have sex.

    Why is it important to think about this disconnect? Because, the impact can lead to real challenges with mental health. It is not a stretch to think a disconnect between sex and disability could have negative outcomes.

    For example, having a disability makes you feel different than those around you. You go out into society and are told that you are not attractive, sexy, that sex is not for you, you are different. This leads to isolation, low mood, self-consciousness, anxiety and feelings of low self-worth.

    So what do we do to break the cycle or change the narrative?

    Some thoughts:

    1. Disabled people have sex. Disabled people have desires.  Disabled people have needs just like everyone else.
    2. Communication is a requirement on both partners, not an afterthought. We need to make it okay to communicate during sex and before sexual encounters. For context, because of a lack of communication, those with disabilities can be injured.
    3. Understanding that not all bodies are the same. As stated above, sometimes injuries can happen. What feels good to one person, might hurt to another, We are all different.
    4. We are not a fetish. We all have interests or fetishes. That is okay. That is normal, but remember, a person is not a fetish. Their experience and life is so much more.
    5. We are all beautiful. We are all desirable. Beauty is Every-Body.
    6. You are capable and worthy of intimacy, love and sex.

    Self-love is a lifelong-journey. Finding a place in society and acceptance is a long road. The only way to get there is to start going down it. So if you have a disability, I challenge you to practice some self-compassion and self-empowerment. It can be something as simple as taking a moment in the day to say something supportive to yourself–“I am worthy”, “I am desirable”–setting boundaries around the language and actions that you will accept when it comes to your sexual life (i.e. distancing or disconnecting from those who make hurtful comments or feed into the negative narrative). If you don’t have a disability, consider some of these tips. They are not an exhaustive list, but it is a start. It can start a conversation. Disabled people are experts in their own experience. Honor that.

    I became a therapist to support my community and others who like me, have a disability or face challenges in their lives. I own my own business, a therapy practice. I believe that we all have strengths and the ability to overcome challenges and become the people that we want to be. We all need some support sometimes. Sometimes we just need some support to tap into or recognize those strengths. If you are facing disability issues, chronic pain or life stressors, LGBTQ issues, support is out there. If you are looking for a therapist in California, reach out to me. I am here to support you to learn new skills and discover that strength that is within.. Remember, you are strong, you are capable. You got this. Now go out there and live your life.

    To learn more about Mark Chaney visit:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/mark-chaney-gay-west-hollywood-ca/928842

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    Mark Chaney
    Mark Chaney
    Mark is a West Hollywood Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and therapist who owns his own private practice. He is gay and lives with a disability, cerebral palsy. He enjoys writing, creating disability content to bring awareness to the disabled experience speaking about mental health. Follow his inspiring posts on Instagram and TikTok at @yourgaydisabledtherapist.
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    Brian Holt
    Brian Holt
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    26 days ago

    Fantastic story. Thanks to all for publishing something other than low hanging political yadda yadda yadda, gossip, and negative nelly nonsense.

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