I thought, now that I’d spent a shift at Sexpo and the organising and grumping about the whole thing is over, that I’d write a list of the good and bad things about Sexpo, because there are some really fantastic things about Sexpo that a lot of people don’t realise under all the sleaze and heteronormality.
Let’s start with all the positive stuff first. This will be a little long because there is one really great thing that needs to be pointed out, with a whole lot of background.
- The ACCSEX Coalition. With the permission of the activists at Sexpo, I’m going to reproduce their brochure below so everyone knows what Accsex is. The thing I love about Accsex is that it makes Sexpo a safe (ish) place for disabled people to be, to discuss their needs with vendors of sex toys, and to be sexual beings enjoying what is going on. The fact that the activists are also people with disabilities really brings the message home to people.
The ACCSEX Coalition
We are a network of people who aim to assist consenting adults with disabilities to access their choice of sex, friendships, sex education, intimate relationships and the adult industry.
We recognise those social attitudes and structures around disability and sexuality interfere with the fulfilment of this aim.
We therefore see changing community attitudes and influencing social institutions as a major priority.
We believe that dominant attitudes need to be challenged, the foremost belief that people with disabilities are asexual, unattractive and unsuitable social and sexual partners.
Issues being looked at now
- Physical and financial access
- Social connections
- Research and Sexuality Education
- Legal and ethical issues & discrimination
How you can be involved
- Contribute to our information sharing – we want to know about research, education and social support activities
- Help us to identify key issues that we as a group can help to address through our work
“Sexuality is often the source of our deepest oppression; it is also often the source of our deepest pain” [Finger, 1992: 9]
You may benefit from being a member of Accsex if:
- You are a person with a disability and you want to meet people and work with other to create change;
- you are a parent with a disability;
- you are a partner/parent/carer of a person with a disability;
- you provide services to people with disabilities;
- your organisation is interested in service improvement;
- you are an advocate, or from an advocacy organisation; and/or
- you are a researcher or educator interested in sexuality and disability.
The social institutions that we wish to influence are:
- Governments, so that they can fund initiatives and support legislative changes that facilitate the sexual choices of consenting adults with disabilities;
- The Media, who nearly always represent people with disabilities using two dominant stereotypes. We are portrayed as either the tragic but brave “Supercrip” who triumphs over adversity, or as the pathetic and passive victim, the object of pity. We are never seen as consenting adults.
- Attendant care agencies, so that they can train their staff and shape culture and policies that facilitate the sexual choices of consenting adults with disabilities
- Providers of commercial sexual services and the adult entertainment and retail industries, so they can make their venues, goods and services accessible, affordable and inclusive of consenting adults with disabilities.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the ACCSEX Coalition, come to our meetings and/or link up with our E-group listing.
Share information, news and views
Web address: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/accsex
I’ve left off the names and personal contact details provided by ACCSEX because I don’t want them to be spammed to death by bots. If you are interested in finding out more about them, I’d start with the yahoo group listed above.
- The bodies. The beauty in seeing people of all sizes attend an event that is mostly about sex. The fact that there were people of all sizes buying sex toys, lifestyle products, and generally being sexual beings. This also includes the fact that there are several clothing (corsetry, bustiers, underwear, lingerie, etc) vendors who are selling clothing in what is termed “plus sizes”.
- The costumes. There are a huge number of people that dress up to go to Sexpo in all sorts of clothes. Makes people watching at my stall lots of fun.
- The event is quite queer friendly. I organised the Bisexual Alliance stall – the volunteering, decorations, rosters, etc (James did the paperwork with the Sexpo organisers). Although some people almost cause themselves whiplash when they read our sign and then immediately turn away. Talking to other vendors, they’re very supportive of our presence and happy to engage. Those who approach, wherever they are on the LGBTIQ spectrum, they’re happy that we are a queer presence at Sexpo. Generally I have experienced or witnessed very little homophobia/biphobia or at Sexpo.
- There are bits of overwhelming sleaze. Some vendors (a very small minority) are very sleazy and make me feel really uncomfortable. Some of the products being sold are somewhat ick to me.
- The co-option of queer women’s sexuality for the male gaze
- How bored the (female) pole dancers are if you actually look at them
- The fact that the event is quite heteronormative
- The music is too loud to hold conversations with others at times
- The airbrushed [and thin and white] women on posters/brochures advertising various products or services
Overall, it is a very positive thing for our community stall to be present. We’re a queer presence in a straight assuming event, and welcomed by many. Organising the event is tedious, and spending time there can be boring sometimes, but generally it’s good to be out, proud and active.