Hillsborough post office

This is mostly going to be a post about local stuff in Sheffield, but it’s indicative of how hard disabled people have to fight to obtain access to services, or even to maintain access they’ve previously had. For good news about accessibility to sexy places, check out my reviews of Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar and Quest Swinger’s Club in Leeds. Later this month I’ll be revisiting Fallen Angels in Birmingham for the first time since its recent sale and refit, so I’ll write that up for accessibility too.

Onto today’s topic!

A while back, I noticed that the Hillsborough Sheffield post office branch in B&M had closed, and that a new branch had opened in the former NatWest branch at 72 Middlewood Road. Which is a problem! Because the B&M store in Hillsborough is fully wheelchair accessible, and the front of the new post office looks like this:

I tweeted this picture and the post office’s twitter people told me that there was a bell and ramp that could be used, so it was totally cool! So then I went and took a photo of the bell you can ring for access. Which looks like this:

Fast forward to today, when I needed to actually post something. I went up to the door, but before I could maneuver myself to press the button, a dude behind the counter came out to speak to me. He asked me what I wanted to do, and when I said I wanted to come in and use the post office, he said that although they do have a ramp, it’s very steep, and he wouldn’t advise using it. My business was fairly simple, so I was able to do it through the staff member and by use of contactless payment.

There is a planning application in place for the property, but as far as I can tell, there doesn’t appear to be anything in it about a ramp on the pavement, despite the post office staff member telling me that they are waiting on the council for permission to build one. If you want to have a look at the documents I could find, the planning application is here.

Fortunately, it turns out that one of my local councillors, and councillor for the Hillsborough ward, is Bob Johnson, who is also currently Cabinet Member for Transport and Development, so should have some idea about pavements and such.

So I’m sending this blog post to him and the other two councillors for my ward, and asking for them to figure out what’s going on with access to this post office, and also asking others locally to contact them. I hope we can get an answer, and then get adequate access to our post office, like we did when it was in B&M.

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Non-verbal sexual negotiations

This will be the first guest post on this blog. I came across this post in a private facebook group. It’s written by Anon, who talks about the language they and their partners have worked out to negotiate sexual encounters when both speech and vision are limited. This system has blown my mind, and I will definitely be trying it out myself!


Hi guys I wanted to deliver some news. In the last month I’ve lost almost all of my remaining vision. So I’m almost completely blind barring I’m able to see daylight and night but nothing else. I’m also deaf too and wear hearing aids.

I’ve become active lately, and I wanted to share tips and how communication happens. Especially if I’m with another deaf or blind person or duel sensory impairment.

Communication is very hard for me in the heat of the moment and it’s a mood killer if he or she instructing me and me asking to repeat most of the time. So I’ve come up with a touch language code for the heat of the moment to communicate to me or me with others.

The first communication to indicate and communicate that it’s a safe place to make love is to rub one of my ear lobes. And I to them. And when we are properly ready to begin I always like consent. I’ll touch both his or her ear lobes and if they do the same back it’s a consent.

The second part is the oral signal they would place two fingers on my lips to signal they would like oral and I would do the same back if I want oral also. Either or the receiver would use their hands on the giver head to guide them into the right places and use fingers gestures to what they want. A circle means all around or up and down. Tap one finger to apply more pressure tap two to decrease. The gesture to carry on what I’m doing is hold but no gestures and if they are about to orgasm to grasp tight.

When it comes to sex the touch signal is holding mine or the partner hip. For this we shall do missionary as an example. Once I’m mounted and consent given my partner must guide me in and then we can begin penetrative sex. The signals for harder is my front chest. To touch but slightly grasping. My lower torso means low strength. A higher signal means harder. For speed it’s the same principle but on my back. To signal an orgasm arising I really like the good old fashion digging nails into me or a nice bite. Lol. This is the signal for orgasm during sex.

The most important signal is the stop signal. This signal is given by firmly grasping both my arms at once and squeezing. This stops the activity if something is wrong.

These actions are the basics. My partners and I have worked out a lot more touch signals, including positions, role plays, and much more.

The reason I want to share this is because disabled people like me have needs like everyone else. Sometimes we are afraid to ask for what we want. And I wanted to share an insight into how sensory impairment people like me actively engage in the pursuit of pleasure.

To some this way of doing things is off putting. To some having a secret language entirely by touch is sensual, exciting and much more intimate than words. I wanted to share a basic very basic insight into my world of communication during sex with sensory impairments.

I hope you have enjoyed the education. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing and sharing.


Thank you again to the author for writing up their sexual language, and again for giving permission for it to be shared more broadly.

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Let’s talk STIs and access to testing

I have the good fortune to be friends with a fantastic human who is an expert in public health and antibiotic resistance. She posted up this article on Facebook this week:

World Health Organisation report on Gonococcal Infection – United Kingdom

The article is quite dry and technical, but the upshot is that there have been a number of cases of gonorrhea in the UK that are resistant to standard treatment protocols, and require rather extreme measures to clear up.

Gonorrhea is obviously a horrid infection, but I want to talk here about the broader issue of disabled access to STI testing.

I am a disabled slut, emphasis on the slut. I try to get tested twice a year, for everything. I’ve had a lot of issues, however, in accessing that testing, and even getting around the clinic once I’ve managed to make an appointment.

Everyone’s access and support needs are different. For me, I don’t wake up before midday, so I need appointments and booking windows to be open in the afternoons. I can walk very short distances (like, under 10m) but I need a wheelchair for everything else.

Sheffield Sexual Health clinic, the one that I use, is based in one of the hospitals in the city. It’s quite close to a lot of public transport links, but the site itself is on a steep hill, so managing my chair outside can be tricky. Then, there are two reception desks. One is upstairs (there’s a lift) and the other on the ground floor, but it’s really not clear which one to go to. Also, they’re both high counters, so I can only grab someone’s attention by shouting or waving my arm above my head.

The waiting room is too small and full of chairs, so I have to wait in the (unusually narrow for a hospital) corridor. Also there’s a TV in the waiting room, that’s always on with the volume up, which is very distracting.

When I manage to get into the room with the clinician, they very rarely know what to do with my chair, and the relief on their faces when I say I can transfer myself to the stirrups is palpable. I’ve also heard horror stories of people in chairs having to have their examinations in disabled toilets, because the available lift was too flimsy to carry their electric chair – and this when they had rung ahead to check that the venue was wheelchair accessible.

The upshot of all this is that it can be hard for us to access the care we need for our sex lives. My advice would be to ring up before you go to the clinic and ask exhaustive questions. Ask if the journey from public transport to the door is accessible. Ask if the entrance is accessible. Ask what that means. Ask if you’ll be able to attract the attention of staff without having to stand up or wave a big rainbow flag above your head. Ask about the waiting room. Ask about the noise. Ask about the rooms. Ask about what movements you’ll need to make, and what support will be available to help you make them.

Sexual health services should be equally available to everyone, and it shouldn’t be hard for us to take care of ourselves and our sex partners in this way. Unfortunately, these services are often focussed on young able-bodied people, and don’t have the needs of disabled people at the front of their minds. Persevere! You deserve this help! This notice from the WHO is just another reminder that despite all the gains in this area of medicine over the last 100 years, sex still carries very real risks. Protect yourself, beautiful reader, and have the wonderful, safe and loving sex life that you deserve!


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Sex Without Shame – LGBT Foundation Workshop

The LGBT Foundation in Manchester has been being awesome for queer people since 1975, and this January they are hosting a Sex Without Shame queer women’s takeover. They’re hosting 10 days of free workshops in central Manchester on a broad range of topics related to queer women’s sexuality.

I know about this because a wonderful friend of mine familiar with the Foundation forwarded me the call-out for workshop leaders and more or less instructed me to do one. They are one of the most fabulously queer people I know, and have heard me rant about patriarchy at length, so I figured if they weren’t bored to tears by my unplanned words, I could probably do okay with some planned ones. Therefore, having joined forces with awesome queer poet and font of knowledge Sez Thomasin, we are leading a session on a subject close to both our hearts. And loins.

Sex and Disability Workshop

6-8pm, Wednesday 23 January 2019 @ Pioneer Coffee, Federation House (Google Maps link)
Explore the challenges disabled people face in accessing a full and joyful sexual and romantic life with two disabled people who have lots of lovely sex! We will be exploring many issues around sex and sexuality when dealing with the challenges and opportunities of disability.

The workshop is open to women and non-binary people of all abilities. Basically if you’ve ever had or wanted to have sex whilst having a disability, or have friends or partners who fall into that category, then this is for you. Which is basically everyone, because even if you’re not disabled in any way, you never know whether that hottie you’ve been messaging on Tinder is going to tell you that you have to sleep on the right side of the bed when you stay over, because the overnight dialysis machine is on the left.

Information about the Queer Women’s Sex Without Shame Takeover can be found on the LGBT Foundation website.

There’s a Facebook event as well, if you want to let us know you’re coming, or share the link with other people you think might be interested.

As for actually registering – that’s through Eventbrite. The listing is for all the workshops, and please do take a look at what else is going on. There are some wonderful people involved here, covering absolutely vital and fascinating topics.

We really hope you’re able to come to this workshop, and take advantage of the other opportunities available through this event. If you want to be informed about what I’m doing in the future, follow this blog. Sez’s work can be found through their Twitter profile. And I highly recommend putting the LGBT Foundation (Facebook link) on your list of organisations to follow – they’re doing great work for our community.

See you in a week!

Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar – on wheels!

We’re at the start of a new year, and if you’ve been thinking of taking your theoretical kinky interests into bricks and mortar for the first time, a pretty good place to do it is the Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar.

There are several ways to enter the queer and kinky scene in England, but for those of us outside London, BBB is an institution. The market costs £5, and the play event afterwards, Aftermath, is another £10 if you buy your ticket at BBB, £12 on the door.

Getting to the venue

Central Birmingham isn’t flat, but it does have good pavements, and even a couple of lifts in and around the Bull Ring to help you get from one level to another. BBB is held in The Nightingale Club, which is a gay club in the Birmingham Gay Village. There isn’t a single clear route from either the train or coach stations to the venue, but after extensive personal testing, I can confirm that Google Maps definitely knows where the club is, and that the GPS in the city centre is fine tuned enough that you can just follow the app.

Getting in

Annoyingly, the main entrance to the venue, although itself flat, doesn’t allow wheelchair access to the main part of the venue, which is up a short flight of stairs. The entrance is well signed, and the staff have always been helpful with getting me to the wheelchair accessible entrance. There is a bit of a lip from the pavement, but it’s about an inch, and certainly no worse than many kerbs. This wheelchair entrance is the same one used by the traders to load in and out, and also operates as a fire exit.

The lift

There is a lift to connect the three floors over which the event takes place, but it is awful. It’s a cargo lift, one of those where you need to press the button continuously to keep moving. It’s not very big. And worst of all, the doors on all three floors need to be held closed by venue staff in order for the lift to keep moving. This means that, sadly, going from one floor to another is a Big Deal, and you do need to get the event staff to help. The upper floors are worth it, but you’ll want to plan things so you change floors as little as possible. (There is a good disabled toilet on the ground floor, but the toilets on the top floor are standard and don’t have good access.) The good news is that the staff at the venue are entirely aware that their lift sucks ass, and don’t make a fuss about beating their obstinate machinery into submission!

The market

Is great! There are so many awesome traders with a broad range of kinky gear. There’s stuff for beginners all the way to experienced adrenaline kinksters. Importantly, unlike buying online, being there at the event will mean you can test out using the equipment, and see how things function. For example, I like to test floggers and other impact tools on my arm, not only to see what the effect is, but also how firm the grip is, how heavy it is to swing, and how likely my butterfingers are to lose grip. The same for anything with buttons – I need to know that I can turn something off easily, if I suddenly take a turn and my dexterity falls through the floor. For those of us whose bodies work in non-standard and sometimes very variable ways, being able to actually test out a buckle, and try things out, is invaluable.

Sadly, on the ground floor there is a section of the market on a mezzanine which is not wheelchair accessible. I can’t tell you what’s up there, but from what I’ve been able to see it’s mostly clothes.

One thing to be aware of is that a significant number of the traders are not able to take card payments, so you’ll need to bring cash, just in case that perfect body harness is cash only, and you can’t imagine another day without it!

Aftermath

The part of the day which I enjoy the most is the play event after the market. Each month on the top floor there’s a demonstration of something kinky and fun, and then the area gets set up for play of various kinds. The staff will ask punters to go elsewhere for the switchover to the club. I’ve been able to stay up on the top floor on one of the sofas before by talking with the staff, because it’s such a mission to get the lift down and back up again. However, the time between the two events also makes for a good opportunity to get some food, and there are lots of places to eat in the surrounding streets.

As for the adaptiveness of play? It really depends on the equipment they choose to put out. Basically you have to work with what you get, and because there’s not a huge amount of it, getting time on the equipment can turn into a bit of a scrum, although people step back once it’s clear who will and won’t be playing. There are plenty of places to watch though, and I’ve never had any issues with getting people to give me space to move or to come forward for a better view.

In summary, the BBB is not perfect. The venue isn’t the best for wheeled access, and there are some challenges. However, the hype is real, and it’s a great place to go start or continue your kinky journey.


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How queer representation made me cry

Like half the queer internet, I’m currently deeply in love with Ezra Miller. Which is not, in itself, enough to warrant a blog post.

However, I’ve been trying to put my finger on why this obsession has been so pervasive, and I think the answer lies in their band, Sons of an Illustrious Father, their music, and their unapologetic queerness. And that is worth writing about.

Like the teenager I haven’t been for a decade and a half, I went searching for everything I could find about my new crush. And I found something that has legit made me cry – visible and visibly queer relationships that look like my chosen family.

Let me explain.

As I’ve explored in my past writing, being queer in any way means that you become hyper sensitised to representations, good or bad, of yourself or people from your community. Over the last few years I’ve been becoming both more comfortable with myself, and much, much more queer. I have six people I call partners, and many others with more casual connections. I feel uncomfortable putting them in any kind of strict hierarchy, and I think between them they might have more genders than there are bodies. I used to describe myself as bisexual and polyamorous and feel that this was the full story – now it feels like shorthand. I’m sure I’m a cis woman, but I’ve been surprisingly more comfortable in my skin since I changed to using a gender neutral name, and finally gave up on ever again having long or not pink hair. I’m disabled, and accepting that reality without compromising the importance of sexuality in my life has been a hard won fight.

A large part of the comfort I feel with myself now is due to the amazing people around me. I live with three partners who have made their unconditional love and acceptance of me clear in a way I have never experienced before. We moved in together in 2012, and the last 6 years, while not without challenge, have been truly wonderful. I feel more at home than I ever have before. Somewhat relatedly, they helped me through the traumatic events surrounding my estrangement from my biological family. My other three partners I see less often than I want to, but their similar acceptance and support of me is something I am blessed to have. I try my best to support them in turn, and the feedback I get is that I’m doing okay with this.

Then there’s my larger community. In the last two years a group of wonderful people have coalesced out of a general polyamory facebook group to become something related, but infinitely more than the sum of its parts. Most of us are not monosexual. Most of us are relationship anarchists. All of us are self-identified sluts. We have a high number of sex workers, both in person and through art. The map of our interrelations would resemble the contents of a rainbow yarn basket after being left unsupervised for a few hours in a room with a particularly eager family of kittens. We are beautiful.

These people have shown me that my family is not an aberration. That the sense of family and belonging I feel with my nesting partners is something that can exist in larger groups too. They’ve provided an opportunity, for the first time, for me to interact with other people who are trying to do the same thing my nesting partners and I are trying to do. To exist in relationships outside heteropatriarchy. To avoid the relationship escalator. To avoid polynormativity.

This slutty poly tribe is enormously important to me. They have helped me to feel much more a part of the world. While I have previously had friends who were supportive of the unusual contours of my life, they haven’t shared them. Which makes a difference.

And this is where we come back to where we started, with Sons of an Illustrious Father. Because the people in my life are amazing, but we are not famous, and we are not used to being mirrored in popular culture. And then along comes this fabulous trio with their star power emphatically-not-a-frontman, and they look like we do. They relate like we do. They make sleepy social media posts all wrapped up together in bed. They talk about being queer and its impacts on mental health. About the experience of violence as a result of being visibly oneself.

When I put my finger on what it was that was drawing me back again and again to writing about Ezra and the band, and to their songs and lyrics, I cried. Because it’s representation. Positive representation.

Representation is life affirming. Soul affirming. We are a species deeply rooted in each other. In our relationships, of all shades. In my relationship with my biological family, I felt the pain of being rejected by those to whom you expect to be closest. And the relationships I’ve built since then have, on the personal scale, connected me to the world. However, our human community is now a global one. To have a group of people I can point to and identify with, on a wider cultural level, is a gift without measure.

Velvet Goldmine TV television Christian Bale Arthur Stuart Todd Haynes

Image from the film Velvet Goldmine, in which Arthur (Christian Slater) points excitedly at flamboyant bisexual pop star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Myers) on the TV, saying, “That’s me! That’s me Dad! That’s me!”

(Incidentally, I think this realisation has thankfully cured me of obsession, and will allow me to calm down to appreciation. Which is nice, because I’ve never enjoyed the feeling of being hung up on someone, and particularly on someone I don’t actually know – it feels uncomfortably intrusive.)


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So what is an orgasm exactly?

I’ve got a whole load of blog posts that my muse is being entirely unhelpful with. So while I’m working on getting any of them sorted out, let me tell you about this podcast episode.

The Guys We Fucked podcast is often interesting, sometimes infuriating, and sometimes, like this week, utterly brilliant. Their guest this week is Barbara Carrellas, sexpert extraordinaire and author of Urban Tantra, among others. The episode covered a whole range of sexual experiences and possibilities, including detailed discussions of breath orgasm techniques, and expanded definitions of orgasm and pleasure. I found this episode very interesting as someone who often finds masturbation difficult and needs to think very carefully about the roles and positions I take during partnered sex.

There are loads of recommendations in here for techniques and further reading on pleasure and bodywork, feminism and sexual activism. I am going to be listening to it again with note paper next to me for books to read and courses to take!

Also, Barbara’s partner is Kate Bornstein, famously awesome trans woman. I can’t imagine having dinner with the two of them, but I want to make it happen anyway!

Guys We Fucked – WHY DO I DO SEX?

Content note: this episode contains discussion of trauma and sexual violence. It’s all dealt with in a sensitive and positive way, but y’know, take care of yourselves ❤


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