Photographer: Noel McLaughlin
Journalist / Producer: Fanou Filali
Video editor: Rowan Tucker-Evans
By Colin Wright
I came from a family who didn't talk about sex. So when I went to work and heard the others talking about it and how good they felt afterwards I began wondering what the big deal was. I had just been accepted into the Attendant Care Pilot Project. This gave people with disabilities complete control over who helped them and what time they wanted their help with their daily needs without relying on family members or organisations such as Home Care telling them times and what staff would be coming.
I was lucky because I'd only had to rely on family members apart from when staying with the organisation to give my family a rest.
It was a real culture shock to ask perfect strangers to perform personal care on me to begin with but there was a lady who I felt close to so, one day, while we were alone I asked Kerry if she would organise for me to visit a lady. To my surprise, straight away, she said 'yes'. I thought she would have needed time to think about it.
"As she climbed on top of me a warm tingling sensation went through my body. I gathered this is what sex felt."
Unfortunately, just when we had organised a date Kerry was involved in a car accident which put her off work for a few months. As soon as she returned to work, Kerry reasured me she hadn't forgotten and said she'd organise something when her shoulder felt better.
It was around the time of the first reported case of AIDS when Kerry asked me to her place for Christmas drinks. She put me in her car and began driving towards Parramatta. It had become dark when we stopped. Kerry put my wheelchair beside the car and when I stood up, she pushed it behind me so I could sit down. She began pulling my wheelchair backwards through a car park and I didn't think anything of it until Kerry pushed me alongside a bed.
Before long I was laying on it in the nude. A voice came from behind a screen telling Kerry ‘you can leave his shirt on’, but it was too late. As Kerry closed the door behind her a lady appeared at the foot of the bed. She was only wearing a see-through nightie which she slipped off as she lay beside me. She started playing with me in a way I hadn't been played with before. As she climbed on top of me a warm tingling sensation went through my body. I gathered this is what sex felt like because I didn't want it to stop. All too soon a knock came on the door. Time was up but if I had my way I would have stayed.
On the way home Kerry kept asking me questions. I couldn't wait until I had another chance. It was a long time.
As Kerry left to get married, it was a few years before I found a carer who I felt comfortable in asking to help me find someone. Clare began working for me and was very honest about her past. She was no angel but had settled down with a family after being a wild girl. I asked her to help me.
At the time I was still living with my parents but they played bowls every Sunday afternoon which gave us an opportunity. But it was a Saturday night when my parents had to go out. They didn't want me left alone for so long and organised for Clare to stay with me. A few days earlier I heard Dad talking about a brothel which had just opened in the main street and when I told Clare after bathing, feeding and sharing a joint with me she pushed me down there.
"She said she had a few clients with disabilities and would be glad to help me out."
When we arrived it wasn't wheelchair accessible and in spite of me living so close they wouldn't send anyone to visit me. Clare made a few phone calls when we arrived home and eventually there was someone prepared to visit me. After another joint, Clare undressed and put me into bed, all ready for my visitor. As we lived in a dog leg Clare waited outside so the lady wouldn't miss the street. It wasn't long before Clare showed the visitor into my room and it didn't take her long to get undressed and climb on top of me. Clare asked her as she was leaving if she took private bookings she said she had a few clients with disabilities and would be glad to help me out.
I saw her a few times before she started a family.
I then became involved in a relationship for six months and of course during this time I didn't worry about looking for anyone else but after getting over being dumped I began looking again. By this time the organisation had introduced policies preventing staff from helping us access sex services but this didn't stop some from helping. I moved into a house with around-the-clock care and some staff would take me to a brothel and undress me before leaving me and having a drink with the other workers.
As staff changed nobody felt comfortable in taking me to a brothel but [they] would make a phone call and leave me ready in bed.
There were two occasions which I'd rather forget: a lady visitor didn't know what to do, she had to be told everything by me; and there was a lady who, once she saw I had a disability, wouldn't have anything to do with me in spite of being paid. My carers tried to get my money back without success.
Following this my house manager contacted Touching Base, which is an advisory organisation for people with disabilities and now I'm seeing the same lady regularly.