the bod poe in 2021
Not knowing when the dawn will come/I open every door
As we leave 2020 behind--the year of a global pandemic, Covid deaths, job loss, isolation, racist murders and the uprisings that have followed, an election season that has revealed how truly divided the US is--I am grateful for the doors that have opened in this terrible time, hopeful entryways into 2021
While people were social distancing and staying in quarantine, I was finding that I had more access to work, friendship, art practice, and activism than I had ever had before. The culture of Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms necessitated by Covid has created these openings. As a person with multiple physical disabilities that make it difficult and riskier for me to navigate the built environment, I can now attend gatherings or join meetings whether or not it is safe to take an Uber, whether or not accessible public transit exists, on days when my remaining eyesight is extremely blurred due to illness, and on days when other chronic conditions make it too painful to leave the house. The normalization of virtual community and work is a major opportunity for people with disabilities.
Personally, I’ve been spending my time in virtual community with so many groups and individuals, like: dancer, choreographer, and Feldenkrais teacher Mary Armentrout (Oakland); the Turtle Disco, a queer writing and movement artist space (Ypsilanti, MI); in an Americana singing circle of woman at The Freight and Salvage (Berkeley); doing “Apocalyose Aerobics” with friends, to the tune of absurdity and vintage workout wear (San Francisco). There are so many more I could list.
In March, I organized a discussion panel for Florida disability community around the groundbreaking Crip Camp documentary. As the months went on, I met with new life coaching clients face-to-face via FaceTime or Skype. And lead or co-lead many regulars meetings of the the two social justice organizations I have co-founded, Sex Worker Outreach Project Tampa Bay and the Disability and Sexuality Access Network. Many people in the national disability community have felt the possibilities of virtual meeting culture and we know it needs to be pushed further, to insure the creation of more education and remote jobs for disabled folks. We hope that it becomes more and more the norm, that friends’ parties and virtual dates on OK Cupid are not just fleeting phenomena that fall away at the end of the pandemic.
This has been an especially compromised time to work at the intersection of disability and sexuality. At DASAN, we angsted over the worth of our collective at a time when disabled folks are in danger for their lives or housing insecure. Was it ridiculous, at such a time, to be talking about sexual expression and intimacy by and for disabled educators, artists, and thinkers? We decided that yes, it was more pertinent than ever. The thrill and vital comfort of intimate connection is maybe more necessary in a time of fear and sorrow. Read DASAN’s year-in-review blog post. Listen to the interviews Caz and I did for the podcast Psych and the City in which we explain DASAN and laugh alot about our own sex lives and disability blunders. If you want to donate, volunteer for, become a member, or hire DASAN, please reach out.
In late summer, I taught a Zoom class called Poetics of Pleasure, for Kelsey St. Press, in which I offered exercises in reading and writing poetry to deepen sensory awareness and thus realize more pleasure. If you are interested in taking a class like this from me, please be in touch.
Around November, I began holding a virtual support group for sex workers with disabilitIes. So many people who work in the adult industry, especially online, have disabilities. In many cases, this is very empowering work as the individual can control their environment and freely take time to rest and self-care, especially online. If you or someone you know wants to join the group, connect with SWOP Tampa Bay.
For February 2021, I am planning a talk about the disappointments and better developments at the intersection of disability and feminism. I will be speaking to the Pinellas chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW). If you’re interested in hiring me to give this kind overview, please be in contact.
And, while I am not currently seeing in-person clients for body work due to Covid, I am always offering online sessions around disability, intimacy, and creativity coaching. I always provide sliding-scale for disabled folks. What better time, while we are still shut down in the coming months, then to reach out and begin your journey with me!
May you draw from and may you replenish a well of joy, beauty, and desire in the coming months. Happy new year, dear readers.