Posts Tagged ‘glbt issues’
Torontoist’s Kaitlyn Kochany has a nice article examining the Deliciously Disabled movement, on-line and in sex clubs.
First of all: it wasn’t an orgy. Despite what you might have read in the Sun, the Star, and Vice, the party that went down at Buddies in Bad Times on August 14 is more correctly referred to as a “play party.” The 125 people who sold out the event could flirt, dance, laugh, be in various stages of undress, make out—and they could have sex, too, if they were all consenting adults.
Why was this a big deal? Those 125 people were attending Deliciously Disabled, the first fully accessible play party in Canada, if not the world. The party was different from the usual hook-up club scene in a number of ways. There were attendants onsite, to help operate Hoyer lifts and move people from wheelchairs to couches or beds and back again. There were volunteers who provided ASL translation. The bathrooms and entryways could accommodate 300-pound motorized wheelchairs. And, for the first time, people living with disabilities were at the centre of a sexual event designed to include them right from the beginning. “This event and space was for me. I was not an afterthought,” says Andrew Morrison-Gurza.
Morrison-Gurza is a Richmond Hill-based consultant who focuses on sexuality and disability. Earlier this year, he created Deliciously Disabled to further his work, which includes blogging and speaking about his lived experience as a queer man with cerebral palsy. “The brand started back in January, when I did a shoot for Now Magazine’s Love Your Body issue. They didn’t have anyone with a disability and I approached them.” After the shoot, the magazine asked Morrison-Gurza how he wanted to be described in his bio. At first, he went with his usual “queer and disabled” explainer. “And then I said, nope, you know what? I’m going to say I’m deliciously disabled.” A brand was born.
Stella Palikarova, who works on experiences and expressions of disability, came up with the idea for the play party. Last fall, she partnered with Oasis Aqualounge and began searching for venues that could accommodate disabled guests. (Oasis, with its narrow doorways and many stairs, wasn’t going to work.) “I did some poking around in terms of what, if any, accessible sex clubs exist in Toronto. I came up short.” The theatre-slash-event space Buddies in Bad Times was finally chosen after months of searching.
In his “As Much as I Can, As Black As I Am: The Queer History of Grace Jones, Barry Walters describes the career and importance of Grace Jones at length, connecting her to himself and to gay history. It’s superb.
ve the dancefloor of New York’s 12 West, the state-of-the-art, members-only gay disco, about to take the stage for one her first performances. The year is 1977, and no one is prepared for what’s about to hit them.
Tom Moulton, father of the dance mix and Jones’ early producer, describes the scene: “All of a sudden the spotlight hits her. She starts singing ‘I Need a Man’, and the place goes crazy. After she finishes, she goes, ‘I don’t know about you, honey, but I need a fucking man!’ Talk about a room-worker. Whatever it takes. She was so determined.”
To understand the impact of this moment, one must understand a bit of history. Just a few years earlier, it had been illegal for two men to so much as dance together in New York City. With the exception of maybe hairdressers and artists, queer people risked unemployment if they merely hinted at their orientation outside the confines of gay bars and clubs, and it was in these discos that the seeds of liberation were sown. At 12 West, gay people could grasp the power of their collectivity and understand what it meant to be free.
That night, Grace Jones sang “I Need a Man” just like a man might—tough and lusty, she was a woman who was not just singing to them, but also for them, as them. She was as queer as a relatively straight person could get. Her image celebrated blackness and subverted gender norms; she presented something we had never seen before in pop performance—a woman who was lithe, sexy, and hyperfeminine while also exuding a ribald, butch swagger. In ’79, Ebony got her je ne sais quoi exactly right: “Grace Jones is a question mark followed by an exclamation point.”
Even now, her transgressive charisma remains bold. She still feels outré.