Sport and Sexy Wheels

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – April 20, 2006

When I think about how easy it would be for me to squat cowgirl on my man, on command, in the front seat of a ’69 Dodge Charger, or compact myself low down to blow him in the cramped space of a dirty bar bathroom, I thank the heavens I don’t have mobility issues.

Can’t say the same spontaneity or unhindered movement is common among the disabled. Yeah, I got a soft spot in my heart for folks who sex and sport it, on wheels.

With this appreciation for agile sex moves, I’m reminded of one of my favourite French films called Nationale 7. It’s a sex-advocacy documentary about a group of health care professionals who round up a troop of prostitutes in roadside trailers to service the needs of horny, disabled men. It’s happening in Holland, Australia and the U.K. Even Toronto has shown more leg than O-Town.

Toronto has 26-year-old Alessia di Virgilio talking about the ins and outs of sex among the disabled in her zine Sex on Wheels, and her short film The 411 on Sex and Disability. I first read about her in Toronto’s Eye Magazine, and she just won a community service volunteer award for her work at SexAbility.

From what I can tell, the City of Ottawa doesn’t seem to provide sexual aid services for the disabled, but it’s nice to see the super spring and summer lineup of its city-wide integration and recreation programs (yoga, arts, sports, etc.) for youth, adults and seniors with special needs (

And while Ottawa is doing a great job promoting sports for disabled people, on a national level, Canada failed big time. The 2006 Paralympic Games in Turin came and went as fast as the electric wheelchair I drove into the side of a fish tank once during my brief stint as a home care worker. (I had to park and charge the chair, but what can I say, I’m hooked on TT racing.)

While the Olympic Games shut down my British soap opera for weeks on end last month, CBC, for example, gave minimal coverage to the Paralympic Games. I guess network and television viewers don’t give a shit about wheelchair marathoners or amputee sprinters. Let’s find out why this weekend (April 21-23) as the RBC 2010 Flag Tour makes its cross-country stop at the Rideau Centre (east side). The visit’s purpose is to join Canadians together in welcoming the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.

Did you know the first Olympic Games of the modern era opened in Athens 110 years ago this month? It took over a century for the Paralympic movement, which represents the vast majority of athletes with a disability, to come about. And when it was created in 1989 its mandate was to offer a vision of inspiration and empowerment.

So it’s 2006 – is it inspiring and empowering?

In the article called “Are all Paralympians elite athletes?” author Daniel Bell questions whether Paralympic sports are really “elite”, despite the fact that the disabled sports movement has worked tirelessly to have their games recognized as such. Maybe they shouldn’t get the same funding and media attention as Olympians?

“The issue is really a quality of competition,” Bell writes, observing the many more medals the Paralympians receive over Olympians. Sounds like the difference between veggie burgers and bison burgers. They’re both burgers, but would you really enter them in the same cook-off?

But it’s not only the swift passing of the Paralympic Games, or disabled-sex activism in our neighbouring city, that makes me ask if Ottawa is doing all we can do for the disabled community here. Just the other weekend, I got in from a great night out in Wakefield – holy delicious bison burgers from Chez Eric – with friends, only to find my neighbour “stuck” in the elevator.

He was hanging out with the door ajar, and leaning over his wheelchair talking into the elevator wall with what sounded like a Dalek from Dr. Who. What ensued was a natural misunderstanding about being “stuck.” Yes we could get out, but we were stuck too because dude can’t get upstairs otherwise. He’s in wheels.

If I hadn’t come along, my neighbour would have been stuck with two options: sleep in the lobby with his coat over his head or hang out at Tim Hortons at the corner of Bank Street and Dodgeville. His bladder had 20 minutes. The Ottawa Fire Department arrived in five and got him upstairs for the night.

He’s a lucky neighbour. The power outage back in August 2003 saw the wheelchair folks of my building lined up in front of the building like drag racers at Highway 7’s Ottodrome, but with only the Lockmaster Tavern toilets to piss in and the front lawn to spend the night.

And yet it’s not the people in wheelchairs who depress me – it’s the ones outta them that often make me sad. I mean, why do able-bodied folks who can fuck or frolic so conveniently destroy their bodies with unhealthy habits? So never mind wheels, what the fuck is up with women and their high heels?

– Sylvie Hill