Image Description: A day planner opened witht eh word Wedding on the Friday date, above the word are two wedding rings.

I received an email yesterday from a young man with Down Syndrome asking me a question about relationships and sexuality.
He said in his email that he had been in an abuse prevention class that I taught a long time ago and when he decided he wanted to write me he looked me up on the computer.
When he ‘googled’ me he found an article I’d written about a young man with down syndrome called down syndrome off the clock.

He read the article, loved it, and was then convinced that I was the man he wanted to get advice from.

He had a question that was about sexuality, disability and down syndrome.

He is about to get married to his fiance and there was one aspect about his sexuality that he didn’t quite understand and he’d tried asking his support worker, who didn’t know and didn’t know who to ask. He didn’t want to ask his parents because, well, they’re his parents and that’s a bit, in his mind, icky. So, he looked me up and he wrote me.

Clearly I’m not going to give you any more information about the question that he had or what my response, which I sent right away, was to the question.

That would be completely inappropriate here. I did ask him if I could write about him writing me, because that’s what really excited me.

Let’s look at the precursors to his email …

1) He is in love and is about to get married. That is such a monumental shift from the days of forced sterilizations, gender separation and punishment for sexual loving behaviour.

Relationships used to terrify us and they were driven underground.

In the full light of day, this man is in love and is getting married. Just this fact tells you everything you need to know about his parents and the people who support him.

2) His fiance is his boyfriend of many years. Many years. He’s 23! He has been out as a gay man with Down Syndrome for a long time.

His parents are thrilled he’s getting married and love his boyfriend.

In my mind I can see the faces of so many men and women with intellectual disabilities whose sexuality has been systematically punished and who have brutalized by prejudice masking as therapy. OK, now you know even more about those who love  those who support him.

3) He had access to the world outside himself and inside his computer. He was able to look someone up, seek them out and ask them a question.

I know everyone goes all apoplectic about people with intellectual disabilities and the dangers of the Internet but, come on, can we talk about the value of the Internet to everyone, including people with intellectual disabilities?

In my email to him, I had the privilege of congratulating him on his coming wedding and that I was honoured that he remembered my workshop and trusted me enough to approach me to ask me his question.

And I admit.

I cried while writing that, for all sorts of different reasons.

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