Disabled people are routinely assumed to lack the capabilities and capacities to embody and experience sexuality and desire, as well as the agency to love and be loved by others, and build their own families, if they so choose. Centring on the sexual, intimate and erotic lives of disabled people, this book presents a rare opportunity to understand and ask critical questions about such widely held assumptions.


In essence, this book is a collection of sexual stories, told by disabled people on their own terms and in their own ways. Stories that shed light on areas of disability, love and life that are typically overlooked and ignored. A sociological analysis of these stories reveals the creative ways in which disabled people manage and negotiate their sexual and intimate lives in contexts where these are habitually denied. In its calls for disabled people’s sexual and intimate citizenship, stories are drawn upon as the means to create social change and build more radically inclusive sexual cultures.


In this ground breaking feminist critical disability studies text, The Intimate Lives of Disabled People introduces and contributes to contemporary debates around disability, sexuality and intimacy in the 21st century. Its arguments are relevant and accessible to researchers, academics, and students across a wide range of disciplines – such as sociology, gender studies, psychology, social work, and philosophy – as well as disabled people, their families and allies, and the professionals who work with and for them.

chapter 1|14 pages

Exploring disability and sexuality

chapter 2|26 pages

Constraints and possibilities

chapter 4|21 pages

‘Can you have sex?’

Intimate citizens and intimate selves

chapter 5|21 pages

‘I need to stick with this because I might not find anybody else’

The labour of love

chapter 6|30 pages

‘If I ever wanted an affair I’d have to send my lover to lifting and handling classes first!’

Sexual normativity and othered bodies

chapter 7|33 pages

‘…They finish off with a blow job’

Politics, power and the precarity of pleasure

chapter 8|19 pages

Drawing some conclusions