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Kayla Besse @kayla_besse
, 19 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
A THREAD: Do y'all know what "access intimacy" is? If you don't, may I suggest you start with @miamingus' excellent article exploring the term and its applications:…

And, a story about what access intimacy looks like for me.
In short, access intimacy might be involved when, as a physically disabled person, your body feels safe with another human, because they 'get' your needs and/or limitations. It moves beyond "help" to true comfort, companionship, and understanding.
As @miamingus writes, "It has looked like relationships where I always feel like I can say what my access needs are, no matter what. Or i can say that I don’t know them, and that’s ok too. It has looked like people not expecting payment in the form of emotional currency... (1/2)
(2/2) ...or ownership for access. It has looked like able bodied people listening to me and believing me. It has looked like people investing in remembering my access needs and checking in with me if there are going to be situations that might be inaccessible or hard."
Why am I talking about this now? Well, sometimes I half-joke that I'm "seasonally disabled." My symptoms are WAY worse in winter—both because of the cold, but also because my balance is so bad, that walking independently outside is sometimes impossible, & brings high injury risk.
Today was the first day of the season that it was totally dry when I left the house this morning, but by the time the sun went down, there was black ice everywhere (my NEMESIS). No roads or sidewalks had been salted.
I was working at a cafe with a friend downtown. Since it was late and cold, he offered to walk me to my bus stop. We only walked about half a block and I had virtually no choice but to ask to hold his arm: access intimacy.
Access intimacy, bc if I was with someone I didn't feel safe with, I would've had to shuffle along, probably until I slipped. Access intimacy, because to feel truly secure, this has to be a "clinging to your bf's arm at prom" hold, not a loose palm awkwardly offered in charity.
I make it on the bus, but the route from the bus stop to my house looks no better. Joel is out of town, so what to do? I called my neighbour who also 'gets it' and said "Listen, I'm not calling a cab for one block, can you come walk me home?" It takes practice to get this comfy.
I wait, he shows up, he carries my bag, he asks the best way to support me. "Like we're at prom," I say. "I haven't done this with a woman in a long time," he says (he's dating a dude). We laugh at ourselves. In this moment, I'm so glad that this is what access can look like.
There's a lot to be said here about platonic intimacy/romantic friendship, too, but maybe that's a thread for another day. @sammymarie writes about how true care is often reserved for romantic relationships (it shouldn't be!):…
Access intimacy can be contrasted with FORCED intimacy, which is when disabled people must share personal details of their life/health with strangers, in order to receive even the most basic care. It sometimes involves unwanted touching (see workplaces, schools, medical offices).
This is, at its core, an issue of consent and bodily autonomy. More on forced intimacy as an ableist norm:…
Working over the last 3 months (hi @BITpartnership / @ReVisionArtsSJ) with a group of mostly women, most of whom are disabled and/or queer themselves, is literally the best thing that's ever happened to me work-wise.
There is so much flexibility and understanding for what our bodies can and cannot be expected to do, even when our needs and priorities are different (thinking of you, @andrealala89!)
Anyway, I didn't mean to come on here to write an earnest #DisabilityTwitter essay at midnight, but here we are. The moral of the story is that you should ask your friends if they want to hold your hand more, because it just might help them make it through this (COLD, ICY) world.
I should go to bed because @AbiLemak is driving me to a doctor's appt in Toronto tomorrow morning (with specialists I respect and trust!!), which is love and access intimacy so good I could cry. Goodnight ✨ #TheFutureIsAccessible
Oh PS! Check out @annieelainey's #FakingWell, something that most disabled people have to do in many social and interpersonal situations, especially when #AccessIntimacy is not a viable option.
AhhHg you know what ELSE counts as "forced intimacy"? When random strangers say they'll pray for you because they see your limp. It had never happened to me, but @ryanoconn told me that in LA it would, and the next day IT DID.
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