Sex and disability: Laura Gehlhaar speaks with O Talk about self-determination

Discussing the sexuality of disabled people is still considered a big taboo. Our author Edith Löhle has interviewed a woman who’s not afraid to openly confront the subject. Laura Gehlhaar has been using a wheelchair for years, but her disability doesn’t mean that she denies her sexuality.

“People with disabilities often don’t get to experience a sexual education or sexual self-determination. They’re simply stamped off as “disabled”, carrying a brand mark on their forehead for the rest of their lives. Sexual self-determination and many other types of self-determination often fall by the wayside,“ Laura explains.

In her interview with O Talk, the 36-year-old Berlin-based author reveals that sex for the disabled is either treated as a fetish or a taboo. There are 7.8 million people with disabilities in Germany – their lives and sexual desires deserve to be taken seriously.

“Ever since I confronted the topic online, I’ve received feedback such as: “Laura, maybe you should approach things a little more gently and introduce others to the topic more slowly? Because people are unsure. You’ve got to give them time. You have to have patience.” And I just think: ‘Nope. I really don’t have to do that.’”

“Disabled people have been around since the beginning of humanity. If there had been greater efforts to integrate them earlier on, and we had noticed their capabilities, the things they can accomplish and the diversity they bring to society, I wouldn’t have to sit here and talk about how we can get out of this mess.”

Yes, preach girl! We hope you enjoy this O Talk!

Want to find out more about Laura Gehlhaar’s work? Visit her website at lauragehlhaar.com.

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When I was a child I never understood why my friends’ parents would tear out the sexual education pages of BRAVO, the German teen magazine. Why didn’t we just talk about it? After all, sex concerns us all. That’s why I embarked on a career as a journalist 12 years ago. Here, I got to work closely with the Dr. Sommer team – a group of journalists answering questions about puberty and teenagers’ sexual concerns. Since then, I’ve been publishing content across a wide variety of German media. Having overseen the launch of media company Refinery29 in Germany as editor in chief, I now work as a freelance journalist and author, focusing on pieces about strong women, sexuality and body positivity. Through my work, I aim to challenge obsolete and outdated gender stereotypes and the discrimination of women.