Welcome to “Voices from the Disability Community: – the series that introduces interesting people with various disabilities by asking the same set of questions to everyone. The point of doing that is share the diversity within the disability spectrum and experience, and get to know some cool people.
This week I’m happy to get to know Eva Sweeney along with you!
Getting to Know You
- Your name: Eva Sweeney
- What’s your connection with disability?
I was born with cerebral palsy, which for me effects all my muscles. I use a wheelchair to get around and I’m non-verbal so I spell out what I want to say on a letter board.
- Star Trek or Star Wars?
Uhhh, neither lol
- If you could live in any other country for 2 years, where would you go?
I have always wanted to go to Spain. I took Spanish all through high school and I studied artists from Spain, so I think it would be cool to visit.
- What dish would you bring to our community picnic potluck?
Cheesey fries. My favorite!
Now That We’ve Been Introduced…
- What do you do:
I’m a writer, sex educator, and I have made a documentary. I generally write about sexuality and disability, being queer and disabled. My documentary explores the relationships between people with disabilities and their aides. It’s called Respect: The Joy of Aides, and you can rent or buy it on Amazon. I found most of the media representations of these relationships focused on abuse and being taken advantage of. While that is super important to talk about, I wanted to show the other side. I’m also a consultant for the ABC show Speechless and that has been an awesome experience!
- How did you come to doing what you do? How has your career trajectory flowed?
When I was a teenager and just coming out and also just becoming sexually active, I looked for information about being disabled and having sex, and found no good resources. So with the help of a friend I created a small guide titled, Queers on Wheels. It discussed how to deal with dating when you need assistance with everyday things, choosing and adapting sex toys, and hiring and maintaining aides who respect all of who you are. I then toured the U.S. giving workshops on these topics. Now I don’t have the energy to really tour, but I still write about it for magazines and blogs. There is way more awareness now, too, so it is fun to collaborate with other folks doing similar work!
- Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
I would love to be working at a feminist sex shop helping people with disabilities choose all kinds of sex toys. I would also still like to give workshops.
- Not to be morbid, but what do you want people to remember about you when you’ve gone?
I would like to be remembered for my awesome sex and disability advocacy work.
- Who or what inspires you?
Not to sound inspiro-porny, but when I give workshops and middle aged people with disabilities say that was the first time they talked about sex in such an open way, that inspires me to keep doing this work.
- If you could say something to yourself in the past – that is, the you that was really struggling with something related to disability – what would you say?
I really wish I had taken advantage of UC Berkeley’s disability program. I went to a school in Los Angeles, which was okay, but I would have really benefitted from the life skills taught in the program.
- What do you like about your particular disability?
That it weeds non-genuine people out of my life (for the most part). Because my disability is so “severe” and I communicate in a different way, people have to take the time to get to know me. Without my disability, I might have more casual friends and acquaintances, but instead I have really good close friends who get me.
- Any one thing that you wish people would *get* about disability?
Yes. I really wish the general public would understand that even though someone is non-verbal, they can still understand and communicate.
- What single piece of technology makes your life easier?
I would definitely say my communication system, which is just a laser and a board with the alphabet and common words, not only makes my life easier, but is vital to my well-being.
Where else can we find you online?