TLC was actually really born back in 2000 at a Sexual Freedom Coalition Conference, entitled Let’s Start the Real Sexual Revolution. One of the speakers, a disabled man, James Palmer revealed his sadness at being a virgin in his mid 40s. When his speech ended, he was surrounded by a sea of loving arms, and a promise from the lesbian commune Rockbitch that he would be a virgin no longer.
The happy James joined forces with Dr Tuppy Owens to create TLC website. James created and managed the website for several years on a voluntary basis. Finally, his continued starvation of love and sex did not improve and he became disheartened at running a site for other people to enjoy the pleasures he could not afford for himself.
A small group of people, including IUSW founder, Ana Lopes and Professor Petrouska Clarkson, James Palmer and Dr Tuppy Owens had become enthusiastic about starting TLC as an educational academy, which which would raise funds to train sex workers and disabled people. A pilot study was launched and it became immediately obvious that sex workers are not at all willing to be told how to work. Nor were there likely to be any funds forthcoming. The group dissipated, and TLC was left with just a website and a skeletal team.
The urgency of finding a way to continue this website came when a care home manager complained at a SHADA (Sexual Health & Disability Alliance) meeting that her staff were selling sexual services to residents because they we desperately horny. She was delighted to hear that Britain has wonderful escorts who would gladly take over this role.
Eventually we found a volunteer to develop an accessible site, Ian Hudson, using a design created by Dr Tuppy Owens. One of the first sex workers to have joined us offered to vet all the new profiles to ensure the sex workers were totally professional and responsible.
In June 2008 Dr Tuppy Owens spoke at the UK Network of Sex Workers’ Conference in Manchester. Her talk was about the sexual needs of disabled people and was very well received. Several delegates promised to take her stories to the Home Office. Catherine Stevens of IUSW spoke from the audience in support of TLC. Tuppy spoke again at the Sex Workers’ University Conference in Glasgow in spring 2014.
We had startee to be applauded in the press: “Organisations such as The Outsiders and TLC (Tender Loving Care) do invaluable work to recognize the sexual needs of disabled people, and do what they can to help — campaigning in a pretty forthright way.”
Bel Mooney in the Daily Mail, 18th August 2010
In September 2008 Ariana Chevalier was invited to speak at the ASBAH (Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus) AGM. Using a flip chart, PowerPoint presentation and a suitcase full of props, Ariana spoke eloquently and proved herself to be both an inspiration and obviously a very professional escort. We were proud to have her as part of TLC until she moved on.
Dr Tuppy Owens was invited to speak at the Different Strokes AGM. She thought it very important to introduce the audience to a sex worker, so everybody could see what nice people they can be, and useful to help stroke survivors who cannot communicate verbally. Pru was her “surprise guest”, and she stood up and spoke passionately.
In the same year, SHADA devoted half a day to the subject of sex workers and disability. Criminal Lawyer John Blandford came and spoke about the law, and Ariana Chevalier came and spoke about her career in sex work. She stressed the importance sex is for a person’s health and described her services. She made this suggestion “Just as a residential home or college for disabled people has written in its brochure “priest available to visit” so should it have ‘sex worker available to visit’”. This met with a round of applause.
When the the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007 came out, and we saw that the buying of sex was to be criminalised, disabled members of Outsiders, academics and sex workers decided to demonstrate. Our demo took place in the sunshine on Tuesday 26th February 2008. Around fifty people lined the south side of Westminster bridge, many in wheelchairs. There were cameras galore, with a TV documentary team and journalists fighting to interview demonstrators. Placards included “Don’t Disable My Libido” and “Disabled and Horny”. Women wearing Gordon Brown masks carried placards saying “‘We will do everything in our power that…the needs of disabled people are properly recognised’ Gordon Brown PMQs 23-01-07”. That afternoon, the clauses that would have banned people using sex workers were dropped from the Bill. The battle was over but sadly the war was not won.
When we are asked how this change of law would affect disabled people, we make it quite clear that disabled people would be the first and most badly affected. Other clients will continue to visit sex workers but, if you are blind, you don’t know if you are being followed by a cop, if you need to be pushed in your wheelchair by a PA, taking part in illegal acts would be breaking your contract with them. Many disabled people find it virtually impossible to be “naughty”.
We are always speaking to journalists and reporters on the subject including in 2014, Cieran Jenkins at Ch4 News and we are delighted that both journalists and the public are in support of disabled people enjoying sexual services.
TLC is proud that our service providers performed at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on 13th November 2008, to an audience who were moved to tears. Sue Newsome made love to quadriplegic Dominic’s head. He then spoke about why this has been so important to him. Having been promised help with sex at his spinal unit some 14 years before, which never came, it was through contacts in the Outsiders Club and Tuppy Owens that he first booked a session with Tantric sex worker, Sue. Sue talked about how important this work is for her, and their sessions are all about Dominic. Their performance was followed by Solitaire stripping in front of deaf-blind Jimmy, whilst the action was described to him via finger language by jj. Once more the audience were captivated. Congratulations to the Royal Society of Medicine for allowing this to happen. We felt as if we were changing the world. You can see photos of both performances at the bottom of this page.
Dr Tuppy Owens’s book “Supporting Disabled People with their Sexual Lives” has a huge chapter describing the sexual services available to disabled people and how they benefit from them. Let’s hope this helps the world move forward!
TLC is unique in the world and recognized on the SHADA International website as pioneering. In 2015, Tuppy Owens won the Innovation Award of Sexual Health and Human Rights UNESCO for all her projects,TLC included.
Now Northern Ireland has tragically banned the buying of sex, but one of the TLC sex workers, Laura Lee, is campaigning to get this law overturned.
In 2014 the website was considered old fashioned and we found a young severely disabled genius in Romania, Marius Sucan, who re-designed the site and persuaded Tuppy to rewrite it. Our wonderful new logo was produced by the disabled film director Antony Buonomo.,
In 2015, Ian Hudson became too unwell to continue the work, Now, after a lovely partial re-design by Gillian Ray, been taken over by expert John Keiller who lives not far away from Tuppy in the North of Scotland.
The type of services has been expanded to include Tantric practice, Sexological Bodywork, psychosexual somatic practioners and striptease artists. We hope to expand around the globe.