Earlier this week I was invited to give a keynote presentation about my research on sexuality and disability at the fifth Hungarian disability studies conference in Budapest. The theme was ‘Posthumanism and disability – what does it mean to be human in the 21st century?’, and the host was the Institute for Disability and Social Participation at ELTE Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Needs Education.
Photo of me giving my keynote. I’m holding a mic and standing in front of a green chalk board. I’m wearing wide red pants, a black polo and a necklace with a red bead.
My keynote speech was titled ‘Being human means being sexual? Understanding sexual facilitation in theory, practice and policy’ and I presented both my PhD research from Sweden and some preliminary results from my ongoing project. My presentation was well received and I got many interesting questions and comments. One of the things I say by quoting Adolf Ratzka, is that to be able to explore and engage in sexual relationships (with oneself or others) one needs to have independent living. However, in Hungary, there are no independent living/personal assistance services whatsoever.
One of apparently only two (!) disabled people in Hungary who employ personal assistants out of their own pockets is Daniel Csángó. He took part in a lecture to the first year students in the special education programme to which I was also invited by teaching assistant and doctoral student Anikó Sándor (who also organised the conference). I got to know her at last year’s Alter conference in Stockholm and Lancaster disability studies conference. The lecture was about sexual assistance, and Daniel talked about his own experiences. We also watched a film from Germany about a disabled couple struggling with managing their sex life without special sexual assistants – although their regular assistants help in the way that they can.
Daniel and Anikó in the classroom.
It was my first time at a Hungarian university – even though I’m of Hungarian origin! But since my parents and I moved to Sweden when I was 1,5 years old, I never went to school or lived in Hungary. It was truly great and rewarding to meet disability studies colleagues and develop my academic language skills in Hungarian, and to learn about the situation of disabled people and disability studies/research in Hungary. I hope I will be able to return every year to this flourishing disability studies community and maybe also collaborate with the colleagues!