An Intimate Decision
When I launched my blog in September, my goal was to talk about life with the disease, leaving no topic untouched, regardless of how uncomfortable it might be. So there was no way that I could ignore an article I found describing how Nick Wallis (left), a 22-year-old with Duchenne's living in the UK, hired a prostitute so that he could experience sexual intercourse before he dies.
An interesting note to the story is the fact that the encounter was arranged with the support of Sister Frances Dominica, a nun who runs Helen and Douglas House, a hospice facility for young adults, where Mr. Wallis often spends time.
Mr. Wallis, who wrote, in his own words, that he had always hoped that sex "would be just one part of a close relationship," had come to the conclusion that it was unlikely to happen. While he described the experience as "satisfactory," and was glad to have had the "tenacity" to go through with it, he also characterized it as "emotionally unfulfilling."
And that is why I would not consider something like this. I already know that I would feel the same way because I know how I am wired. Sex, in and of itself, has little meaning to me. Like Mr. Wallis, I have always wanted to be in a true relationship. It is highly unlikely that will ever happen for me, but that's how life goes. You don't always get to achieve all of your goals.
But sex is not going to fulfill this desire. With the slim probability that I will be in a relationship, I have chosen to pour my energy into my work, into writing my book and making a difference for those whose lives are affected by Duchenne's.
That said, I have great respect for Mr. Wallis' decision. This was something he wanted to do -- something he had every right to do -- and he did it. I don't see any reason why paying for sex is illegal; it harms no one (unless we're talking about sexual slavery). All parties involved do so of their own volition. Furthermore, it is commendable that he has publicly discussed his decision because it raises the subject of sexuality and disability, which is not addressed nearly enough.
Bloggers, such as The English Courtesan, have expressed their support for Mr. Wallis, while others, such as Pastor Tom have been critical. While the pastor may have a point about the "idolatry" of sex in our society, why should Mr. Wallis, by virtue of his disease, be denied the opportunity to do something that everyone else can do? What Sister Frances did to support Mr. Wallis (read her explanation here) demonstrates that she has a true understanding of her role as a clergy member.
Nick Wallis' decision is not the same as mine. But time and time again, I would defend his right to make that decision.