"Take A Look At This Heart," is a new documentary that journeys into the romantic lives of extraordinary people with disabilities. The film follows director Ben Duffy's previous documentary on adaptive athletes, "Tin Soldiers."
One in five people live with a disability, and 1 in 50 have some form of paralysis, according to studies by the Christopher And Dana Reeve Foundation and the U.S. Census. Despite these statistics, people with disabilities are vastly underrepresented by the media in general, with the subject of intimacy remaining especially taboo. Misperceptions abound, often complicating or even preventing people with disabilities from expressing their sexuality or perceiving themselves as capable of romantic relationships.
"I was always saying in the back of my mind, I wonder if I'm ever going to get married," says Stephen Wampler, a father of two who runs Camp Wamp, a sleep-away camp for children with disabilities. Stephen achieved notoriety by becoming the first person with Cerebral Palsy to climb El Capitan in Yosemite. When asked to describe their first date, his wife Elizabeth notes, "All of a sudden, I knew I had to be with him the rest of my life, and I was positive."
Whereas some of the film's 17 subjects are in relationships with loving partners, others struggle to get by in a world that often seems to overlook them.
On entering the dating scene, Tamara Mena reflects;
"I remember getting lots of compliments from guys, like 'Oh you're so beautiful', but that was it." Tamara is a model and motivational speaker who became paralyzed in a car accident at 19. "I think that's what goes through most people's minds: she's in a wheelchair, she can't have sex."
Gretchelle Dilan, a disability rights activist living in Puerto Rico, landed in a wheelchair after her friend unknowingly picked up an loaded gun. She describes how her relationship with her girlfriend transcends her injury:
"I am thankful that I am in a relationship, but not because I'm thankful that she can love someone in a wheelchair. I don't see that connection there. I don't make her feel like she's loving someone in a wheelchair, I just make her feel like she's loving someone."
"Take A Look At This Heart" illuminates the confidence and unconditional love that its subjects have for themselves and each other, seeking a better understanding of what it means to "feel" in every sense of the word.
Being a quadriplegic doesn't stop me. Just being paralyzed doesn't stop me from being in a relationship or being physical or making love or anything like that...if I'm with the right person. Because if I'm with the right person, I don't feel like I'm paralyzed - Angela Rockwood, "Take A Look At This Heart"
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