A Review of 'The Outsiders Club' Screened on BBC 2 in October 96
I decided to write a review on the social group known as The Outsiders. The group's main aim is to enable disabled adults to form personal relationships, including specifically sexual ones (Shakespeare 1996), either with each other or with non-disabled members. The group has been in existence for several years, and has attracted a great deal of attention, including reaction from present and former members, and in particular from within the Disabled People's Movement . Many of the comments made by former members of the group have been critical, sometimes highly condemnatory, and frequently made by disabled women (Rae 1984).
In both my professional and private capacity I am interested in sexuality and disability, and specifically in the ways in which disabled adults can establish meaningful relationships with other people (disabled or on-disabled). Issues such as sexuality and the forming of relationships are regularly discussed in mainstream youth and community work, but rarely with regard to disabled people (which is not surprising since disabled people are often absent from mainstream groups).
Indeed, it is only in the last few years that disabled people themselves have been in the forefront of this debate, and the leading protagonist have usually been activists within the wider disability movement, who are well aware of other social and sexual issues such as gender, sexism, homophobia, and so on. The Outsiders was set up (and is still fronted by) an able bodied woman who for many years has been well known in the controversial arena of sexual liberation and soft-core pornography, so it is hardly surprising that her group has both supporters and critics.
A recent BBC-2 documentary series (From the Edge) devoted a whole programme to the group, and this essay...