An Intimate Look At The Sex Lives Of People Living With Disabilities (NSFW)

Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
In his most recent series, Je t’aime moi aussi, photographer Olivier Fermariello resists societal stigma with every picture he takes. The gross misconceptions he's fighting are the ways in which mainstream culture denies people with physical disabilities any kind of sexual identity. Over email, Fermariello explains that "people with disabilities...have the same desires as non-disabled people. [But], for some reason, the society doesn’t want to admit [that] to itself."

His photos depict people who live with disabilities — in their homes, on their beds, undressed with their lovers. Some look away from the camera, while others stare accusingly into the lens, leading the project as a whole to be as voyeuristic as it is confrontational.

"I think there is just one thing to do in order to get rid of a taboo, or to solve a problem in general: talking," Fermariello says. But, he quickly clarifies that "before talking about this, or any other matter, we need to learn how to listen the voice...of the people concerned by this specific [issue]."

Click through to view Je t’aime moi aussi and read Fermariello's own words about his process and his hopes for change.
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"The people in my photographs suffer from a range of disabilities — many are paraplegics, and others have been diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta or cerebral palsy," explains Fermariello.
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"These people came to me because they had something to say."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"On one hand, I wanted to learn something about myself through their experience..."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"...On the other hand, they wanted to shout to the world what nonsense society put them into."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"They shared their experience with me, and I shared my skill as a photographer with them. That was the deal."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"Of course, reaching this stage of...intimacy did not happen overnight."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"I talked and talked with each one of them for weeks or months, to learn about them, their story, their expectations… This process was essential in order to translate visually one or more aspects of their personality."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"For any human being, reaching sexual maturity is a fundamental achievement — although this process is far from being something easy to complete."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"As a matter of fact, I [purposefully] chose to produce this project in a country, in Italy, where the cultural background is dominated by Roman Catholic morals, according to which people should feel guilty about their sexuality."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"While shooting the portraits, I was the one feeling uncomfortable, [because I was] intruding [on] my models' intimate moments... I would not have allowed anyone, even my closest mate, into mine."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"The subjects of my pictures were just fine about sharing their private moments. Meeting these people, talking and working with them, allowed me to learn a lot about myself."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"Like anyone else, people with disabilities deal with their physical sexuality in a personal way that may differ from case to case."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"What I found to be the lowest common denominator was a great ability [in them] to intellectualize their sexuality."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"The more the sexuality lacks of physicality, the more they compensate with their imagination."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"Any society needs a great amount of time to move forward, and I will be happy enough if I could make a little contribution [to that progress] with my project..."
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Photo: Courtesy of Olivier Fermariello.
"...if...the viewer, while looking at this project, could question himself about the meaning of the word 'normal' and all its derivatives...I will be happy — for me, and for all the people that decide to participate in my project. Because once the critical process is started, it cannot be stopped."
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