The Homeless: Can They Love and Be Loved? (Part I)

Talking about sexuality can be a taboo subject, depending on your values. Sometimes our approach to sex can be shaken to its very core when we learn how others live out their sexuality.

By Caroline Leblanc

According to the World Health Organization, sexual health depends on respect, protection and the satisfaction of a person’s sexual rights. With these in place, a person can access a positive sexuality which will be a source of pleasure, without risk, free of all coercion, discrimination or violence.

But it’s not always easy to bring all these factors together. Especially if you live in a vulnerable position, like on the street.

The homeless are often destabilized by problems in the areas of mental health, alcohol abuse and drug addiction, as well as by their diverse dysfunctional relationships. People living on the street experience survival-level living conditions that can weaken their dignity.

Their sexuality can be affected. They take risks with their health and their personal integrity.

To date, no shelter accommodates homeless people who want to freely fulfil their sexuality. The homeless have no places to hold a private rendezvous. Homeless persons in a shelter wanting to express their sexuality will find their conditions at best unstable.

Contrary to those with a home, street people often have to satisfy their needs in an alleyway, a store entrance, an abandoned building, or even a restaurant or bar toilet.

From time to time they might amass enough money to rent a cheap hotel room, or they might find a place at a friend’s to take a break from the street and carry on an intimate relationship.  

Given the urgency of their fleeting pleasures, street people sometimes have to act fast, which means they don’t have time to get or put on a condom. This is especially true if they are drunk. That can pose serious health risks in the form of a transmissible infection, or even a pregnancy.

Without privacy, embarking on sex can be fraught with obstacles before it can be carried on in self-respect and safety.

First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 26, no. 3, été (summer) 2018, pages 16-17.

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