by Furry Girl

12.12.12

Last week, my state (Washington) became the first in the nation to legalize possession and use of marijuana.  Colorado will follow suit next month after a similar measure there won during the November elections.  I am happy to live in a state where we have physician assisted suicide for the terminally ill, one legalized recreational drug, marriage equality, oodles of places where one can get an abortion, no death penalty, and state-level open carry of firearms (though Seattle city bans it).  Overall, Washington is comparatively more respectful of people's rights and choices than are many other states.

Today on reason.com, Jacob Sullum wrote a short piece on why states like mine are doing well on the gay marriage and pot legalization front, and it underscores why I keep harping on the need for sex workers to be "out" as our most important form of activism.

Just as an individual’s attitude toward gay people depends to a large extent on how many he knows (or, more to the point, realizes he knows), his attitude toward pot smokers (in particular, his opinion about whether they should be treated like criminals) is apt to be influenced by his personal experience with them. Americans younger than 65, even if they have never smoked pot, probably know people who have, and that kind of firsthand knowledge provides an important reality check on the government’s anti-pot propaganda.

For sex workers who aren't out to anyone, the idea of admitting to what they do for a living can be extremely intimidating.  What I suggest is to start small.

At the 2010 Desiree Alliance conference, I met a woman who was fairly new to escorting.  If I recall correctly, either no one in her life or only a couple of trusted friends knew, and the Desiree Alliance conference was her first sex worker event, and she'd traveled from out of state to see what it was all about.  A computer security conference was happening the same week as our event, so I had friends from another part of my life who were also in Vegas.  One evening, I went out with them to have dinner and hit a few nerd parties, and the new escort joined us.  I gently challenged her to try being out for that one evening, with a group of people she'd never have to see again, just to "try on for size" what it's like to be an out sex worker.  Rather than inventing stories about herself, she was plainly telling people she's an escort, and discovered it wasn't the end of the world, and she wasn't going to be mocked and shamed by everyone she encountered.  Granted, I had already "broken the ice" on the subject of sex work with some of the people we encountered that evening, but I think the woman was still surprised how normally and politely she was treated, and later sent me a very sweet thank you for the evening.  We didn't stay in touch and I don't know how things worked out for her, but I hope that one night of being an out sex worker gave her some courage to be out in her own city and with her regular friends and family.

If you're a sex worker still afraid of coming out, start small.  Go to a bar in the next city over, or a music festival out of town, or just tell the person sitting next to you on the bus or subway.  Try openness on for just a day, or even 15 minutes.  You will get some bad reactions, but I think it will surprise you how many people won't be an asshole to you.  Be prepared for questions, which you can choose to answer or not.  The most shocking thing of all may be meeting someone who themselves has done sex work and never told anyone.  (Only happened to me once, with a seat neighbor on an airplane, but it was still pretty awesome.)





1 Comment

  1. Comment by Trackbacks — April 24, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

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