CROSSCUT: Already Stigmatized, Sex Workers Have Fewer Choices in a Pandemic

Sex work for Ganesha Gold Buffalo was never an easy job. Sometimes it was fun. Sometimes it was a necessity. Usually, it was enough to get by. And, as a transgender femme, it was one of the only jobs Gold Buffalo could rely on.

“I like to say that girls like me, girls like us, always end up in the realm of sex work in some way,” says Gold Buffalo, who uses the pronouns it and itself. “Because of our marginalization, we’re not only cast aside and devalued … but we’re hypervisible at the same, hyperfetishized.”

Still, it was steady work. While much of Gold Buffalo’s finances has come from its work as an organizer with the Black Trans Task Force, sex work was a key supplement. Gold Buffalo’s year hinged on paid go-go dancing gigs it annually lined up throughout Pride month, as well as money made for adult videos. Besides that, with so many others like Gold Buffalo in the sex working industry, too, it was a way of finding friends and community.

Read the Full Article Here: CROSSCUT: Already Stigmatized, Sex Workers Have Fewer Choices in a Pandemic

by Manola SeCaira

September 14, 2020

 


HUFFINGTON POST: What Being A Fat Sex Worker Taught Me About Men And Desire

Many times, when I tell women I used to do sex work, they look me up and down and say, “Really?” I probably get this reaction because I’m 5 feet 3 inches tall and weigh 230 pounds, and I don’t fit their preconception of what a sex worker looks like.

There are a lot of preconceived notions about sex workers held by the general public, and one of the strongest among them in my experience is the belief that sex workers all look like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” and that men only desire a sex worker who is skinny. I’m here to tell you that’s all false.

 

I don’t by any means have a perfect physique and am what my doctor calls “obese.” I have a big, round tummy covered in pink stretch marks, saggy boobs, areolas that my first boyfriend said looked “like pepperonis” and a mustache that requires regular waxing. I’m human and imperfect, and I worked as a successful escort for more than a decade. 

I started as a full-time escort on the now-defunct Backpage.com. I did not advertise myself as a “BBW” escort ― just merely an escort, like any other girls on Backpage. I never had any problem attracting business.


JEZEBEL: Sex Workers Are Furious About Bella Thorne's Self-Serving OnlyFans 'Tourism'

Bella Thorne took to Twitter over the weekend to apologize over the controversy surrounding her newly-created OnlyFans. Just last week, the media lit up with news that the former Disney star had made $1 million dollars during her first 24 hours on OnlyFans, a premium social media platform that has become a vital source of income for many sex workers amid the pandemic, with Thorne claiming that she joined to conduct research for an upcoming project with the acclaimed director Sean Baker. In the days that followed, though, she was accused of engaging in fraudulent behavior on the site and triggering OnlyFans policy changes that harm sex workers. Now, in a multi-part Twitter thread, Thorne has apologized, claiming that she was trying to “remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself by bringing a mainstream face to it.”

This has, appropriately, only led to more outrage.

After last week’s headlines about the million-dollar payday, there came allegations that Thorne had charged $200 for nudes that she failed to deliver, and which reportedly led to numerous refund requests from OnlyFans. She denied the allegations to the Los Angeles Times. (Thorne’s publicist did not respond to Jezebel’s request for comment.) That same week, OnlyFans introduced a policy change that rankled content creators, adding a 30-day wait period for payouts and restricting pay-per-view prices to $50. The company says the policy change wasn’t based on a single user, but many saw it as a response to the alleged chargebacks resulting from Thorne’s purported research. What’s more, Baker, the acclaimed director, came out to say that, counter to her initial claim, he is not working on this project with Thorne and had urged her to “consult with sex workers and address the way she went about this as to NOT hurt the sex work industry.”

Now, Thorne is on the defense—and her defense of “bringing a mainstream face” to OnlyFans has been met with skepticism. “I think it’s bullshit, frankly,” said Sinnamon Love of the BIPOC Adult Industry Collective. For one, Love points out, OnlyFans is already mainstream. At the start of this year, the platform was featured in the New York Times. Then came Beyonce’s famed shoutout in Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” remix. Earlier this month, Cardi B joined OnlyFans, but there were no big payday headlines and she was clear from the start about the nature of the venture: “No I’m not going to be showing my titties, or my pussy, or my ass,” she said. In contrast, Thorne promoted the launch of her OnlyFans with a video in which she wore a necklace reading “SEX” and pulled at the top of her pink bikini. As Love said of Thorne’s OnlyFans, “Stigma is not dismantled by a mainstream celebrity pretending to do sex work.”

 

Read the Full Article Here: Sex Workers Are Furious About Bella Thorne's Self-Serving OnlyFans 'Tourism' by Tracy Clark-Flory

September 1st, 2020


MADAME NOIRE: Normalizing Kink For Black And Brown Folx

The fight for Black rights is ever-growing and ever-changing. Law enforcement is being reformed, congressional conversations on reparations are being revisited, and even businesses, celebrities, and influencers are being held accountable for their anti-Blackness. Although the Black community has seen a lot of progress, from an intersectional standpoint, Black activism spaces lack safety, recognition, and even solidarity for Black folx who are LGBTIA- identifying or lead alternative lifestyles. Within this subset, Black people who are sex and/or kink positive are frowned upon, often subjected to shame and judgment from others. As a Black fat womxn who exists at the intersection of these identities, it’s time to have conversations about what sex and kink positivity are and why they are important for Black liberation.

From a personal standpoint, kink and sex have been a big part of my journey into womanhood. Despite being a late bloomer, my interest in the kink lifestyle started when I was in my mid-to-late teens. I remember staying up late to watch Secretary, and how the power dynamic between James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s characters intrigued me. It was something about E. Edward Grey’s sternness and the way he chastised and punished Lee that captured my interest. From that moment, I knew I wanted to learn more about what I had seen. My curiosity grew as I matured, and when I finally entered adulthood, I decided to explore my desires by turning to kink-friendly groups online and different websites. In these virtual spaces, I met a lot of like-minded individuals that not only taught me about the ins and outs of kink, including the roles of dominants and submissives and the meaning of each letter in BDSM, but also became my friends and even partners. Although some of these redeemable qualities have played a critical part in shaping my sexual identity and have kept me coming back to the lifestyle, there was one major issue that always plagued my experience: the lack of Black people.

Just like most communities, kink is inherently white-centric. Being that the lifestyle is a broad umbrella term that encompasses so many different smaller communities and subcultures, a lot of these are made to fetishize Black and brown bodies. I can’t even count how many Carsons and Karens have slid into my inbox and expressed their desires for “a big, beautiful Black woman” and how I fit the bill for their next scene. I’ve even been approached by masters and mistresses in search of creating a dynamic with someone that virtually simulates slavery or a form of race play. Y’all, I’m totally not here to yuck anyone’s yum, but I also want to make one thing clear: there’s a definite difference between a fetish and fetishization, and the aforementioned anecdotes are examples of the latter.

Initially, I felt alone in my experiences, but after chatting with friends and colleagues, I realized I wasn’t the only one. Dawn, an educator and close friend, talked about how fetishization of non-white folx goes beyond the parameters of kink and extends into the realm of sex as well.

“I can’t log into Pornhub or XVideos without being bombarded with white pornstars and nothing that could even remotely resemble representation of someone like me,” she pointed out. “[On these sites] there are even videos that are titled in derogatory and racist ways. As for outside of the digital world, my encounters with white counterparts have been almost always, if not always, rooted in fetishization. Think: ‘I’ve never been with a (blank) before. Is it true that (blank)?’ [with] those blanks being filled with obscenities, ridiculous stereotypes, and dehumanizing rhetoric.”

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Normalizing Kink For Black And Brown Folx by Cheydavis14

Aug 20, 2020


DAZED: Sex workers protest censorship with this self-destructing digital art show

Social media sites have long been hostile to sex workers, unfairly censoring their posts, shadowbanning them, and often deleting their accounts. Many of those targeted haven’t even broken the (archaic and arbitrary) rules, but are simply moderated because of the line of work they’re in.

Now, in protest against this constant surveillance and discriminatory deplatforming, Veil Machine, a collective of New York sex workers, is hosting E-Viction, a self-destructing digital art show. The virtual arthouse will exist online for just 12 hours before disappearing – which the group describes as “the only deplatforming you can prepare for in advance”.

“Sex workers are often the digital pioneers,” Veil Machine co-founder Sybil Fury tells Dazed, “and we saw that during COVID-19. As soon as lockdown started, sex workers were innovating new ways to maintain their intimate connections with clients – from virtual strip clubs to Zoom sessions.”

E-Viction is our attempt to apply the kind of innovation that sex workers exhibit online in order to create a new form of digital protest,” she continues. “The protest is a response to the intersecting forces of digital gentrification and whorephobia, which have severely impacted sex workers’ ability to survive in a time when many of us are working online.”

Visitors can expect cam performances from sex workers and artists, educational material about online censorship and legislation that threatens sex workers, as well as “raunchy” chat rooms, performer ads, and an online shop selling art and sex toys. There will also be a destruction event happening for the last half hour of the show.

“This is a multi-elemental show with educational, fantastical, intimate, and mysterious components,” explains Veil Machine member Lady Euphoria. “The experiences will blur the lilnes of reality and fantasy, and inevitably, protest.”

However, given it’s happening online, the project hasn’t been without its hiccups – namely that Instagram tried to censor it (OFC). “In an attempt to reach our community and promote the show, we’ve been threatened with being deplatformed,” Lady Euphoria tells Dazed. “The irony here is what has initiated the threats. Instagram found our brightly coloured graphics to be ‘obscene’, ‘containing nudity’, and ‘violating community guidelines’.”

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Sex workers protest censorship with this self-destructing digital art show by Brit Dawson

Aug. 19 2020

E-Viction will take place on August 21, between 12PM and 12AM EST (5PM-5AM BST) at e-viction.net. Entry is free (but CashApp and Venmo donations are welcome), and you can RSVP here.


THEM.: UNPACKING KAMALA HARRIS'S RECORD ON TRANS AND SEX WORK ISSUES

Former Vice President Joe Biden revealed on Tuesday afternoon that he had chosen California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. The announcement, made via a text to supporters, sparked an outpouring of responses. Many hailed Harris as a favorable choice given her experience as a U.S. senator, having already been put through the media wringer as a former presidential candidate, and being the first woman of color ever to be a part of a major party’s presidential ticket. Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, is Black and Asian-American.

Among those to offer full-throated declarations of support for the newly minted Biden-Harris ticket were liberal heavyweights Bernie Sanders, Stacey Abrams, and Barack Obama, the latter of whom asserted that the vice presidential pick is the “first important decision a president makes.”

“Senator Kamala Harris is nothing short of an exceptional choice for Vice President,” said HRC president Alphonso David in a statement, noting Harris's role in ending the use of LGBTQ+ “panic” defenses and her fighting to overturn Proposition 8 in California as evidence of her pro-LGBTQ+ bona fides. Other positive aspects of Harris’s record on queer issues include her establishment of an LGBTQ+ hate crime unit as San Francisco district attorney and her early support of marriage equality. (Harris performed same-sex marriages herself when San Francisco briefly legalized the freedom to marry in 2004.)

But contrary to the Democratic establishment’s rosy assessment of Harris's vice presidential candidacy, a substantial cohort of progressives and leftists greeted the news with trenchant critiques of her career, both as a prosecutor (Harris was district attorney in San Francisco from 2004 until 2011, when she became California’s attorney general) and as a lawmaker in the U.S. Senate.

 

Read the Full Article Here: Them. ; Unpacking Kamala Harris's Record on Trans and Sex Work Issues 

 

By Wren Sanders

 

August 14th, 2020


W: FKA TWIGS AND KEHLANI START A CRUCIAL CONVERSATION ABOUT SEX WORK

It’s widely acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic has hit some workers, like those in the retail and service industries, harder than others. But that list rarely includes another profession suffering just as much, if not more. Sex workers are largely excluded from government relief packages, and in countries like Italy, poverty and fears of homelessness are forcing some to get back to work. The stigma, of course, only makes finding outside help that much worse.

Six months into the era of social distancing, FKA Twigs and Kehlani are stepping in. The past few days have seen both musicians use their platforms to demand action, along with a reevaluation of the ways we treat and perceive sex workers and strippers. “Sex workers deserve proper pay, protection, and to exist in their careers without consistent shame & violence,” Kehlani wrote when sharing her new music video, which features—and properly credits—nearly a dozen sex workers who’ve inspired her.

Kehlani also tapped the nonbinary abolitionist and community organizer, Da’Shaun L. Harrison, to create a PSA: Sex work “is a legitimate form of labor that must be decriminalized so as to function as a safe form of work for all sex workers,” the video concludes. “Black people—as well as Indigenous people and other people of color—deserve to be able to perform sex work without any limitations or stigmas attached, and this means that everyone must commit to learning from sex workers about sex work and sex workers’ needs.”

 

Read the Full Article Here: W: FKA Twigs and Kehlani Start a Crucial Conversation About Sex Work by Stephanie Eckardt

August 5th, 2020

 


SYFY WIRE: SFSX IS CHANGING SEX WORK REPRESENTATION IN COMICS

The opening pages of SFSX read like a queer, sex-positive dream. The wide range of human sexuality is on display with couplings and groupings that run the gender expression gamut. A neon sign proclaims that you've entered The Dirty Mind. And as the art shows an orgy in motion, a religious organization known as The Party breaks down the doors, wielding batons and shotguns and declaring they're "here to rescue you from yourselves." The event is broken up and as half-naked people are beaten and dragged by their hair, our narrator and her future-husband escape in their underwear, running through the night toward freedom. The juxtaposition of The Party and the sexy overall narration tells readers they're in for an adventure.

From the very first panel, SFSX makes it clear that readers are in for a tale that is both horrifying and horny — and, at every turn, this incredible comic delivers on that promise.

Over the course of the seven-issue arc, we follow the narrator of the opening pages, Avory, as she grapples with her new life after the Party destroyed The Dirty Mind and arrested their leader, Jones. Avory and her husband George have chosen to assimilate, to hide among the buttoned-down and the complacent. Not surprisingly, she finds herself at odds with her old friends who have kept The Dirty Mind alive for the last three years, unbeknownst to The Party. When George is arrested, Avory turns to the Dirty Mind crew for help and though they're reluctant at first, they decide to recover not just George, but Jones, too.

Read the Full Article Here: SFSX IS CHANGING SEX WORK REPRESENTATION IN COMICS by S.E. Fleenor

July 30th, 2020

 


VICE: How to Find a Sex-Positive Therapist

Layla, a 30ish queer sub who enjoys domination by her partners—her name has been changed for her privacy—has been in therapy for about five years. She first sought therapy when she divorced a long-term spouse and began exploring a relationship with a dom. Layla's first therapist assured her that her treatment plan was "kink-friendly"—a designation Layla felt was crucial to her emotional well-being and progress. How that was expressed in practice, though, didn't feel understanding or inclusive of Layla's sexuality at all.

“My partner has been very key to my recovery in that he has been there both emotionally and, when I have needed him to be, in a dominant way," she said. "But I soon realized that if I discussed my kinks or my dom/sub relationship [with my therapist], she was extremely uncomfortable with it—she told me [my dom] was controlling.”

"Once it became clear my kinks in general were an issue, I stopped telling her anything more,” Layla said. “I wasn’t ashamed of being submissive and didn’t want to change. I’m glad that I wasn’t primarily seeing my therapist about sexuality, because the emotional result may have been much more damaging."

The widening cultural acceptance and exploration of different sexual identities, and consequently more clients and their partners needing to address questions in the context of counseling and therapy, has caused an uptick in kink- and non-monogamy-informed therapy. With this expanding market comes mental health clinicians who market their services as sex-positive—some who are qualified, and some who have little experience with kink in terms of their practice, but understand that there’s demand for kink-friendly therapy. Many of the latter variety of therapists are ill-equipped to treat these clients and rarely have the background to address inquiries surrounding kink because of their own clinical understandings of and training around deviance and mental illness, according to Psychology Today. Instead, they benefit from a growing client base —without the perspective necessary to treat them effectively.

Kink sexualities are vast and nuanced, meaning that if a client is seeking care for sexuality or if it comes up as a secondary concern, there are varying levels of kink awareness and treatment. Because kink, particularly, is often based on power dynamics, it’s easy for a clinician to pathologize these behaviors, when, in reality, they are often positive and healthy modes of sexual expression. Even if a client is actively concerned with the impact kink has on the rest of their mental health, consensual kink behavior does not equate to a mental disorder.

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How to Find a Sex-Positive Therapist by Penda N'Diaye

July 22, 2020


AUTOSTRADDLE: Can Queer Businesses Survive COVID-19? Here’s How Some Are Trying

I couldn’t tell what caused my tears first, now turning cold in the salt air. Was it the glare off the Pacific Ocean, one of the few places close to my home that felt both beautiful and accessible during shelter in place? Or the sunscreen sweating into my eyes, after the short hike my housemate and I had just completed? Or was it the news about the permanent closure of The Stud’s location at 399 9th Street in San Francisco. Since March, when shelter in place orders first rolled into effect, through the panic shopping, the masked walks, and the various ways my community was showing up through distance and digital connection, my friends and I had a refrain: When this is over, I can’t wait to go to the Stud. But a game of gay gossip telephone revealed the Stud’s closure, before their official announcement. All this, in the midst of quarantine, trickling into Instagram feeds a little over a month before San Francisco Pride on June 28th. A few days after their official announcement, George Floyd would be killed by a Minneapolis police officer sparking a wave of protest and rebellion in the name of Black life.

While the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic had felt draining for many essential workers (including myself), the scale of the governmental ineptitude in responding to the crisis hadn’t quite registered. The bare minimum in terms of financial protection having been achieved, initiatives to support struggling businesses stopped far short of what was needed. According to Honey Mahogany, a member of The Stud Collective which cooperatively owns the bar, the collective knew the bar would have to move, and began looking for a new space to move into once their year to year lease was up at the end of 2020. Despite finding this new location, coronavirus protection measures meant many gay bars would be closed for their busiest months, which, as Mahogany says, “left a very long time before the end of the year,” putting The Stud in an unsustainable situation. Lex Young, who runs The Stud’s financials, seconded the pain of losing the income of the Summer and Fall months to sheltering in place, noting how, for so many queer people who work in the service industry, “everyone’s busy month where they make all their rent was just coming up.”

The domestic economic crisis sparked by the spread of coronavirus in early 2020 has permanently shaped the lives of queer people, whether or not they own a business. While the Stud’s collectivization didn’t fully protect it from feeling the financial burden of months of lost income, it did at least “disperse the risk” Young says, making the process of moving out of their physical space, fielding media requests, and pivoting towards putting on online shows a much more streamlined process. The Stud’s width of programming comes from its collective members’ passion for developing so much creative work, members like Chloe Miller, who serves as a manager, bartender, organizer of the Stud Pin Archive, and de facto bar historian. Some of this broad programming has shifted to digital platforms, like The Stud Stories podcast, and The Stud’s Drag Alive twitch channel, which livestreams weekly drag shows, raising funds for performers, as well as the collective fund for opening a new physical Stud space. The culture of building power, sharing resources, and shaping the community around a business also drives Bluestockings, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which has been collectively owned and operated for over twenty years. For this bookstore and event space, “the community that runs and uses the space is our priority.”

One of their priorities as collective members has been operating the store on “Crip time” the concept coined by disability justice activists that prioritizes people’s need for rest and physical safety. The collective members say that while these foundational ideas of accessibility have “always been built into our work as a collective,” it’s of particularly importance because of the global pandemic. For those volunteers and collective members at Bluestockings, individuals who are sick and disabled could work from home when they needed to, and didn’t jeopardize someone’s health for the sake of having someone in the store. Many businesses have been forced to operate under this accessibility, or risk losing the physical community they’ve built. While this model of shifting toward digital platforms and online livestream events has been occurring since before the coronavirus pandemic began, for Dia Dynasty and Lucy Sweetkill, the co-owners of the private BDSM space La Maison Du Rouge, their weekly Periscope broadcasts have become a staple of their broad community building. Their live streamed events encompass anyone “kink adjacent or sex worker related” including “writers, bloggers, activists, people who are actually of the community in the way of femme dommes, and kink educators.” From recent interviews with Ashleigh Nicole Tribble, also known as Ashleigh Chubby Bunny, who discussed how kink informed her view of the power she held, to a group stream with Troy Orleans, Mistress Marley, and SxNoir about the intersections of sex work and Black liberation activism, La Maison Du Rouge’s weekly livestreams have carried the power and educational potential of the dungeon onto digital platforms. Sweetkill and Dynasty also host interpersonal gatherings, which have been on hold since COVID, and were forced to cancel one of their upcoming kinky clothing swaps, where a portion of all clothing donated goes to street based sex workers. Within sex working community there are individuals who hold more or less privileged positions, yet Sweetkill notes how generally, sex workers often show up in solidarity for other causes, because as criminalized laborers, they understand what it means when “a system does not want you there.”

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Can Queer Businesses Survive COVID-19? Here’s How Some Are Trying by Sloane Holzer

July 21, 2020