TRUTHOUT: LGBTQ Activists Celebrate Victory in Supreme Court’s Anti-Discrimination Ruling

LGBTQ activists are celebrating a massive win following the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers.

“Today, SCOTUS ruled that ‘an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.’ This is a major legal victory,” the Sylvia Rivera Law Project tweeted out. “Our fight to create a world without workplace discrimination for trans people, disproportionately trans people of color, goes on.”

Bestselling author and transgender rights activist Janet Mock expressed similar sentiments.

“A victory hard won in the courts & on the streets,” Mock wrote. “Grateful to the lawyers, organizers & activists but most grateful to those who had to live stealth or closeted, who lost jobs for living their truth, who left parts of themselves at their employers door.”

Chase Strangio, an ACLU lawyer involved in the case, noted that the language used in the decision was reflective of the words that were used by plaintiffs and the LGBTQ community in general — a huge victory in and of itself.

“The words that we crafted. And fought for. In the middle of the night. Through so many drafts. Are in this opinion,” Strangio tweeted. “The words of trans lawyers. The words of Black queer women lawyers. Our words.”

In the days leading up to this Supreme Court ruling, some LGBTQ lawyers and activists had expressed cautious hope about the possibility of such a victory, but the outcome was widely deemed uncertain.

Two conservatives on the bench, Justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch, joined liberal Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer on Monday in rendering the ruling. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito dissented from the majority decision.

Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court, determining that, on the question of whether firing an LGBTQ worker is improper or not, the “answer is clear.”

“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Gorsuch wrote. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

Title VII protects against discrimination in the workplace when it comes to sex, but it doesn’t explicitly state that it also protects against gay or transgender workers from being fired. Gorsuch explained that, in those instances, the protections on sex in Title VII extends to those workers as well.

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LGBTQ Activists Celebrate Victory in Supreme Court’s Anti-Discrimination Ruling by Chris Walker

June 15, 2020

ACLU: Sex Work is Real Work, and it's Time to Treat it That Way

Sex workers aren’t always a part of the conversation about police brutality, but they should be. Police regularly target, harass, and assault sex workers or people they think are sex workers, such as trans women of color. The police usually get away with the abuse because sex workers fear being arrested if they report. If we lived in a world that didn’t criminalize sex work, sex workers could better protect themselves and seek justice when they are harmed.

Protecting sex workers from police violence is just one of the reasons we need to decriminalize sex work. It would also help sex workers access health care, lower the risk of violence from clients, reduce mass incarceration, and advance equality in the LGBTQ community, especially for trans women of color, who are often profiled and harassed whether or not we are actually sex workers. In 2020 the call for decriminalization has made progress, but there are still widespread misconceptions about sex work and sex workers that are holding us back. Some even think that decriminalization would harm sex workers. That isn’t true.

Here are five reasons to decriminalize sex work that would protect sex workers, help hold police accountable, and ensure equality for all members of society, including those who choose to make a living based by self-governing their own bodies.

Decriminalization would reduce police violence against sex workers

Police abuse against sex workers is common, but police rarely face consequences for it. That’s partly because sex workers fear being arrested if they come forward to report abuse. Police also take advantage of criminalization by extorting sex workers or coercing them into sexual acts, threatening arrest if they don't comply. Criminalizing sex work only helps police abuse their power, and get away with it.

If sex work were decriminalized, sex workers would no longer fear arrest if they seek justice, and police would lose their power to use that fear in order to abuse people.

Decriminalization would make sex workers less vulnerable to violence from clients

Like the police, sex workers’ clients can also take advantage of a criminalized environment where sex workers have to risk their own safety to avoid arrest. Clients know they can rob, assault, or even murder a sex worker — and get away with it — because the sex worker does not have access to the same protections from the law.

Sex workers became even more vulnerable to abuse from clients after the passage of SESTA/FOSTA in 2018. The ACLU opposed this law for violating sex workers’ rights and restricting freedom of speech on the internet. SESTA/FOSTA banned many online platforms for sex workers, including client screening services like Redbook, which allowed sex workers to share information about abusive and dangerous customers and build communities to protect themselves. The law also pushed more sex workers offline and into the streets, where they have to work in isolated areas to avoid arrest, and deal with clients without background checks.

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Sex Work is Real Work, and it's Time to Treat it That Way by Lala B. Holston-Zannell

June 10, 2020

BITCH MEDIA: What Just Happened? The Murder of George Floyd

We are here—again. We are here—again. We are here—again.

How do we continually end up in this place, mourning another Black person dead at the hands of a police officer while corporate media clutches its pearls over the rightful anger of protestors rather than examining the structures that abet and protect state violence?  This time, the victim is 46-year-old George Floyd, who was killed by four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Like Eric Garner, who was killed in 2014 by police officers in Staten Island, New York, Floyd was unarmed and pleaded with the officers who pinned him to the asphalt, repeating the words “I can’t breathe” as the life left his body. And like Garner, Ahmaud ArberyTamir Rice, and so many other victims of police brutality, Floyd’s final moments were captured on video and spread across social media for the entire world to watch and mourn.

Floyd’s murder has sparked a particularly visceral reaction for a few reasons: He died amid a pandemic that has disproportionately killed Black and Brown people while leaving more than 30 million people in the United States unemployed. He died under the knee of a police officer whose history of violence was known to Minneapolis PD, and who cavalierly put his hands in his pocket as he took Floyd’s life. Stephen Jackson, a retired NBA player, is one of Floyd’s close friends and has been able to mobilize his network and harness media coverage. And, to put it as clearly as possible, Black people are tired of being killed with impunity while the world watches and, in many cases, looks for reasons to say we deserved it. We are tired of people who could be our siblings, our parents, our grandparents, our cousins, and our friends murdered in the street with impunity. And when centuries’ worth of exhaustion meets frustration at a system that resists change and punishes those who agitate for it, we get an uprising.

We’re witnessing anger bubbling over into action, which sometimes takes the form of looting. We’re watching people, many of whom know the risk of protesting during a pandemic, taking to the streets anyway to say no more. We can longer wait for the criminal-justice system, which has convicted only 35 police officers of murdering civilians since 2005, though between 900 and 1,000 people are shot and killed by law enforcement each year. Now is the time to rise up, and people across the United States are meeting that demand. For those in the Bitch community who are unsure how to help or want to know how to safely protest while COVID-19 stay-at-home orders remain in place, we’ve compiled a list of resources to get started. There is no better time than now to use your voice.


  • On May 25, four Minneapolis police officers handcuffed George Floyd, who was suspected of paying for cigarettes with a counterfeit bill, and pinned him to the concrete. By the time he was put into an ambulance, more than eight minutes later, he no longer had a pulse. [New York Times]
  • Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old Minneapolis resident who videotaped Floyd’s last moments, shared the footage online. She has since been harassed on social media and reports that the experience has left her traumatized. [Refinery29]
  • Within 24 hours, four police officers, including Derek Chauvin—the officer who continued kneeling on Floyd’s neck even after he stopped breathing—were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department. [Star Tribune]
  • Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on May 29th. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has announced that the team prosecuting Chauvin will be headed by the state’s attorney general, Keith Ellison, rather than the county prosecutor—an unusual decision necessitated by a longstanding community distrust of the latter. [VoxStar Tribune]
  • Though the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found “no physical findings” to “support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” in its report on Floyd’s cause of death, an independent autopsy found that Floyd died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.” [CNN]
  • Since Floyd’s death, the United States has erupted in nationwide protests in Minneapolis, Atlanta, New York City, Denver, and a number of other cities. [Washington Post]
  • As protests went global this weekend, international media and political leaders have spoken out against American police brutality and anti-Black racism. [New York TimesWashington Post]
  • Some celebrities, including Taylor Swift and Colin Kaepernick, have used their platforms to call for justice. Other celebrities have been bailing out protesters and standing on the front lines of demonstrations. [Sports IllustratedElleNewsweekVulture]
  • There have also been widespread calls from celebrities and ordinary citizens alike to defund the police, making it less possible for them to employ a militarized response to peaceful protest. [Guardian]
  • Though a number of cities have enacted curfews to encourage protesters to stay home, there’s an increasing acknowledgment that police have both instigated and escalated much of the aggression by beating, tear-gassing, and arresting peaceful protesters. [Slate]
  • Across the United States, members of national and local press have been clearly and deliberately targeted by the police. Among such incidents: CNN reporter Omar Jimenez was arrested on live television despite clearly displaying his press credentials—a few blocks away, his white colleague faced no such treatment—and photojournalist Linda Tirado was struck in the eye by a pepper ball. [Nieman Journalism LabGuardianNew York Times]
  • The way that news media frames and reports on Floyd’s death and the protests around it will determine the historical record for decades to come. It’s a big responsibility that media cannot afford to fumble, especially given the number of high-profile police-involved killings in the past decade. [Nieman Journalism Lab]
  • Donald Trump and other GOP politicians have, predictably, said little about Floyd’s death, choosing instead to blame protest violence on Antifa and promising to designate it a “terrorist organization.” (To be clear, “Antifa” stands for “anti-facist,” and has no centralized organization.) [Washington Post]
  • Other than using Twitter to incite violence, Trump has shown no leadership on this issue. In fact, the White House went dark on May 31 as protestors demonstrated outside its gates, continuing this administration’s streak of simply ignoring the very real issues impacting Americans. [Atlantic, Vox]
  • There is a high likelihood that protests will usher in a second wave of the coronavirus, making a heightened crisis even more deadly. But coronavirus enforcement has become another avenue for racial profiling for the police. [Atlantic, New York Times]


  • COVID-19 is not stopping. If you choose to protest, take care as much as you can to avoid spreading the virus or getting sick. If you can, consider self-quarantining after the protest. This is especially important considering the way that COVID-19 is disproportionately harming Black people. [The Cut]

  • Educate yourself and others on anti-racism with books, articles, and other resources that give historical context on protests against police brutality and the racist roots of state violence. Share widely and propose discussions about racism with those in your families, communities, and networks. There are specific resources for South AsiansAsian Americans, and Latinx people as well. [Alyssa Klein, Medium, NPR, Teen VogueRemezcla)

  • Know your rights if you are attending or organizing a protest. [ACLU]

  • Know your rights if you are stopped by immigration officials while protesting or see someone being stopped by immigration officials. [United We Dream]
  • Find your local #DefundThePolice collective and tell your city and county officials to spend less of their budgets on police and law enforcement. [Nation]
  • Be aware of the role of surveillance in protests. Don’t post photos and videos of protesters’ faces on social media. [WIRED]
  • The use of tear gas on peaceful protesters is increasingly common. If you’re planning to attend any protests, know how to protect yourself from the effects of tear gas. [International News Safety Institute]
  • Donate to bail funds and spread awareness about donating to bail funds through your networks. If you want to donate to more than one bail fund, make a donation here to have your contribution split amongst 38 different community funds. [National Bail Fund Network, ActBlue]
  • The Minneapolis-based organization Reclaim the Block has put together a comprehensive list of local community organizations to support. [Reclaim the Block]
  • Stay aware of any calls to action by ACLU Minnesota as they work to move the prosecution of Floyd’s killer to their independent attorney general. [ACLU Minnesota]

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What Just Happened? The Murder of George Floyd by Bitch HQ

June 1, 2020

BANANA: Asian Dominatrixes

In the 1999 film Payback, Lucy Liu plays a dominatrix named Pearl. Clad in patent leather lingerie and fishnets, she stomps on her boyfriend’s balls and recites the lines, “Me love you, baby, me love you long time.” Accurate media portrayals of sex workers of color are hard to come by in general, but from her criminality to her willingness to let her boyfriend beat her up, Liu’s character is a poor depiction of an Asian dominatrix.

Domination—a historically taboo career that combines sex work with BDSM—is already sensationalized in pop culture as a world of cracking whips, villainous dungeons, and anguished screams. But combining that with Orientalist, hypersexualized stereotypes—either the fragile “lotus blossom” or aggressive “dragon lady”—can send some in a tailspin of fetishization and prurient curiosity.

Which is why Domina Dia Dynasty and Mistress Lucy Sweetkill, two New York City professional dominatrixes (pro-dommes), warned against generalizing their experiences for the entire community.

Lucy, 32, is Vietnamese American, and Dia, 40, is Chinese American. They came into their unconventional careers in similar ways, but have opposing personalities. Lucy’s clients often call her “daddy,” because of her authoritative energy, while Dia’s ultra-feminine energy gets her the nickname “goddess” and sometimes, to her displeasure, “mommy.”

Dia and Lucy run their business out of La Maison du Rouge, a red-walled, mirror-filled private play space in Manhattan, where they also host weekly Periscope interviews with members of the kink community, sex workers, and experts. “I do not offer body worship, massage or sexual services of any kind, so please be respectful and do not ask,” Dia’s page reads, noting that you’re required to share references from other pro-dommes. She does offer BDSM services including medical role play, obedience training, humiliation, and degradation.

Lucy and Dia both began working as professional dominatrixes over eight years ago, when they separately answered Craigslist or Backpage ads seeking Asian women who wanted dominatrix training. The ads led them to employment at an all-Asian commercial “dungeon”—where practitioners go for BDSM services—in downtown New York City, where they became friends.

They both recognize that their ethnicity is a selling point. “People keyword search ‘Asian dominatrix,’” Lucy says. “My assumption is if you’re reaching out to me, you’re most likely reaching out to me because my race played some role.”

Different though their characters may be, the demographics of their clients are the same: predominately white men. Dia and Lucy say that roughly 95% of their clientele are cisgender men, 85–90% of which are white; sometimes heterosexual couples will visit and the woman will return alone.

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Asian Dominatrixes by Tiffany Diane Tso

May 27, 2020

THE NEW YORKER: The Fragile Existence of Sex Workers During the Pandemic

With each passing day, the strip club in downtown Manhattan grew a little emptier. Fewer customers were drinking premium liquor and eating steaks in the plush banquettes; fewer patrons were sitting at the edge of the blue-lit stage; fewer clients were throwing dollar bills at the dancers performing on poles or in their laps. “It felt weird. There was an air of desperation, almost,” Nico, a dancer at the club, told me. As the city slowly woke up to the spread of the coronavirus this spring, so, too, did the dancers at clubs across town, whose work necessitates being physically close to strangers: talking to them, consoling them, and entertaining them. By late March, most of New York’s strip clubs had shut down—clubs in much of the rest of the country did, too—and, now, like hundreds of thousands of other workers, at the very least, in the sex industry, dancers are facing not only a drop in employment but also discrimination and stigma as they search for relief. Nico, who describes stripping as her economic “safety net,” said, “This line of work has the word ‘independent’ built into the job description. The club was not going to take care of us. We were left to fend for ourselves.”

The pandemic has created a catastrophic health and economic crisis that has illuminated the fragile existence of low-wage and gig workers in the United States. The experience of sex workers, who find the most stable work as independent contractors, is no different. (Some strip clubs offer workers employee status, but they are in the minority; in Nevada, where prostitution is legal in some counties, workers at brothels are considered independent contractors.) Like undocumented workers who are barred from getting government benefits in exchange for their labor, and prison laborers who receive little consideration of their rights as workers, sex workers have few places to turn for help. Federal law bars the issuance of disaster loans and grant assistance to applicants who “present live performances of a prurient sexual nature” or who earn income “through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a prurient sexual nature.” Strippers, pornography performers, and owners of sex-toy and other adult-entertainment businesses are ineligible. Sex workers who make their money on the street and cannot access public assistance are also wary of trying to access social services, for fear of being arrested.

Sex is unlike any other commodity. It is, for some people, tied to emotional beliefs about morality and pleasure and power. It is, for many others, tied to those same things, but it can be transactional and unsentimental, too—a service. Despite many parts of the sex business becoming legal, its laborers still see themselves either glamorized in popular culture as high-earning hustlers or portrayed as victims of trauma and manipulation. Political and social stigmas limit the recognition of their basic rights as workers. “People don’t realize that most labor is exploitative under capitalism,” Meagan, an organizer and former escort and stripper in Washington State, told me. “Looking at sex work from a puritanical view is deeply ingrained in society.”

Maya, a sex worker and undocumented immigrant from Honduras, has worked on and off for several years in different sectors of the industry, from pornography to full-service escorting. When President Trump entered office, in 2017, and threatened to disband the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (daca) program, of which Maya is a recipient, she decided to restart sex work and go into it full time. “I wanted to insure that, if I lost my right to work, I would still be able to earn an income underground and survive,” she said. It also lets her pay her daca renewal fees. Undocumented people who are found prostituting, which is classified as a misdemeanor in the state of New York, can be arrested and deported.

Of the dozen or so sex workers whom I talked to, some qualified for unemployment if they had paid taxes as independent contractors, and they were still trying to apply for it. Others did not qualify but had savings or family to lean on. And still others were doing whatever they could to piece together a living. Most were also hoping for the generosity of past clients and mutual aid from within their communities. One young single mother, who works as an escort and performs in Internet pornography in California, told me that most women she knew in the industry were trying to provide for their families. “They grew up in poverty, and they want to make sure their kids don’t have that same life style,” she said. She added that she was trying to decide if she could safely break quarantine and see clients by letting her daughter stay with a relative; every time she posts an advertisement, she becomes anxious and takes it down. She still sees a client whom she refers to as her sugar daddy, who does not want sexual interactions.

Lily, a dancer at a strip club in Manhattan and an actress, said that she started taking classes in burlesque and decided to try stripping after she grew tired of earning little in restaurants. She enjoys the dancing and the financial freedom the work gives her, but says that other parts of it are difficult to handle. “People think that this work does not deserve dignity or respect,” she said. Tea Antimony, a sex worker and organizer with the Brooklyn chapter of Sex Workers Outreach Project, said the stigmas of sex work reflect social prejudices. “We are yet again seeing how race, class, and immigration status intersect in terms of which work is defined as valid,” she said. “Sex work, like other feminized labor, is defined as not valid.”

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The Fragile Existence of Sex Workers During the Pandemic by Alexis Okeowo

May 21, 2020

ROLLING STONE: Sex Workers Built OnlyFans. Now They Say They’re Getting Kicked Off

Last March, Allie Awesome, an adult-content creator, woke up one Sunday morning to check her DMs on OnlyFans, only to realize she couldn’t log into her account. Launched in 2016, OnlyFans is a social network that allows creators to monetize their content by selling directly to their fans for the cost of a monthly subscription. Awesome, who joined the platform last year, says it constitutes about a quarter of her revenue. When she couldn’t log in, “I knew something was up,” she says.

Awesome emailed customer support, only to be told her account had been deactivated due to evidence of a chargeback, a term used to describe a customer calling their credit card company to report a fraudulent charge after a purchase. “I was like ‘something is weird here,’ so I kept emailing them,” she says. “They were telling me it was permanently deactivated, there was nothing they could do, and my customers were being refunded,” which would’ve taken funds directly out of her balance (though her customers said they were ultimately not refunded).

Unable to figure out what to do, Awesome emailed Alana Evans, the president of the Adult Performers Actors’ Guild, and tweeted about the incident. A few days later, she received a message saying her account had been reinstated, and that the issue had been a “glitch” in the system. But by then, she had received dozens of messages from other adult performers saying similar things had happened to their OnlyFans accounts.

OnlyFans bills itself as a content-subscription service for influencers and creators to directly monetize their content. But historically, it’s primarily been known as a platform for adult-content creators, or anyone wishing to post content too racy for Instagram. (Little is known about its parent company, the London-based Fenix International Limited, though according to a New York Times profile, one of its directors, Leo Radvinsky, is the founder of adult-cam site MyFreeCams.) Creators take about 80 percent of their earnings, with OnlyFans taking a cut of approximately 20 percent.

“It has appealed to sex workers as it’s a better mousetrap than that of building your own website, finding a biller, doing all the admin work, and producing content. It also lowered the bar for sex workers to be able to profitably get into the game,” says Amberly Rothfield, an adult-marketing educator and consultant. “I am hard-pressed to find [an adult model] who isn’t using it anymore.”

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Sex Workers Built OnlyFans. Now They Say They’re Getting Kicked Off by EJ Dickson

May 18, 2020

DAILY DOT: Everything you need to know about giantess vore—and why it’s so big

Sasquatch, Godzilla, King Kong, Loch Ness. Goblin, ghoul, a zombie with no conscience. What do these things all have in common? None of them are quite as popular as giantess vore.

Giantess porn often involves some form of vore, and for many size fetishists, the idea makes perfect sense. If you’re on the outside, a deep dive into the macro world’s underbelly will tell you everything you need to know about why this kink is so popular.

What is giantess vore?

Giantess vore is a shorthand term for any kink scenario in which a gigantic woman consumes another, smaller person. Also referred to as macrophilia (macro) and vorarephilia (vore), giantess vore involves a predator-prey dynamic that parallels Dominance and submission (D/s). In most cases, the giantess usually serves as the Dominant, with the person she devours as the submissive. Some artists enjoy reversing the dynamic, but that’s more of an exception than the rule.

Giantess vore is a popular part of the macrophilia community for many reasons. The two fetishes have a lot in common: Both are otherworldly power fantasies that involve an overbearing, powerful woman and her smaller victim. Themes of submission, sadomasochism, and total control are prominent in both kinks, and vore plays well with other adjacent macro kinks, such as foot fetishism or crushing.

Because macro and vore content commonly walk hand-in-hand, many giantess vore fans discover one side of the kink and fall into the other. Macro artist Spitty said their entry into the fetish was through vore artwork, although they now see themselves primarily as a giantess content creator.

“Vore is just one possible expression of the dynamic between a giant person and a tiny person,” Spitty told the Daily Dot. “I think the appeal lies in the absurd display of power, the dominant-submissive relationship escalated into a primal predator-prey relationship. But there are many people who dig the intimacy of being completely inside another (or of another being completely inside you) and through digestion becoming one.”

Giantess vore is a popular fantasy among straight men who are already into giantesses, but the size kink community has long appealed to queer creators and kinksters. Arctic Giantess is a bisexual switch who began creating her own macro vore videos and photos in 2015 after she felt “frustrated by the lack of fetishist-inspired work” available for size kinksters. While her intro into size play and vore was through taking on the prey role, she says she’s since “grown” into being a giantess (pun intended).

“There’s a lot of great content out there, but a lot of the models themselves don’t actually have the fetishes they’re aiming to cater towards. I wanted to see more content that matched what I liked, and I thought there was no better way than to create it myself,” she told the Daily Dot.

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Everything you need to know about giantess vore—and why it’s so big by Ana Valens

May 1, 2020

ROOTED IN RIGHTS: Why BDSM is a Healing Practice for My Mental Health

Tighter. Please. Keep my mind still. Help my mind stay in this body. I pray to anyone who will listen. Winding, twisting, knotting, allowing myself to be tied into place. Tying the knots so tight my mind will not stray away from me. Wrapped in red cottons, black hemp and Costco rope. All in attempts to wrangle my mind to calm. So that I am present for my own worship. A safe, consensual, kink that encourages risks, evokes healing, and for me, demands presence.

With my diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder, there are definitely times I feel my brain doesn’t belong to me. I find that choosing to take medication, attending culturally relevant forms of healing, therapy, getting outta bed in the morning, eating, showering, (the list goes on and on), are all conscious efforts I make each day – many of which folks take for granted. So for this queer, intelligent, witty, neurodivergent, Brown cutie, feeling “better” is so hard to do that at this point, I’ll try anything that I haven’t already.

Do I sound fed up to you? Because I am. I constantly feel like I’m convincing my mind to stay with me and be kind. Trying to remember what it’s like to feel beautiful through the haze that is often my mind requires so much patience with myself.  So when I allow myself into submission, I’m letting go completely of the vain desires to be in control. I’m clearing away the static sounds of chaos inside my head, an image I liken to tons of sand falling inside my head, causing so much discomfort in my skin, making me feel like my purest thoughts of joy, bliss, roaring laughter, rivers of healing tears and orgasms are being suffocated away.


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Why BDSM is a Healing Practice for My Mental Health by Hablo Rodriguez-Williams 

November 20, 2018

TITS AND SASS: Sex Workers - You can and should request pandemic relief

So we’re about a month into strip clubs being shut down. Before that, most in-person sex workers had already been worried about the potential of getting or spreading COVID-19 (the illness caused by the coronavirus) at work, and probably noticed a significant dip in business. Most times we’d be SOL when it comes to accessing unemployment benefits, since save for dancers at a handful of strip clubs, we’re not employees on payroll. But that changed when Congress passed the CARES Act in March, which expanded unemployment benefits to independent contractors.

There have been a lot of misleading screenshots and headlines implying that sex workers are excluded from pandemic relief. While it’s true that some adult entertainment businesses are theoretically excluded from the Small Business Administration’s disaster loans, sex workers as workers are just as eligible for stimulus payments and the expanded unemployment assistance that’s out there as any worker. Even if you’ve been operating as a business, you’re eligible as a sole proprietor to apply for unemployment now (Unfortunately, that only goes for citizens and permanent residents. If you are an undocumented worker in need of help, there are a lot of sex worker mutual aid funds that are prioritizing workers who can’t access government aid. Here are a few lists of those funds and resources for finding help. This COVID-19 resource post from Kate D’Adamo on Slixa also has information on other types of help available for all workers, as well as some myth busting on those Small Business Administration loans—you can still apply, and though there’s a chance you’ll be denied, you might just get it. “The definition of that term [“prurient sexual performance”] is based on the application of what’s called the Miller obscenity test,” D’adamo writes, “and a lot of things are actually fine – sex shops, sex educators, probably even strip clubs. Where it gets trying is anything involving the internet, because of competing court decisions that the Supreme Court hasn’t weighed in on.” D’adamo also notes that the whole process is a “clusterfuck” because banks don’t have enough information from the Fed to process applications, and “no one’s getting shit from anyone anytime soon, prurient sex-related or not.”)

There are two main types of assistance for individuals available: The one-time $1200 ($2400 for married couples and an additional $500 per child) Economic Impact Payments from the federal government, and the expanded unemployment benefits that cover the self-employed. Unemployment benefits are administered at the state level, so you’ll need to find your state’s unemployment website to start a claim. Maybe you’ve heard that the pandemic levels of unemployment have swamped unemployment claims? It’s not a great process to begin with, and having to revamp the whole deal hasn’t gone quickly or smoothly. But it’s a good idea to go ahead and start on the process. Supposedly workers will be able to get back payments, so try to get records of everything you can dating back to when you had to stop working due to the pandemic.

Here’s how to get started.

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Sex Workers - You can and should request pandemic relief by Bubbles

April 14, 2020

NYTIMES: Sex Work Comes Home

While working as a stripper in Oregon, Kelpie Heart had long thought about taking her work online. Then the new coronavirus pandemic led to bar closures, and she found herself out of work.

So, for the last month, Ms. Heart has begun streaming performances from home, doing one live show a week.

As 16 million people in the United States have applied for unemployment benefits in the last three weeks, a rush of people like Ms. Heart have sought new work performing in sexually explicit live broadcasts. And, as nearly half the world is under some form of stay-at-home orders, people who do this work are also seeing a large growth in customers.

Ms. Heart is streaming on CamSoda, one of many webcam or “camming” sites that stream live online broadcasts. Generally called “cam models,” these people might strip or dance on camera while viewers message them. The performers work for tips, to accommodate laws that regulate sex work.

Daryn Parker, the vice president of CamSoda, said there had been a 37 percent increase in new model sign-ups this March, compared to last March. For the same period, Bella French, the co-founder and C.E.O. of ManyVids, another camming site, said that there was a 69 percent increase in new model sign-ups.

This growth is met by a recent influx of new viewers. At CamSoda, the number of new viewers to the site has doubled this year when compared to early 2019, according to the company.

But this growth isn’t always translating into more money for the models. Mileena Kane, 24, a popular cam model for CamSoda, said people think she’s making easy money right now. While she has noticed new viewers, her earnings are static. In Ms. Kane’s experience, new viewers aren’t tipping as much as they typically would. Each site makes money by taking some percentage of the tips.

“I’m meeting a whole bunch of people more frequently than I normally would, but there’s not much more money,” said Ms. Kane.

Before the new coronavirus pandemic, some models also partook in other forms of sex work, like stripping, pornography and escort services. Others worked at bars in the evening and cammed when they had the time; some held office jobs.

Now, many have one job. And for models who cam full-time, the work can be all consuming. Ms. Kane cams for 12 hours a day, almost every day of the year, she said, and only took two days off last year. Though this schedule is physically exhausting, she said it’s worth it.

“That’s just something that comes with being an entrepreneur,” Ms. Kane said. “I’m trying to work as hard as I can while I’m young so I don’t have to later.”

For Ms. Kane, who calls herself a “camholic,” falling in love with the job depended on making it her own. During her long streams, she prioritizes her comfort: She wears pajamas, eats snacks and dances.

Allie Awesome, a cam model, works around 60 hours a week, she said. Her workday begins right after waking up, when she looks through her social media notifications and checks in on her customers. (She declined to give her age, as did many of the subjects in this article, because doing so, they said, could lower their tips or jeopardize their safety. Many of these subjects are using their professional names.)

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Sex Work Comes Home by Gabrielle Drolet

April 10, 2020