Coming Out as a Whore: My Story

Today I woke up with a feeling in my waters that it was going to be a quiet day, so I bailed on my motel room and opted to stay at home in my PJs instead. Thankfully, now I can actually sit down and write something. In the absence of any grand poetry or political polemic, I want to share something personal which I hope will help others who are dealing with the same problem; coming out as a sex worker.

From an early age, I began telling certain people I was queer. It became obvious to me then, at the age of 11, that coming out is not like standing up on a podium and announcing who you are to the world and then never having to deal with it again. Coming out, whether as a sex worker or queer, is something that you have to do over and over again to different people and generally speaking, something you will do with some people and not others.
At this point I think a word about language is called for; obviously the term ‘coming out’ specifically refers to queer identities and is a term that has been appropriated and even hijacked by other groups. Normally, I would be against this. However, as a queer sex worker I have found this turn of phrase to be extremely apt in a way that it often isn’t in other usage. For example, I once read a blog post about someone ‘coming out’ as a feeder to his grandma. Why? I could – and have – written entire posts about all the things I hate about kink culture, including the appropriation of the struggle for queer equality. Sex work, on the other hand, is highly stigmatized and sex workers who come out face many of the same risks queers do, such as losing (other) jobs, being disowned by their families, losing access or custody of their children etc. In short, both sex workers and queers experience systematic oppression, whereas kinksters do not. But I digress.

Much like coming out as queer, coming out as a sex worker happened in stages. When I started working, I told all of my close friends. After all, we were a bunch of sex positive young queers, so why hide it? People were overwhelmingly supportive, but I did often get the “just be careful” speech that non sex workers feel obliged to share as if we haven’t already thought of this.
For a long time, no one else knew. I worked off and on while studying, caring for my children and dealing with other very difficult life problems that took precedence over basking in the glory of being a whore. It was only recently, once all the other issues in my life finally resolved themselves, that I committed myself to working sustainable and supporting myself and my family. Sex work came to take up more and more of my headspace not just as a job but also through my writing and my activism. Sex work isn’t ‘just a job’ for me (though it is for many), it’s part of my identity. A good friend of mine who took me under her wing when I started told me on my first shift at the brothel “even if you only do one job, you’re a whore and that label sticks with you for life”. She was certainly right about that. Beyond the stigma that follows you around for life, if you’re lucky you also find yourself part of a wider community as diverse as any other full of people who understand your joys and sorrows, who know you better than your own family does. Sex work has a long history that is often denied and obscured and I personally feel honored to be apart of this subversive, close-nit and often revolutionary group of people. I considered my coming out to not only be a personal act, but a political one.

The first person in my family who I came out to was my sister, who thought it was the coolest thing in the world. We had never been close due to family stuff but having her support and even admiration meant the world to me. Of course, had I expected her to react badly I wouldn’t have told her, but it was still a risk. Had she not been as wonderful about it as she was, I may not have decided to tell anyone else.
The major person I really wanted to come out to though was my mother. Due to custody issues with my children, this was a huge decision and not one I could take lightly. She could turn around and decide to use this against me should we have a flare up in our agreement regarding care of my kids. It was a huge risk, and a leap of faith that, since I knew she strongly suspected I was a sex worker, we could have an honest discussion about it and I could perhaps dispel some of her preconceived ideas about it.
Her reaction stunned me. I wasn’t expecting her to be understanding at all. In the end, I told her on a whim, as a spur of the moment decision when I was flying high after a meeting of the committee I’m on that’s working towards decriminalization, a Shag of Whores as we say. I was expecting her to ask me how I could do something like this, how I could ‘sell my body’ or ‘degrade myself’ or ‘allow men to degrade me’ or something along those lines. Instead, she said “well, I always knew you’d be unconventional”, and told me she was fine with it as long as I was safe and my kids were safe.
That’s the strange thing about coming out; sometimes the people you think will be the most judgmental are the most understanding, and conversely, the people you expect to be understanding turn out to be the most whorephobic.
In any event, the process of coming out for me was one that took years and several steps. Even now, I wouldn’t stand with my face on camera and state point blank that I’m a sex worker – I have a family to think about, after all. It’s not just me who has to deal with this stigma, someday my children might have to and I want to shield them from that as much as possible. Still, so far I’m happy that I made this decision to come out to the people in my life who matter most to me.

About oliveseraphim

Early twenties, genderfluid and pansexual, sex worker, feminist, Orthodox Christian, invisibly disabled, book enthusiast and sometimes writer with Queer as Folk feels.
This entry was posted in essays, family, sex work. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Coming Out as a Whore: My Story

  1. lowbrowangel says:

    you’re a brave soul, god bless you

  2. Pingback: Coming Out as a Whore: My Story | #Prostitution...

  3. writingthebody says:

    I agree with lowbrowangel…just a great and honest person….

  4. Pingback: Coming Out as a Whore: My Story | Sex Work | Sc...

  5. I love this post/article. You and I have a lot in common. Your profile says you’re “invisibly disabled”. I am, too. Thanks for sharing your story. :)

  6. you’re all too kind thank you

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s