Monday, October 13, 2008

Belated Coming Out Day Post

Bad Things happen when political and legal decisions are made without the participation of those people most affected - and even worse, when no one in the conversation even knows any of those people personally. This is what we mean when we say that coming out it a political act. But for many, coming out is still a dicey and difficult proposition, so those conversations remain deeply and dangerously impoverished.

In this instance, I'm not talking about coming out as gay or lesbian; I'm talking about coming out as a sex worker. Tobi Hill-Meyer at Bilerico talks about feeling "a desperate need to be silent about my experiences" doing sex work:
The obvious issue of police harassment aside, I felt like anything that I could say might have harmful consequences.

If I talked about the parts of my work that were painful, I feared I would be perpetuating the myth that sex workers are only victims without any agency. If I talked about the parts I enjoyed, I feared I would be silencing those who don't enjoy their work. If I talked about being a trans sex worker, I feared I'd perpetuate the stereotype that all trans women are sex workers. And if I talked about the role sex work plays in my activism and activist priorities, I was afraid that all the non-profit and political organizations I worked with would shrink away from me in fear of being associated such a politically unsavory population.

That last one was one of the biggest motivators to break that pattern and actually start talking about this issue. When I take stock of the LGBT issues that are impacting my community, I see police harassment, prisoner rights, decriminalization, health care access, and punitive laws that unduly pile punishment after punishment onto "unsavory" survival crimes such as sex work, at the top of my agenda. Yet the LGBT rights organizations around me are barely even aware of those as LGBT issues.

Hop over and read the full post.

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