How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
I don’t know that I’ve ever directly attempted to be a “catalyst for change,” but that seems to be an inherent state of being when you’re an irrepressibly opinionated woman. I suppose at this point my focus for fulfilling that role is by living my life as transparently (while also being safe), and speaking honestly about my experiences. I’ve found that the greatest impact I have had as a sex worker “activist” (although generally I hate that term) is in my own interpersonal dealings with others. By being the person that I am and speaking out against the stereotypes and misconceptions about sex work, the perspectives on sex work (and sex in general) of many of my loved ones has been redefined.
Who or what was a catalyst for you?
My first long term relationship was extremely abusive and, as much as it makes me uncomfortable to admit it, it set the tone for much of my sexual exploration. That relationship, combined with being trapped in a small town with few people I really connected with, drove me to find friends and information online. The accessibility of the internet has been a major factor in my ability to reclaim my sense of self and sex education overall.
What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
Oh god, there are so many, but one of the major factors that lives at the core of all of those challenges is the stigma against sex and sexuality as a whole. The lack of access to accurate information is devastating in so many ways, as well as the way that empathy and understanding that personal experience isn’t universal seems to be hard to come by.
Why do you feel it is important to bring the topic of your session, How to Be an Ally to Sex Workers in Theory and Practice, to CatalystCon East?Sex workers are highly stigmatized even amongst largely “sex positive” and feminist groups, even though I believe that most rational people with an iota of compassion can set that aside if they take the time to think through the absurd caricatures of sex workers. Many sex workers don’t have the space, time, or money to speak out about the reality of our experiences, and while I cannot speak for everyone (and do not want to!), I believe that being a real person sharing my actual experiences can aid in dispelling some of those misconceptions about sex workers, what they want, and what their lives are like. Our community is so silent because of the lack of safe spaces for our voices, and using the privileges that I do have to advocate on behalf of my community is vital.
Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
I collect strange and expensive loose leaf teas.