Thursday, 25 July 2013

Sex Workers Speakeasy

An example of my film project: 'Sex Workers Speakeasy'. Sex Workers Speakeasy is a film and media project, launched at the recent Desiree Alliance 5th Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The aim of this project is to allow current and former sex workers a platform from which to express our experiences of working in an industry besieged by blame, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma. What makes sex work challenging? What makes it liberating? What frustrates us? What educates us, and so much more. Rather than existing as the marginalised group all too often talked 'about', here we take back our voices and become those doing the talking.

Using only the mouth to convey the message has a two-fold intent - firstly it allows more anonymity which for many people working within punitive legal and/or cultural frameworks, or who are facing massive discrimination is absolutely crucial and reflects that which we hope to change through ongoing activism. Secondly, it stops the viewer from over identifying with, and then projecting onto the image; focussing only on the message thus offering far greater impact. The Words not The Person.

All contributions range from 1.5 minutes to 4 minutes maximum. I intend to collaborate with sex workers across the board, regardless of location, culture, gender identity, age, and experience of the work, in fact, the greater the diversity the more powerful the message.

Please message me if you would like to contribute to this documentary. Your community needs YOU!

You can send me your words as a recording only if you do not wish to be identified by your mouth/voice, and a representative will read your words over a film still to indicate that this was a submission where the contributor was unable to 'come out' in any way whatsoever. This too should hold significant relevance.

Nothing will be published without your constant and ongoing approval, and all contributions are anonymous unless otherwise specified.

Please email with your questions or contributions.

And a very big "Thank You!" to those who have already submitted to this project.

Maggie McNeil's blog can be found here - well worth subbscribing, it's packed with interesting and thought provoking articles. Maggie writes daily. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Atlanta Banishment Proposal Blocked

It would seem that there is good news in the fold! I've been back from Vegas for a day now, still re-integrating, still digesting all that I learnt, shared and was touched by. So much and so many.

One of the things that arose in the course of the weeks events was the mention of the Atlanta Banishment Proposal. The proposal, originally mooted earlier this year and passed in a fairly sudden and unexpected manner, naturally created a wave of shock and objection; could this really be 2013? Are we really still proposing to 'banish' people from their communities, their families, and their homes? Denying access to services and support? How can this be possible in this day and age? We'd be right in thinking it was an error and understandable if we though we were reading a law introduced in the middle ages rather than the times in which we live now. Progressive times of transformative change and increased awareness, at least we'd like to think so. Not so in Atlanta earlier this year.

Well I'm pleased to read that one day after our week of dynamic activism and sharing there is for once, some progress to report. Shock horror, it would seem that people DO think of banishing as a retrogressive move, and whilst there may be other aspects to the proposals we may also like to see offered as more healthy alternatives, the retraction of this proposal remains good news. Read it here.

So instead of banishing, punishing and praying for the salvation of those involved in the sex industry, how about keeping this focus on listening, consulting and offering real services based upon well informed demographic needs, as identified by those who know and those who keep morals out of the equation when focussing on harm reduction.

Ultimately, we need to keep the pressure on, keep the networks strong and keep sharing our knowledge and skills. Challenge oppression and backward thinking policy and we just may, like the Atlanta activists, make that difference that really counts.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Desiree Alliance Conference, Las Vegas 2013

Good evening readers! I'm literally just back from the 5th Desiree Alliance Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. It's fair to say I spent most of the rather tediously long flight home, saved by one thing and one thing only; the super warm glow I felt after having spent a week in the most inspiring, supportive, educational, uplifting and validating company I've had the recent good fortune to find myself in.

This very important meeting of international sex workers was organised as a space for us, as current and former sex workers, allies, activists and advocates, to engage in dialogue around the manyfold aspects of our work, and our lives and to identify what impacts directly and indirectly upon them. I felt the bubble of excitement brewing as I arrived on the Friday two days prior to registration, and found myself surreptitiously looking at every person I passed in the hotel complex, wondering silently "are you one of us?" 

Gradually, as delegates started to arrive and we started to identify each other in that instinctive way us hos are so good at, we found our kinsfolk. It's fair to say that a strongly developed sense of intuition has probably saved many of us in the course of our work, and the 'why' in that last statement is actually a very serious issue, and one for the agenda several times over this last week. Why do we face the violence we face? Why do so many project so much onto such a marginalised group and what's it all about? Are we still so hung up about sex that dreadful things still happen as a result of these prejudices?

Our hope is that in speaking out about our experiences and in subsequently organising, networking and sharing, that we may transform some of these harms. 

I can tell you now that I have RARELY met such a wonderful group of people. I sat on that plane journey hugging moments into my heart, breathing in so much of the last week. New friendships made that I've no doubt at all will last for life. New allegiances to build stronger coalitions. And new ways of getting there. 

If there's one thing I would ask you readers it's this - LISTEN TO US talk about our experiences. Don't assume, don't pre-judge, just listen a while, and as the great St James Infirmary tee-shirt says so succinctly "NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US" 

I will be writing a fair bit about the conference and my Sex Worker Speakeasy Project over the coming weeks. Thank you to all who already shared their voices, more to come and meanwhile remember....