Starting up the Indiegogo appeal to get myself to Las Vegas for the Desiree Alliance Conference in July of this year, the project emerged organically from that same appeal. With the help of an old friend, I made a short clip, my mouth, my words, speaking about why I needed crowd funding help to get to Vegas to present at this amazing conference, now integrating the full-circle journey I'd undertaken to go from delegate at ICOP sixteen years previously, to presenter at #DALV13 (the Desiree Alliance Twitter hashtag adopted for the duration of the event).
My project, 'Sex Workers Speakeasy', was launched there - its primary intention to give sex workers a voice (a theme that has run through my life) allowing us to speak for ourselves, and to ensure that our diverse experience of the work is heard, recognised and respected. It took courage to launch my appeal, for in doing so I took the decision to out myself and to make public some aspects of my private life. Many cannot.
Whilst at the conference, a conversation with the very prolific blogger and truly engaging woman that is Maggie McNeil opened the door for me into why I do what I do. It's about social justice. Both Maggie and I share a very strong sense of social justice, and speaking for myself here, I know it's something I've carried through with me for most of my adult life and no doubt a fair bit of my childhood too. I remember being little and just knowing when something felt really wrong despite being told sometimes by the 'grown-ups' that 'that's the way it is' - for me, there would inevitably be a "why is that the way is?" retort. Every time.
So, in coming to this seedling of an idea, as I started connecting with contributors, as I heard their stories, I was left in no doubt that it had to happen. It's the thing I can give back to all I've ever been given by those who have inspired me, who light the way, to the brave and courageous activists who have changed things through sheer determination, a whole lot of courage and more than a fair bit of 'chutzpah'.
This contribution by Bella of the Rhode Island chapter of COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) reminds me of the 'why'. Sex workers are dying as a result of being denied basic human and workers rights and as a result prejudice and stigma. In Scotland (UK) right now, brothels and saunas are being shut in what I can only see as a sadly regressive move. Those employees don't just stop selling sex, they simply get driven onto the streets or further underground where safety is even more eroded. And why? To satisfy someone else's view of what is 'moral' or not.
This post is dedicated to the lives, families and friends of Petite Jasmine and Dora Oezer who were both murdered in the last two months. May your spirits rest in peace and may your legacies create change.