Be out.

When I put my first ad on Eros in early 2002, I did it in a “test city” on the advice of my mentor. Her advice was sound: if I discovered escort work wasn’t for me, I would not adversely affect my life where I actually lived. That test city was enough to convince me I’d found my perfect career. In fact, my first client was enough to convince me. I returned to Dallas and tangled with Eros on changing my ad to Dallas. During the week or so of lag-time, I completed my one huge task.

I showed my face and had no reason not to show my face (my mentor showed her face as well). Dallas is only a 2hr drive from where I grew up, where my mother still lived. I’d already done enough online research and enough talking with my mentor to know that my mother could either hear it from me or hear it from someone else. I decided to show her some respect. She would hear it from me.

There really wasn’t much planning once I made up my mind. I re-read the section of Working where Dolores French writes a coming-out letter to her mother. I chose the day and time. I called my sister first, to break the ice. She and I had a good chat. She was supportive then and she is now. She’s always been amused and ready to listen to my adventures (she’s even done some Eros-surfing herself!). She has never been drawn to any aspect of sex work but neither does she have a problem that I’ve always been drawn to it. Nature vs nurture, anyone?

I hung up the phone, pulled up my mom’s number and dialed. After greetings, there was a little hemming and hawing. She’s my mom, she knew something was up. I finally just told her, “Mom, I’m going to work as an escort. Here in Dallas. I’m going to have pictures online and show my face. I wanted you to know.”

Silence.

The first thing she said (and I fully expected it), “I’m so disappointed.” She made a few gallows-humour jokes. I assured her I was charging more than the average rate (true in 2002 Dallas) and that I had a mentor who had taught me about screening. I didn’t go out late at night to see clients and most of them would come to me, anyway. I wasn’t going to call myself Bubbles. My memory fades but I believe it was short conversation, despite my pounding heart. I put down the phone. It was done.

She was the only one I cared about having this conversation with. I’d told everyone close to me about my decision. I lost a good stripper friend of mine. At first she was fine with my lifestyle change, then she left me a voicemail saying she couldn’t support it and I never heard from her again. But my mom was The Big One. She would not have changed my mind either but…she mattered.

I gave her respect by being honest. I gave her power if someone in our small community recognized me and came to her about it. I had armed her. (A very few people there know, most don’t. I imagine most would not be very surprised if they did know.)

I am free. I will never have to live a double-life with the people who know me best.* No one can ever possibly dangle the Sword of Outing over my head. Cops or angry boyfriends can call my mom all they want. She does not care about the opinion of those bothering or hurting her daughter.

My mom later mailed me two long letters expressing her disappointment and her struggle with my choice. I was 26 and fully an adult. Her only fault may’ve been raising an independent cuss of a daughter who questioned the status quo a little too much. I didn’t venture to East Texas to see her again till a few months after the phone call and letters. She was pleased that I’d put on weight (apparently she felt I was way too skinny during my stripping years) and looked well-rested and happy. I got no more talk of disappointment.

As long as I am happy with the life I’ve chosen and as long as it treats me well, she accepts my decision. We do not discuss my work and rarely discuss my books. As long as I look well-rested, well-fed and happy — then she accepts me being the captain of my soul.

Being an escort hasn’t changed who I am. I still have all the same stupid habits and fears I did as a child, the same thought patterns, the same quirks. I’ve only become more polished and focused. I like to think something has been added along the way. It’s likely she would agree nothing has been subtracted. Some mothers have to accept their daughters live best as free beings. It’s their nature.

being boring

What I hadn’t recognized was the opportunity for massive drama I thoughtlessly threw away that day in 2002. Why didn’t my mother tell me I could’ve milked this for everything it was worth? I could’ve made newspaper headlines and set blogs ablaze first by being anonymous and then being horribly outed. She could’ve had Movie of the Week moments of revelation, tears and lots of screaming. After all, the worst possible thing a girl can do is have sex outside of marriage and charge money for it!

Every mother has an operatic diva inside her just begging for the chance to disown her flesh and blood! Prostitution is the perfect opportunity! And it would’ve given me oh-so-many scrapes and close-calls and heart-pounding moments as I worry that she’ll Figure It Out while I’m Lying My Ass Off and we have a totally superficial relationship though I spill every gory detail online to the entire world (with Tantalizing Clues) while she probably wonders why her daughter drifts away from her and what she’s done so wrong and I agonize over every Mother’s Day and…

Yeah.

It’s not that big a deal. I make it so not a big deal that apparently people forget I’m out to my friends/family. It’s a boring fact of my life. My small family continually reminds me that escort work is the least-interesting thing about me. I’d have better watched some movies and read some books if I want a place at the table (though now I get to relate travel stories — whew!).

It’s easy to be out. So very easy. Just say it. It’s a quick way of finding out who truly has your back. It’s a lot like anything in life; the bigger the deal you make of it the more they’ll react. Once it’s done, it’s done. It’s something you’ll never have to do again in your life.

It’s also a great personal achievement to have. Anytime you meet with a difficult situation, you can just remind yourself, “I told my mother I’m a sex worker. This is nothing compared to that!”

That being said, I don’t out myself to everyone I meet. It’s generally not necessary to the functioning of my life. Most of the time I don’t have my activist hat on and don’t feel like answering stupid questions or putting up with stupid shit. So I give a bland, boring response about what I do (why is everyone so concerned about how someone makes their money anyway?). I try to avoid the subject of my travel too, though it doesn’t fly so well when I’m actually in another country and am obviously not a local. If I hide that I’m a sex worker, it’s because I’m attempting to avoid needless complications. When there is a chance the person will become meaningful to my life, they get to know. If they can’t handle it, they will not be a part of my life. It’s that simple.

I’m boring because I lack the drama queen gene. That, and a total lack of understanding of how to create great publicity for myself. If you ever think you’re going to parlay your escort career into something else — don’t come out just yet. Wait until it reaches Movie of the Week proportions. More bang for the emotional buck, you know.

coming out day

I say all this because I want to encourage others to come out. I always have encouraged other sex workers on a private level. But I have longed for a national sex worker coming out day since I was stripping. Because if society starts realizing just how many sex workers are out there, things will change. Sex workers are sitting across from you at the dinner table right now. They’re on your speed dial. They’re in your family photos.

Coming out is not the drama people like to make it out to be. It really isn’t. One thing I have noticed is that blue-collar sex workers and their families generally don’t seem to have much issue with it. The white-collar/ bourgeois sex workers and their families have such issues! It’s because the sex workers themselves have issues with it and can’t imagine their families reacting any differently. I often wonder why high-end escorts who charge thousands and are considered at the top of the game can’t tell their families. What, exactly, are they ashamed of? And if they’re so ashamed, where does that leave the lower and mid-range girls? (I’m about to veer off into the Valley of Whore Stigma and the Hierarchy, so I’ll stop here.)

There are exceptions. A family who will take away the child of a single mother. A father who is a cop. I don’t blame these sex workers for keeping it under wraps. The majority? There’s no real reason. Coming out really can be as boring as I make it out to be. Then you can turn your energy to something else, something more meaningful than keeping up a web of lies for your loved ones. Or take up some new hobbies instead of self-creating histrionics because you consider sex work the most interesting thing about you and can’t bear to lose that dramatic edge.

My mother is not a progressive thinker by any stretch. There was a reason I was nervous about telling her and why I chickened out with a phone call instead of a face-to-face meeting. But I am her child. I don’t harm people. I am happy with my life choices. I respect her. I take care of my body and health (the life she gave me). I haven’t turned into someone she doesn’t recognize and never will. In time, I will move on and pursue another career.

It is really that simple.

It is really that boring.
*

I learned the hard way the value of being out. I was in a relationship for four years in which his family did not know (until I appeared on The O’Reilly Factor). We spent a lot of time interacting with his family. I was beyond stifled. Not being able to be honest about myself meant that my mouth was sealed on so many things. I could not know too much, I could not have certain opinions, I certainly could not have had certain experiences and how exactly did I end up with so much free time and money? It was completely unnatural for me. After all, my own mother was okay with it, why was I letting this group of non-related people curb my personal freedom?

The freedom of being out has a price (I’ve lost more than one friend and more than one romantic relationship). I’ll continue to pay that price my entire life because I refuse to recant. I’m willing to pay the price because freedom is a lot more my natural state than being boxed in, stifled, pretending to be someone I am not. The rewards are far greater than the cost of people who cannot see the person behind the stereotype.

42 thoughts on “how to be a boring sex worker

  1. Boring! us boring? Oh yeah that’s right we actually are very boring…….. Hmm where is that movie of the week deal?

    Again proving what an amazing person you are. Maybe we should have a sex worker appreciation day as well. People get over yourselves. Support sex workers. They are our family….. part of our lives. Amanda thanks again for being part of mine and letting me be part of yours.

  2. You may be a lot of things, but you are certainly not boring! Being an escort may describe the profession that you have chosen to provide for your financial security, but it, in no way, describes who you are. In my opinion, your interaction with others, your compassion, your sincerity are just part of who you are and only you probably can give a complete description of who you are.
    It is a shame you are returning to the US through Houston. Just as we always have a group at DFW welcoming military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think some of your friends/admirers in the Metroplex would do the same,but alas you are coming home through IAH.

  3. I so wish I could’ve come out to my family as I did to all my friends! Unfortunately, my mother isn’t nearly the accepting soul yours is and refused to talk to me after I became a stripper; by the time I started escorting she wouldn’t even answer letters.

    Ah, well; you’ve inspired me to try again via email after the holidays are done. Maybe she’ll feel thirteen years of the silent treatment are enough.

  4. In a perfect world all sex workers could tell those in their lives about what they do and not be judged or disowned. But it stands true that since the beginning of time human beings, for the most part, have been and remain prudish and hypocritical about all things sex. That’s a shame. Poor us.

    I feel for you, Maggie. I suspect that if I were a sex worker my parents would most certainly react the same. As it is they don’t really even understand what Geisha Affair is all about. On the other hand, I have a friend who is a ‘high class courtesan’ (reflected in her gross income). Her husband and 3 children know what she does for a living.

    I think being a sex worker is most definitely a part of who you are. But it does not determine your character.

    Taking the risk to come out certainly indicates a strong character. That’s not to say those sex workers who practice discretion do not have strong characters. But I completely respect those remain private with their families. I would.

  5. I will never come out. I’ll never run the risk of feeling humiliated in front of my family again. I know the pain of being outed, and feel the shame. The gossip from people I regarded as friends, people who no longer have a thing to do with me. The fact that my son could no longer go to school, and we had to wait for two years before he could finish at high school elsewhere. The hurt and the stigma of being a whore is enough for me to know without doing anything more.

    Social suicide and mental torture… I’ll pass on that.

  6. Flatmate — Thanks! I know 🙂

    Sex worker appreciation day should be EVERY day. Though I’m fairly sure it would be easy to start such a day in Australia. The male population’s vote would be easy to secure.

    Larry — Thanks! 🙂 This is me being (somewhat) funny but also making the point that being out is indeed boring compared to all the drama and hand-wringing available to those who don’t want to be.

    Choosing international flights doesn’t give one quite the same range of available cities as one would like. Though I would not want a welcome-group anyway. I’ll be horribly unwashed and in my zombie-state. It will be all I can do to keep my story straight through customs, get my bag and stumble to wherever my hotel will be.

    Maggie — I’m sorry to hear your mother is so adamant about her views. Read Working (if you haven’t already). Dolores writes a very elegant letter to her mother. As eloquent as you are, it shouldn’t be a problem. After all, it’s not like your mother will stop speaking to you or something. I’m hoping she gets mad enough she starts yelling at you. It’s dialogue.

    GA — The perfect world will only come if people make the effort to step forward. No magic hooker fairy is going to wave their magic wand and make everything okay without a little effort from the hookers themselves. The gay movement figured this out and they’re WAY ahead of us.

    “I think being a sex worker is most definitely a part of who you are. But it does not determine your character.”

    This is totally true and why I don’t have a problem coming out to people. If they believe it determines my character, then they’re free to leave my life. I don’t respect the sex workers who don’t come out and have no compelling reason not to other than internalizing the stigma. These tend to be the same ones who avidly reinforce the hierarchy too. They’ve got a lot of issues and coming clean might help resolve a lot of it.

    I am very glad you told your parents about GA. They may not understand but you took that step.

    Sarah — I’m not sure why people think it’s morally-okay to punish an “immoral” woman by hurting her child but they sure do. I’m sorry your son had to go through this.

    If your family knows, you’re technically out, right? There was no reason to be humiliated, though. Don’t ever give anyone that power. Don’t apologize. You should be apologized to for being treated badly and without consent.

    Social suicide and mental torture are no more a part of the job description than violence is. You take away people’s power by simply failing to react like an ashamed whore. You take away their power by your work not being some big, dark, bad secret. They do realize you’re not the only sex worker on earth, right? I know I’m not changing your mind, this is for anyone else reading.

    All — I knew I’d ruffle feathers with this post (wait till my next one!). And the same arguments are here that are always presented when the topic arises. Protecting your child at all costs is very understandable. Protecting your own sense of self or believing that your parents’ minds are just too delicate to handle the truth is a bullshit argument. Sex work really doesn’t have to be a big deal in your life if you don’t make it a big deal. When I tell people, it’s very much a “take it or leave it” sort of thing. I don’t bluff. At the point of telling, I’m always ready to walk away if needed.

    It can hurt deeply. But it hurts ME far more to live a lie to soothe someone’s preconceived notions than just be straightforward. Despite notions of what sex workers’ self-esteem is like, I value myself more than that. I’m also getting way too old to put up with other people’s shit when they try to make me live they way they think I should. I’ve only got one turn on this earth (as far as anyone has proven) and I’m trying to make the best of it.

    Coming out means you have a built-in support network. If your loved ones accept your decision, they will protect you. You’ll have built-in babysitters, a safety-call and a very clannish Us vs Them when it comes to police and nasty exes. I’m not talking from my experience alone, there are other escorts who are out to their families and have full, loving support. (You might also end up with bonuses such as a family lawyer, CPA or a great deal on a house!)

    My mother is not an open-minded person. I can’t emphasize this enough. I’ve met a lot of people in my life and I have NEVER met anyone who had as strict or sheltered an upbringing as I did. She accepts my decision for a lot of reasons. 1) It makes me happy. 2) I’m an adult. 3) She has already lost a child and does not wish to lose a still-living child. 4) I gave her respect and power when I told her. I did not ask anything of her except to hear me. She made up her own mind on how she feels about it. It took her a few months. She’s an adult too and I recognize that.

    In 2002 I was just another blonde escort in Dallas (did not even have an email address at that point). I told my mother because I recognized I loved this job and would be here for a while. It was not a blithe decision nor was it a political act. It was about the quality of our relationship and the quality of my life.

    XX

  7. Amanda,

    I am shocked – shocked that you would not want a welcoming committee to meet you!!! In addition to all your friends and admirers,I was even thinking of getting the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders to be part of the festivities so they could say they met a real woman. But, again since you are not coming into DFW, I guess I will give up on my plans for your “welcome home” party.
    In my many years on this earth, I have found that the only unconditional love is the love between parent/child – child parent. A parent/child may not like their child/parent many times during the lifetime of the relationship, but the love between them is always unconditional. I know this from being on both sides of the equation and having a child who was a big disappointment in his “college age” years, but turned his life completely around as an adult and then was tragically killed in his early 40s. Regardless of whatever is going on in your life, never pass up a chance to say, “I love you” to those who matter.
    Amanda, I sincerely wish that you have a healthy, happy, and productive 2011.
    XOXO

  8. I’m an advocate of being out to as many people in one’s life as is practical/safe, and I get surprised how much that offends people. I *always* include caveats about child custody battles and such things, but people still seem to focus on rare situations and hypotheticals as reasons why it’s not safe for sex workers in general to come out to friends and family. But, for every sex worker in an ongoing fight for custody or whose dad is the town sheriff, there’s thousands of us who ARE NOT in that situation.

    It’s hard for me to take anyone seriously as an activist or badass empowered ho who still lives in terror that their mom might disapprove. If you can’t handle talking to your own families and friends, how are you going to take on the rest of the world, you know?

  9. Glad you finally told us that “coming out to mom” story; I was looking forward to it! Rather anti-climactic, but I think it proves your point well: if you don’t have the drama in you, you’re less likely to bring it out in others.

    I’m also glad you brought up the gay movement because I didn’t want to be the first to do so (I’m no expert). I think there’s a strong parallel between two groups that are much larger than the rest of the population would like to believe, are too often viewed as less-than-human freaks, and also too often internalize the stigma, even subconsciously, to turn it into self-loathing, a condition impossible to reconciliate with plans of coming out.

    I’m with you 100% on the need to own one’s likely only shot on the planet. It took me a while to get there (and I am neither sex worker nor gay, I was just raised inhibited), but we all really could use a kick somewhere to make us stop worrying about what others think. And of course we know there have to be exceptions in the name of self-preservation.
    But if we can’t be honest with friends and loved ones, I’ll seriously question the definition of both. I’m afraid that some people would rather be in bad company than alone (I actually know this for a fact).

    Now I must also say that I’m surprised that you would chide people afraid of coming out in such harsh terms (they love drama)! Without reopening an old debate, that’s exactly the kind of tough love Larry and I were talking about when it came to victim/abuser dynamics. It is a painful reality, but we have to first know and love ourselves, then be honest with the rest of the world as to who we are, and finally be ready to stand up for what we are and believe in. Otherwise our lives would be lies and in need of constant protection, two things I reject and don’t respect in others.
    We of course come up with all the excuses in the book for doing the exact opposite, but that’s what refusing to be a victim is all about. Self-pity stems from an inability to face who and where we are. I’m speaking from personal experience here, not (just) because I’m a cold SOB.

    To the sex workers afraid of what their families think I ask: is there ANYTHING wrong with what you do? And since we know there is not, why would you take any heat from ANYBODY about it? Their prejudices are their own and they have no right to push them on you – it’s abuse.

    There have been people unable to accept or even fathom certain aspects of my life or personality, of course (although not ashamed in the least of patronizing sex workers, I obviously can’t just tell everyone, for example). Well, these people earned themselves the right to stay at a safe distance, whether I used to consider them close or not. If I can’t be open with someone, I have no need for them: rather alone than in bad company. 🙂

  10. Checking out your blog, (aptly named!) Furry Girl. Very interesting.

    As a fellow libertarian, I do share your contention that help is control, and this is in good part where I come from when I say that victims should turn inward instead of outward for a resolution. A lot of the pain we experience is self-inflicted, as much as we may prefer to project its source onto others. As long as someone sees themselves as a victim, they will be one, and will find even more victimizers in the hypocrites always willing to take up a cause to push their own agendas.

    Since we’re talking about coming out, I realize (as you and Amanda clearly do) that it’s not always practical or easy, and that not everybody will want to take on the political role of an activist/martyr to help advance society, but that assertion of our true self and confrontation of our own demons is the way to go.

    At times (when I’m not too tempted to bury my head in the sand and hide from the world), I feel that nothing else really matters. Too many people only talk the talk (of “self-awareness” and “empowerment”), as you imply.

    The world would no doubt be a better place with a little less denial and a little more honesty. Of course, doing the right thing is never easy.

  11. Amanda said: “She has already lost a child and does not wish to lose a still-living child.”

    I think the reverse of that was part of my dynamic. It would be disingenuous of me to pretend my mother and I had a great relationship before I came out to her; we certainly did not, so the confession was just the “last straw”. And my mother has three other daughters, all of whom gave her grandchildren where I could not. It’s not “fair”, but emotions aren’t. Despite her poor reaction, I still did the right thing by coming out to her.

    Furry Girl said: “people still seem to focus on rare situations and hypotheticals as reasons why it’s not safe for sex workers in general to come out to friends and family.”

    You’re right, and that’s very much like arguments against sex work itself. It seems to me that most arguments against prostitution, for example, hinge on uncommon situations like trafficking, underage prostitution, living on the street, etc.

  12. Larry — Ha! 🙂

    I think a parent who truly loves their child will indeed recognize the value of their bond. I’m sorry to hear you lost a child.

    “Regardless of whatever is going on in your life, never pass up a chance to say, “I love you” to those who matter.”
    Agreed. I feel being out means I can say that with a clear conscience as well.

    Happy 2011 to you! (Though can anyone tell me where the heck 2010 went???? I swear it was here a moment ago.)

    FG — WOW! Preach it!!! Yes, exactly.

    Everyone, go look at FurryGirl’s post and the pie chart.

    Hobbyist — Basically your comment is one of those where I want everyone to just read it several times. Yes.

    “Rather anti-climactic”
    It is, isn’t it?? Took a while to write though, I’m still not wanting to offend my mother if she reads it. My sister gave it a seal of approval, though.

    I’m no Gay Movement expert. I do think sex workers should steal a lot of pages from their playbook — it’s working. A lot of sex workers are gay too, which I hope means they have an even better handle on these ideas to start with.

    “But if we can’t be honest with friends and loved ones, I’ll seriously question the definition of both.”
    That’s pretty much the conclusion I came to a very young age, I’ve just gotten more cantankerous as I’ve gotten older. That being said, if you prove you can put up with me, you will never want for anything that’s in my power to give you as long as our relationship lasts.

    My tough love here spawns from a lack of respect in this one area (and I give women and sex workers WAY more respect than I hand over to men) and a lack of admiration for drama queens. Maybe throw in a little bit of my hatred of hypocrisy too. (But you haven’t heard me smacking people around yet — next post will likely get me crucified.) Regardless of what I’ve said regarding victim-blaming, I do not care for people who wallow in the identity of victim-hood. I have friends who could wear that crown easily and they find it as useless as I do, despite truly horrible things happening to them.

    I can’t agree enough with everything you said in this comment. And the point here is not that everyone who is a sex worker MUST tell everyone they ever encounter that they’re a sex worker, either. Coming out to loved ones is not an act of martyrdom though. Or it shouldn’t be if handled properly.

    “The world would no doubt be a better place with a little less denial and a little more honesty.”
    Indeed. I’ve been preaching that for a while.

    Maggie — Surely your mother has figured out that no one on their deathbed wishes they’d estranged MORE of their children, right? She produced a fine daughter though. You did do the right thing by coming out. She will have to answer to her own conscience someday.

    XX

  13. Oh, I agree with you Amanda, don’t get me wrong.

    I’m all for truthfulness, but survival trumps it every time – you don’t tell the guy pointing a gun at you that you’re armed too (been there)!

    Otherwise, while I think that closetted people live in a prison largely of their own making, there’s no denying their pain either. I share your low tolerance for drama, however.

  14. Hi Amanda. I have just a few thoughts (forgive me, it’s past my bedtime).

    “I don’t respect the sex workers who don’t come out and have no compelling reason not to other than internalizing the stigma.”

    I’ve been out to my family and friends for almost my entire escorting career (over two years). From middle class to high class (GROSS INCOME) family members, no one cared or was surprised as long as I was safe and not on drugs. But I had an issue with a “friend” (of over two decades) who said in her drunkenness at a party “She’s so cool. She’s an escort!” I didn’t predict that and what if a child was involved? Loss of job or family/friends and holidays alone? Harassment? Life or death with a crazy SO, extortion, etc? Anything beyond what you or I may be able to handle? (I’d stay IN if I could go back even though I support sex workers rights.)

    Isolation.

    “Sex work really doesn’t have to be a big deal in your life if you don’t make it a big deal.”

    Sex work is a HUGE deal especially for some people in this economy (unemployment rate almost 10% in some areas of country) who rely on this for their sole or supplemental income. What if they’re outted by “family or friends” to the boss? And yes there is a hierarchy of escorting from porcelain white skin to chocolate, high-end to low-end, older to younger. The money one gets from sex work will not rain forever especially if outted to the wrong people.

    **If escorting came with a guarenteed pension plan, I’d be completely out. I’d floss and profit off of a beautiful professional (little make-up) headshot in a heartbeat. But what about in five or ten years from now? Surely escorts aren’t equal opportunity when it comes to old age (think SENIORS). Then what? Single…check. Wrinkled…check. Outted to potential bosses…check. Who will pay the bills?…che…SCRATCH…TBD. (Scary thought for some…certainly those at the bottom of hierarchy who will need to maintain a mainstream job to survive.)

    I’m for the movement (with experience as a marching and make noise women’s rights activist). But being out can be difficult. And some people’s family and friends can’t always be trusted. You just never know…

    That’s all. Thanks for letting us all participate (pretty neat if you ask me). I look forward to your next blog. Have a great New Year! Xoxo.

  15. Hobbyist — Survival is one thing. If one relates to one’s family as “surviving” there are MUCH bigger problems at hand than merely being a sex worker.

    Yup — only the person in the closet put themselves there and only they can take themselves out.

    Before anyone jumps in, take a moment to realize that all those amazing iconoclasts we read about (Major Whores in History) are only known BECAUSE they were out. If they were in the closet…they wouldn’t have made history.

    There is certainly a choice in modern US society about living in a closet or not. It’s not an requirement by any means.

    XX

  16. Amanda – I’m not sure that she has figured that out yet, which is why I’d like to give her another chance.

    And thanks very much for the compliment. 🙂

  17. Being a captain of your soul and not a prisoner of your lies aptly characterizes the reasons behind your decision to come out. Mothers have an instinctive way of sensing when their children are concealing something. You absolutely made the right decision!

  18. Maggie — I hope she does. It is a decision she WILL regret someday.

    You’re welcome, but you know it! 🙂

    Vanessa — I know I cannot underestimate my mother’s spidey senses (the US government should recruit seasoned mothers as interrogators). Thank you for your support.

    J — I’m glad that your family supports you. Wonderful! Your life is much easier to lead too. But since your family knew, what power did a single drunken friend have?

    I never understand people who think sex work has a “cool” factor. The stories here and Dec 17 should put that stupid idea to rest. It’s work — no more, no less. The stigmatization does not make it “cool”, IMO.

    One easy way of not making it a big deal (to the people jumping up and down, pointing their fingers and hooting like excited monkeys), is to just look them straight in the eye and say “Yeah? Your point being?” Not acting like an ashamed whore keeps them from THINKING you’re an ashamed whore. Most of human relations is calling someone’s bluff when you’re not.

    You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. At this point in life, if I CAN’T trust someone, then I do not waste my time with them. Period. Why have a half-assed relationship with someone whom I have to censor myself? I’m also so very surprised at how many sex workers don’t trust their family as far as they can throw them. Very sad commentary, but maybe fucked up families really do produce sex workers.

    I see escorts as old as their 50s, 60s and one 80yr old grandmother in the UK. As long as men are willing to pay, sex workers can work. Changing the laws would allow for some of the long-term financial benefits (minus an arrest record) that legal employees currently enjoy.

    The whole point of this is that the more sex workers are out, the less stigma is attached to it (this helps getting the laws changed too). I don’t see how people aren’t getting this. OF COURSE there’s huge stigma now…because no one is willing to be out, because there’s stigma! [smacking my forehead] If you enjoy living in a world where you can be arrested, have your life destroyed, your children taken away and losing your jobs — then yes, by all means, stay in the closet. Though everyone also seems to believe the closet doesn’t actually offer protection (because they can be outed). So what purpose does it serve again?

    XX

  19. Her only fault may’ve been raising an independent cuss of a daughter who questioned the status quo a little too much.

    Our mothers have a great deal in common! The problem I have with my mom about this is that while she encourages me to question others, when I turn it “against” her then all of a sudden it’s not okay. But I truly hate hypocrisy and how can I criticize a trait or behavior of some and exempt others? I don’t even exempt myself from criticism.

  20. Aspasia,

    The important thing for me was to make sure my mother didn’t feel I was turning my questions against her. Ever. Of course, I’m assuming a lot about what she’s thinking — I haven’t actually asked.

    Granted, this post hasn’t gone into the years of history (since we ARE parent/child) or what she knows about my life and issues, etc. Enough conversations have happened around women, men and society that I’m not sure she was completely caught by surprise.

    XX

  21. Amanda – I have been following your blogs for years and have always enjoyed your intellect, the ability to bring the human side to sex workers, and portray us, as most of us are, kind, compassionate, intelligent human beings. I thank you for this.

    I had a former boyfriend out me to my Mother. I was not as fortunate as you to have a Mother who loved me unconditionally, which is why I never told her myself. The nightmare that followed has caused me great sadness, as for my own emotional and mental health, I had to let go of the relationship with my Mother.

    I tried to keep her in my life, overlooking the snide comments and digs, but it was she that became my worst reality of the choice I made to work as an escort. Which was a choice I made to support my child at a time when all other employment choices would have left me basically having to take welfare.

    I found it was she that continued to out me to everyone. Even when I would take a brief hiatus, and allow someone into my life, or to work a normal civy job, the first thing she would do was out me to them. Even outing me to employers.

    The one positive that came of it is that she outed me to my other family members, who, although they did feel disappointment in my choices, did choose to love me unconditionally, and some of those who employed me were impressed with my marketing skills, as well as my drive and passion, which had she not told them, otherwise would have never known about.

    For those who have been outed and it has hurt them. I am sorry. For those who are able to out themselves to their loved ones. Do it. Take away the power from others to hurt you.

    Amanda, give your Mom a hug. You are one of the lucky ones.

  22. Let me clarify what I mean:

    Random person: Those people are like X.

    Me: Well, that’s racist.

    Mom: That is racist. But those other people really are like X.

    Me: Mom, that’s racist too.

    Mom: No it’s not! They really are! I can’t believe you’re calling me a racist just like that other person.

    That’s what I mean.

  23. Aspasia — I’m laughing! No offense to your mom but yeah…it would be a very difficult, circular conversation to have.

    Morgan — Thank you.

    Much as I talk about coming out, I never, EVER condone someone outing anyone else without consent. It’s a major violation. I’m sorry your mother is acting rather juvenile about your work. Have you explained to her that she’s hurting your feelings or tried to have an adult conversation with her? I can’t imagine what she gains from not supporting you yet making sure everyone knows you’re a sex worker. Though as you’ve seen, not everyone is going to be as personally-offended by it as she is.

    I’m VERY glad that your other family members support you. Surely that’s a major help. Escorts learn MANY skills that I wish we could put on resumes. Serious skills like web design, online marketing, copywriting, photography skills, etc. Very glad it’s worked out for you! (sometimes, that is)

    I wouldn’t call myself “lucky” in my relationship with my mother. It is what it is, I just don’t feel that “luck” is a part of it. I would not say my mother loves me unconditionally — being a sex worker is different from abusing children, murdering people or becoming a politician. I’m pretty sure I can push her tolerance only so far.

    XX

  24. I hate to sound like a parent, but some of her friends are a bad influence!

    We have more and more conversations like that these days unfortunately.

  25. Consider Provo Girls Video, what if one of them left town to take a job at Goldman-Sach rather than making babies at home as she was brought up to do? Would she be as concerned about the loss of approval and support from her friends and family as a girl from a different background becoming a prostitute?

    I am a 66 year old man who didn’t date or look at a girl in high school for fear it would betray my interest in girls and sex to my family. Why I fest that need to protect myself I don’t know. My mother and step-father had run a bar and had prostitutes as customers, who they introduced me to, as such, when I was in junior high. I have no idea why I felt that I needed to hid it. In college I brought my girlfriend home to meet my family and she and I changed into and out of our bathing suits together and were put into the same bedroom without any discussion. It as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

    What I am sure about is that I am not the only one who is unable to think clearly about this subject and how wonderful it must feel to disclose who you are and what you are doing and continue to be loved and supported by those close to you. Maybe that prize only goes to those who have the courage to make themselves vulnerable.

    Kent

  26. Kent — It’s not just Provo, it’s a LOT of places (including where I grew up).

    What an interesting family and history you had!

    It wasn’t about being vulnerable (IMO), it was just about being straight up. It’s something my mother can’t argue with. 🙂

    XX

  27. Amanda – You may be too harsh on the Provo Girls of this country. That video could be viewed as their declaration of independence.

    Is less than 40 years since the rules changed. You are in the first generation of women, in the history of women, who have safe, legal, effective contraception available their entire lives. No doubt many of your generation are getting contraception for their own daughters, freeing them to follow their sex drives and pursue a life without children until they decide they are ready.

    It was a very reasonable for a culture without contraception to create a drive as strong as the sex drive toward marriage. A teen aged girl, on her own with her babies, has both her life and, more importantly, her childrens’ lives at risk. Given our sex drive and the inevitable babies that resulted, marriage was a good solution.

    Then the rules changed. In 1972, just few years before you were born, the Supreme Court gave unmarried women the right to contraception and, a little later, abortion. At that time the The Pill was just over 10 years old. It all came together, technology and law. For the first time in history people could have sex without babies. In this data, you can see when The Pill went on the market in 1960 in part of the US and when it became legal in the whole country in the early ’70’s. (Imagine the cultural changes with STD vaccines.)

    I believe one of the changes is well educated women, like yourself, who have other options considering prostitution as a career. I’m willing to bet that many of you, possibly you among them, would not do so without safe, effective, contraception and, possibly, abortion as a backup. Would I be right?

  28. Kent — How was I harsh???

    Biologically (and I’m about to talk about this at length), women have always had a tremendously strong sex drive. Don’t confuse repression by society as biological truth. 🙂

    Also, it may surprise you to know that women have historically had contraception methods (maybe not as effective as today, but still there). And the woman’s body itself chooses pregnancy when it suits it best. Women are not a passive receptacle of sperm. Not at all. In fact, considering the biological defenses every female creature has AGAINST sperm, it’s a miracle anything reproduces at all.

    XX

  29. @ Kent re: Provo Girls – I grew up in that culture, and (dare I admit it?) even went to the major private university there in Provo. Um, yes, there would in fact be a problem and a bit of an “outing” if those girls were to declare themselves independent. It’s much less acceptable for BYU girls to be at school for anything other than an MRS degree than at any other school. A real shame, because there are some sharp women here – and it’s a top school.

    Ah, well, it’s the culture.

    On the other hand, I remember a prostitution ring being broken up in the dorms there. The PR was worse because of the church that owns the school. My sweet, sainted mother’s comment? “A girl’s gotta pay her way through school somehow – and at least they’re not giving it away.”

    I never did tell my mother, but when my (drug addicted) sister announced, “At least I didn’t prostitute myself” I snorted Diet Coke all over myself…..Oh, the irony!

  30. Well, you’re wrong on several counts here. Well educated women have always been attracted to prostitution. The geisha, the courtesan, the upper class call girl, the escort – have all been, by way of requirement, highly educated. Not only were they to entertain men in the bedroom, but outside of it as well, so a strong knowledge of current events, philosophy, poetry, literature, logic, and language were necessary.

    Many women in the upper class chose to bear their client’s children – but as Amanda has pointed out, women in our profession have *always* known how to prevent pregnancy. Tansy, pennyroyal, mugwort, ergot to bring on a period, various pessaries to prevent conception (early forms of the diaphragm) have been used since the time of Cleopatra, and the condom has been known and used since at least the 15th century.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  31. Brooke,You’re such an amazing writer!

    I’m a actress and writer in Los Angeles, and have been doing escorting for about 15 years off and on.I’m actually trying to stop but find it harder than I had expected,perhaps the easy,fast money has made me lazy.I don’t know, but until consistant acting or writing work falls on my lap,I have bills to pay.

    My family knows but it’s like the big purple elephant in the room. They knew years ago I started dancing and I later told my mom and sister I was escorting. My mom never reprimanded me but would change the subject and seemed really sad and disappointed so I never pressed it,my sister never judged it,she would bring it up sometimes but it was only to mention that it seemed to be lucrative. I have always felt a unconditional love especially from my mom. I’m not sure if she still thinks I’m doing it,as far as my friends go I’m just not sure I can tell them. I told several close friends I use to dance and they’re still my friends,but right now with the whole escorting thing I do feel I’m living a double life,which feels really crappy because in all other areas of my life it’s authentic. It’s just that one little secret I have that feels like a square peg in a round hole.

    I can tell you one thing ,and that is if I ever became a even somewhat well known actor or writer I would come out with it RIGHT away because I want to be the one to let people know first and it would come out eventally because theres just too many girls,former escort/dancer friends,and clients from years ago that would come forward,and it would be something I wouldn’t be ashamed of.

    There’s so many forms of this you’d almost have to be a hypocrit to judge it. I remember seeing something on t.v several years ago and it stuck in my mind.

    It was a bunch of women in Las Vegas and they were there at a sugar daddy convention,meaning they were going to parties and events to meet millionaires,and they had the gull to judge and laugh at girls working in a brothel. This is hysterical because they’re doing the same thing except deceiving the men into thinking they love them or putting on a veneer of a false relationship.Thats all fine if you want to go to a million sugar daddy paries but for the love of Jesus,Mary and Martha keep those fingers pointed at yourself!

    I’m in my mid forties and perhaps its my age but I have also found this profession has made me very non judgemental and more compassionate to just all walks of life and people,until I walk in somones shoes what I think of them is non of their business and it’s not my job as a fellow human being to judge their life.

    Great entry Brooke.

  32. I can really understand this fear of Sarah’s and if one has a child she would be thinking of his life aswell,kids can be horribly mean and I get why she would not want to come out for some it wouldn’t be as easy.She has other things to consider.

    “I will never come out. I’ll never run the risk of feeling humiliated in front of my family again. I know the pain of being outed, and feel the shame. The gossip from people I regarded as friends, people who no longer have a thing to do with me. The fact that my son could no longer go to school, and we had to wait for two years before he could finish at high school elsewhere. The hurt and the stigma of being a whore is enough for me to know without doing anything more.

    Social suicide and mental torture… I’ll pass on that.”

  33. Tamara — Thank you.

    The hypocrisy of other women is well-noted by sex workers. Though there is the sex work hierarchy too, which is part of that same hypocrisy. It’s never insulting to me, it just makes me mad. I’d rather be an honest prostitute than a “girlfriend”-in-denial any day of the week.

    I’m glad you are out with your family. No, it never means they have to jump for joy but at least everyone knows where they stand. And no one has any real power over you.

    Wishing you well on your acting career!

    Sarah was outed to her entire community without her consent, which was the major part of the trauma. Not everyone is going to have such a traumatic experience telling their family/friends (your entire community generally doesn’t need to know). Of course, outing yourself means the situation is far more under your control. And everything Furry Girl said too.

    XX

  34. LMAO I’m sorry I called a “Brooke” Amanda. I just noticed that,please blow in my ear and give me a refill.

  35. OMG, an extremely late comment on an old post…
    Yet I want to share my experience.
    When I ‘outed’ myself, my mom already knew….
    She’s quite a detective when it comes to finding out her children’s secrets.
    But fortunately, she reacted well.
    She said she didn’t like it at all, sounding disappointed (not surprisingly). But instead of getting enraged, she urged me to undergo a health check.
    And besides that, she’s always been very discrete. So it’s a secret between my mom and me. And I like to keep it that way.
    We don’t talk about it, for it’s too painful (especially for her).
    But I’m quite happy that her overall treatment towards me hasn’t changed, after I outed myself.

    1. Aphrodite — Sounds like you had a somewhat similar experience. I’m glad for people who show that outing one’s self to one’s family doesn’t have to be a terrible thing. It mostly isn’t.

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