Sex Work Activist Burn Out / Sex Work Community Love


Ive taken giant steps backwards from activism and activist communities in the past year. There have been a lot of factors, some of which have been deeply personal and some of which have been struggles with activist institutions and communities themselves. However, despite my ambivalence about formal organizing and activism, one thing that has not wavered has been my dedication to sex work communities. While Ive been pulling back from sex work activism, Ive been much happier and successful as a sex worker and forming stronger bonds with other sex workers. Go figure.

Being the director of SWOP-LA wasnt good for me. It was never a position I particularly wanted, nor a structure I was completely comfortable with. I didnt want to speak for sex workers. I didnt want a leadership position. And I didnt want to do the enormous amount of bureaucratic work that went with the position. I think Im ok at it, but I dont think it plays to my best strengths. I was overwhelmed by the responsibility I felt, and then resentful because I felt like I didnt have a choice.

At the same time, I kind of got off on the recognition. It felt good to have business cards that had a real position on them. I liked the awe and respect people showed when I described what I did. And I took real pride in both mine and SWOPs accomplishments. I dont think that any of those are necessarily bad things. But it distracted from some of the toll the forms my activist efforts were taking on me.

Writing, presenting, conferences, email lists, conference calls, and fundraisers were never what I wanted my top activist priorities to be. Building strong communities of sex workers was, and is. Again, its not that any of those are bad or unproductive things. They just took time from other goals. One of the things Im most proud of helping to organize as a sex work activist didnt happen through any official organizations. It happened because sex workers and allies could be connected through a network of mutual friends and acquaintances. Maybe its weak or depoliticized activism, but thats what I want to focus on.

In that spirit the next Sex Worker Social is much more informal. So informal, in fact, that its also a birthday party for Vanessa and not limited to current or former sex workers exclusively. Weve built some pretty kick ass friendships and camaraderie in LA, and were going to keep strengthening that.

More to come soon.