sexwork activism

Jessie Nicole is an activist and writer focusing on sex workers rights. She is dedicated to fighting all forms of oppression, building strong communities, and education.

For more information please contact Jessie Nicole here.

Shorter: I moved to LA in August 2010 and became the director of Sex Workers Outreach Project – Los Angeles. I am a former prostitute, and a dedicated activist. I’m a queer, stubborn, committed, anarcha-feminist. I have a Masters in literature. I’m always open to learning and trying new things. I’m always open to meeting new people and having fun in new ways. I like Irish whiskey and dancing and am a terrible singer.

Longer: I’m going to try to keep this short and let my writing and my work stand as they are. But there’s some background information that will go a long way to inform where I’m at today.

I was both a sex worker and an activist for years before it occurred to me I could put the two together. When I first started in the sex industry I was an idiot, and I was alone. It’s embarrassing how little regard I seemed to have for my own safety. I really believe it was sheer luck that I was never arrested or assaulted. I later did some homework and learned a LOT just by dedicating hours upon hours to reading other sex workers’ blogs. I am deeply indebted to those women for helping me learn how to be safe and for helping me realize that I was not the first, not would I be the last, to go through what I did. Being a prostitute was one hell of an experience for me. Like any job, there were parts I hated and parts I loved. And I know that I had it relatively easy. I recognize the privileges I have and how those privileges shaped my experience in the sex industry.

Being a whore meant that I had to re-evaluate the way I thought about a lot of things, including myself. What it meant to be a feminist, or queer, or radical, or even part of a community, had profoundly changed. But I couldn’t articulate it to anyone, so I kept quiet about how alienated I felt. I felt isolated, scared, and ashamed of all the lies I had to keep up. I maintained my grades, my involvement in the radical activist scene, my friendships, and my relationship with my family. I even had lovers and casual romances. I practiced an odd sort of denial where there were two parts of my life that would never meet, and keeping up that kind of dual identity is exhausting, frustrating, and infuriating. Having a community of sex workers would go a long way towards preventing the necessity of that pain for future workers.

I’ve been involved with activism of various sorts since I was a child. From a miserable failure of an environmental campaign when I was in elementary school, to registering voters in high school, to the 2004 election, to anti-torture and shutting down the School of Americas, vegan cooking classes, a radical feminist girl gang (<3), writing a graduate thesis on the IWW… it’s all been part of lifelong work to change the world. It hasn’t been easy, and it never will be, but as I read and live and interact with people more my opinions and ideas continue to develop. I suppose I should probably have a longer explanation about my politics somewhere, but this is the brief introduction so I’ll save it.

Getting involved with Sex Workers Outreach Project has been the most empowering and liberating activist experience I’ve ever had. Every event and every meeting is building something much bigger. If you want to see specific goals I have in mind for SWOP LA check out the Activist Wish List page.

So, here I am. Happy, healthy, and working hard. I live with my partner and our turtle, Walter, in West Hollywood. I like to cook and experiment with new foods. I’m not sure what else to say about my personal life really. I’m sure bits will pop up here as my personal life is deeply intertwined with my politics.