Sunday, July 3, 2011

Out of the Bubble

Nights out are usually spent dancing, drinking, dining, and gabbing with my sex-worker friends. With them I know I am in a safe space where it doesn't matter if I mix up real names with porn names, joke about the often hilarious things our patrons do, and slip in and out of our personal dialect. In this bubble, this glorious bubble I can only wish could expand to encompass everyone in my life, I don't have to guard myself from other's judging eyes and unapproving tongues, insatiable appetites for justifications and hurried exits. With them, with my community, I sometimes forget that the bubble exists at all, but when socializing with others I remain anxious and vigilant, even in the most relaxed settings.

Outside my bubble, though I will gladly charge the field in oral combat if I am attacked directly or see others assaulted by someone being ignorant just for the sake of being so, my first instinct is protectionism: to not bring focus to my work or goals unless I know it is socially safe to do so. When asked the standard "So, what do you do?" question I'll make things up, claiming to work in an office or some menial retail situation, foregoing the explanation of my pride in working for causes I care intimately about. I hunker down and build a wall, making necessary snap assumptions about the new acquaintances, relying on the fact I will probably never see them again, passively deciding not to make anyone, including myself, unnecessarily uncomfortable by the truth.

Wanting desperately to connect to another person, establish a new friendship, I'll test the waters by telling the truth: I dance naked and am the current lead madam of the Lusty Lady peepshow (among other things), I care passionately about sex-worker rights, and have every intention of dedicating my future career, whatever it may be, to establishing the legitimacy of sex-work as work socially and, specifically, under the law. The results are mixed. Sometimes I have been pleasantly surprised by acceptance and easy conversation. More often people do all the negative things I have come to expect, including the most recent reaction: "That is why you are dressed like THAT!"

(Dear reader: I was wearing a polka dot dress that nearly reached my knees and didn't even reveal an inch of cleavage-not a small feat with DD tits,-stockings, and tennis shoes. Please tell me what the hell that is supposed to mean.)

Occasionally I feel I bring these situations upon myself by choosing to do the work I do and choosing to talk about it, kicking myself for making things harder than they really need to be. I let myself be isolated by the stigmatization and lumped with the stereotypes, fearing the difficult futures naysayers believe I am headed towards. Thankfully these moments are few and far between, never lasting long, but they do happen, despite all my rallying and inspiring friends and co-workers. Someday I hope to live in a world where the secrecy and sensitivity won't be needed and the awkward, hurtful moments won't exist, but I fear that time won't be anytime soon.

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