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Confessions of an American Whore: Sex Work Holds a Mirror Up to S.F.'s Hidden Kinks and Communities 

Wednesday, Jan 29 2014
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Page 4 of 5

I called up a friend who had audio equipment and know-how. We recorded the first episode in our living room. Our mission was to humanize people in the sex industry by sharing their stories, art, and voices. I thought that if more people knew the real-life experiences of real sex workers, then maybe they'd reconsider voting "yes" on laws that criminalized them and their families. We crossed our fingers as we uploaded the first episode onto iTunes. The WhoreCast was born.


Two years into dating me, meanwhile, even as thousands of strangers were getting to know my story, Jesse's own family didn't yet know I was a sex worker.

Jesse insisted he was open to telling his parents whenever I was ready, but I continued to put it off. I was afraid that even if they got to know me first, the fact that I was a sex worker would be a deal-breaker. I was plain crazy about Jesse and desperate for his family to think I was good enough for him.

The decision was taken out of our hands in the spring of 2013 when a segment I filmed for CNN Money on sex work was slated to air in homes across America. We knew we couldn't wait any longer to tell them.

Jesse's mother came to visit and we told her. The visit went well as far as we could tell, and she seemed to take the news with an open mind. However, as soon as she arrived home, we learned that nothing was okay.

Jesse's parents no longer speak to me. This time, my greatest fears came true. Despite the Christmases and vacations we had spent together over the past two years, the fact that I was a sex worker had indeed been a deal-breaker. Soon after the visit, boxes filled with things from Jesse's childhood started showing up in the mail.

It's not easy being the partner of a sex worker. Sometimes the consequences of coming out are quite grave, and the loss of Jesse's family is compounded by the threat of criminal prosecution under Prop. 35. There are times when I'm beside myself with guilt. This year hasn't been easy for Jesse or me.

Sadly, there is no shortage of people in San Francisco who have troubled relationships with their families.

I asked my close friend, Courtney Trouble, founder of QueerPorn.TV, for advice. Courtney identifies as gender-queer and has been in the sex industry for close to a decade. Courtney is very close to one parent, but is now estranged from the other.

"Me and my mom haven't spoken in three years. A lot of it has to do with my choice to be a sex worker." Courtney's advice was simple: "Our friends are our chosen family. Queer people have been forced to define their own families for a really long time. Picking people to be your chosen family is so incredibly important for our mental health."

San Francisco has been a destination for outcasts and freethinkers for decades. Beat poets are our ancestors, drag queens are our civic leaders, and flocks of parrots grace our skies; this place is like no other. Many times a year, the city celebrates sexual freedoms with huge events like Folsom Street Fair and LGBT Pride; they are as quintessential to San Francisco as sourdough bread and the Golden Gate Bridge. A culture of free sexual expression, combined with periodic economic booms like the Gold Rush and Silicon Valley, make fertile ground for a thriving sexual economy. What is now the wealthy neighborhood of Pacific Heights was once the red-light district of the Wild West known as the Barbary Coast. The modern sex worker rights movement, founded by Beat Generation darling Margo St. James, was born in this city in the 1970s alongside San Francisco icons like Harvey Milk and Ken Kesey. The Armory, in the heart of the Mission District, is now home to Kink.com, which is the largest producer of kinky adult content in the world. Sex work and therefore sex workers are part of the fabric of this city. Transplants from all over the world have come here in search of acceptance. The queer, the kinky, the radical, and the artistic have made their homes and found community in San Francisco. I am no different. I did not come to this city with the intention of becoming a sex worker, I came here in search of my people and my community. I found them in the sex industry.

Unfortunately, legislation like Prop. 35 deepens the potential wedge between sex workers and their families by stating that anyone who involves themselves with a sex worker is not an ally, but an accessory to a crime. Sex work can be isolating; forging community bonds is necessary for survival. Additionally, the goal of traffickers is only made easier when it is illegal to reach out to family, community, and city for support.


Prop. 35 passed by an overwhelming majority. It was an expected disappointment, but it still stung. However, the response we received from the first few episodes of The WhoreCast was incredible. People from all over the country were listening. We get positive responses from sex workers, clients, and people who just like podcasts.

In the face of Prop. 35, his parents' disapproval, and every other narrative that says a good Midwestern boy shouldn't love a whore like me, Jesse still wanted me to be his wife. It was snowing in Disneyland when he proposed. He got down on one knee in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle and I said yes.

With the Christmas season upon us, this was both the happiest time in our relationship and the saddest. Not being able to share the good news with Jesse's parents hung heavy on our hearts, so this happy ending, like most, was bittersweet. Instead of dwelling on that, we took Courtney's advice and hosted a holiday party that included biological family as well as chosen family from our sex worker community. My mother, who is still on the long road to a full recovery, took me aside and promised me that she would be able to dance at our wedding. I wanted to stitch all these people together like a quilt that I could wrap around Jesse and me to remind us that family is not about the people who brought you into this world; it's about the people who are by your side while you're in it.

About The Author

Siouxsie Q

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