My queue posts pretty regularly (and y’all, please bear with me—I know there have been a lot of updates today), but I had to get this one out.
I have been thinking a lot lately about transparency, and the effect of it on my life. While I have generally been known for being blunt and honest to a fault (I believe my friend Matthew once referred to me as “an unedited woman”), I have always viewed it as a liability. It was something I felt like I had to apologize for, or otherwise tone down. Even with that quality, I felt pressure to conceal certain aspects of my life. It was hard to reconcile this natural openness with what I learned in my childhood; I grew up in a family that has some archaic, superficial perspectives on sexuality, femininity, and perfectionism, and it impacted my ability to commit to who I wanted to be.
Part of my goals for this year (or really, since I left last job as a domestic violence shelter advocate/counselor) have been to commit myself to the weird. It seemed that trying to commit myself to a life of normalcy was not only ill-fitting, but also making me miserable. Fuck that. So I decided to own it: Queer; sex-worker; roller derby rookie; writer; domestic violence/rape survivor; poetry nerd; burgeoning ukulele player (lulz); college drop out; fat-positive; kinky; feminist; silly, smart lady. I decided I wanted to stop apologizing for those things, for all of my things, and actually own that I am an out and out freak (and I like it that way).
Being transparent and unapologetic about these things has been, for the most part, an uplifting development. My life feels more fulfilled, my confidence has exploded, and it has given me the ability to develop an exceedingly phenomenal community. While I was expecting blowback, particularly about the queer/sex-work bits, I was primarily met with unconditional love and support. Some folks had questions and concerns about safety (ok, my mother initially lost her shit, which I wrote about here), but for the most part, it was accepted. Plus, I have had the fortunate opportunity of dispelling myths and misconceptions about sex work/professional BDSM to the folks around me. Ultimately, what it came down to is that the people in my life feel confident that I am the same dazzling person I have always been, regardless of what I do job-wise.
Jiz Lee wrote a fantastic post called “How to Come Out like a Porn Star,” and while I’m not doing porn, I found it all too relevant to coming out as a sex worker in general. What I am struggling with now is number two on their list, which is “You don’t just come out once.” I had been lulled into a sense of security by the supportive, sex-positive, progressive people in my life, and by the fact that I generally don’t give a fuck what people outside of that think about who I am or what I do.
But here I am, facing a situation in my personal life where my transparency has caused someone who feels strangely pitted against me to use the information to be hurtful and unfair. While I could have anticipated the results of this, I still suppose the naive, optimistic part of me (sidenote: it’s nice to know that, as cynical as I am, this part of me still exists) expects folks to be generally less cruel than they are. Again, these are the benefits of being surrounded by communicative, intelligent, compassionate folk: I have massive faith in humanity, and I am disappointed and appalled when someone only a few social degrees away could behave callously based on little to no information.
Fortunately, during these times, my community comes forward like none other, serving as staunch sounding boards, reaffirming that things are going to be okay, and reminding me that I need to let these things roll off my back. One of my dearest friends told me, “Tizz, I don’t give a flying fuck what the fuck you do for a living. You’re legit one of the goofiest, smartest, well read, well spoken, caring people I know. I don’t care if you were a garbage man, a receptionist, a McDonald’s cook, or a legit prostitute—nothing would change that, so fuck [their] ignorance with a shiny strap on dildo, k?” As much as she said things that I already feel confident in, it is good to be reminded. Sometimes, outside reassurance can calm the little voice that seeks to destroy from the inside out, especially when it has been encouraged by unwelcome external forces.
Transparency is still absolutely vital to my emotional and mental well-being, not to mention any success in accomplishing my goals. I knew that there would be negative feedback, although it came later than I expected, and I anticipate that in the future, as I come out again, and again (and again) as a sex worker, there will be more. That is part of how this works, isn’t it? Either way, I remain committed to crumbling the harsh stereotypes, with six inch heels, whips, and words. Folks can talk all they like, but this is the reality: I am not going anywhere. I am going to continue doing the work that I like doing, and along the way, advocating for the wonderful people that I feel honored to call my peers. Deal with it.