So this used to be more of a personal blog than a sex worker news worthy piece, so in thinking and overthinking “what should i blog? when should I blog?” i just decided that i work best when i just start typing because typing is so easy for me to do…I just watched the Harvey Milk movie with my mom on Christmas Day. Every Christmas Day we watch a movie together because my sisters spend this day with their partners’ families and historically I have not been partnered up with anyone so I’ve hung out with my mom at the movies!
This youtube thing is very fitting, if not totally inspiring, if we think of Obama as being the representation of HOPE as he has coined himself to be…The “us” es that Milk speaks about…that is me…queer prostitute of color..
It was SUCH an inspiring movie to watch with my mom because it was the best way for me to explain to her exactly what I do as a prostitute activist. I had JUST finished working on the PROP K campaign in San Francisco, and PROP 8 (gay marriage) had just been defeated in CA and Florida which was almost EXACTLY what they were fighting when Milk was running for all the offices that he had run for. The most inspiring thing for me was that he did NOT COME OUT of the closet until after age 40, nor did he START his political career as a historical LGBT activist UNTIL AFTER 40. And here I sit at 32 thinking that I am getting TOO OLD. He had run for offices 4 different times in San Francisco before he won his supervisor seat finally. So, being that we had attained 41% of the vote in San Francisco for decriminalization of prostitution, the first time on the SF Ballot is pretty damn amazing.
During the late 70s instead of talking about gay marriage, they were talking about FIRING GAY TEACHERS. This is pretty ironic for me to hear, since I was a high school teacher for many years, and openly GAY with a big ol rainbow flag behind my desk. I chose to call myself gay and not bi for the purposes of my teaching career because it was easier for me go with extremes than use the hot button word ‘bisexual’ which I felt might read as ambiguous to teenagers. Although, this new generation of queer youth is MUCH more accepting of bi and transgender peers than my generation. I KNOW I was internalizing biphobia, but it was pretty effective for the purposes of running the Gay Straight Alliance in our urban school.
I have met with supervisors (dressed as a street worker) and walked up the very stairs of San Francisco’s City Hall that Milk talked about making a grand gay entrance into, where he was assasinated by Dan White and cried and fought in the very same ways that he did…in the same places…
My mom asked me what the guy I am dating thought about me being bisexual and I said,”I don’t think he has a choice really…it’s not something that you can really control. It’s just who you are.” She asked me why I wanted to watch that movie, and I said, because I’m bisexual, it’s part of my history.
Being the openly gay teacher in the high school that I taught at and getting involved in LGBT youth activism for those years was a replacement for the sex worker rights issues that I had been working on previously to my shift into transitioning out of sex work into the “real world.” The only thing was that I MISSED the sex worker rights movement! I missed the POWER of sex work! So as soon as I finished my first year at that school, I quit and celebrated my reunification with the whore movement…OMG. That was already TWO YEARS AGO.
After watching that movie, I told my mom..”The organization that I am working with…it is VERY SIMILAR to what you see in this movie. The things that we do and what we go through are almost the same.” I said. My mom doesn’t know that I am actually a sex worker. She believes what I tell her, that I am just an ally, a researcher type, a consultant on the issue, not an actually worker. Perhaps she already knows and just consciously buys into the lie because it is easier. But, the important elements of what I actually do are not so important to my mom, because what I wish to share with her about what I do, I AM already sharing with her. I really don’t think it’s important to share the details of the sex work with my mom anymore than I am…Perhaps I might come all the way out of the closet with it, but I don’t think that it is that necessary. When I did the PROP K media stuff, I had to grapple with the fact that my Chinese family in San Francisco would see me on national TV. But the work that I do and the words that I am saying, I have a RIGHT TO BE PROUD OF, and if they watch it and can find some shame to dig up to throw at me, then I will just deal with it then, but no backlash has happened so far. A very few of my cousins know, but not too many. Not many of my extended cousins know about my LGBT activism. I haven’t identified any potentially queer relatives of mine, but there is always one or two that we don’t know we have.
I have worked on my coming out with my mom for many years. I announced being bi to my sisters and mom during some getaway vacation to Napa almost ten years ago. My mom is a born again Christian, it is important to note so progress with her is very different than my dad who is my best friend and supporter of my sex worker politics and of so many things that I do. In the last few days, I’ve been staying at my Dad’s apartment posting Craigslist escort ads and taking calls for work in front of him (going into the other room) but nevertheless..just a glimpse at how very different they are. My dad has read some of my blog, knows about EVERYTHING I’ve done, from the arrest to the brothel and has shipped me books and novels and web links on sex worker activism. Having ONE parent like my dad is enough acceptance for MY WHOLE FAMILY (siblings and their partners included), I am really really lucky to have him. I am learning to love my mother more, as you might infer, we’ve struggled more on our relationship and it has had constant ups and downs through my life, but this Christmas was a symbollic truce of sorts…It was better than watching Nixon or Aliens vs Predator II which is what we watched last year. She says she doesn’t know what it is like to feel discrimination, that she came to this country after the Japanese internment, that she sympathizes with “us” but doesn’t understand what that might be like. I struggle to understand how a woman of color could NOT understand discrimination in this country, but I struggle to understand my mother as well. Perhaps we don’t struggle with each other anymore, we just accept and understand that we DON’T and might not ever understand completely. Perhaps also, she will never know that I consider my fate as a courtesan to be inherited by her, that sexual exchange is passed down from yo mama in many families. I learned how to know that men and their money was the key to my finnancial survival from her, as she had a sugar daddy partner for most of the years of our growing up and that she met my father when she was a hostess in Japan.