The cost of prostitution: The removal of my name from your Facebook friends list is a subtle, but unmistakable sign of our disintegrated friendship. Screamingly obvious is the once everyday texts and calls, to radio silence. Your moral compass is stronger than what I thought this friendship was.
While listening to a friend discuss recent life events over dinner, my mind wandered over our history. We have been close friends for 21 years. During that time, we’ve helped each other grow, shared intimate details of our first sexual experiences, swapped life goals and aspirations.
But for the last few years, a few little white lies feel as though they have caught up with me when she asks “what are you doing for work now?”. I brush this question off with the usual blasé response I give everyone else in my life. Suddenly I feel guilty. This person in front of me is far beyond just everyone else. My cogs turn as I assess the potential damage of revealing my real profession. How will she look at me? What will she say? Will I be disowned, cast out from her life like trash?
Another question exits her mouth, piercing the validity of my cover job, and I break.
Time for the truth…
I cannot omit such a large part of my life anymore, not to her. I test the waters with an industry related topic and cautiously gauge the response. She appears shocked, but curious about this underworld.
I feel my fight or flight instincts kick in. Do I risk this friendship? Shouldn’t a true friend love me no matter what? How strong is this bond between us?
Like a guilty child whose caught out, the words “I’ve got something to tell you” leave my mouth before I fully comprehended what exactly I will say.
“Oh god” is her response, “Do I need to sit down?”. Her demeanour is now serious, and I instantly feel like running. “I’m a hooker” I spit out, my face heats up, and I know I’m a shade of crimson.
In my mind, I was going to use the term escort, as though to validate my work. But at the end of the day, no matter what word I used to describe my profession, it is what it is.
Her silence fills me with dread, her mind seemingly boggling with what I’ve said as she asks me to repeat myself. I begin reassuring her with positive aspects of the industry and how happy I am. Am I divulging this information to make her feel better or to justify it to myself? I end my blabbering with “if you have any questions I’ll answer anything”.
With dinner over, we’re onto dessert, and the interrogation begins. I answer each one honestly, what more do I have to lose? In what feels like my parting statement I say “I understand if you want to disown me, just let me know before you do”. Her reaction is puzzling. “After 21 years you think I’d give up this friendship because of a job?”. A warm rush of relief pours over my entire body, my jaw relaxes, and my hands unclench. The sweet release of telling the truth and not having it backfire.
I feel a better person for being able to be so sincere with a friend I love dearly, and even more honoured to have her in my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better response to a subject surrounded by so much stigma and stereotypes that it ruins relationships.
The Facebook deleting person at the beginning of this story happened to a friend of mine. The honesty shared between these two individuals gave the illusion that her friendship was impenetrable. But along comes a truth that is hard to swallow for some. Unlike me, my fellow sex worker did not receive any curious questions, no attempt to understand why prostitution was the chosen career.
The stigma of prostitution cost her friendship, a friendship supposedly based on trust, honesty and understanding.
But wait there is more…
There are undoubtedly more stores, from successful conversations to the inevitable backlash of telling someone who just doesn’t understand, thinks ill of the prostitution and then due to this thinks less of you as a person.
There have been media releases that have discussed reactions of friends, family, and society in general, like that of Samantha X, her account went global helped in part of her already being in the media. Or the three part account by Viktoria Vaar, who after struggling to find ‘coming out’ stories decided to talk about her own journey to tell family and friends.
Also Lola Davina, author of Thriving in Sex Work, has produced a blog post regarding how to ‘come out’ to family and friends about Camming, which may be helpful to some, she does also offer insight into questions to ask yourself that could also be relevant to your situation. Click the link to be taken to her blog called ‘Surviving the Holidays’.
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