FOSTA/SESTA Digital Stories
Shortly after FOSTA/SESTA, BAWS began collecting narratives from Bay Area workers to share at the ‘March for Justice’. Many of these stories are from workers who are not able to be out and visible. Due to stigma and criminalization, it’s not safe for all workers to show our face and speak publicly. But our voices are still important. Here are our first-hand experiences of working while criminalized.
We are continually collecting stories about the affects of FOSTA/SESTA on our communities.
If you are a sex worker with an experience to share, please submit here.
Valerie Paige, San Francisco, CA
“My name is Valerie Paige, I began doing sex work years ago as a means to survive given the transphobia I faced looking for work. However, through sex work, I found my voice, my self-empowerment, and my inner strength. It's through sex work that I learned to establish my boundaries, set my own values, and maintain my self-respect. In my work, I've met so many people of all walks of life; learning so much from my colleagues, building a community of fans, and helping many of my clients come out about themselves.
For so many of us, sex work has been our only means of economic empowerment and stability, but we're under attack with laws like SESTA/FOSTA, along with the public misconception that we're all sexual deviants, criminals, and failures of society. They fail to see that we can provide a form of therapy; we give release, instill confidence, and offer comfort in so many ways.
Today, I march because it's important to raise awareness about what we're up against: from the law, from public shame, and from violence. It's also important for the public to understand that sex work is legitimate work and that sex workers are people. Today, we march together, because we're resilient and we won't be silenced!”
Sasha, Oakland CA
"Doing sex work enabled me to make money when I was an unemployed student too depressed to do a regular job."
Anonymous, Oakland, CA
“I've been working as a prostitute in Oakland for over ten years. Advertising online kept me out of the hands of pimps and abusers. Now I have nowhere to advertise and am desperate for money. It seems like these anti trafficking people don't actually understand what they're doing. I am in much more danger now, and no one is helping.”
Sadie lune, Berlin GE, via SF, CA
“You are my family and our lineage is long and strong like an arched back.
Can you hear the lips licking from years and decades and centuries of workers below and around and amongst us?
I hear them- providers, keepers of secrets, holders of shame, seducers and soothers and roll over and get it done quickers and lovers who stood up in the streets they were banned from, who lay down in the beds they never slept in.
Can you hear them wetting their mouths and whispering sweet words and jangling their purses saying baby, you never ever tore us down?
As long as there are cocks to raise from the dead, We’ll show stigma our moist holes and toss our hair at your shame. We work cuz we have to or we work cuz we love it or we work cuz it’s the job we know best and we’re damn good at it, and we work and we work despite your hypocrisy, despite attempts to control us, we work and we work and we work.
And today we work together, nipples hard like diamonds, mouths luscious and burning, together we stand up to support each other in the power you try to tear from us!
You think because we know how to lay low and bend over you can force us for free but these are skills baby, it’s our job darling, and WE set the terms and the rates of our trade.
So when you Try to take our rights and our safety, we’ll see how we swell, how big we are together, just see how rock hard we can get!
I love you. Thank you for working together.”
Quinn Helix, Sacramento, CA
"All companionship is paid for whether you’re a wife or a sex worker. FOSTA and SESTA enable human trafficking infinitely more than it claims to solve. These laws are human rights and free speech violations that should not be tolerated by any civilian or sex worker. My body shouldn’t be anyone’s business but my own, and I work hard on my business."
Anonymous, Oakland, CA
“Due to SESTA/ FOSTA, my income sources are drying up and the sex industry is becoming a buyer's market, which is very dangerous for workers. No one is considering how this affects so many of us consensual adult sex workers. My safety tools disappeared overnight, due to clumsy uninformed decisions by people who aren't involved in this work. This is dangerous.”
Anonymous, Oakland, CA
“Now that our communication and screening tools are under attack, I have a much harder time making sure my clients aren't rapists or thieves. I'm much more scared walking into unknown situations every day. Who knows when my luck will run out.”
Anonymous, San Francisco, CA
“I'm disabled and poor and I just lost my job, the only job that is physically possible for me. The job that pays for my cancer medications and my food and the things that make it possible for me, a disabled person, to live a decent life. Every website that I have ever used to connect with clients has gone offline and I have no way of getting work now. Thousands of chronically ill and disabled people have just lost their means of survival. I'm still housed and fed now, but I haven't worked in weeks and don't know when I will again. I can't come out and protest because I'm sick and I'm worried about losing my benefits. Many of us can't even admit to the majority of the people in our lives that this is happening to us because it's too risky. We desperately need non workers to talk about what's happening, to explain to people that these measures only harm, that they don't help trafficking victims or anyone else, and they do ruin lives.”
Sins Invalid - disability justice-based performance project on disability, sexuality, and embodiment, West Coast, USA
“We know from our lived experiences that disability impacts who is seen and read as having sexual value in a society that is oppressing disabled bodies, women’s bodies, immigrants' bodies, indigenous bodies, Black bodies, brown bodies, fat bodies, older bodies, and more.
We know that many disabled people do sex work, that many sex workers have disabilities, and that sex work offers options for disabled people to support ourselves when other kinds of work aren't accessible. In this way, justice for sex workers is disability justice.
When we try and survive in the underground economy, we are criminalized. And, we know the rates of violence on the street and in lock-ups skyrocket against people who are seen as “less than" – sex workers, people with disabilities, and non-binary gendered people. For all of these reasons and more, we demand justice for sex workers!”
Anonymous, Oakland, CA
“Advertising online allowed me to work independently. Now I fear I'll have to work for a pimp or other abusive manager. I don't know what to do. “
Shania B., Oakland Ca
“Why do I have to prove anything to you. Who the fuck are you? Do you love your job all the time? Do you find it empowering? Sometimes I find my job empowering. Money feels really fucking empowering when you live in a capitalist society. Sometimes I love my job. Sometimes I feel like I’m even helping people who otherwise may not have any touch or intimate connection. And sometimes I hate it. Sometimes it makes me feel small. Sometimes rape culture is a fucking drag. But rape culture is a drag outside of sex work. And at least with sex work, I can support myself financially. Rescue me from capitalism, not my job.”