I never really had a coming out moment about my bisexuality. There was no party, big announcement, or even a one-on-one convo. I basically just slowly started posting about being queer on Facebook and Instagram, assuming the people who cared about knowing would know eventually. To my family, I was just casually drop “because I’m bisexual” into conversations about life updates as if it was already known fact. My mum was always amendment about accepting us regardless of who my siblings and I loved, so I never had to worry about having a conversation about my identity. That was until I started sex work.
Coming out as a sex worker was (and still is) a completely different ordeal; one I don’t even think I would have been prepared for if I had to actively come out as bi. Luckily many Western families nowadays know that sexuality isn’t a choice, but sex work is a job; one that’s so heavily wrapped up in stigma and misinformation that most people will ask you to choose otherwise, even if alternative options are more dangerous, worse paying, and less flexible. Even though I’m not doing in-person/ full service work like Sunshine Coast escorts, being in the adult industry as an indie porn performer still carries heavy stigmas. Society is ok with (ever so) slowly dismantling heteronormativity, but the majority of us aren’t prepared to even address how marginalized people are surviving under capitalism. Sex work is a viable and accessible option for people of colour, gender-oppressed and disabled people, single parents, low-income earners, and more. Not many people realize how ideal sex work can be when looking at under an anti-capitalist lens, which is factors into how people perceive the job and identity as lesser.
When it came to coming out to my parents about being a sex worker, I didn’t consider it a pressing issue. And not just because of stigma related reasons. I’m not incredibly close with either of them, so they weren’t at high risk of finding out, so I didn’t necessarily need to “hide” it from them. I knew I had to tell them eventually, but it was never on the top of my to-do list. I’m incredibly privileged to be in the position of indifference – many can’t even consider admitting what they do for work to their families.
That being said, I did decide to tell my mum. I’m so proud of the projects I’ve been working on, and of the career and life I’ve created for myself. The idea of keeping that a secret from her had caused me so much anxiety that I knew I needed to tell her. Earlier this year, I had to muster up so much courage to say it – and I’m not lying when I say it was one of the hardest moments of my life. While I’m incredibly independent – the idea of being rejected because of my job (and now part of my identity), by someone I love and respect, was a terrifying feeling to face. I was suddenly facing a lot of my abandonment issues in a situation that was already surrounded in a lot of intense emotions. I’m fortunate that my coming out conversation went well, and my mum is supportive of me, even despite the ugly crying, and intense fears surrounding it. It feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.
Although I don’t think there’s anything you can do to fully prepare yourself for having the “coming out as a sex worker” conversation, I’m glad I found a way to give me the confidence to do so.
I came out to my mum as a clip girl/sexy online creator/sex worker tonight.
It was my far one of the scariest things I've had to do, but it went as well as I hoped. 💖
Thank you to my mum (and all of my friends) for not judging me, loving me, and being proud of who I am. pic.twitter.com/c8PGtKJHZT
— Suz Ellis 🍑 (@redhotsuz) April 14, 2019
Tips for Coming Out as a Sex Worker:
Read stories of other folks who’ve come out as sex workers
Reading other people’s coming out experiences was the single most important thing to helping me come out to my mum. It helped me visualize how I would say what I needed to say, show me the variety of similar situations in different contexts, and allowed me to hope for the best. Hearing stories from other workers made me feel connected to the community, which gave me the strength to come out. Here’s what I found the most helpful:
- Thriving in Sex Work by Lola Davina
- Lola Davina’s book is THE sex work handbook, and I recommend it to anyone in sex work, and anyone looking to enter the industry. The chapter “Shame: An Introduction” talks about how stigma can affect us, and how we can deal with coming out and being outed. I probably read page 67 (Heartfelt Advice: How to Come Out) 20 times over the night before I came out to my mum.
- Coming Out like a Porn Star
- This wonderful book is a compilation of essays by porn professions, talking about their experiences coming out to their family, friends and communities. Edited by Jiz Lee, the book covers a range of perspectives from across the industry. It’s nothing but valuable to if you’re looking for confidence or solace in your own situations.
- Search “coming out sex work” on Twitter, and you’ll find a slew of conversations that can help you find some comfort in your community. You can broaden your search to the entire sex work industry, or find your niche group, like Darwin escorts, to find fellow workers who share similar experiences to your part of the industry. If you’re active on Twitter, tweet out asking for mutuals to share their own stories with you.
Remember who loves you
Coming out to someone important to you can feel daunting; it’s always easiest to imagine all the worst case scenarios. Try focusing on the people that love and support you in your life who already know about what you do to counteract the negative possibilities floating through your head. When I was nervous about coming out to my mum, I thought about all the wonderful people who love me regardless of what I do.
If you’re not out to anyone in your life yet, I support you.
Rip it off
I rarely have a hard time speaking my mind, but when I came out to my mum I was so petrified I found it hard to speak. Adrenaline was coursing through me, my palms were sweaty, and I almost thought I couldn’t go through with it because I was feeling so incredibly anxious. When I finally started the conversation, I had to blurt out what I needed to say through ugly sobs and hyperventilating. But I got there. I made it through. If you’re in the moment and you don’t think you can say what you need to say in one go, or coherently, once you start talking, it gets easier. Just keep pushing through, even if the first couple sentences aren’t as eloquent as you imagined in your head.
Whether you’re a pro-domme, cam girl, body rubbing babe, international companion of mystery, or a Canberra escort, I hope this post could make you feel slightly more prepared to come out to your person, or people, should you want to.
This post was sponsored but as always, all writing and opinions are my own!