How Do I Tell My Partner I was a Sex Worker?

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By Brandon Jamil

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Sex work is not a foreign concept to any us in the world. Matter of fact, sex work is one of the oldest professions to date. However, sex work is deemed as one of the lowest professions, because it’s not considered honorable or moral. In most societies we socially punish anyone who is a sex worker. At best, some sex workers can get praise from participating in adult films, but often times it’s extremely hard to make a comeback from such a reputation—especially if you’re a woman.

If you’re a minority, the odds are already stacked against you. Both gay and trans individuals have had to resort to sex work, because of the discrimination they may have faced in the work environment, and lack of resources for LGBT individuals within certain parts of the United States. 

Sex work can be alluring because of the images projected in the media. Often, sex work can be depicted as glamorous and for someone who doesn’t have power, money, and status sex work can then become a powerful ownership of ones sexuality and seduction; which is highlighted in hip hop videos, and movies. Once the illusion of glamour and allure has worn off, the sex worker is now forced to look at the full scope of their life. Including: marriage, relationships, career, etc. I’ve heard countless stories from LGBT sex workers that feel a sense of empowerment from sex work, and refuse to get out because they have control over their annual earnings. 

If a sex worker gets out of the business, it can be challenging to form healthy relationships that aren’t transactional. Better yet, it can be quite challenging to build relationships that consist of trust and intimacy. If a sex worker finds themselves out of the business and into a healthy dating life, the question comes up: “How can I tell my partner I use to be a sex worker?” This question can be very frightening because it means that we have to be vulnerable and honest about our history. Which is something that we all struggle with—despite being a sex worker. 

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” 

Brene Brown

When we choose to own our history we own the narrative of our life. The ownership over our story belongs to us and no one else. Our story is sacred and deserves to be shared upon partners that have earned our trust, vulnerability. Needless-to-say, our partners or potential partners have proven over time that they’re worthy of our story. If they haven’t earned the right to hear our darkest moments, we don’t need to share our story with them. 

Once a partner has demonstrated that they can be trusted with our vulnerability, we can then share our story without shame or guilt. Anyone who is worthy of you understands that life isn’t perfect and we all skeletons hidden in our closet. Someone who is worthy of you will have a willingness to understand your path and history.

It’s important that we deal with our own shame, and negative stories before we decide to broadcast them to anyone. It’s our responsibility to change the narrative and support ourselves while changing the narrative. We can have a supportive, loving, caring partner but if we hold on to shame as our story narrative; I’m afraid to admit that we wouldn’t be able to become vulnerable or identify the love and care that exists within our life. 

Many celebrated and well known trans women and gay men openly discuss their past sex work profession, such as Angelica Ross, T.S. Maddison, and so on. Which they were able to find love, because they controlled their narrative and didn’t allow sex work to define who they are today. These individuals are the epitome of someone who owns their narrative and refuses to allow society or themselves feel ashamed and burdened from their past. 

Regardless if sex work is viewed as  one of the lowest professions, dishonorable, and amoral; we all deserve our right to make choices and grow from it.  As we face the odds in our life and break free from our prisons of shame we’re liberated from our own shame and reclaim the narratives and intimacy within our life. 

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