I’m A Disabled Sex Worker, And This Is What I Want You To Know
When I was 27, I started escorting. My disability payments didn’t provide me with much left for extras and savings, and I was lonely at home without a job to go to. I desperately wanted to feel part of a contributing member of society. The high market value and short hours allowed me a flexibility I never had from mainstream jobs — where I would have panic attacks and chronic fatigue from being overstimulated and would get fired for bad performance.
I am living with neurological issues such as anxiety and ADHD, and sex work has given me a profession that makes me feel, for once, that I’m great at my job. Slowly, I’ve begun to build up my clientele and become more comfortable financially as well as in my own skin. I’m happy to bring joy into my clients’ lives as they’ve brought joy into mine.
There are lots of reasons someone might see an escort. I’ve had a man come to me because his girlfriend had pain during sex and she gave him the go-ahead to seek out a professional. Another sex worker told me someone’s wife messaged her because she wanted her husband to learn stamina in bed. Many clients are too busy with work to settle down but are lonely, crave intimacy and are even depressed. A lot are unhappy with their sex lives and don’t want to leave their marriages.
But after a little over a year, I’ve begun to see a trend. Often the clients who contact me are older cisgender white men. This is probably the group of people you think of as johns: married professionals who travel a lot. While I’m a fan of salt-and-pepper gentlemen, seeking out a sex worker isn’t just for older white men who are lacking intimacy in their marriage and are rich enough to do something about it discreetly. In fact, about 50 percent of my clients are people of color, and many are around my age. But I want to see more variety — people with mental illness, people with disabilities, women, people who are LGBTQIA+ (yes, asexuals, because intimacy is about more than just sex).
Many people can’t afford to hire an escort unless they make at least a certain amount of money. Because of the way society is set up, this generally leaves older cis white men at an advantage. But just like me, many sex workers are in this profession to make people happy, not just to make money — and this is why a lot of ones I’ve talked to offer sliding scale discounts or more time to marginalized people.
While I’m not saying that everyone in my profession should do this, it’s worth looking into options for how we can carve a space for diversity in clients, from the language escorts use in their ads to making appointments more accessible.
As a disabled woman who has found empowerment in this industry, I know that there are many other sex workers who are marginalized — people who are neuro-atypical, of color, queer — and can relate to clients like themselves who want a better quality of life. If we made seeing a sex worker more inclusive, that would also help destigmatize sex work in society, because the more people who see that they can benefit from our services, the more society will see us as people rather than a stock photo.
When clients come to me nervous and leave glowing, I know that I’ve picked the right profession.
Of course, sex workers are free to see whoever they wish; it’s their body, and many make this clear in their ads or social media presence by stating that they won’t see certain ethnicities or people who are heavier than they are. However, I don’t see this as any less discriminatory than telling a gay couple you won’t make their wedding cake.
As an escort, my job is to provide intimacy for my client — sharing a conversation while out to dinner, getting to know each other in the bedroom, etc. It doesn’t matter to me who you are because it’s my job not to judge you.
I’ve seen the way discriminatory behavior leads potential clients to feel wary and even unwelcome. Some feel the need to inform me of their ethnicity or weight before we meet because they fear I’ll turn them away at the door. As one client told me, a large number of escorts refuse to see him simply because he’s East Indian.
Escorting has given me the gift of meeting all kinds of people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. There was the war veteran with PTSD who didn’t want any strings attached, the sweet Indian guy who was getting over a breakup, the shy Asian man who missed intimacy and the disabled fellow who wanted a girlfriend. However, I’ve yet to have a woman or anyone who’s not cisgender come to see me. As a pansexual escort, I would love to offer my services to more clients who are LGBTQIA+, but I’m unsure where to advertise, since cis white men take over review boards and advertising platforms are limited in the wake of FOSTA-SESTA, a law intended to fight sex trafficking.
There’s a stigma that there must be something wrong with you if you’re paying to see an escort, but I know how difficult it can be when you’re lacking the intimacy you need, whether you’re in a relationship or single. When clients come to me nervous and leave glowing, I know that I’ve picked the right profession. It makes me wonder why anyone would think someone seeing a sex worker is a loser. My clients are everyday people who just want to feel desired as we all do.
Taylor Goode is a client-turned-escort who started in this business because he saw that straight women needed to hire sex workers too. He doesn’t use the traditional advertising platforms and finds female clients through word of mouth and Twitter. He doesn’t charge as much as female escorts, and he says this is one of the few industries in which women can charge more than men. While you might wonder why his clients would pay for it when they can get sex more often than men, he told me that his clients generally have a lot of sexual or emotional frustration and shed shame they might have from society looking down on them because the experience is worth it.
Intimacy is a need, no matter who you are. And while no one is entitled to sex, more people should know that seeing a sex worker is available to them.
I asked other sex workers on Twitter how they thought we could make our services more inclusive. A lot of people said that they agree that sexual empowerment should be for everyone, not just cis white men. Along with the options of reduced rates and more time for marginalized groups, many sex workers told me that they don’t necessarily advertise other types of accessibility but are open to it on a case-by-case basis. During this conversation, a sex worker named Juniper Jane decided to advertise 25 percent off for those who aren’t able-bodied cis men, saying that trans women are her favorite clients.
As the discussion went on, someone said that seeing a sex worker should be covered by health care insurance because intimacy is part of sexual health. Another person said that services like sexual surrogates are already available to those who are disabled but that insurance typically doesn’t cover it. Perhaps the bigger answer to “How can we carve a space for diversity in clients?” is to encourage marginalized people to give themselves permission to act on their sexuality.
It can be hard to give ourselves permission to seek out what we desire. But perhaps if more people had the confidence of cis white men, they would feel more comfortable hiring a sex worker like any other service. In the meantime, please know that a lot of us are waiting for you with open, nonjudgmental arms.
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