Sex Work Is Work| Aria’s Journey to #FindingPride

“If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own.

They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose.

The beauty of social media is it’s completely democratic.

Everyone has a say.

Everyone’s voice counts, and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.”

– Beyoncé for Vogue’s September 2018 issue

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Part of accepting my award from San Francisco Pride for the “Heritage of Pride: 10 Years of Service” Award, meant acknowledging all the aspects of me that informed my work, my labor, my heart- the ideals and the ones I like to conceal.

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Sex work and my career as a sex worker was one of the darkest times of my life. It was also the most interesting- because it catapulted me into environments that I would not know how to survive in otherwise. From luxury hotels and five star dining to late nights pouring down raining on the track/stroll/blade- all of these experiences gave me a foundation of which to thrive and meet people from all walks of life and RELATE.

It wasn’t until my tenure as Policy Director at the St. James Infirmary that I actually appreciated and honored this chapter of my life, to be honest. Prior to my role, I had spent YEARS trying to minimize that particular experience- because I felt like a statistic, a stereotype and a cliche. A Black Transgender Woman and survival sex work go hand in hand as synonyms, and I hated that.

I feel like my maturity in my own life has given me so many opportunities to be empowered by it. I survived. I thrived. I owned my body in this really radical way that I had no concept of when I was 19. Men (and women) came in droves to worship my body. I should honor that.

Working on the “Prioritizing Safety for Sex Worker’s”  policy in San Francisco as a thought leader gave me a spiritual journey of sorts- coming full circle into a vehicle in advocating for policy that protects sex workers in a real way- from the realities of the labor. Until recently, I learned that the policy that we passed was the first in the United States to explicitly address “sex work”. In addition, it inspired the passing of the policy at the California State legislature.

Sex work is real work. It’s hard work. It gave me a tool to survive. ❤

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