LGBT are making use of subscription sex work services to supplement their incomes, and sometimes as their only means of income

Alex Gonzalez | Contributing Writer
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Those interviewed for this article are identified with aliases.

In the state of Texas, there are no laws to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination. That means it is not illegal for an employer to fire an employee simply for being gay, queer or trans. With the future of LGBT rights uncertain in our nation’s current political climate, having something to fall back on in the event of a firing is essential.

Across generations, the phrase “sex work” has become more broad, and by way of modern technology, receiving money for sex acts has seemingly become easier. That means for some people, sex work has become their “something to fall back on.”

Ric, who is gay, is an avid user of Just For Fans, a subscription service that allows people to share sexually explicit videos and charge a fee. He said he “started doing porn in my freshman year of college as a way to make easy money. I feel that I’ve done well for myself. I have enough subscribers [now] to quit my job, although I never did end up leaving my day job.”

Ric believes that even though sex work is still stigmatized, younger generations are becoming more accepting and supportive of such work.

“Being a sex worker is not something to be ashamed of,” Ric said. “I feel that, on one hand, the older generations have viewed sex workers as taboo for a long time. But on the other hand, as the younger generations find their voice in the world, I’ve seen that sexuality is more openly spoken about with a positive view.”

Tyler uses OnlyFans, a service similar to Just For Fans, to share homemade videos he makes with his partner, Wes. Although Tyler has a day job and mainly uses the video sharing service for an “exhibitionist thrill,” he said he is aware that sex work is some people’s only means of making a living.

“I’ve followed some [sex workers] on Twitter who felt they needed to defend themselves for making money off of their sex work,” Tyler said, adding that it is not easy work. “It takes some training to put yourself in a mindset to stay excited while you are trying to find a good camera angle or just that hot moment.

“I’ve come to appreciate those who are truly professionals and can keep the interest going for well over 30 minutes,” he added. “Those really are performers.”

Cate, a trans woman who is also an advocate for sex worker rights, said she believes that all forms of sex work between consenting adults should be destigmatized and decriminalized.

“Every facet of comfort that most people use — whether it be religion, the media or our own government — tells us that sex work is abominable,” Cate said. “ It’s really no one’s business what a woman decides to use her body for.

“Most sex workers I’ve talked to deal with middle aged men, typically divorcees looking for some solace in the company of another woman; someone who will listen and smile and laugh at their stupid jokes,” she added. “The stigma is an ancient misconception.”

Although Cate personally has never engaged in sex work, she said she is invested in helping create a safe landscape for sex workers.

“[Sex work] should have the right to be recognized as a legitimate institution,” Cate said. “There is such a lack of oversight in places where sex work is illegal that it’s hard to imagine feeling safe in that position.

“Sex workers are not just ‘loose women’ or ‘frilly queers.’ They are therapists, healers, and most of all, people like you and me trying to pay their utilities in a broken economy.”

With the 2020 election drawing ever closer, sex work is becoming a hot-button issue. While many Democrats have announced their candidacy, only Kamala Harris and Tulsi Gabbard have been vocal on their stances on decriminalizing sex work. Truthfully, advocates say, it would behoove people of all races, genders and orientations to support the decriminalization of sex work, especially the LGBT community. Because being a sex worker isn’t easy, and oftentimes, members of the LGBT people are using sex work to make for the income they lose by not being able to find a job or because they were unjustly fired because the are LGBT.

As society becomes more accepting of sexuality, it’s not unlikely that future generations will think of sex work as a valid line of work, and the LGBT community can get ahead of the curve by working to protect sex workers and affording them the respect professionals in any other line of work get.