When a man gets up to speak, people listen, then look. When a woman gets up, people look; then, if they like what they see, they listen.-Pauline Frederick
Though I’ve been a whore at heart for most of my life, a dilettante for 27 years and a professional for almost 13 years (15 if you count stripping), I’ve only been an activist for just over two years. Oh, I’ve been speaking up for whores’ rights since I was in high school and writing posts and comments about it in various places since 2004, but that really wasn’t much different from what anyone else might do, and until I started this blog I honestly don’t think I was accomplishing very much. But since then attention has mounted month by month, and I am now regularly contacted by journalists and academics who want my opinion on the subject of sex work and/or sex worker rights; I’ve even been consulted by attorneys for perspective on cases, and by one gentleman running for office (who, understandably, wishes me not to mention his name).
But until June, nobody had ever invited me to speak at a professional conference; that’s when Robert Childs of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition asked me to participate in several panel discussions at this year’s Southern Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The event started yesterday and will conclude tomorrow, but today is my big day: I’m on three different panels! The first one is “Harm Reduction Media” at 9 AM, and my fellow panelists are Tessie Castillo and Hadley Gustafson of NCHRC, blogger/activist Jessica Land and Megan Ralston of the Drug Policy Alliance. The next is “Sex Work in the South” at 11:20, on which I’m joined by Jessica Land, activist & blogger Stella Zine, Reverend Lia Scholl (whom I mentioned in TW3 #10) and Dion Haywood of Women With a Vision, whom I’ve been wanting to meet for two years. The last is “Sex Worker Criminalization” at 4:20, for which I’ll be speaking alongside Deon Haywood, Reverend Lia Scholl and Margaret Wurth of Human Rights Watch.
Since I despise flying and I don’t live all that close to Atlanta, I left home Tuesday morning and arrived here Wednesday night; I’ll make part of the trip home Saturday and the rest Sunday, so if you’ve noticed I’ve been slow to respond this week, now you know why. I’m going to spend the time here in which I’m not speaking or answering questions in listening to others speak and making new friends and contacts, and I’ll tell you all about the conference and my observations and feelings a week from today. I’m a bit nervous, but not very because Robert Childs assures me it’s a friendly crowd (probably a lot more so than the next speaking engagement I’ve committed to, a law symposium early next year). But still, any prayers or good thoughts for my doing a good job and making some good connections will be highly appreciated!