I have been living in New York since last spring and for the entire period, I have struggled to make ends meet. After speaking to a friend from college who is a sex worker in LA, I am considering escort work, as well as employment at an underwear-only cleaning service. I feel liberated when I show off my assets, and a good amount of my Midwest small town boy insecurities seem to wash away. However, I am fearful what will happen if my family finds out, as a relative back home is my accountant. If you have any advice, I’d really appreciate it.
Bubblegum B*tch (he/him/his)
Hey Bubblegum Bitch, here’s a story. Last summer, my mom sent me a text: “What’s an escort?” I’m not quiet about my occasional sex work, but they’ve never said anything about it (or anything else I’ve admitted to in writing), so I’ve assumed for years that they don’t read my work — and to avoid an argument, I’ve never asked if they do.
I still don’t know what she read to make her ask the question. My reply went something like this: “There are things about you I choose to not talk about in order to keep the peace. Please afford me the same courtesy.”
That led to a rough back-and-forth. I told her I choose to overlook her religion and the fact that she (and my entire immediate family) voted for Trump. To discuss these things would invite a fight without a resolution — I stopped speaking to them for more than six months after Trump got elected. I said there are things about me that she should similarly set aside as untouchables — to discuss them would only bring discord.
That’s family. I love my mother and would do anything for her, but there are parts of her — parts of everyone I love — I choose to overlook, and I know there are parts of me they choose to overlook. My escorting now is one of those things.
Here’s my advice: Don’t do anything that you can’t live with your parents knowing about. The stress and anxiety of living for three years with HIV before I told my parents were horrible and I decided that was the last time I would live with a secret of that magnitude. Secrets make you vulnerable and give people a degree of power over you. Being an open book rips away the danger surrounding your secrets and puts the power back in your hands — no one can have anything over you if everything’s out in the open.
This may be paltry advice, but it’s guided my life. My work is tell-all, primarily to spare myself the stress of worrying over what others know and don’t know. I don’t have advice on how to hide your escorting income from your accountant, although that should be simple: do your own accounting — keep your own records and pay your own taxes. But even if you choose to do that, you should still prepare a response for when your family finds out about your side gig — because they will. You’re free to borrow mine: “There are some conversations we must avoid in order to keep the peace, and this is one of them.”
If you can’t live with them knowing you escort, don’t escort. I’ve had people ask me if they should get into porn and my response is the same: Don’t do anything on camera that you can’t live with everyone in your life seeing — including future employers, future partners, future kids. That’s not a reason to not do porn, just something that must be acknowledged. The internet is written in permanent ink.
For what it’s worth, it sounds like you get something good out of escorting. It’s a honorable profession and you feel good when you do it. I like talking to people and hearing their stories, which, as it turns out, makes me good at a certain kind of escorting — I’m better as a paid boyfriend than a hardcore sex machine. The good you get out of it — financial and otherwise — should be weighed in the “reasons for” column.
If you’re not being filmed, so you can presumably walk away from it whenever you like with no lingering internet bogeys to come back to haunt you in the future. Even I don’t have that luxury. (If an employer is reading this, you should know this entire blog is a work of fiction.)
At some point, I will have a longer conversation with my family about sex work. When I do, I’ll tell them that I love this work. I’ll share stories of the people I’ve helped, lives I’ve improved. They won’t understand, and they’ll still worry — that’s what parents do — but I hope they’ll see that I do this work, which has always been a side hustle and never a primary source of income, with a measure of integrity. No parent wants to learn that their child has sex for money, but once they do, you have the option of illuminating the parts of your business that might portray it somewhat differently than what they’re expecting or simply asserting the boundaries of your privacy. Whichever you choose depends on your relationship with them and how much you feel comfortable sharing.
I support you, Bubblegum Bitch.
Like my advice? Show me some love on Venmo (SweetBeastly) or become a monthly supporter on my Patreon for as little as $5/month. Above Image: The beautiful and intelligent sex worker/educator Jacen Zhu, who discusses racism and meth addiction among Black men here. Photo by Mark S. King of My Fabulous Disease, a wonderful blog.