How to Tell Your Parents About Escorting

My name is Alexander. My nickname is Beastly. I write about sex.

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Dear Beastly,

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 of 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)

Hi Bubblegum Bitch,

Here’s a story. Last summer, my mom sent me a text: “What’s an escort?” I’m not quiet about my sex work, but my mother has never said anything about it to me, so I’ve assumed for years that she does not read my work — and to avoid an argument, I’ve never asked if she does. I still assume both my parents do not read most of my writing.

I 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 chose 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 almost a year after Trump got elected. I said there were things about me that she should similarly set aside as untouchables because to discuss them would only bring discord.

That’s family. I love my mother very much, but there are parts of her — and parts of everyone I love — I choose to overlook, and I know there are parts of me she chooses to overlook. My escorting must now be 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 such 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, though 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 your future employers, future romantic partners, and future kids. That’s not a reason to not do porn. It’s 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 an honorable profession. I like talking to people and hearing their stories, which, as it turns out, makes me good at a certain kind of escorting. 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 and haunt you in the future.

At some point, I will have a longer conversation with my family about my 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 with a measure of integrity. No parent wants to learn that their child has sex for money, but if you choose to do this, your parents will almost certainly learn about it, and you’ll have the option to illuminate what you do or keep it as a “don’t touch” subject. Currently, I do the latter. What you choose depends on your relationship with them and how much you feel comfortable sharing.

I support you, Bubblegum Bitch.

Love, Beastly 

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 fabulous blog. 

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