Won the Battle, Now if We Could Just Win the War…
Just finally settling down now after the whirlwind month that was April. April showers bring May flowers, I guess and I’m finally reaching a place where I can breathe, take it easy, and work on some unfinished projects, such as a new podcast which is long overdue.
I was honored to be one of the chosen participants in the Speak Up! Media Training in NYC last month held by the amazing folks at Sex Work Awareness. the two-day intensive training for sex workers looking to gain more knowledge about various aspects of media. We went over such subjects as podcasting, documentary filmmaking, storytelling, crafting a message, dealing with journalists, building campaign strategies, and honing our interviewing skills. Really, really useful material and an amazing opportunity to meet some other cool activists from around the country. Unfortunately, I became ill with a horrible bronchitis that took me three weeks to shake and drained my energy halfway through the training. Even so, New York was a blast and my girls Bebe and Paige came along with me to raise some hell. Had an adventure each night and did a lot of sightseeing, including visiting the Museum of Sex, two doors down from our hotel. I highly recommend visiting the next time you are in New York. Also attended the Pleasure Salon, which was so, so amazing! Really got me thinking about ways to re-invent and re-invigorate the Chicago event, which is seriously lacking in energy and attendance as of late. Thinking perhaps a change of venue might be in order, but we don’t have anything here nearly as cool as the Happy Ending Lounge, a former massage parlor turned bar. Waah!
I returned home thinking another trip to Springfield would be imminent, but HB6195 failed to pick up a Senate sponsor for a few weeks, keeping us on pins and needles as to what to do next. We started a conversation thread about the potential impact of the bill on one of the local message boards and the local provider/hobbyist community blew up like bomb in Times Square. Guys were calling me on the phone asking what they should say to their local Senators, others were just assuming the bill had already passed, potentially making them felons, and even more were scared to voice opposition at all because they didn’t want their names attached to er, well, being opposed to such legislation. Providers were warning others to stop talking about the bill altogether in fear that guys would stop using the services of escorts altogether. Whoa people! It’s important to not let your enemies win before they’ve actually “won.” Panic in the streets is exactly the result legislators and the bill’s advocates want to see. I’m a big advocate for informing people about what’s happening in the stage where they can actually put up a fight against something and not after all is said and done and there’s nothing that can be done. Others seem to feel differently. I’ll leave it at that.
In the end, the result was unexpectedly positive. The president of the Illinois Senate picked up sponsorship on HB6195 with the intention to “shell” the bill, or strip it of its language after another section of the bill was added to a similar bill (part of the “End Demand” campaign) concerning juvenile prostitution. The language concerning raising penalties for patronizing adult prostitutes was removed…for now. While there’s no guarantee that another form of the bill won’t return at a later session (the Illinois assembly is on vacation until November), the bill is basically dead for the time being. Whoo! An actual victory of some sorts. Can’t say we had much to do with it, but it was a great learning process for us and we gained a lot of great allies while organizing against it. And probably some enemies.
Speaking of enemies, it seems SWOP-Chicago has been rejected from the Gay Pride Parade again for reasons that have been undefined to us. Three years ago kittenINFINITE made an attempt to get us in but was rejected by the old-school misogynist organizer who proclaimed, “I have a legal right to reject you from the parade.” This year I had one conversation where he said “he’d get back to me” after consulting the organizers of other Pride parades and he has since ignored all phone calls and emails requesting an answer from him. Seems this time he doesn’t want to have that conversation. I say we wage war on this fucker. Last year I watched the garbage man, Sheriff Dart, McDonald’s and a whole host of other non-gay participants march the seemingly endless parade while the sex workers, a largely queer population, gets rejected?
Ok, let me cool down now.
Well summer’s almost here and I’m damn determined to spend my June birthday jumping out of an airplane skydiving. Anybody care to join me?