5th Desiree Alliance Conference – The Audacity of Health: Sex Work, Health, & Politics
July 14-19, 2013 Las Vegas, NV
Registration is Now Open for the 5th Desiree Alliance Conference
Early Registration Deadline: January 15, 2013
Please read the registration details below to begin the process.
The Desiree Alliance is a national social justice organization that is led by current and former sex workers in coalition with health professionals, social scientists, educators, and their supporting networks focused on building leadership, capacity-building, organizing and constructive activism for sex worker rights and autonomy.
As we prepare for our 5th national conference, our priority will be centered on health, sex work, human rights, and following-up with the XIX International AIDS Conference (July 2012) and the 9th National Harm Reduction Conference (Nov 2012).
The Desiree Alliance conference is a forum for people who have experience in sex work and sex trade and allies of sex workers. Sex work includes working as an exotic dancer, hustler, webcam model, street-based sex worker, massage worker, escort, prostitute, tantric practitioner, sexological bodyworker, living with the support of a sugar-daddy or a sugar-mama, having sex for housing / food / clothing, drugs, or having sex to get the money needed to survive. Our membership base is made up of current and former sex workers as well as activists that do not identify as sex workers themselves, but advocate for sex worker rights. Desiree Alliance is made up of women, men, LGBTQI persons, transgender persons, herm-identity, Other, hetero, etc., and many of our members are from (non)working class low and middle income backgrounds.
Desiree Alliance is committed to bring diversity that aims to provide safe spaces for the most marginalized to the least marginalized sex worker, providing education, networking, and alliance-building opportunities regardless of socio-economic status, color, sexuality, sexual identity, culture, class, race, religion, physical or mental capabilities, gender, gender identities, age, size, political beliefs, or immigrant status.
Based on our limited funding capacities, Desiree Alliance provides a number of scholarships to people from groups that have often been marginalized from organizing for sex worker rights. We invite diverse sex workers to apply including people of color, immigrants, gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-people, differently- abled/disabled people, senior citizens and others to apply. Visit: http://www.desireealliance.org/conference/logistics.htm#scholar
Call for Proposals for individual tracks for the conference are available at: http://www.desireealliance.org/conference/CFP.htm
Please begin the registration process for the Conference ASAP!
Early Registration Deadline: Nov. 15th thru January 15th, 2013 $150.00
Regular Registration Deadline: January 15th thru April 15th, 2013 $200.00
Late Registration Deadline: April 15th thru July 7th, 2013 $250.00
Please see additional information at:
Don’t miss this fantastic event! I won’t!
Updated information from North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, with clickable links:
Event Dates: The event will take place Thursday September 6th through Saturday September 8th, 2012
Event Times: Thursday 8am-5pm, Friday 9am-6pm, Saturday 10am-1pm
Sign up page: http://tinyurl.com/SHRDPC
Event Contact: Robert Childs, 336-543-8050 email@example.com
Event Price: $55 via Check, $56 via paypal
Scholarships: Scholarships are available to people living in the US South ONLY.
The Housing Scholarships period is over. We have conference fee waiver scholarships available through August 31st, 2012. Please fill out the registration form and the following form to apply for a scholarship: http://tinyurl.com/SHRDPC-Scholarship
Topics that will be covered:
Faith, Drugs and Sex Work
HCV and Harm Reduction
Marijuana Policy Update
Harm Reduction Media
Sex Work in the South
Transgender Health & Harm Reduction
War on Drugs, A War on the People
911 Good Samaritan Laws
National and Regional Drug Policy Update
Law Enforcement As Advocates
Crack User and Injection Drug User Harm Reduction Safety
Traditional and Untraditional ways to funding Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Reform
The Negative Effects of Drug Testing
Overdose Prevention 101
Street Nursing and Outreach Skills
Mapping a Drug Policy Reform and Harm Reduction Friendly Future for the South
Crack Pipe Access and Hepatitis
Drug User Stigma
Syringe Exchange 101
Post Conference Event: There will be a free “Drug User Stigma Prevention Training” from 1pm-3pm on Saturday. If you would like to attend please RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org
Event Co-Sponsors: Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Georgia AIDS Coalition, Worth, Triangle Health Collective, Kuan-Yin, North Carolina Sex Worker Alliance, Hepatitis Community Voice, and many more!
* If you have links to the organizations not linked above, please let me know. I’ll update this post with the additional information. You can leave the information as a comment on this post, or you can email me at email@example.com
When I think about sex work in the south, two things come to mind immediately, things firmly implanted during my childhood. The first is hearing Dolly Parton on the radio when I was 7 or 8 years old, talking about how she modeled her signature look after a prostitute in her Tennessee hometown: the hair, nails, and flashy dresses. For some reason, a reason I don’t understand even now, I fell in love with her right then and there. The second thought is of Reba McIntyre’s song “Fancy”, which tells the story of a young girl from Louisiana whose “momma turned her out” in hopes that she could make a better life using her God-given assets: “Just be nice to the gentleman, Fancy, and they’ll be nice to you.” The message was clear, and I loved Reba the first time I heard that song, though the reasons for that are a little easier for me to grasp when I look back. (Yes, I just said I love both Dolly and Reba. I’m not ashamed of those facts. Ironically, my mom had cows named Dolly and Reba for a long time. One of the two is dead now, but the other is still living, though I can’t recall which one of the two remains. And, yes, my mom has pet cows. I’m definitely from the South!)
When I first head about the Summit on Sex Work in the South, sponsored by NC Harm Reduction, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I mean despite how prevalent the subject is in Southern popular culture, it’s not a topic we talk about much down here. But when I saw the amazing list of people who were scheduled to attend—Asheville Sex Worker Outreach Project, Sex Workers Without Borders, Women with a Vision, North Carolina Sex Workers Alliance, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), Human Rights Watch—I knew I had to go.
One of the most exciting things for me was the chance to spend time with Jill Brenneman, who is currently leading Sex Workers Without Borders. Jill and I met shortly after I moved from NYC to North Carolina, and I hadn’t seen her in over a year. We worked together on the Sex Workers Outreach Project-East for a few years, with her as the Executive Director and me as Board Chair. The Summit was on Friday in Asheville, NC. Jill and I met up the night before and shared a hotel room. (We found these lovers in the bathroom waiting for us.) After dinner, we took a mundane trip to the bank which quickly turned into an event due to navigating Asheville’s insane roads, then spent many hours catching up in our room. I’d have made the four-hour trip to Asheville just to spend that time with Jill.
The Summit itself, however, was nothing short of amazing. After a word from Reverend Jenna Zirbel from Rainbow Community Care, Jenna Mellor from HIPS welcomed everyone with a much-needed dose of her infectious energy. Really, I’m happy HIPS has that gal working for them because I’m sure she’s a gem providing outreach services. I could have listened to her talk all day, and that was certainly the right way to start the day. Hawk Kinkaid from HOOK Online and Stella Zine followed with their own Sex Worker Stories. Hawk is just flat-out fabulous. I had a HOOK card posted in my office at FROST’D in NYC for years.
Megan McLemore from Human Rights Watch then discussed Criminalization and Advocacy. I learned that she’s collecting information of incidents where condoms are used as evidence against sex workers. (If you know of any such incidents, please contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Next, my dear friend Jill Brenneman gave an unforgettable presentation on human trafficking. She’s the only person I know who can give a brutally honest recount of her own experience as a victim of human trafficking and make the audience laugh repeatedly, which some of you probably already heard me say on my own Twitter feed. Lucky for you, you can watch the full video of her presentation. Jill never ceases to amaze me, and I am endlessly grateful to count her among my close friends.
The presentation on sex worker services in Asheville, provided by Sarah Danforth of the Asheville Sex Worker Outreach Project and Laura Hickman from Our Voice, is one I would love for all of my sex worker activist colleagues to see. Of course, they talked about the sex worker outreach we’re all familiar with, but they also talked about Kelly’s Line , an initiative I’d love to see happen nation-wide. In fact, if anyone has ideas about, or would like to work on, making this happen across America, please count me in and get in touch!
After lunch, I sat on a panel about sex worker risk reduction and sex worker outreach, along with Robert Childs from NC Harm Reduction, Jenna Mellor from HIPS, Hawk Kinkaid from HOOK Online, and Bob Scott from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. (I know there were a couple more people on the panel as well, but I don’t think they are the same people listed in the program and I didn’t take notes on names.) I loved hearing about others’ experiences, and I won’t lie, I thoroughly enjoyed talking about my time at FROST’D, when the organization still focused on street-based sex workers.
Following the panel, I was lucky enough to present with Hark Kinkaid for the Hooking Up Online presentation. I talked about social media, Bound Not Gagged, and $pread, and Hawk talked about how male workers use online media. Hawk and I turned out to know several of the same people, and as I said before, it was great to meet someone from HOOK because I’ve been a fan for so long. (I’m always incredibly nervous giving presentations, although this was the easiest so far. It was also a little daunting to know that I was being filmed, and it definitely changed what I said.)
The day ended with discussion on sex work and drug use and a round-table on incorporating sex worker programming into your agency. Thoughts from Cyndee Clay, Executive Director of HIPS, in both of those discussions were very eye-opening, but since Cyndee wasn’t comfortable offering all of her thoughts on camera, I’m not comfortable summarizing them here, except to say that the radical feminist, anti-sex work, anti-trafficking machine is terrifying. I am sincerely afraid for the future of sex worker programming. I’m also afraid that the aforementioned machine may already be staking clams in my city, which really just makes me more interested in establishing roots for sex work positive initiatives here.
So, as I’m trying to make my way in my new Southern town, the Summit on Sex Work in the South was truly invaluable for me. I ended the day having dinner in Asheville with Stella Zine, Vanessa Darling, and Vanessa’s partner, Sarah B, which was a perfect end to such an incredible day.
It’s still kind of hard to believe that this summit even took place. Sex Work in the South isn’t a topic you’ll hear too many people talking about, and you especially don’t see events focused on the topic. I hope it was the first of many such events to come, and I also hope to be there for every one!
Today I spent time setting up my Twitter for the next few days, then was interrupted by dinner, shopping, and drinking. So, I’m a double liar, who will bring you the promised post tomorrow.
I promised you a post about the Summit on Sex Work today, but I slept too long, then spent a lot of time updating the blog. (I hope you like the changes!)
So, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that report. I want to make sure it does the Summit justice, and hopefully, you won’t be disappointed.
Edit: Of course, now I’m mulling over what I should do with my Tumblr blog. Thinking of making it about writing, which is what I tried to turn this blog into; not sure that’s the way to go there either.
This blog will be under construction throughout the day. So, things may look a little wonky and incomplete. Bear with me. I will finish before the day is through.
There was a time when I wrote this blog as if no one was watching, or rather only a few people were watching—a close-knit group who knew me, even if they didn’t really know me at all, at least not in the flesh. I was so open, so careless, so much like me. It feels like that was ages ago. It was a different place, a different time, nearly a different person who could so easily pour herself onto the wide-open space of the internet. I’d been doing it for years, in smaller spaces, with the same small group I imagined might follow me when I moved into a larger space that I could fully control. It was a matter of necessity that I move here, leave the smaller space behind, as it both hurt and confined me to stay in that tight circle.
One day, I realized other people were watching, and things slowly began to change. I told myself that I was becoming more directed in my actions as an activist, that I was serving a greater purpose when I filled this space. The older version of me remained, but only in pieces. It became more of an aside, though it occasionally took over. When it did, I was still serving a purpose in my mind, adding a human element to my sex workers’ rights mission.
I talk as if it was all planned. Really, it just happened, and I only see it with clarity now. Things often appear planned when we’re looking back. It’s our way of convincing ourselves that we didn’t make a mistake when we changed, though we always make mistakes. We always slip somewhere.
There came yet another day, which still feels distant but was just over a year ago, when I realized He was watching. He: aloof, secretive, too important in my mind. But I knew He was lurking here.
Everything jumbled together then. My purpose and direction faltered. I longed for the openness, the carelessness, that once took over when I approached these pages. At that time, I used this as a space to be open in ways I couldn’t be in the flesh. I guess you could say I got lost in me. The utility of this space was a mirror of my life, as it often is. I can’t say I got lost in He, because so much of He existed within me in the first place. That was always be the problem with He.
Suddenly, just as things got jumbled when He was watching, things crumbled when He stopped. I hid myself away. I ultimately left this space, making only minor appearances, too infrequent, and often too manufactured, to be of any use to anyone, myself included.
Today, as I drove home from the Summit on Sex Work, I made a promise to myself: I would change again. I would reinvest myself here. I say reinvest, and not reinvent, because I don’t want to reinvent. I want to dedicate myself to both the human element and the mission. They coexist. They’re real. They’re not new. I just need to be me, and be consistent about it.
I intended to write about the aforementioned Summit this evening, but these words felt more important tonight. You can expect to hear about the Summit tomorrow. I will also be changing the sidebar tomorrow. Maybe some people who used to watch but no longer visit will find themselves returning. Maybe new people will stop by to enjoy the show. He? Well, who really cares?