Remember when COVID hit and a lot of people lost their jobs? I am one of them, but my loss led to an amazing experience as a self-identifying disabled sex worker.
WHAT!? DISABLED SEX WORKERS EXIST!?
Yes, however the United States doesn’t like disabled people or sex workers, so this was a risk that I was willing to take due to my living situation. If you aren’t disabled, then you are probably unaware of the working limitations of the disabled population of America. I cannot have a job due to the fact that I rely heavily on Medi-Cal and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. I live in San Francisco, California and it’s not a cheap city to live in. I only get $785 a month; that is not even a month’s rent in this continuously gentrified city. I am privileged enough to not be one of many unhoused disabled people in the city and all around the world. However, there is a constant fear that I can be.
The only way for me to make money was to start doing sex work; this is called survival sex work. Survival sex work is sex work based on purely monetizable sexual services (AKA full service sex work) for survival because it is that sex worker’s only option.
“Why don’t you get a real job?” First of all, sex work is literally the oldest profession. Second, please understand that if I work, I will lose my full health benefits and potentially die. Lastly, we live in a toxic society where sex workers are deemed dirty and shameful, sex work is seen as a last resort. In reality, it’s so much more than that; for me, it was liberating.
My experience with sex work has been life-changing. I learned that people will pay for ethical porn and additionally, I realized that OnlyFans was and is so much more important than I thought, and it had to do with my authentic personality. A lot of sex workers use different names, do not show their faces online, and are mostly anonymous. Not all sex workers are the same. I can technically call myself a sex worker when I educate people about sex.
People were giving me money just to talk to me. I had a client who just wanted to vent to me and paid to do so.
Now, it’s gone. A close family member came across my OnlyFans and threatened to kick me out of the house if I did not delete my account immediately. Furthermore, if I were ever to create another account, this beloved family member would never feel comfortable visiting me, wherever I ended up. This is what happens when Catholicism, ableism, Filipino culture, intergenerational trauma, historical trauma and sexual trauma all collide within the span of five years. I have experienced two 5150s, gaslighting, not being believed when I said one of my four brothers molested me when I was less than 5 years old, and a rape in January 2020 by a partner while I was drunk. My brain protects me by suppressing my memories.
People often forget that mental illnesses are also disabilities. Sometimes, they can even be more debilitating; for example, my brain cells started mysteriously dying in 2015. Trauma, in and of itself, is so crippling. I have found that I am who I am not because of my traumas, but how I dealt and am currently dealing with them. I acknowledge my trauma, just like the rest of my mental illnesses and disabilities—they are part of me and they may never go away and I have to accept that.
I have found things when I was so lost and low that have shaped me into the person that I am proud of today. I believe in learning from my mistakes and continuous growth. I try to learn something new every day, even if it’s just a fact.
Becoming disabled is not something to fear—however, the people currently in power should be held accountable for the fear they have created. The American government and our financial institutions need to do better by the marginalized and disenfranchised populations. Billionaires shouldn’t exist, and I should not have to suffer just because I am disabled. I did not choose this. So fix it, America.