Male sex workers call for respect, understanding
About ten years ago, Cameron Cox came out for a second time, letting his mostly gay friends know he was a sex worker. He was bitterly hurt when about half turned their backs on him: “that was it, I was socially beyond the pale”.
Cox, who started as a sex worker more than 30 years ago, said the response was hurtful but shouldn’t have been a surprise. Male sex workers face discrimination and stigma daily.
“There are so many myths and they are so deeply ingrained. We’re not very bright, that’s why we do this, or we’re vectors of disease, or we’re all doing this to support our drug habits.”
In fact, recent research shows male sex workers have less sexually transmitted diseases than the general population, Cox calls it “protecting the tools of the trade”. Sex workers also have lower rates of drug use for most drugs, except tobacco.
Myths such as these will be challenged by a website to be launched later this month, which is aimed at supporting sex workers, as well as providing well-researched information for health professionals, politicians, the media and the families and friends of sex workers. The site, aboutmaleescorting.com, is a world-first collaboration between Australian researchers and advocates, with extensive input from the international male sex work community.
The site strongly lobbies for decriminalisation of sex work and for governments to formally recognise it as work. It has a mailing list of more than 300 male sex workers so far.