Monday, 11 February 2013

Pleased to meet you



Unless you've had your head in a microwave for the past ten days or so, you may have noticed that I 'came out', by the back door and rather quietly. I knew it was going to happen at some point and in many ways I was ready, but there were some final preparations to be done. Last Christmas I told my family that I was going to go public, and the response was very mixed. Although I have the full support of most, there has been a major rift, one which I'm not sure will ever heal. That hurts.

Upon my return to work, the media were back in force - a piece in The Sun and an appearance on The Stephen Nolan show in Belfast. Coming up I have an interview with a women's magazine and a German television company are looking to film a documentary. And I now have an agent. Yes, really.

The whole thing has felt so surreal for me, I still struggle with the notion that these people want to speak to me. I have been doing what I do for years and suddenly boom. What's that all about ?

The one aspect of media work which I'm finding very rewarding although hugely challenging is my opposition to the imposition of the Swedish model in Ireland, both North and South, and this is why I had to 'come out' to my family. When you film a live studio debate on BBC1 Northern Ireland, since that's the native channel in my home town, I had to prepare my folks. I thought I was prepared, though I'm aware that the anti's in Ireland fight dirtier than I've ever come across before, I'm talking below the realms of acceptability. Lies, false statistics, wheeling out actresses as 'survivors' of the sex trade to speak for them, all of which is of course to protect precious NGO salaries. What I wasn't prepared for, was The Haters.

Some of you who read my blog will no doubt keep an eye on my Twitter feed too, but for those of you who don't, I'm going to copy some of the tweets which followed my appearance on The Nolan Show and which I retweeted on the night. Let me be quite clear on this, I did that not to gain sympathy or support, but because I think it's very important that the general public are made aware of the level of sheer vitriol and hatred there is out there towards sex workers, it's horrid. And I warn you now, the language contained within these tweets isn't pleasant either. Here they are -

paying for sex should be illegal if that stinkin awwl cunt is a prostitute! #BBCNolan

She's a hooker? Eeee she's minging.. #bbcNolan

#BBCNolan why is this whore on Ur show?????????? Disgusting!!!!!!!!!

Get a proper job like everyone else you dirty slag #BBCNolan

If you pay for sex with thon article in the studio, the show should be about mental health. #BBCNolan

#bbcnolan that woman presenting prostitution as a viable career choice is such a hideous role model for young women.

Only a desperate man would pay money to buck that thing #bbcnolan

#BBCNolan that dragon is woeful looking. Wouldn't ride her into battle

The argument of prostitution would be better swayed with a fit bird. I wouldnt give thon a tesco coupon. #BBCNolan


Shocked ? I was too. Yes, I have some weight to lose, not that it's ever held me back with bookings. Yes, I'm tired, I've been pushing myself to the absolute limit for the past twelve months, balancing escorting, student life, activism and being a mother. There hasn't been very much time for me to just relax in that, at all. Yes, my make up was dire, lesson learned.

To those haters who pointed out that I was shaking like a leaf and musing about whether that was down to Class A drug use, have a word with yourselves. To go on national television, in my home country and without obscuring my identity was singularly the most terrifying thing I have ever done, and when the first question was - "You're a prostitute, aren't you ?" I knew there was no turning back. I'm out now, and out for good. So, if I was shaking it was because I was so nervous I thought I was going to faint, or throw up, I just wasn't sure which.

To those haters who pointed out that one of my eyebrows is a little higher then the other and referred to me as a 'spa', my left eye has permanent nerve damage thanks to my violent ex-partner and so tends to droop a little, especially when I'm stressed or tired.

You see, my job in going into the studio that evening was not to win over Lord Morrow, that's never going to happen. Neither was it to win over the presenter, he was there to do a job, and he did it very well. No, my job that evening was to get the audience on my side, and I believe I achieved that, with the exception of the young guy who called me 'disgusting', although that didn't come over in the audio.

I don't want you to lose faith though, ever. For every hater there are three people who sent me messages of support, including some journalists who follow me on Twitter, one of whom wrote - "no human being deserves to be spoken to like that".

I also don't want you to think that I've been dissuaded from fighting for the rights of sex workers, not at all.

In the aftermath of the show I met up with Mark Pollock, a truly inspirational man and an example to us all. We chatted about representing minority groups, facing the media and overcoming personal obstacles. In fact we were still chatting at 2.30am, he is a fascinating person and I was just star struck by his sheer positivity.

Positivity is indeed the way forward, Haters - and in the words of Christina Aguilera, "Thanks for making me a fighter".



LL xx

20 comments:

  1. Nervous as may be, you did damn well for a first television appearance. The fact that the audience responded so positively to you is the proof. Allen

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    1. Thank you, I've learned some lessons for the next time, but I guess I wasn't prepared for how vocal and involved the audience would be. It was very intimidating walking out onto that stage and knowing that every audience member was looking at me saying - "She's a hooker !"

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  2. Hi Laura
    A few thoughts for what its worth. There are haters for every topic/subject in the world, they thrive on having their opinions heard and validated, they don't try to understand or debate, they operate from absolutes. They sadly lack empathy, something I sense you have in buckets,so keep up the good work, continue to advocate and represent, remain brave and forthright and concentrate on the good around you for the good will support you when the haters continue to hate. x Ado
    www.adomackno1965.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks very much Adrian, much appreciated. I'll check out your blog too.

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  3. I watched the show. And how anyone could call you those names is a joke. Its just jealousy and people love to hate. Your a very beautiful woman, a lady with class & intelligence, have a lot of respect for what you did. That must not have been easy going on that show. Good on you. Ignore the haters. They have nothing better to do with their lifes than abuse people. Keep up the good work laura

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  4. Laura,

    You were confident and well-informed unlike Lord Morrow whose ill-informed ramblings were embarrassing. You are clever and beautiful and for some of us an inspiration. Don't let the trolls upset you.

    Eve x

    I had my little say here
    http://evestemptations.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/how-i-promoted-trafficking-and-the-global-sex-trade/

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Eve, that means a lot. Off to read yours now x

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  5. Very brave of you Laura, and I for one am proud of you. I didn't watch the show, I dont think I could bare the hate spewed words. You know it's gonna be a up hill fight and quite a climb. But i know you can do it, so stick in there.

    As for the haters,and Lord Morrow's of the world, I think this quote from George Monbiot says it all.

    "Tell people something they know already and they will thank you. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it."

    Cheers,
    Joe frost

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    1. I love that quote Joe, thanks. I know it's not going to be easy but I knew that when I started. You know what makes it all worthwhile ? When other sex workers send me emails and say "thank you for standing up for us", it just fills me with pride. I've got loads more media stuff coming up so it's a case of KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

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  6. Oh, so this is what the world looks like outside of the oven . . .

    Laura, very brave of you and I hope you'll look back on the decision to "out" yourself as a positive one. Good luck with it. On a baser note, does this mean you'll be wearing a blonde wig and dark glasses to outcalls?

    More seriously I am sorry to hear that you had an abusive partner in the past, and I suspect some "antis" will make much of that. I am also very sorry about the abusive comments. It seems as if some people are incapable of expressing an opposing opinion without framing it as a personal attack, or that some people take the 'net as a licence to be jerks.

    And as for the twerps who attacked your appearance, well, a bit controversial here, but maybe some men do really only fancy women if they look like Brazilian transvestites! I think you look great.

    And on another baser note – love the leather trousers.

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  7. Hey Jeff, thanks for your kind comments. I don't think it's any harm that people know about my abusive ex, it tends to take the legs away from the argument that I am in some sort of affluent bubble and wouldn't know what it is to experience abuse. I'm glad you like the leather trousers, I love them too :D xx

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  8. Laura Lee you rock!!! I've only recently started following your work in the last few months and you are an amazing women. You give me hope and inspired me to write my own submission and not just sit back and wait.

    Your strength is my strength and when you feel weak, remember there are many more like me who are supporting you and wishing you well.

    Those people who name call do it because they are ignorant and have no other method of defence. I pity them for being born so miserably blinkered and weak. If anyone actually turned the light on for them, they wouldn't be able to cope, so best leave them in the dark where they can shuffle around feeling self rightous. As they say, 'Ignorance is bliss!'.

    Thank you x

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  9. Ah Kate, you've made my mascara run. Thank you very much xx

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  10. "wheeling out actresses as 'survivors' of the sex trade to speak for them"

    Say, what? When did this happen and how did you know the "survivor" was a paid actor?

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  11. Perhaps 'actresses' was a little harsh, but certainly Ruhama have been caught being dishonest and (allegedly) using a convicted pimp over and over again in various guises as a 'victim'. Read here - http://sexwork.ie/2013/02/27/justine-reilly-brothel-keeper/

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  12. I love that pic of you in leather pants!

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  13. Hi Laura - what you're doing is admirable, and I hope it will help to clean up the sex industry (so to speak) so that it becomes a socially acceptable thing. Becoming socially acceptable should bring it out into the open so that there are no (or fewer) dark places for bad stuff to happen. Your own arguments about how you personally operate are excellent, but to help your cause I feel you do need to acknowledge in a more obvious way to your detractors that the nasty side of prostitution does exist and involves terrible exploitation. If we can clean things up, then vulnerable girls finding themselves having no other way to make money may be able to do so in a safe and pleasant environment. You also need to acknowledge more obviously that not every sex worker has made a positive career choice - but if they have had to make that choice then it need not lead to the terrible stuff it often does currently. Every sex worker ought to be able to do her work in the way you do - on her own terms, safely and with respect. Good luck with your campaign!

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  14. Hi there and thanks for your comments. There is a 'dark' side to every industry and I agree that if we take sex work out of the dark ages and acknowledge it as a legitimate form of labour, then that will be a good start. Regarding providing a safe place of work, I couldn't agree more which is why decriminalization is so important, so that sex workers can share a premises without fear of arrest and the police can have a role as protectors, not persecutors. Thank you very much for your good wishes.

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