The first time I had ever received a negative reaction to my sex work (in person, anyway) was in summer of 2012. At this point, I had been posting nudes for no more than a year and selling them for maybe six months. I had already gained a small following from the free nudes, so the rest came naturally. I wasn’t able to stay closeted, however. I hung out with a pretty bad group of people. By that, I mean that if one person knew a secret, it wasn’t long before everyone knew.
I had ultimately decided not to keep it to myself after it had gone around for a while. My family knew and my friends knew. Pretty soon, I was attending parties, only to be stared down and gossiped about (never to my face). I’d get so uncomfortable that I’d have no choice but to leave. I started telling people, to their face, after that. I would much rather people find out from me than someone else.
The time I stated above was the worst reaction. By that point, I had become accustomed to introducing myself as a sex worker in some way. This specific night, I was drunk enough that I was introducing myself in such a manner as to say “Hi! I’m Ryden! I’m naked on the Internet.” Now, for the most part, people react positively. I find that just springing it on them before they’ve gotten the chance to hear anything else about me truly catches them off guard. They’re forced to get to know me as the person I want them to know me as, along with being a sex worker, instead of being Ryden, the sex worker. The whore. What have you.
This night was my friends’ (who are twins, who we’ll call Amy and Anthony) birthday. We were celebrating in this abandoned house on a friend’s property. Part of the house was completely burned out from a fire, but the rest of it was restored. By this time, I was pretty drunk and a lot of people I didn’t know were showing up. Naturally, I begin to introduce myself as stated above and this guy walks up. He happens to be Amy’s boyfriend and also one of the most popular musicians in the area. I already knew this guy from hearing about him, so I didn’t necessarily feel the need to introduce myself. However, he came with friends, so I begin to introduce myself to them.
I don’t know what this set off in the guy (we’ll call him Matt), but something about what I said or just being me in general got him angry. As I’m introducing myself, he starts in on me. “Hey yeah, I heard about you! You’re a slut!” I flinched a bit as he continued on a tirade of insults finally ending with “If you were my sister, I’d beat the shit out of you. In fact, I might anyway.” This cause a huge uproar in the large group of people, ending in Anthony almost fighting Matt. This caused Matt to back off and eventually leave the party.
That was the first time I was ever confronted in a negative way. So many people had told me that I was such an inspiration to them, and that I was so strong and beautiful, and hence I didn’t necessarily know how to take his comments. I would laugh at them in front of everyone, though. I learned pretty quickly through an endless tirade of “kill yourself” and “I hate you” from strangers on the Internet that it’s better to keep your composure in front of others.
Later, I would cry. I was drunk, but I knew when to be afraid. I had never felt truly threatened by someone in person before. I really didn’t know how to deal with it. It impacted me to the point where I stopped outing myself to strangers after that. On the Internet, it was one thing to be threatened, but in person it was entirely different. I didn’t know how to deal.
Then I thought about how Anthony stuck up for me. How after that, my friends became more protective of me at parties where I knew very few people. I realized at that point that no matter what, there are always going to be people on your side. For every one jerk, there will always be ten friends who would kick that one jerk’s face in.
I want to close this little article up by saying that being outed as a sex worker definitely isn’t for everyone. I am lucky enough to have a family that loves me unconditionally. Still, your parents might kick you out and disown you. Some of your friends might leave you behind. Still, someone will always be in your corner. Whether it’s the stranger in the coffee shop, the girl you just met at the party, or your friend on Tumblr. There will always be someone that believes in you and would stick up for you through anything.
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