Underground Voices: A Male Sex Worker on Politics and Rape

"I sat with it for a while just fuming in disgust and anger that this kind of thing can happen to another human being."

One of the big reasons why I pursued this exploration into the sex industry in St. John’s and decided to write a book about it was due to the news of a sex worker who was gang raped in a downtown hotel last fall, and the onslaught of questions, feelings, and discussions that arose from that news.

I sat with it for a while just fuming in disgust and anger that this kind of thing can happen to another human being. I remembered talking to rape survivors during my volunteer time at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis Centre (NLSACPC) back in 2005-06 and I could only imagine what this person was feeling. My heart went out to them.

I had the pleasure of interviewing this person. When I sat down to do the interview at a busy downtown coffee shop at supper time on a Monday, I didn’t realize the man in front of me was the person I had read about a few months before.

The conversation opened with a regular chat about the pros, being your own boss, and setting your own hours, to the cons such as “Stephen Harper and Peter McKay being assholes,” and how sexual assault was also high on the list.

Matt, someone who’s been at it for nearly a decade and generally enjoys it, feels that sex workers have no rights and that current laws are sending people “into alleys and it will likely go back to pimps and stuff, who are going to control girls with drugs.”

Right now, Matt says, girls can advertise on their own without the use of pimps. “They can be independent. A lot of people aren’t forced into this life the way conservative government would want a lot of people to believe.”

He is speaking about Bill C-36, which essentially states that paying for sexual services or advertising their sale is illegal. The bill also aligns human trafficking with sex work. Human trafficking and sex work align sometimes, but that is not a constant, hence the bill is considered problematic by many.

Matt had a lot of opinions about politics – too many to get into here — and he knew the laws inside and out. It was when he spoke of the assault that his demeanour changed a little. He softened just a bit. His speech slowed and lowered. His eyes watered but he didn’t blink.

He didn’t talk much about it, but talked about the opportunity it gave him to warn other workers through the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP).

While he’s still dealing with the emotional and physical effects of that traumatic experience, it has strengthened his relationship to other workers in some ways: he gives them condoms if he has any to spare and he comes up with creative ways for workers to protect themselves if they’re in a sketchy situation.

“Three other girls [because of my warning] didn’t answer the call. I’ve said before I’d lay down my life to save someone. I got something to be proud of.”

Kerri Cull is writing a book about the sex industry in St. John’s and she’s seeking people to tell their stories. If you are/were a sex trade worker, you will get paid for your interview. Please email kerrijanewriter@gmail.com for more information.

Written By
More from Kerri Cull

Underground Voices: Stories from the Sex Trade in St. John’s

Kerri Cull is talking with sex trade workers in St. John’s to...
Read More

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.