Stonewall and Stigma, LGBTQ+ History Month

Feb 12, 2024

LGBTQ+ History Month

People who have sold sex played a large part in Stonewall, and it’s becoming more talked about.

If you didn’t know, the Stonewall riots took place in New York in 1969, and were pivotal to the gay rights movement; the first gay pride marches occurred in the US and UK to commemorate the riots a year later.

Stonewall and Stigma, LGBTQ+ History Month What is not always talked about is the involvement of LGBTQ+ people who sold sex. Both Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera reportedly sold sex, but this part of their lives was often erased in the years after Stonewall due to stigma at the time. [1] In the1970’s it is reported that despite her activism, Rivera had to fight to speak at Pride as the crowd didn’t want to hear from a woman who sold sex. [2]

The reasons for selling sex are unique, and we believe it should never be a cause of stigma, judgmental attitudes, or becoming disadvantaged – including by having your voice and power taken away.

Today, we can celebrate the contributions of campaigners who were involved in selling sex, and also speak into the familiarity of the erasure of their stories from recounts of historic events.

As an inclusive charity supporting women who are selling sex (or have sold sex in the past), Beyond the Streets aim is to see that no woman is compelled to sell sex if she doesn’t wish to do so. Our services though are for all women who are involved in selling sex as we understand every women is unique and so are their journeys. What should be universal for all is access to non-judgmental services to address women’s self-identified needs and goals. We are striving to ensure that this is a reality for all women involved in selling sex across the UK, and we are not focussed on guiding women to exit, unless she tells us this is what she wants.

We believe that gender identity and sexual orientation should never be barriers to accessing services.

So much of our work is centred around challenging the societal stigma and negative attitudes that can be such a huge barrier to accessing vital services for women who are selling sex, such as housing or substance abuse support. This can be because of fear of judgement, or fear of repeating an adverse experience with service professionals who had not acted in a trauma-informed, person centred, way.

Our National Beyond Support service and London based Door of Hope service are both available to women selling sex and are non-judgemental spaces for women to access the support they need.

You can call our free phone number to begin regular, confidential 1 to 1 calls with one of our specialist, trauma-informed, women-centred women support workers on 0800 133 7870.

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