Thank you!!!

Please fill out the conference evaluation form!

Hello Desiree Alliance Conference Attendees and Organizers!

I’m writing to thank you for your participation this year. The conference in Chicago was the best one so far for me. I am extremely grateful for the many people who have joined our organizing efforts so that we can continue to inspire leadership from sex workers and our supporters from coast to coast. So many people contributed their time this year to making the conference in Chicago possible. I’ve had a thank you list brewing in my head for a few weeks now and I’m just finally finding the time and head space to write it all out. These conferences are a monumental group effort. Each and every participant is a critical contributor to making the conference effective, so first I’d like to thank everybody who attended this year and in past years. If you didn’t keep showing up, we wouldn’t have a reason to continue organizing it!

SWOP Chicago deserves enormous gratitude for hosting the conference this year. SWOP Chicago was born out of a meeting between KittenInfinite and Betty at the Desiree Alliance conference in 2006. Over the past two years they’ve worked to make SWOP Chicago into one of the most active and visible chapters in the country. Kitty was critical in recruiting more organizers for the conference in ’08 and helping coordinate the overwhelming logistical organizing needs. Betty recruited on-site volunteers and scored a contribution from Food not Bombs that cut down on our food expenses. They’re both doing amazing work and preparing to pursue new interests. They’ve created an infrastructure at SWOP Chicago that the very committed new leaders in Chicago will be able to build upon. We wish them all the best of luck!

All of our board members contribute time and effort to recruiting presenters and volunteers, circulating information, and managing conference tasks. Many of our board members this year were recruited through the Leadership Institute hosted by the Alliance for a Safe and Diverse DC which includes Different Avenues, HIPS and Best Practices Policy Project. They’ve all worked hard to mentor new leaders and have been successful examples of local projects for the rest of the country to learn from. Thank you!

Many of the presenters this year were new faces and names at our conferences. It’s so exciting to see new people stepping up! Thank you for your courage! And the presenters who we know and love- thank you for continuing to expand on your work and share the info with us! You’re the reason people are inspired to get active after they leave the conferences. Thank you!

The visibility of new leaders this year can be attributed to our Social Justice Taskforce, spearheaded by Carl Leigh of BaySWAN, Power Inside, members of SWOP-AZ and SWOP-LA. They worked tirelessly to make our limited resources stretch as far as possible to make the conference accessible to many different kinds of sex workers. This year more than 30 participants received some form of assistance, more than 1/4 of participants! This was made possible by a grant from the Astraea Foundation for Justice and some private donors. PJ Starr as always helped make this possible. Thanks for your amazing commitment to social justice!

The media team worked together to ensure that sex worker made media was a priority. Serpent Libertine coordinated the media team and all our amazing media whores and supporters worked to protect the privacy of participants while at the same time creating safe space for participants to speak their mind to the world. Crash came in to help manage our AV needs and totally saved us from a tech meltdown! Thank you!

A whole bunch of us reviewed the presentation proposals and went through the painful process of selecting and cutting presenters. It took hours on conference calls. It’s exciting that we are receiving more proposals than we can actually feature. There is an outpouring of skills and knowledge coming from sex workers and every bit of it is important. Please continue to submit and even re-submit your proposals in future years. Once we made selections, KittenInfinite stayed up all night writing confirmations to presenters and getting the information to them. Thank you!

Naomi and the staff at St James Infirmary were extremely helpful with the registration and on-site assistance. Y’all rock, looking forward to working more together!

Susan has been a committed organizer since the day she helped co-found the Desiree Alliance. She always makes sure that everything looks pretty when I would just settle for black and white photo copies in the participant packets! I’ve never seen anybody function so well after staying awake for more than 48 hours! She does more behind-the-scenes work, including the website, than I can mention here, thank you!

Margo St. James attended for the first time this year! It was an amazing honor to have her with us! She is the god mother of sex work activism in the US. We have so much to thank her for!

Tara, Jill and all the folks at SWOP-USA plus the regional chapters were around to help out over the past year. Y’all worked your butts off to bring SWOP members to the conference and all of the enthusiasm that SWOP members bring to the events is contagious. Thank you!

Robyn raised money for matching grants to the SWOP chapters AND showed up at the conference despite being in the middle of a 5 month chemo treatment. Alan has been supporting her and has made contributions to SWOP. Thank you!

Tons of people helped out on-site! In addition to volunteering for shifts, on a daily basis people approached me and said “what can I do to help?” I was overwhelmed and completely humbled by you all. Eric stepped in to help coordinate volunteers. Thanks so much for giving us your time and contributing to help make the daily tasks flow smoothly.

Many, many people contributed time, money or services to help out this year. Without a doubt, there are more who should be mentioned here. Please know that your contributions are recognized and appreciated. Some of this magic continued into the International AIDS Conference and I’m so excited to hear more from them as they return! US activists are making increasingly valuable contributions to the international fight for sex workers’ rights because of the efforts of many organizations to mentor and cultivate new sex worker leadership. The Desiree Alliance conference is a culmination of those efforts. I am ecstatic to be able to say after 3 years: “It’s working!”

We need to hear back from you about the conference so that future events will be even better. Please visit our online conference evaluation form to give us your feedback. We really do review this info each year to help in planning. If you enjoy these events and want to see them continue, we need you on the Board! Anybody who is willing to contribute time to conference or Leadership Institute organizing is encouraged to participate. We welcome your organizations as partners in these efforts. After you fill out the feedback form, please email Susan (at) DesireeAlliance.org with your contact info and we will follow-up with you.

I can’t say enough how totally grateful to all of you I am. Sex workers organizing for rights are a joke to most Americans. not only are we not taken seriously as workers, our contributions to the communities that we live in are always undervalued and rarely recognized. As we are becoming more visible, supporting each other and having community is more critical than ever. After the Vegas conference I felt more alone than ever. But over the years as we get to know each other better an improved sense of community has evolved. It’s amazing and inspiring. I’m in awe of you!

In solidarity,
Stacey Swimme

Conference Coverage:

Naked City

Red Light District Chicago

One Response

  1. Thank you everyone for all of your work on Chicago’s conference. I so wish I had more than the very brief time that I was able to be there. I’ve never organized a conference can only imagine how much work it must of been to do everything to make it happen. See all you next year! Thank you and my great thanks for all of your work to make another great event and great conference!

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