Trouble Viewing Dec. 17 Videos on BNG

I’m having trouble viewing the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers videos posted on BNG from my computer.  They’re coming up as empty squares with a box in the upper corner.  Is anybody else having this problem?

NYC’s December 17th Vigil: Audacia Ray’s Speech

In New York City, about 30 people gathered in Washington Square Park to light candles and remember the sex workers who were murdered this past year. Here’s the speech I gave – in video and text form.

Every year I come to this event, and every year, in the hour before the vigil, I seriously consider not showing up, because it’s hard to be here, hard to stay present and be witness to the sadness and struggles of this community. Sex workers and our allies are strong – no doubt – but we are also vulnerable. And those two words -strength and vulnerability- are exactly why the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers exists.

Today, on the 6th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, there are gatherings in 20 cities around the world, including places like Tucson, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Vancouver, Copenhagen, and Sydney. There’s a National March that happened earlier today in Washington DC, culminating in a rally in front of the Department of Justice. And here we are, a little chilly but resilient. Our movement is growing, and though we have many obstacles, we are moving forward toward a world in which sex workers’ rights are recognized as human rights, where we are free to choose what we do with our bodies and how we make our livings – whether that means working in the sex industry or keeping far away from it because we have viable economic alternatives.

In a minute we’ll read the SWOP demands for ensuring justice and safety for sex workers, but I also wanted to add in my very own demand – and it’s not directed to policy makers, health care providers, law enforcement, or any other official organization. It’s directed to the people standing right here today. My demand is this: take care of yourselves, ask for help when you need it, and offer support to others when you can. And by support, I mean the purest and most human form of support – listen to sex workers and allies about their experiences, their struggles, their doubts. It’s true that we have a lot of work to do, and sex workers are dying while we’re trying to do that work. But it’s also true that we can’t be of service, we can’t fight the good fight, if we don’t take care of ourselves and each other. When we’re done with the program today – after we read the SWOP demands and the list of names of sex workers who were murdered this year, I want to encourage you to hang out a while, decompress, and just talk to each other and offer support.

This day is a hard one to face, a hard one to be present for, but the purpose of any memorial service is to create a space for the living to show respect for those who have lost their lives and to be there for one another. So let’s do that – not just today but throughout the year.

Check out the SWOP demands here.

December 17th Vigil at Center For Sex And Culture in San Francisco

On December 17, 2008, about forty-five of us (sex workers, allies, a few Johns, and some others) gathered to remember sex workers who have been (or will become)victims of violence of various kinds; rape, murder, arrests, police brutality, suicide when facing jail time, robbery… and hate crimes. The Center for Sex and Culture was a lovely, safe, and comfortable environment for our ritual—- sexy even– with all its velvety couches and an exhibit of lively paintings of Madison Young in bondage! It felt like a sex worker safe house.

Half the folks that attended had marched up from the jail a few blocks away doing a “politically focused peaceful action” carrying signs and lit candles with photos of our dead on them. They had the most beautiful signs and candles I’ve ever seen at such a march. When the marchers got to the CSC they placed their signs around an altar-like table we had created with calla lilies, photos, candles, sage, and other items of meaning. It was a powerful visual, and the energy in the room was palpable.

For about an hour and a half, we passed ’round a microphone to share our thoughts, feelings, realizations, memories, writings, ideas, stories, and more. There were several musical interludes from music Lady Monster had picked out. There were some tears, laughs, some anger, fears released, hope given, ideas bandied, and more. Reverend Jen did a lovely closing.

It was a wonderful group of folks, and I felt really great about having done this event. Many of us have never been victims of violence, but its good to once a year acknowledge the sad truth is that some of us are. It felt good to feel connected with all the other vigils and events on this International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. I was a bit worried that some of the working whores might get scared and paranoid from the readings of the names of the dead–it was heavy. But perhaps its good to have a reality check. And as Dolores French once said, “Working in a convenience store or as a taxi driver is more dangerous than being a whore.”

Attached is a photo taken of a few of us just after our memorial; Kirk Read, Madison Young, Carol Queen, Reverend Jen, Mistress Minax, myself and others. As far as I know, there wasn’t any press. But that’s OK. We didn’t push for it either.

Next year I’ll be happy to facilitate something happening again. (The Christmas caroling idea is a good one.) Observing this annual event warms my heart and soul and ultimately makes me feel happy and well balanced. Hope it was good for you too.

In whore solidarity,
Annie Sprinkle
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