Queer Liberation March: Pride Without Barriers in NYC

June 30, 2019

DSW attended the Queer Liberation March and political rally that followed on June 30, organized by the Reclaim Pride Coalition to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The march took place on the same day as the NYC Pride Parade, which also hosted World Pride this year, but without corporate sponsors or police officers present. The Reclaim Pride Coalition, represented in a WBUR interview by their attorney and former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Normal Siegel, wants to ensure that Stonewall50 lives up to the original spirit and intent of the first marchers in the June 1969 uprising: "the freedom to be who you are and to take pride in that." The message of the Queer Liberation March is to stand "in solidarity with other oppressed groups, to demand social and economic justice worldwide."

Reclaim Pride Coalition Art Build

The Wednesday before Pride, the coalition hosted an art build in which all kinds of activists got their heads and hearts together to make art, signs, posters and banners for the Queer Liberation March and Rally. The build united criminalized bodies against corporate control, erasure, and violence and provided an understanding of the breadth of the movement and the identities for whom it holds significance. DSW Communications Director Kaytlin Bailey attended and collaborated on two signs representing our message: “Listen to sex workers” and “Prostitution isn’t the problem, it’s the patriarchy.”

The Rally: Rights and Safety for All

Well before the march started, crowds had gathered at Sheridan Square, holding signs and sporting black, pink and gold attire. The energy and love in the streets was breathtaking. The march took place along the historic root, up Sixth Avenue and into Central Park, where a First Amendment political rally took place from 1-4pm, addressing the biases, homophobia and stereotyping of the LGBTQIA community that persist today. As the crowd walked up town, a moment of silence was held at 11am to commemorate those in the LGBTQIA* community lost to violence, stigma, racism, HIV/AIDS, and lack of access to safety or health care, particularly trans women of color.

The coalition wants to highlight that, though progress has been made, the queer and trans communities, especially individuals of color, are still stereotyped, harassed and criminalized on a day-to-day basis. The march was open to the public, without sidewalk barriers or police presence. It concluded on the great lawn of Central Park. The rally hosted speakers, performers and a display of the artwork that community members and allies had made for the event. Speakers included Larry Kramer and Jason Walker from ACT UP, Black Trans Media Representatives Sasha Alexander and Olympia Sudan, and many more. DSW feels so privileged to have been able to participate and see the wonderful community this march created.

Queer Liberation March route (reclaimpridenyc.org)

Marchers on Sixth Avenue in NYC. (photo: Leandro Justin)

DSW's Communications Director Kaytlin Bailey stands with all criminalized bodies—immigrants, trans people, black & brown people, the LGBTQ community & sex workers—at the Queer Liberation March on the Great Lawn at Central Park (June 30, 2019).

St. James Infirmary 20th Anniversary Gala

June 2, 2019

DSW co-sponsored the St. James Infirmary 20th Anniversary Gala held on June 2. Kaytlin Bailey celebrated their incredible work in San Francisco along with hundreds of donors, activists, service providers, and celebrity guests.

St. James Infirmary is the first peer-based medical service provider created by and for sex workers. It started as a coalition between Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE), Erotic Dancers Alliance (EDA), and the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

more info

Kaytlin Bailey stands with Dale Johannes at the St. James Infirmary 20th Anniversary Gala on June 2 in San Francisco.

DIGNITY — Law and Society Association Conference

June 1, 2019

DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey and Melissa Broudo attended this year’s Law and Society Association Conference in Washington, DC. Bailey attended an incredible meeting hosted by National Ugly Mugs, a peer-based group in the United Kingdom that helps sex workers exchange information about dangerous clients, and Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), a peer-based community support organization in DC.

Bailey presented an abbreviated history of the criminalization and censorship of sex workers on a panel about the impact of FOSTA and SESTA. Her co-presenters demonstrated the empirical evidence they have collected demonstrating the widespread detrimental impact this law has had on people both in and adjacent to the sex industry.

Broudo spoke on another panel, elaborating on the many interconnected strategies working towards decriminalization. Her co-presenters spoke to the competing frameworks, obstacles, and growing momentum behind the international movement to end the prohibition of prostitution.

DSW's Melissa Broudo speaks during a panel discussion at the Law and Society Association conference in Washington, DC, on June 1. (Photo: Law and Society Association)

Law & Society Association Annual Meeting | Washington, D.C. | 2019

Stossel: Moral Panic Over Sex Work

May 14, 2019

DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey made an appearance on John Stossel’s show to draw attention to what multiple agencies in Florida called a “rescue operation.” All of the women law enforcement claims to have “rescued” from “sex trafficking” are currently facing criminal charges. Robert Kraft’s high-profile hand job drew national media attention to this case, but these stings are part of a disturbing national trend.

DSW Hosts Unity Reception in NYC

May 2, 2019

DSW hosted a delightful evening that was both a celebration and a rallying cry at the Cornell Club in NYC. With exquisite performances by Essence Revealed and sweet jams by DJ Mikey Palms, speakers included Dame Catherine Healy (from New Zealand), Ceyenne Doroshow, and DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey. Activists, donors, and reporters came together to celebrate and commit to the long road ahead fighting for a future where we listen to sex workers and offer help — not handcuffs.

Our guest of honor, Dame Catherine Healy, is a former sex worker and lifelong activist who was bestowed the title “Dame” by Queen Elizabeth II for her successful campaign to decriminalize sex work in New Zealand. She has worked toward better working conditions for sex workers for over 20 years. She treated those gathered to some incredible insight and inspiring words. We will all look back on that night in the difficult years to come.

She came to the United States to meet with us and other activists to strategize and discuss her methods for achieving her legislative victories. In addition to joining us in New York, she also offered compelling testimony in Rhode Island and met with activists in San Francisco, Seattle, and Honolulu.

Essence Revealed wows the crowd of supporters May 2 at the Cornell Club.

Dame Catherine Healy wows the crowd with words of wisdom May 2 at the Cornell Club.

Kaytlin Bailey, Kat Timf, Ceyenne Doroshow and Lee Quan stand in solidarity for sex worker rights.

Essence Revealed strikes a pose with Ceyenne Doroshow at the Cornell Club on May 2.

DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey lets those gathered know who we are and what we’re trying to do on May 2 at the Cornell Club.

J Leigh Brantly, Melissa Broudo, Kaytlin Bailey, Crystal DeBoise, Avery Mauel, and Dame Catherine Healy on May 2 at the Cornell Club.

Experts Urge RI Legislators to Study Decriminalization

April 30, 2019

After months of planning and inviting an all-star cast of witnesses, DSW had its first hearing before the House Judiciary Committee of the Rhode Island Legislature. State Rep. Anastasia Williams (D) presented bill H5354, which would create a temporary commission to study the effects of laws prohibiting commercial sexual activity. Approximately 15 witnesses, invited by DSW and COYOTE Rhode Island, testified in favor of the bill, with no witnesses opposed. The potential study commission would be a crucial first step to legislative acceptance of decriminalizing sex work, as the commission is expected to provide accurate data and thoughtful recommendations to state officials in early 2020.

We had more than 35 letters of support from individuals and organizations all over the country including Amnesty International, St. James’ Infirmary, Dame Catherine Healy, SWOP Behind Bars, and many more.

This lobby process and bill could not have been possible without the incredible work and partnership with COYOTE Rhode Island and students, faculty, and staff at Brown University.

Read the bill text here and watch the testimony here.

From UpriseRI: Rhode Island House considers creating a study commission to examine laws on sex work

Kate Mogulescu, Esq., lead attorney for the ABA Survivor Reentry Project; Jillian Modzeleski, Esq., senior trial attorney for Human Trafficking Intervention Court; Dame Catherine Healy; Jill McCracken, PhD; Scott Cunningham, PhD; and Melissa Broudo, Esq. (L to R) work to prepare for their testimony before the RI House Judiciary Committee.

Jillian Modzeleski, Esq.; Elena Shih, PhD; Bella Robinson from COYOTE RI; Malana Krongelb, Brown student; Dayana Taverez, Brown student; Dame Catherine Healy; Scott Cunningham, PhD; Jill McCracken, PhD; Kate Mogulescu, Esq.; Yeonhoo Cho, Brown student; Melissa Broudo, Esq.; and Meghan Peterson, MPH candidate from Brown University (L to R) celebrate after their testimony before the RI House Judiciary Committee.

DSW Billboard Challenges Lawmakers in Florida

April 27, 2019

Multiple police departments in Florida have recently staged news conferences to cast themselves as heroes who have “rescued” women from “slavery” … by handcuffing them. 

Devastating stings that result in criminal records and broken families are common, but when Robert Kraft, the widowed owner of the New England Patriots, received a high-profile hand job it provided an opportunity to show people what these “rescue” operations actually look like.

The billboard shows a Chinese woman being arrested, which is exactly what Florida police officers did to the 14 working at 10 massage parlors in south Florida. Handcuffs are not help. Arrest is not rescue. Policing is not protection.

We hope that what’s happening to sex workers in Florida is a national wake-up call and a teachable moment. We all want to stop trafficking, violence, and exploitation within the sex industry. No one is more invested in stopping this abuse than sex workers themselves. Instead of arresting them, we should be listening.

This billboard, which DSW workshopped, designed, and sponsored, was up for 4 weeks in April and May 2019 to highlight the hypocrisy of doing prostitution raids in the name of "human trafficking"

Sex Workers Host News Conference in Florida

April 22, 2019

All eyes are on Florida because of the high-profile stings on massage parlors. DSW teamed up with sex workers and allies in Florida to draw attention to what criminalizing sex work actually looks like: vulnerable women in handcuffs. DSW and SWOP Behind Borders staged a news conference in Orlando to push the messages of LISTEN TO SEX WORKERS; JUST STOP THE ARRESTS; and HELP, NOT HANDCUFFS.

SWOP Behind Bars, SWOP Orlando, SWOP Tampa, the Sex Worker Solidarity Network, and FL NOW stood together to stand up for sex worker rights and the women of Florida. They spoke about the devastating impact of arrests and the bad bills being pushed through the Florida legislature that would create a prostitution registry and increase police surveillance of sex workers.

Lawmakers want to help victims of human trafficking, but they can't do that if they refuse to listen to sex workers.

The media is starting to take note of what’s happening in Florida:

A Government Database for People Who Pay for Sex Is a Terrible, Dangerous Idea (Vice; May 10, 2019)

Florida Is Creating a New Sex Offender Registry Just for Prostitution Customers (Reason, May 9, 2019)

Read our press release here.