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During my last few weeks of bartending in Denver, after I had already put in my notice to leave, a patron started talking to me.”

“Are you easily offended?”

“I don’t think so,” I said, “why?”

“I’ll talk to you later.”

Later happened. I was eating the other half of a turkey club I had saved to get me through the shift.

“What did you want to talk to me about that you thought I could maybe be offended by?”

“My friend told me you were a rent boy,” he said.

“Oh, haha, no. Not me. This d*ck is philanthropic, honey. Though, I will concede that some of those hook-ups were so bad that I should’ve been compensated.”

The funny thing is that, during my time in Denver, I only ever shelled out clams having sex, via Lyfts, Ubers, and lube. I lost money. The only currencies I was paid with were gonorrhea and chlamydia. Some of them were antiboitic-resistent.

“Oh, well, you’re cute enough to be an escort.”

In his backpedaling, he was trying to frame it as a compliment. Look, nothing against sex workers, but you do not have to be cute to be one. You simply have to be willing to be one, and you will find clients. Or, clients will find you.

A day later, I was hanging out with my friend at his house, and I incredulously mentioned this rumor.

“Oh, yeah, I heard that about you,” he said.

“No!”

“Yeah, girl.”

“OK. When you heard that about me, did you think it was true?”

“Honestly, I did. No shade. I mean, I used to do that.”

There will always be city rumors. How many rumors have you heard, in your time in the city, that were positive? Aside from the “so-and-so has a big d*ck” ones, how many? I am willing to venture 95 percent are negative. Rumors are invented and circulated to hurt their subjects, not uplift them.

The thing is, this rumor about me was negative. Why was a rumor that I was a sex worker negative?

Can you feel it? Where am I rhetorically going with this? The reason why the rumor about me being a sex worker was negative was because being a sex worker is still viewed negatively, as an inferior occupation, as invalid, as lesser-than.

You feel me, though?

People have no problem employing sex workers to satisfy whatever kink or fetish they may otherwise feel (or anticipate feeling and therefore hide from) public shame.

The clients of sex workers are just as much responsible for perpetuating the stigma against those they gainfully employ.

You better feel me. This one is free, babe.