NEW YORK CITYThe 45th anniversary of International Whores Day (IWD) will take place on June 2, 2020. It’s an event, worldwide in scope, that began in Lyon, France in 1975 when more than 100 sex workers protested the violence and police brutality the sex workers suffered simply by attempting to practice their livelihood. Every year on June 2, sex workers around the world honor IWD by protesting the injustices they face, organizing community celebrations, and educating the public on the harmful policies affecting their survival and the need for the decriminalization of sex work. On June 2, 2020, New York City-based sex workers are hosting the IWD NYC Digital Rally, from Noon to 2 p.m. ET/9 a.m.-Noon PT, where sex worker organizers will speak on how they are surviving and caring for their communities during the current pandemic and beyond. As a form of direct action, sex workers, sex work adjacent organizations, and allies worldwide will flood social media with graphics, art, and selfies featuring red, the color of sex work pride and protest. Recognizing the importance of art and storytelling in sex worker organizing, the IWD NYC 2020 Coalition is also launching the IWD NYC 2020 Zine, a collaboration between 15 sex workers and allies documenting their experiences, art, and forms of resistance under the current racist, anti-immigrant, classist, homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic U.S. laws. Sex workers cannot survive in the age of COVID-19 if they cannot work online. In 2018, FOSTA/SESTA devastated the sex industry by penalizing third-party online platforms for facilitating sexual commerce. COVID-19-related social distancing guidelines have forced sex workers to transition to online work, in spite of the risk of deplatforming, censorship, and surveillance. The recently proposed EARN IT Act only further threatens sex workers precarious existence online. The IWD NYC Digital Rally will highlight sex workers stories of COVID-19 survival, the urgent need for the decarceration of sex workers, the impact of government legislation like FOSTA/SESTA and EARN IT on sex workers livelihoods, and the need for the immediate decriminalization of sex work. The IWD NYC Digital Rally lineup includes: TS Candii (DecrimNY), Ceyenne Doroshow (G.L.I.T.S), Lorelei Lee, Giselle Marie (#NYCStripperStrike), Ashley Paige (G.L.I.T.S), Leila Raven (DecrimNY), Red (Support Ho(s)e) on behalf of Alisha Walker (Survived + Punished), Kate Zen (Red Canary Song), and representatives from Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgrediendo and Make the Road NY. The IWD NYC 2020 Coalition is comprised of NYC-based Sex Worker Rights organizers and supported by allies. The IWD NYC 2020 Coalition calls for an end to state violence, the decriminalization of sex work, the decriminalization of survival, and safety for people who trade sex. Member organizations include Bluestockings Bookstore, Cafe, & Activist Center, Colectivo Intercultural TRANSgediendo, DecrimNY, G.L.I.T.S., Hacking//Hustling, Kink Out, Make the Road NY, Red Canary Song, Support Ho(s)e, Survived + Punished, and SWOP Brooklyn. More information may be found at internationalwhoresday.com. Those interested may follow the movement/event at @iwdnyc.
written by: Robert Neuwave