Love & Sex Magazine

Peeking Out

By Maggiemcneill @Maggie_McNeill

I retired from sex work about 4 years ago, and I’m in university studying the health system and health policies.  Nobody in my life knows about my history and I do not discuss it.  However, I wish to do my graduate studies in social policy and rights focusing on sex worker policy, so I am thinking it might be time for me to start to “come out” to some people.  I am about to meet a lecturer on my current degree, who is helping me with my graduate application.  I am planning on coming out to her about my history; I think she will be supportive, but I am very nervous.  Any advice you can offer me, I would appreciate so much.Peeking Out

Obviously, we need as many sex workers and sex work alumnae to be out as possible, and I’ve written on the subject before (as have others I’ve collected in my tag “Coming Out”).  However, there’s no doubt it can be harmful to some.  My main concern would be, can this woman you want to come out to harm your academic career if she reacts badly?  And has she given you any indication that she won’t?  Because more than anything else, those are the important factors; there’s a very good reason most people who come out voluntarily are in a position where very few others have power over them.  My thought is, if this woman has publicly expressed support for sex workers, and she cannot easily derail your career, it’s probably OK to come out to her (especially since you want to focus on sex work policy).  But if she could possibly harm you and has never expressed any public pro-sexwork sentiments, I would choose another person to come out to first, and see how that goes before proceeding with your advisor.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)


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