The feds and local New York law enforcement raided the offices of Rentboy.com Aug. 25 in a high-profile police action that has much of the LGBT activist hive mind in a lather — including some LGBT non-profits which are climbing on-board for the cause:
Following the arrests of Rentboy.com chief executive and several employees Aug. 25, national LGBT organizations have called attention to the decriminalization of sex work.
Rentboy.com started in 1997 and allows male escorts to advertise themselves for a fee. Federal authorities seized the website and business and personal assets of seven current and former company executives of Rentboy.com, self-described as the largest male-escort website, for “conspiring to violate the Travel Act by promoting prostitution,” and have deemed it an “Internet brothel.”
CEO of Rentboy.com Jeffrey Hurant, 50, defended his company telling the media, “I don’t think that we do anything to promote prostitution. I think we do good things for good people, and we bring good people together.”
Hurant sounds more like he’s been hawking the feel-good security of life insurance plans than someone who ran a brazenly cheeky escort web site off which he made millions.
HIs dubious assertion about not “doing anything to promote prostitution” must come as a surprise to those who attended his company’s annual escort awards show “The Hookies” — along with the many other Rentboy parties, cruises and meet-and-greets that were marketed by the site over the course of a year.
He makes it sound more like a meeting of Quakers, only with Quakers who do hard drugs and steal your wallet when you’re not looking.
Despite that fact, the heart-rending stories have spilled forth on the internet of escorts whose dreams for their prostitution profits seem to lean toward the moral equivalent of saving money to open a string of orphanages in rural South America.
A few of the stories do tug at your heart strings, such as this one from Huffpost Gay Voices, which the web site promoted with the headline “The Unexpected And Powerful Story Of A Sex Worker Affected By The Rentboy Raid.”
In an effort to elevate this conversation, a video editor for Cockyboys.com and nightlife personality Andy Boyce directed, shot and edited this video about Cockyboy model and sex worker Rob Yaeger.
Yaeger’s story is powerful and emotional, as he uses the resources he makes through the sex work industry to care for his disabled partner of 16 years.
“I think it’s important that people see this film because it provides the viewer a personal story that shows the benefits of sex work in the face of so much intolerance from society’s outdated sense of morality,” Boyce told The Huffington Post.
“I think society is quick to judge escorting as not a ‘real job’ because they are uncomfortable with sex or they think it is purely exploitative. Although non-consensual sex work is completely wrong and should be persecuted [sic], the fact that Rentboy was shut down when it was a consensual platform makes it completely injustice [sic], in my opinion. By taking away a consensual platform for sex workers to conduct business, many are forced to resort to more unsafe methods of obtaining clients. The government needs to realize that not only is sex work a legitimate occupation, but also an occupation that can help people positively.”
Boyce’s assertions aren’t outrageous , although let’s not forget that some of the models on the for-profit Cockyboys.com also advertised on the for-profit Rentboy.com. (The porn industry feeds off prostitution and vice-versa.) So the entire thing sounds like a bit of a, if you’ll pardon the expression, circle jerk.
I’m not sure how “unexpected” Cockyboy model Yeager’s entire sad story should be.
If common tales are to be believed, people don’t become male hookers because Harvard or Stanford did not grant them undergraduate admission and their hopes of becoming a quant on Wall Street were dashed.
Stories of people in desperate situations who turn to prostitution because they feel they have no alternative are not only expected, they seem to be the norm. Along with the likelihood of being a victim of a crime you feel you cannot report to the police.
As for Yeager’s situation with his sick partner, it is genuinely sad.
As someone who has helped to care for chronically ill people, I feel for Yeager and his partner. But throwing up our hands and saying, “Well, we’ve hit a wall. We all have to become hookers to make ends meet” seems more like an admission of defeat than it does a worthwhile added political cause for a severely underfunded LGBT political movement.
LIMITED FUNDS, LIMITED PRIORITIES
I’d rather that we concentrate our already scarce resources on things that truly make the most lives better for the buck: job protections, the prosecution and prevention of hate crimes, activism around HIV and funding for breast, cervical and ovarian cancer care and research. We need to make sure the promise of the Supreme Court’s Obergfell same-sex marriage decision does not diminish nor die the slow death of a thousand cuts that will surely come from legislative and judicial challenges strategically started by a well-funded right-wing legal machine.
We have an entire generation of LGBT activists who are reaching or past retirement age. These are the people who built this movement, who laid the foundations that made possible all the progress we now enjoy. Many are single or widowed, estranged from families, and poor because they devoted their lives to low-paid or volunteer LGBT activism, and they face the real possibility of being homeless. Many are being forced into government-funded institutions where they can face homophobic elder abuse and are being forced back into the closet for personal protection. Confronting those issues will be a massive undertaking.
I don’t want to give the impression that I am without logic or compassion for the sex workers themselves. Trans sex workers are being killed in alarming numbers because they are backed into a corner into work they turn to only because being trans limits for them so many other healthier, less dangerous options for making a living.
There are plenty of places left online where sex workers can meet potential clients. Rentboy was not the only game in town. Assertions by some that Craigslist and Cruisingforsex.com are inherently more dangerous — none of them seem outwardly concerned with policing customers or escorts for bad behavior — seem dubious. I’ve noticed a couple of the gay male hook-up sites turn a blind eye to the word “escort” in headlines or profiles, or allow slyly worded ads that mention massages and looking for “uninhibited generous men.” One of the bigger sites allows you to search for escorts by geographical location.
Sex work is not a noble calling undertaken primarily by cultural anarchists and sexual Bohemians voluntarily living authentic lives that fly in the face of the materialistic, corporatist zeitgeist of our times. I know some of those exist because I’ve spoken with, and written about, some of them over the years.
If you listen to those people tell stories, they tell tales that are often funny and touching in the ways some clients can be total freaks or just lonely, lost souls wanting some time with good-looking men who will not treat them like they are invisible. They may not be the most emotionally healthy relationships on earth, but I don’t think they should be a primary focus for law enforcement.
But the other stories — the ones about widespread sketchiness, drug abuse, loneliness, criminality, theft, assaults, homelessness, mental illness, wildly fluctuating incomes and long nights chasing phantom or no-show tricks — those are the norm.
(To be fair, some say these are all stereotypes — ones based in fact, I suspect. But some articles such as this one on the Nerve web site, present information that claims to prove otherwise. But the Nerve “study” was of only 40 sex workers in places like bars filling out self-reported behavioral surveys. Not the most reliable sample size nor methodologies, suggesting that the Journal of Sex Research, where it was published, is not exactly the New England Journal of Medicine.)
I want to work toward a society that is economically fair and socially tolerant so that people are not forced into sex work and only choose it because they are crazy, loveable pigs who will only be on non-stop sling tours anyway, so why not make money in the process?
Only when we are approaching those worthy goals will we have the luxury of fighting for the rights of rich pimps along with those of the genetically blessed and well-compensated elite escort few who manage to stay level-headed enough to start a viable business with their profits or put themselves through college or graduate school.
At first, many were skeptical toward the notion of giving HIV uninfected gay men a drug that would, in the minds of some, give them the green light to have unsafe sex.
Then more rational heads prevailed with this simple question: If the ultimate goal of HIV prevention campaigns was to prevent new HIV infections, wasn’t a drug that prevented new infections the magic bullet for which the HIV prevention community had been waiting?
Not only could such a drug, if effective, prevent many people from becoming infected in the first place, but it would also also prevent the many infections that followed through their sexual contacts and their sexual contacts’ sex partners. The pyramid effect that had been driving much of the epidemic could be slowed or halted starting with the people taking the drug.
If it worked.
We are beginning to have answers.
Truvada, a daily pill that holds the hope of drastically reducing or eliminating the risk of contracting HIV, appears to be living up to its promise:
In the first real-world study of the prescription drug, Kaiser researchers found no new HIV infections among the more than 650 people they followed over nearly three years, beginning just after the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012.
A clinical trial leading up to the FDA approval had shown that Truvada, made by Foster City’s Gilead Sciences, nearly eliminated the risk of getting infected by the AIDS virus. But no evaluations of the drug, also known as PrEP, for pre-exposure prophylaxis, had been published outside the tightly regulated clinical trial setting.In the new study, participants were sexually active. Many did not use condoms for prevention, and half of them were diagnosed with other sexually transmitted diseases within a year of starting the study. But no new HIV infections turned up, researchers said.
“This is really compelling data that shows that PrEP works in a real-world setting,” said Dr. Jonathan Volk, a San Francisco Kaiser physician and epidemiologist and lead author of the study, which was published Wednesday in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Truvada, which contains the antiviral drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir, was originally created as an anti-retroviral drug used to treat HIV, but it has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92 percent when taken consistently, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Still, the drug, which costs Kaiser patients about $50 a month, is not without controversy. PrEP was criticized early on by health providers and other advocates over concerns that the drug would encourage unsafe sex because of a false sense of security. In fact, the Kaiser study did find a significant decrease in condom use among the participants.
One of the loudest critics has been Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, who has publicly called Truvada a “party drug.”
While PrEP may be an option for high-risk individuals who don’t use condoms, he said last month, it should not be used as community-wide public health intervention strategy.
But the CDC and public health advocates disagree.
Let us be thankful that Weinstein (a media gadfly who has been accused of grandstanding to further his still murky, ill-definable goals) was not the person to make the decision to approve the drug for PrEP.
When I have spoken with audiences about the issue of unsafe sex and HIV, someone nearly always asked during the Q&A afterward, “Why don’t you just tell people to stop having sex or never have unsafe sex?”
I always pointed out society’s experience with syphilis as a useful example of what is wrong with the Just Say No To Sex approach.
It is thought by some that syphilis was first introduced to the New World by Christopher Columbus and his crew, although it most certainly has been around much, much longer than that.
Prior to the first effective treatment being discovered in 1910, it was often debilitating and could be fatal once it moved into the tertiary phase of infection. It caused horrible disfigurement and drove many people insane. It was one nasty bug.
The U.S. military in World War I knew all about syphilis and its dangers, as did many members of the public, and military leaders worried about the effects of syphilis on troops. Many of them would contract the disease during their tour of duty.
The military tried everything to stop troop infections, including scare campaign advertisements warning the troops of certain doom if they contracted the disease.
Their efforts had little effect. Why?
There are so many answers to that question I could fill this post with theories as to why people still have unsafe sex when it is dangerous to do so.
Sex in the heat of the moment. The search for intimacy. Lack of planning.
But one of the chief reasons has been: it will never happen to me. You play the odds and worry about the consequences later when you are in bed thinking about it and trying to sleep.
It’s human nature. It’s one of the reasons why people still begin to smoke cigarettes despite the dangers.
So if we bring this back around to our original topic of HIV we can ask this question: If medicine suddenly developed a pill that people who smoke could take to prevent nearly all cases of pulmonary and heart disease, can you imagine the looks you would give the person who objected to making the drug widely available because it might encourage cigarette smoking?
That person would be laughed out of the room, and lung cancer is not even transmitted person-to-person like HIV. But because PrEP involves sex and sex makes people feel uncomfortable or causes them to abandon rational thought processes, we end up with irrational people who would try to stop medicine from doing one of its jobs: to prevent disease.
There are possible problems with PrEP, including drug resistance if not taken properly and side effects for some from both short- and long-term use.
But for the time being, if these study results hold up, it is the most promising thing available.
If I were married and using the site to cheat on my spouse, I’d be rehearsing my song-and-dance that might keep me out of divorce court:
If some of your married co-workers seemed a bit distracted Monday they might have been nervously following news that online infidelity site Ashley Madison was hacked.
A group calling itself “The Impact Team” said it has sensitive data – the site is targeted at people looking to have extramarital affairs – that it will release unless the site is taken down.
Ashley Madison claims to have more than 37 million cheaters, er, users on its site. Toronto-based parent company Avid Life Media acknowledged the cyberattack Monday, saying it had closed the “unauthorized access points.
”But security blogger Brian Krebs, who appears to have broken the story Sunday, said “large caches of data” had already been posted online.
Krebs said the attackers complained that Ashley Madison charges users $19 for a “full delete” of information but does not truly scrub all the data, a charge the company denied.
i’m not sure how I feel about this. Conflicted, based on the information released thus far.
On the one hand, the hackers appear to be on some sort of crusade against the parent company’s alleged lies about confidentiality.
On the other hand, threatening to release the real names, addresses and sexual interests of users seems like more of a statement about infidelity — which is really nobody else’s business but the couples involved. If the hackers think they will be striking a meaningful blow against marital cheating they are naive.
It also seems unfair to employees of the company to release their emails and information.
There are far too many victims in this crusade, whatever it is about. Too many things about it seem odd.
Perhaps there is corporate or personal blackmail going on behind the scenes that authorities have not yet disclosed.
This is so true, except there was a time not long ago when the Catholic Church condemned male masturbation in much the same was as it polices women’s sexuality now. (See below.)
This famous (and totally awesome) musical number from Monty Python pokes fun at the way the Church used to attempt to micromanage all aspects of non-procreative sex, including that of men. You really should stream this to a big screen TV to get the full effect. It’s quite the production number.
I worked around a great many female graduates, post-graduates and faculty for a long time.
Only once in all that time did I hear about a female scientist blatantly and successfully using her femininity to try to gain an upper-hand with a professor.
It may have worked, but that one professor and his new love were effectively ostracized by the rest of the department and they both left the institution. That professor had lost two of the most important things biomedical faculty researchers possess: the perception that he was impartial and wise.
Do some women attempt to use charm to gain favor with the professor? Yes. The same way male students have been using their looks, humor, a way with words, compliments and other tools to ingratiate themselves with faculty and administrators mostly likely since education and mentorship came into being.
Meanwhile, good riddance to a Nobel laureate who is this clueless:
Female scientists have been sharing “distractingly sexy” photos of themselves after a feminist website encouraged them to respond to comments by a Nobel laureate.
Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt was roundly criticised when he detailed his thoughts about the “trouble with girls” at a conference of science journalists. “Three things happen when they are in the lab,” he said, “you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.”
He said his comments were meant to be “light-hearted, ironic comment”, but whatever the intention, it went over like a heavy metallic dirigible in a field with some widely acknowledged gender issues. Hunt has now resigned from his position at University College London.
Example below of a female scientist looking as I remember so many of them looking.
A study survey of 10,000 New York City teens over the course of three years revealed that gay and bisexual teens are twice as likely to get pregnant over their heterosexual peers reports nydailynews.com. The survey study conducted through the Center for Disease Control measured sexual orientation in two different ways: how an individual behaves sexually and how an individual labels their sexuality.
The study found that women who identify as bisexual or lesbian, along with women who chose not to label their sexuality but admitted to sleeping with men and women, were more likely to experience a pregnancy than the 14.3 percent of heterosexual female students and 10.8 percent of heterosexual male students who experience one. The same results apply to men who identify as gay, bisexual or admit to sleeping with both men and women.
It’s unclear why the rates are higher among LGB youth however, the possibility of LGB youth hiding their true orientations through entering heterosexual relationships combined with a lack of proper sexual education is listed as a possible reason for the higher LGB youth pregnancy rate.
Ya think so?
OK, so my evidence is anecdotal. But what other likely reasons could there be? LGBT kids enjoy kids more?