On Nov 19, 2022, sex workers and advocates from the greater New England area gathered in Manchester, NH to share out current efforts in the field and to practice self care at the New England Sex Worker Summit. Ishtar Collective, ELA-ONE, and New Moon Fund brought together a sizable cadre of activists to reflect on policy changes in 2022, to look towards 2023 for decrim efforts, and to mourn the founder of our movement, Carol Leigh. Rest in Power, Carol.
The Summit included talks elevating the Black, Queer, HIV+, and other intersections on the sex worker experience, and also held separate space for sex workers looking to build skills around self care. Speakers touched on tough topics from lived experience ranging from foster care to mental illness to active discrimination in school and workplace settings.
Being a New England-focused summit, we heard from local activists in the New England area who have made strides in public policy advocacy (sure to pave the way for prostitution decriminalization) in Vermont and Massachusetts. Themes arising out of these conversations on shifting policy highlight the importance of incremental change such that the “big asks” have precedent and the public has time to digest and adjust.
Another theme present was the idea of movement intersectionality, especially between sex workers and anti-trafficking advocates in the fight for decriminalization. In the words of one activist present, “Our movements should have been aligned in the first place.”
New Moon is excited for the momentum in New England has around sex workers’ rights (SWR) advocacy, research, and other incredible work happening on the ground.
You all inspire me, and us at New Moon Fund, to keep fighting.