On Saturday, June 2nd, hundreds of sex workers and allies gathered in Washington Square Park to recognize International Whores' Day. In the punishing 90 degree heat, they held red umbrellas aloft and were invited to speak, each voice amplified by a "human mic picket line", that echoed their words back in unison for all to hear. The rally was peaceful and well coordinated, but participants spoke out against the recent SESTA/FOSTA bills with urgent fervor.
International Whores Day (also know as International Sex Workers Day) is observed annually on June 2 around the world to commemorate the 1975 occupation of Saint Nizier Church in Lyon, France. French sex workers gathered there for eight days to call attention to police abuse, inhumane working conditions, and exploitation.
This year, members of the Black Sex Workers Collective gathered at New York's Judson Church at noon, before the rally in Washington Square Park, to recreate the 1975 French occupation. The Judson church has a long association with support of women's rights and bodily autonomy - in the days before Roe V. Wade the clergy there assisted women in obtaining safe abortions. In the call for sex workers rights organizations including the Black Sex Workers Collective, find it important to call attention to the intersecting interests that encompass the issue: reproductive rights, labor laws, and representation of the LGBTQ community, to name a few.
Around 3 p.m. Ceyenne Dorsohow, the founder of GLITS, addressed the crowd, urging them to remember the lives of those that had been lost in the struggle for sex workers's rights and urging them to fight against the SESTA/FOSTA bill. Later, sitting in the shade, Cayenne told me what the day meant to her.
"Today means recognizing what Father Louis Blanc did for us. It means protecting community. It means informing them and enlightening them and empowering them to succeed and go forward and be part of the legal narrative. Without them we can't succeed. All across the world, trans women that have to survive via sex work are being murdered. It's time to end the fuckery."