Sex Is Good. Why Is It Illegal?

August 25 is a day that sent shock waves through parts of the LGBT community–the day of the federal raid on the offices of RentBoy.com in New York. In case you didn’t know, RentBoy is a global male escort service with over 10,500 workers.

Rentboy.comThat’s right. Workers. Sex workers to be exact. We used to call them prostitutes. But then seemingly we have become a little more sophisticated. But not too sophisticated.

The Federales are out to protect all of us from the likes of these . . . . . people. Here’s what acting Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Kelly Currie said, “Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this Internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution.”

gun-violenceThis is the priority of the Department of Justice, when we are experiencing a crisis of illegal guns and violence against the Black community?

Prostitution is illegal. Yes. But should it be? And why go after RentBoy? And why does this raid seem to have had more news coverage than similar raids on online services that provide the escort and sexual services of women? Is it because the lives of women sex workers actually matter less?

Bottom line for me is pretty simple. We have to stop criminalizing sex among adults. Protect children of course–throw the book at those who sexually abuse children (and also get help for them). And prosecute rape and sexual abuse. But consenting adults?

sex for moneyWhy can’t adults make their own choices about sex? Sex workers want to earn money, and they are willing to share their bodies with customers. Customers want sex, and are willing to share their funds and their bodies with workers to get it.

Other than the fact that folks take their clothes off–presumably–and touch each other in intimate places, this doesn’t seem all that different to me than going to your local florist to buy flowers or the Safeway to buy bread.

anti-gay-minister-begs-his-rent-boy-to-shut-upWhy do we think we need laws to punish those who offer sex for pay (and rarely punish those who seek it)? Who does it protect? And has it ever really worked? Has sex for pay ever been stopped? Or is this just a shaming device that helps keep some folks in line? And also keeps the sex workers hiding out? And what about the “Christian” ministers and others who rail against homosexuality and then hire . . . .  rent boys? Is it possible that decriminalization would help overcome some of the hypocrisy? Maybe then these religious types could enjoy sex the way God creates it…..not to be a nasty secret but instead an occasion of joy.

Indeed, many believe that if we decriminalized sex work, we could more effectively communicate to workers about safer sex and other health concerns, as well as potentially help them gain education and advancement. We might even put some mean and nasty pimps out of business, and put a dent in organized crime.

the joy of sexIn other words, if we understood that these  men and women are workers, often supporting families not to mention elderly parents, etc., we could treat them with dignity. Perhaps then they could become more productive citizens, which would be good for all of us.

the joy of gay sexI am not a lawyer, so I don’t know what legal defense would work to toss this case out of court–sadly, under our system there may not be one. These workers could be cast back to local pimps and others to keep going, which is potentially far more harmful for them than working for RentBoy.com. If I were the judge in the case, I would be the joy of lesbian sexlooking pretty hard to see if I could find a statute or constitutional principle on which I could ground a decision to dismiss.

To me, its about worker’s rights, which should always be protected, and the joy of sex–which should never be illegal.

Feeling Pink Today, and Every Day

POFEV logo for web[Next Tuesday, September 24, POFEV: People of Faith for Equality in Virginia is sponsoring “The Many Voices of LGBT Pride,” an interfaith service focused on the spiritual foundations of LGBT liberation, at 6:30 pm at Congregation Beth Ahabah, 1111 West Franklin Street, in Richmond. I will be offering some color-themed blog posts over the next few days to help us get ready for this celebration, and the celebration of Virginia Pride on Saturday, September 28, at Kanawha Plaza, in Richmond.]

Rainbow flag 8 colors 1978Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that the original rainbow flag, designed in 1978 by artist Gilbert Baker, included hot pink!

Well,maybe, if you don’t know me, you would not know of my delight, but trust me, hot pink, really any shade of pink, is good in my book. I still remember how much happiness my friend MJ Simmons brought me when she took a pink dress shirt and made it into a pink clergy shirt! And the pink dogwood is my favorite tree.pink_dogwood_lg

Baker gave meaning to each of the eight colors in the original rainbow. Hot pink represented sexuality.

Of course, it is sexuality that got us in trouble, at least with the authorities and those who are afraid of the whole range of God’s creation. So, it is right that it should be represented by a color that speaks of passion and being out of control.

But according to those who study color as part of psychological understanding, pink also is the color of nurturing and unconditional love. “Pink is feminine and romantic, affectionate and intimate, thoughtful and caring. It tones down the physical passion of red replacing it with a gentle loving energy,” say the writers at http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-pink.html

pink JesusSpiritually speaking, I like to think Jesus likes, or would like, pink. I don’t know if the color was in use when he walked the earth, but given his passion and his focus on love, I am pretty sure he would have worn pink. That would probably have been one more reason for him to get into trouble with the authorities. I also think Moses was a pink kind of guy. I often think of him as gruff on the exterior, but a real softie on the inside. He’d almost have to be to put up with all the grumbling. He certainly was a passionate guy, and pink fits that well.

As I read about colors, and especially about pink, I realize that the meaning is in the eye of the beholder. Many of us probably have associations with a particular color that don’t fit someone else’s idea. So color is personal.

pink triangle menBut it also is sometimes political. No LGBT person should ever think of pink without remembering the badge of shame, that we now have made a badge of honor, the Nazis made gay men wear–the pink triangle. Talk about a symbol of love. The oppressor, in their twisted logic, took love and made it into hate.

That too often happens. People fear something and so they decide it represents evil. Colors can be made to do that–no Jew forgets the yellow star of David from the death camps (yellow is another color on the Rainbow flag, and I probably will have more to say about it).

Pink love shirtIn the pink. Sometimes we say that when are feeling especially good. “I’m in the pink!” So pink is the color of good health. Funny the American Medical Association doesn’t use pink in their symbol (it’s all blue–more about that color later). Maybe they’re afraid they will be seen as too feminine, or too gay?

I want pink back. My rainbow includes pink–hot, soft, rose, fuschia, pale, whatever. If its pink, I like it, I’m feeling pink today.

I think I am going to wear pink next Tuesday for “Celebrating the Many Voices of LGBT Pride.” If we don’t include pink, a voice will be missing.