As a former sex worker, I have spent the majority of the last two decades challenging the notion that a person’s occupation should define them. In 2010, when a tabloid outed me as a former sex worker-turned-public school teacher, I made the argument most publicly.
Despite the fact that my previous professions as a stripper and call girl had no influence on my current profession as a teacher, the publication humiliated me, and I ultimately lost my teaching career.
What you do for money — or in my case, did — is not who you are. However, it is true that some occupations are more sleazy than others. Prostitution was a challenging occupation, but it was not morally reprehensible.
The fact that Michael worked for the same publication that devastated my life just two years prior to our meeting was therefore not insignificant. Michael and I met on the popular dating website OkCupid at the time. I was in my 30s, had been sober for four years, had recently ended a long-term relationship, and was thrilled to be alone. After a lifetime of drama, I had no interest in toxicity of any kind. Nonetheless, I withheld judgment when he disclosed his place of employment.
He assisted me
On top of the scandal, my sex-work history was too much for potential dates to handle, so I had learnt to withhold this information until the fourth or fifth date. In this instance, though, I introduced myself to Michael immediately.
He had not been employed by the publication during the period of my disgrace, he stated, but he recognized my name and was familiar with the circumstances. He expressed horror at what his employer had done, as well as compassion and appreciation for me for having the strength and fortitude to suffer everything I had.
His response was real, so that week we had supper together. From there, we began dating casually and quickly developed an exclusive connection. Michael grew up in Berkeley, and his California coolness made him stand out in New York. Beyond the physical attraction, I found him interesting due of his naivety. He was courteous, witty, brilliant, clever, and extraordinarily well-read. Even though he was substantially younger than I, he had his own East Village studio apartment, which struck me as responsible.
There were so many things about each other that we liked. Nevertheless, the fact that he worked where he worked unquestionably contributed to our appeal.
All the harm the newspaper had caused over the years weighed heavily on him. I believe that he was seeking absolution by dating me. While I was not ashamed of my sex-work history, there remained a part of me that still sought for acceptance. I also wished for vindication.
He ended the relationship with me.
That Thanksgiving, Michael flew me to his boyhood home to meet his parents and spend the holiday with him. We had been dating exclusively for approximately six months at that point. Michael remained fairly mysterious. With any other man, I would have assumed he was in a relationship, but not with Michael. From the beginning, he always felt somewhat distant. Except for that particular holiday, he followed his normal routine. I felt closer than ever before to him. I recall a particular evening when we ordered takeaway fish in Malibu and went along the beach in golden light. Prior to that point in my life, I had never felt more content.
Michael began to cool off just as things were heating up, and a week or two before Valentine’s Day, he sent me an awkwardly formal breakup note. I was distraught because I had never been dumped before. I was still somewhat heartbroken three months later when I began dating the man who would eventually become my husband.
Today, I am married and have children. I now have what I desired, and I credit my relationship with Michael for teaching me what it was like to date a genuine gentleman.