Be Nice to Sex Workers

Be Nice to Sex Workers

Green Dolphin Street supplied the setting
The setting for nights beyond forgetting Green Dolphin Street… Shawn Mallroy: I am a peer educator here at
HIPS organization, which HIPS stands for Helping Individual Prostitutes/People Survive. I had
been prostituting and I got caught several times. And the judge–well, my parole officer
had advised me that they were going to send me back to prison. And his supervisor for
some reason came in the room and said “Please don’t send her to jail” let’s try this new
program called HIPS. I was like HIPS? So he ran it pass the judge and I took advantage
of the name and what it stands for and I wrote my judge and I asked her to please allow me
to address this program because I’ve never had–they all have programs for drugs but
they never have, ever have I ever heard of a program that addressed a prostitution issue. When I recall the love I found on
I could kiss the ground on Green Dolphin Street Diamond: And I left home, you know to get
away from my family because there was a lot of negativity, you know they didn’t understand.
And, you know, I had to come here. You know, just to be comfortable to–I don’t have to
worry about my family seeing me in the streets, you know what I’m saying, or to criticize
me or this and this and that. Gigi Thomas: I was out there struggling. I
had just lost my job from the Washington Post. I was going back and forth on the streets. Shawn Mallroy: I–I went numb. Anybody can
do anything to me and I felt nothing, I learned to black myself out, you know, out of body
out of mind. And I went through life like that. Cheryl Smith: You know when I was classy going
out getting to some money, constantly going to the crap land. Hell I haven’t had nothing,
no cloths, no nothing, shoes, no nothing. Then I met HIPS and I was able to come up
here. If I have been out one–one day straight or two days straight with no cloths, I could
come here wash up, change my cloths and go back and do the same thing again. Cyndee Clay: Being nonjudgmental is like a
cornerstone of our program. And it’s–you know it’s a cornerstone of [indiscernible]
[00:03:11]–in the sense of like we, you know, I think there are a lot of people who will
look at sex workers and tell them like you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing and you
need to change. And we find that by not putting that judgment on them, by not placing that
judgment–it really provides as space and then opportunity for people to kind of lead
their own lives. Sergeant Brett Parson: I had a lot of misconceptions.
I was ignorant about the motivation behind it. And so there was really a big learning
curve for me and the folks at HIPS really helped me with that to understand kind of
the whole social injustice that goes on, that cause people to get into this line of work. Shawn Mallroy: First I was just passing around
they taught me how to sell, and then I started using, and then I will sell it to–to keep
using, to keep from selling myself. And then eventually my habit got worse and worse and
worse. And I became a person that tricks, a person that prostitutes because it was quick. Cheryl Smith: We should go right through the
back door, go buy some crack and then come back through back door. So it’s right in the
next complex, if they didn’t have it on that complex all I was going to do is walk over
to the next complex and they have it there. This is back in, back like the late 80s going
to late 90s and it was all around, everywhere. You don’t have to worry about searching like
you didn’t now. You go to any corner and somebody was selling crack, 24 hours a day. Shawn Mallroy: I was running for the drugs,
I just had to get more and more and more. And I got to the point that I didn’t care.
If a John, a man, or something pull up a date and that’s when it comes in where the protection
is at, you know. Most of them are like, well I don’t like condoms, you know, I can’t get
in, you know get hard or whatever. And if you press and you get their drug, I mean like,
okay, just don’t come at me that was my phrase. Diamond: I didn’t really know what the common
van was, but I used to see this van that just constantly rode down on the stroll, you know,
and that’s where all the girls meet at and, you know, do their soliciting. Gigi Thomas: When I saw the van out there,
and when they drove up one day–I was just like what is this people doing out here, because
there was a bunch of Caucasian people on the van. And I was like oh, you know, somebody’s
family must have passed away from AIDS. You know, I was really feeling sorry for them,
I was like that’s so nice of them passing out condoms. And when I–well, you know, so
when I went up to them and I was talking to them, Amy Patit [ph], she was on the van.
She was the outreach director and she was so friendly and so nice. I remember years
later after I got myself together off of drugs and everything that I saw her out there again
and she was, like oh it’s good to see you, [indiscernible] [00:06:17]. I was like, oh
thank you, and I was just like this people are still all here. …supplied the setting
The setting for nights beyond forgetting Jeff Chubb: I’ve been working for 12-years
as the guest of the sex worker community in DC. The reception that the organization gets,
because of its reputation. It doesn’t, it–other organizations that I’ve worked with don’t
receive the same sort of, you know, running and screaming down streets, HIPS, HIPS. You
can hear people running across traffic, you know, coming to the van. People who recommend
it to their friends, people may not even know us, and when they learn about what we’re doing,
you know, really thank–we’re thankful that there is someone out there who’s providing
free services in order for the people to stay safer on the street. Diamond: I am–I hold the trans support groups
for the transgender girls. I’m a peer educator, we meet once a month. And we talk about just
trans issues. Gigi Thomas: What the client advocate does
is basically doing a one on one counseling. And we meet the clients wherever they’re at.
And when the clients come in, usually giving up referrals and doing a lot of–a lot of
counseling. What I try to do is think about the times that I was out there on the streets,
just some of the services that I’m saying that, I needed it, I need it, and also some
of the other girls needed it when they were out there. So I try to make sure that they
are transgender friendly and also sex worker friendly. Diamond: Like the outreach where we do HIV
testing, you know, and they have like–like the condom van that goes out on the streets
and provide the condoms for the girls. And you know we provide clothes for people that’s
out in the streets when it’s freezing, you know, we give them hot chocolate to them in
the–in the winter when it’s, you know, cold and stuff like that. So we just basically,
just there to help. You know what I’m saying, yeah, it’s like a family, you know, once you
become a part of HIPS and we’re there to help you. We’re always going to be there to help
you. We’ll never going to turn our backs on you. Cyndee Clay: HIPS is an organization, you
know, really exists because we believe that sex workers can be like the forefront of the
fight against HIV. Shawn Mallroy: We go out on foot to various
areas and pass out these safety kits. And what’s in these safety kits are, a HIPS card
an outreach card, a hotline card. We try to put two flavors which are basic flavors that
are used for oral sex. And then after which we use Magnums, we also insert two Magnum
condoms inside of it. You know, how most people out here want to think they have the biggest
ever and a book of matches which has the HIPS logo on it as well as the HIPS hotline number.
And then we insert two of our water base lubrications. And we’re ready to roll. Sergeant Brett Parson: I don’t think by giving
someone a condom you’re encouraging them to have sex. I don’t think by giving someone
a needle, you’re turning them into a heroin addict. I don’t think that by giving someone
a clean pipe and a rubber–a gasket to put around that pipe, you are somehow turning
them into a crack addict. What you’re doing is you’re reducing the risk of them somehow
contracting HIV or hepatitis, or some other communicable disease, which then spreads on
to other people because we know that people are having sex. Whether it’s legal or illegal
sex. Cyndee Clay: You know sex workers have–have
contact in a meaningful way with the general population and have that opportunity to educate. Diamond: I’m out on the streets talking to
the girls, I’m out on the streets telling girls, there’s the condom van, go get condoms.
You know, go get that date rate sheet, you know, it’s updated. Go look and see who’s
on there, you know, look at those hack numbers. I’m out there every like Friday and Saturday
talking to the girls. If I’m not on Eastern Avenue, I’m down on K Street. They ask me,
they’re “oh when can we call up to HIPS, you know”. They ask me questions and I like that,
because I’m going to give you answers. And I tell them, you know, whatever you need,
whatever you want, whatever you don’t understand ask me. Cyndee Clay: The sex workers deserve not to
be judge all the time. And they–they deserve places and–and venues and, you know, spaces
where they’re respected. And where they can work on issues that are really important to
them. Shawn Mallroy: Well because–because of HIPS
today my whole life has changed. No I no longer think the same way, I don’t react the same
way, I don’t’ do the same things I used to do, because as HIPS stands we’re helping individual
prostitutes to survive, I was once that. And I found out, you know, there’s another way
of living. Diamond: I want people to know that, it’s
not about what a person does, it’s basically about helping and understanding why–why certain
people are doing it. You know what I’m saying, because everybody have their own reasons why
they are in the streets. Everybody have their own reason why they’re into drugs or whatever.
But I go at least to help them. Gigi Thomas: A lot of times People are out
there saying, you know, sex worker, some people call them prostitutes, but sex workers. You
know, they see them out there as, you know, trashy people, dirty people. But you need
to realize that’s somebody, mother, brother, son, daughter, you know, sister. You know,
they’re still human beings, you know. And a lot of times they’re out there for survival. Shawn Mallroy: I’ve decided to try life and
stop being left out in the cold. Some may call me bold, I guarantee remembering my past,
this time I’ll never fold. The card game remember that? What cards are you holding, do you plan
a deal or chill, come on family I’m just keeping it real. Green Dolphin Street supplied the setting
The setting for nights beyond forgetting

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