The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The night began on the west side of the fountain. The street lights glittered off the water as we assembled our group of mourners. A coffin, draped with black tulle, carried by compatriots, led by a crier shouting out the names of the dead. Folx in black, marching, stately, drumming, keening, demanding the end to deadly stigma.

Down the main street, through the heart of Seattleā€™s queer night scene, we walked, we marched, we demanded a fair fight for a marginalized population, we walked through downtown, and we came in silence to a private mourning space.

Once we assembled and the lights dimmed, veiled figures stalked slowly in our midst, speaking names all around us. From behind, in front, on all sides, the names of the dead, the unknown, whispered into our hearts and in the still air between us. Quiet sobs filled the space between the names, audible tears at the loss, at the fear, at the ever-present truth of our vulnerability. That, like these named, we could lose everything in a moment.

A moment of silence as the keening wails slowly die away. The lights come up. No one quite knows how to feel. Some of us awkwardly start toward the snack table while others continue to sit with their grief. Someone announces a more private furthering of the moment, welcomes al who desire to stand around the altar and share. Around the table we all stand equal. Some share, others listen. Letting it out feels like a relief. Visible, physical reminders that, though we might feel it, we are not alone.

The evening ends with a concerted effort to tidy, to politely leave the space as we found it. We are full now, of something bigger than fear. Bigger than grief. We are ready for the next year. Ready to fight the stigma that cost so many their lives, that costs us our happiness, our security, our safety, our place in the world.

FUCK SESTA/FOSTA, Fuck racist policies, Fuck violent policing, Fuck criminalization, Fuck the stigma and shame and fear and jealousy and anger that costs us our lives.

Thanks to the volunteers who brought supplies, ferried folx around from place to place, and took on key roles of crier, leader, and caboose. You are all critical to our function. Thanks to Stone Circles Collective for organizing the remembrance ritual.