Ask Professor Foxy: How Do I Handle My Boyfriend’s Sex Work?

This weekly Saturday column “Ask Professor Foxy” will regularly contain sexually explicit material. This material is likely not safe for work viewing. The title of the column will include the major topic of the post, so please read the topic when deciding whether or not to read the entire column.
Dear Professor Foxy,
I am a queer feminist cis woman in my early twenties, in a long-term cohabiting relationship with a male queer partner in his early twenties. Thanks to the recession, we have had a lot of financial trouble over the past two years. Due to the criminally low hours at his day job, my partner applied to be a male escort at a small local agency. He just recently came out to me, and has only come out as “bisexual” to one or two others, and no one in his family knows. No one knows except us, and one mutual close friend, about the nature of his new job.
His clients are all male and mostly in the closet. He is very popular, mainly because of his boyish looks, his youth, and he’s a bottom. He’s been an escort for a couple weeks now. We are both all about sex workers’ rights and are very sex-positive, so it has nothing to do with that. I am trying my best to be supportive, and he intends to be an escort until we pay a couple bills, move into a new apartment, and he can find a position elsewhere, but I get SO worried when he goes out. I’m worried about his safety, first and foremost, but also his emotional and psychological well being. The “pimp” (I’m not sure what else to call him) personally screens all his clients, and the vast majority of them are long-time regulars, but it’s still illegal and largely anonymous.
These are his first same-sex experiences. He doesn’t enjoy them. He puts on a brave face and insists this is just “what he has to do right now to help provide for us” but he is clearly scared, and it seems to be negatively affecting his view of his sexuality. He refuses to open up about the negative feelings–he just talks about how he doesn’t feel safe and he gets nervous before an appointment. I don’t want him to feel negatively about himself because of the social stigmas surrounding bisexual men and/or sex workers. But whenever I open up about my anxieties regarding his job, it really upsets him. How can I help support him but also be honest about my fear? And how can I open up a dialogue about his feelings regarding his sexuality?
Please help,
Anxious Partner

Hi Anxious –
Who do you have to talk to about this? A friend you can trust, a therapist? You need someone who can listen to your concerns and help you as they come up.
I am glad you have spoken to him about your fears, but if he is not able to talk about them you need to respect his desire or inability to talk about how he is feeling. Let him know you are here when/if he needs to talk and give him space to work it out as well. It also seems like he should find someone who is employed in a similar profession to talk out his concerns with. Sometimes the only person you can talk to is one doing a similar job or going through the same experience. Support groups exist on the internet.
Are there other jobs he could do? Perhaps phone sex or dancing? Something that is still in the sex industry, but involves less intimate contact and to a certain extent more safety.
If he needs to stay in the escort business, can he call you before and after? Give you his location and if you do not hear from in a set amount of time, you call the police or have a friend that will go over with you. How can you work to make both of you feel safer.
This is a difficult situation and an ongoing process. You both need an outside outlet to work this out. You need to be gentle with yourself and with him.
Professor Foxy
If you have a question for Professor Foxy, send it to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.

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