Sex was only something I did for a living. It didn't define me and I resented that people passed judgment about my character based solely off topless photos on the Internet, or the fact that I occasionally made appearances on late night TV. I wanted a chance to be seen for who I was, not what I wasn't wearing.
I wanted to put an end to the discrimination I received and see to it that I never again got rejected from rental applications because I didn't have a career that was deemed "legitimate." I wanted to eliminate the prejudice I encountered when interviewing potential new CPA's who "didn't want to know" what I did for a living, or photographers who only shot with "real" models, or social groups of women who saw me as the enemy. I enjoy education, and I wanted to be able to walk into a classroom without causing a distraction to the learning environment due to the visibility of my name. I wanted to know that people I had romantic interest in wouldn't see me naked before they had a chance to actually meet me. I also wanted to be taken seriously with the non-adult related work that I did. I knew I was capable of many things, but trying to convince a man to trust you in managing his million dollar assets when he identifies you as the centerfold of that old calendar he kept is not such an easy thing to do.
My career in adult entertainment fascinated me for a number of reasons and I was genuinely interested in the topics of sexual psychology and erotic sub-cultures. I felt at ease wearing nothing in front of a camera and, despite a strict Christian upbringing, I had no issue with the exploration of sex or the use of my feminity for profit. It would have been unnatural to suppress it.
But the American society I lived in didn't see things the way I did, and after 12 years of struggling to find some normalcy, despite my public persona, I began to believe that if I were ever going to have a fair chance in the world, I would have to hide. I would have to stop being me. So I did.
A stamp of approval by the courthouse made it official. I was a new woman. Nobody would find anything online about me. Nobody could make any undeserved negative assumptions or meet me with preconceived notions. My reputation was squeaky clean. I could finally take that sales job that I was offered, knowing that any potential client who did business with me would do so because I was a committed salesperson, not because I looked good in lingerie. I would do everything I could to disguise my sexuality and hide my public use of it.
It took just over a year of pretending to be something I wasn't for me to come to a realization. Closets are oppressing. Attempting to shut out my past and all the things that interested me the most was attempting to live a lie. It left me stressed, empty and missing the things in life that excited me. Not being honest to my professors about what inspired my work made me feel less interesting than I knew I actually was. Hiding my collection of sexual studies books every time someone came over made me feel underserved shame in myself. Having to think of excuses to explain why, at 31 years old, I had no real résume or even a visible photo online was maddening. I had years worth of writing that I wanted to share, but because I was afraid to put my name on it, my message was lost. Nobody respects anonymity in a statement.
Then, I spoke with friend who said something simple yet profound to me. I heard it before, but this time around, having spent an extended sentence "in the closet," his suggestion resonated.
"Own it," he said.
I tested ownership, and shared my "secrets" with a new female friend, who smiled when I came out to her, and told me that I was "the ultimate feminist." I had never before thought of myself as an activist towards female liberation, but knowing that another woman saw me that way was empowering and inspiring. Between that, and the declaration that I should, "own" myself, I had just the thing I needed to finally take my stand loud and proud.
It's unfortunate that American's still have such a long way to go regarding the understanding and acceptance of their own sexualities, but why should I let the problems of other people become my own? I decided, not just to quietly reclaim my name and hope that nobody noticed, but to do something more this time.
I created a public web page stating all the things I have been and all the ways I hope to use those experiences for improving the future. I directed my friends to it, and am leaving it there for anyone to see. If there ever was an elephant in the room, I have not only addressed him, but I've jumped on his back and said, "giddyup!" It's my way of saying, "This is who I am, and I'm going to be the first to be OK with it, so you can be OK with it, too.
If this means that, somewhere down the line, I am the victim of someone's ignorance, so be it. At least I will have been true to myself, and at least I will have stood up for my belief in a dialogue that needs desperately to be had.
Sexuality is not shameful. What's shameful is to live in a culture that is afraid of the very thing they're obsessed with. This is a country in great need of increased sexual intelligence. By my self re-exposure, I hope to contribute to the enlightenment and open discussions that we should be having a lot more of.
I put a lot of effort into staying hidden. Now, I understand why that's a mistake. So, I'm coming out, this time, bolder than ever, because there is a problem with our sexual perception that needs to be addressed, and the conversation can't be had if nobody is brave enough to start it.