At first, I escorted because it seemed rebellious, sexually adventurous, and provocative.
I also wanted to bring respect to the profession, change attitudes and in turn change laws, and maybe save lives.
I was cutting edge and standing up to a whole new set of sexual taboos. I felt like a maverick.
As expected, word got around. I stood up to the criticism, but was surprised at the mostly positive response. “Go get ’em, tiger!” It brought me attention, made me interesting, gave me an air of mystery and seduction. I felt hot.
Then, as the novelty wore off, it was all about independence: sexual and financial. I was my own boss, an entrepreneur, and I built a very respectable client base within a few months. The success was rewarding, and I loved the extra income.
It became routine. People I knew got used to the idea of having a male escort in their circle of friends. It was a part of me, although I was careful to keep it compartmentalized, separate from my core identity. I was a student, a friend, a traveller, and a music lover, with escort much further down the list. I tried to stay casual about it.
But recently, something has changed.
Despite my intentions, “escort” has moved to become a more central part of my identity. In part, it’s because I write this column. I’m always thinking about it, analyzing my experiences and my choices, trying to be honest with myself.
And in the process, gradually, I’ve quit taking clients.
At first, I pulled my ad, as my regulars kept me busy enough. Then, I chose favourites and let the others drift away. Now, I’ve stopped responding to requests completely.
I worry a lot, and wonder if I’m actually breaking new ground and making some social progress, or if I’ve done nothing but have “former gay escort” prefixed to my name for the rest of my life.
Stigmas are weakened when people take them on and live them down, but it’s burning me out.
I know that I’ll go back to work again soon. The job still holds its rewards, especially for a student, but I was naïve to think I could keep the role I play in a box, looking at it only when convenient.
If a new escort wanted a word of caution from me, I’d try to make him understand how consuming the job can be, and how it seeps into all of the cracks and crevices of the foundation of your identity without you even realizing it’s happening.
And I would ask, “Are you secure enough to handle it?” Because, at times like these, I question whether I am myself.