Open events
Event #1302

The Golden Age of Sex Work in the 1970s and 1980s: Intersections at the Forefront of Building a Contemporary Movement for Gender and Sexual Justice


Monday, June 3, 2019

15:30 - 17:00
Add to your calendar
Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability - CIRS 1250
Association events
English | anglais

With financial support from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ Aid for Interdisciplinary Sessions Fund.

In this talk, I will discuss my work as a “whore-ganizer” during the 1970s and early 1980s, a period that I refer to as the ‘golden age of prostitution’ in downtown Vancouver.  As a trans, two-spirit, Indigenous woman who has worked as a sex worker (now semi-retired), I resist discourses that frame sex work solely in terms of danger and sex workers as being victims or oppressed. 

Sex work was, and remains, a criminalized occupation, rendering sex workers vulnerable to different forms of violence. I urge scholars of sexuality studies and sex and gender activists to recognize that such a framing often erases the rich histories of our struggles to work, live and love in ways that challenge the powers that regulate our society. 

We were Indigenous people, people of color, elderly people, people living with disabilities and people living in poverty living in community with one another. Though we often disagreed on strategies, we also came together across differences to fight against the gentrification of our neighborhood; for sex worker’s rights and for the decriminalization of our work; for accessibility to housing; against police violence and for the government to pay serious attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women who were an integral part of our communities.

In the second half of my talk, I will turn to contemporary battles for sexual and gender justice within Vancouver.  I argue that contemporary scholars and activists can learn many lessons from the organizing that shaped the golden age of prostitution within our communities. Such intersectional approaches to activism and refusing to limit our struggles to one identity group or fight is key to the mobilization of contemporary queer world-making projects.

The co-host of this event is: 229 - Canadian Law and Society Association (CLSA) / Association canadienne droit et société (ACDS)

  • Jamie Lee Hamilton,