Fresh on the heels of launching our weekly sex and relationships advice feature, #AskAndre, the Slixa Blog is proud to announce our newest weekly contributor, Kate D'Adamo.
Kate is a long-time sex worker rights advocate who has been a part of some of the most prominent moments and organizations associated with rights and decriminalization in the last decade. Formerly the National Policy Advocate at the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, she has worked with the Sex Worker Outreach Project, (SWOP), Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), was an integral part of Survivors Against SESTA (SAS), and presently spends her energies supporting the efforts of local organizations working for sex worker rights, such as Decrim New York (DecrimNY).
Slixa is excited to introduce her weekly feature for the Slixa Blog, Kate's Account, which will feature a first-person look at legal and political issues and news impacting the Service Provider community, framed with Kate's uniquely informed perspective on where we stand and where we're headed. This is an important moment in so many conversations about rights, privacy, and the law, and Kate D'Adamo is just the woman to help us understand what it all means.
We had a chance to ask Kate some big questions about her work and experience. Check it out:
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to give Slixa readers a BTS peek at Kate D'Adamo™ and what they can expect from your new weekly column here!
Your bio reads like if the Justice League decided to add a Sex Worker Rights Advocate superhero. Is there any one role or project of which you are most proud?
Ha – I’m assuming you’re referring to the parts of superhero stories that show the awkwardness and second-guessing B-plots.
The work I’m most proud of – and some of the work I miss the most – is probably organizing with SWOP-NYC and SWANK. I can write a list of critiques of that work probably longer than anyone else, but it’s the place that shaped the way I approach work to this day. We did an incredible amount of work that spanned advocacy, community building, and peer-based support, and every bit of it was informed by people trading sex. We built something really magical.
Your work with Survivors Against SESTA (and that project as a whole) was phenomenally helpful and educational for so many independent providers looking for legitimate, factual information before, during, and after the passage of the FOSTA/SESTA package. Is that project fully sunsetted, or is there a possibility that it will become an updated resource as things continue to evolve?
The project is, for the most part, sunsetted. We’re still putting up things from the campaign to maintain institutional memory, but the work in that form has wrapped. Survivors Against SESTA wasn’t build as a long-term organization, but a campaign to push back on a bill, which informed a lot of the work. There are many incredible campaigns happening right now, and I’m really excited that we get to highlight that work.
Public health is mentioned often in works where you are cited and frequently in your bio block. How do you view sex work as a public health issue?
Public health is a complicated space for me, and not generally one I’m always comfortable in, because there’s public health and there’s Public Health. The idea of public heath is a broad approach that looks at the root causes of what compromises a community’s health and wellbeing – that’s looking at the way that stigma or lack of health care prevents people from going to a doctor when they’re sick, or how criminalization means you are screening clients and are more likely to face violence or assault – and trying to find solutions to keep people healthy. What gets complicated is that a lot of Public Health spaces are intertwined, and have interwoven histories, with the same institutions that criminalize and marginalize communities.
Approaching changes for sex workers using public health reasoning, should be one of MANY approaches to change.
If you don't mind, talk a little bit about DecrimNY and why this is a super important moment for the work they're doing.
This is an amazing moment – across the country we’re seeing sex worker and community-led efforts towards decriminalization. I think it’s a moment of connection – across the country but around the world – where these efforts can build on each other, learn from each other, and just not feel isolated from each other – in a way that is really new.
We are moving district attorneys on our issues! 👇🏾 https://t.co/pn0HwexO9D— DecrimNY (@DecrimNY) March 13, 2019
And just to keep things from getting too heavy too fast: if you could be any kind of tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
I’d probably be more of a hedge with Christmas lights a few weeks after it’s timely.
It feels like there are a million issues and events happening right now where yours would be exactly the brain to pick, but if we're narrowing it down a bit: what's your read on Kamala's big decrim announcement? And is the Kraft story really something unique? Or just another massage parlor shakedown but with a famous john/casualty?
Oh my god there’s so much right now. On Kamala? I think she got a question and took a stab at an answer that she probably wasn’t prepared for. I think the story about the Jupiter massage parlors is, on the other hand, painfully typical for how anti-trafficking narratives are used to promote and re-label the same abusive, exploitative policing practices that local law enforcement has been engaging in for decades.
Advice time! If somebody wants more, and more trustworthy information about sex work and rights issues, what are the 3 social media accounts they should follow?
Oh I’m going to get in trouble for leaving things out. For serious journalism, I will always send people to Melissa Gira Grant – she’s one of my favorite journalists on the issues she touches on, including but also far beyond sex work. I also think it’s important to have a broader context in which to nestle those stories, and I’d recommend Phoenix Calida/@uppitynegress. I also love to follow sex worker groups outside of the United States – UKDecrimNow in the UK, Asijiki Coalition in South Africa, APNSW in the Asia Pacific. It’s not just an amazing moment in the US – it’s an amazing moment to be following this issue around the world.
Also, don’t forget to follow things that make you smile. I love Tiny Kitchen videos.
Give us an elevator pitch of what readers can expect from your new weekly column here on the Slixa blog?
I’m hoping to have a place where people who want an idea of the range of things going on can check in to get an idea. There is more happening than we can ever stay on top of, and being able to see the range of things happening, with a bit of context can make a huge difference. I want to talk about the hard things alongside the inspiring – what we’re fighting against, but what we’re moving towards. The more advocacy I do, the more hopeful I am – I want to share that space and that energy.
How do you unplug from the constant stream of news and events and commentary and get yourself recharged? What does D'Adamo Downtime look like?
I’m a fan of really long walks or drives listening to music. Hours long. When I was still in New York, one of my favorite things was walking from Prospect Park to Columbus Circle. I just moved, and I’m already excited to figure out my next trek.
Slixa is so excited to host #KatesAccount and offer our readers an inside perspective on some serious issues that affect their daily lives. Watch for Kate's first news download beginning next week, and follow her on Twitter at @KateDAdamo.