So Many Gay Porn Stars Have Died Lately! Why?
Arpad Miklos (who committed suicide in February) is just one of the rash of porn stars who've succumbed in the last horrifying year.
Sean Van Sant from rentboy.com has some ideas.
"I think all of these deaths are very different," he wrote to me, "so I do not want to generalize. I think sex workers suffer the same problems gay men do in general, with substance abuse and suicide rates high, and those problems can be even worse for sex workers, who lack support systems because of shame and stigma for their profession. But those factors are not new, nor are they suddenly worse than before.
"I think we should be looking closer at
1) Gay men in midlife crisis
2) Use of body-building steroids causing severe health problems and daily pain as men age (this has gone unreported)
3) Over-prescription of pain medications (how and why was it so easy to commit suicide?)
4) A poor economy for transitioning into other forms of work after a career based on physical labor and youth
5) And lastly there is a real possibility of 'copy-cat' syndrome where suicides inspire more suicides. Suicide rates are much, much higher for men than for women; and the U.S. military is experiencing an historical number of suicides among veterans.
"I've been very saddened by these deaths, and honestly I just don't know the answer, but what we are doing is reaching out, trying to listen and understand. We will be including a memorial segment in the Hookies Awards this weekend in New York city.
"I think group health insurance is, obviously, a great idea. One thing to keep in mind is that rentboy.com is not an escort agency. We are an ad listing service, like Craigslist. Escorts pay for an ad on our site, only. We do not take any profits directly from (or portion) of escorts' income, nor do we connect them directly with clients. Escorts are not employed by Rentboy.com. So group health insurance would have to be like a Freelancers union. It is worth exploring and fostering group health insurance possibilities. I foresee some difficulty getting around the fact that 'escorting' is a vague employment term and sex work has not been de-criminalized in the U.S. Very few countries have laws that protect sex workers under standard labor laws--New Zealand is one of the few.
"In the U.S., community organizers are already working, in fact, on health care alternatives for sex workers, but it is a long term process, requiring changes in law and in the attitudes of the mental health professionals, who often tend to reinforce their patients' shame about sex work.
"The stuggle for civil and labor rights for sex workers has a long history, mostly centered around the women's sex worker movement. Every two years I attend the Desiree Alliance Conference, as a representative of Rentboy.com. See
www.desireealliance.org, meeting this year July 4th to 19th.
"The Desiree Alliance mission statement is: 'The Desiree Alliance is a diverse, sex worker-led network of organizations, communities and individuals across the US working in harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex workers. We provide leadership and create space for sex workers and supporters to come together to advocate for human, labour and civil rights for all workers in the sex
"This year's topic is 'The Audacity of Health: Sex Work, Health and Politics.' There will be panels on health care and the law. Our goal has been to create more workshops for men within the mostly female Desiree Alliance community."