Rebecca Deos Tells Her Story

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Since interviewing Lisa Chavez last April and following the fallout of her being outed as a phone sex worker, and inviting Liz Derrington to tell her part of that same story, I have come to know an increasing number of outed sex workers. One of them, Rebecca Deos, is an amazing woman who traveled from North Carolina to join us at the Sex Work Awareness fund-raising party where we launched our 2009 NYC Sex Bloggers Calendar. (For a $20 donation to SWA you can support sex worker advocacy and have a calendar yourself!)

Rebecca told me about living with her husband and kids in a small town in Florida and about being outed as an escort. The impact of that outing was profound. As Rebecca and I talked I found myself wishing other people could hear her story. In that conversation and in emails since, we've discussed her telling her story here. She maintains her own web site but was hesitant to use it to tell her story because she didn't want to appear to be portraying herself as a victim there. It is her personal and professional site. She was looking for a place with an analytical bent, and she was also looking for a place that might be able to put her story in a context that would be helpful to others. I was flattered when she said she thought that Sex In The Public Square was such a place.

Rebecca tells her story below below. Look for her to appear more around SITPS. We're even discussing a forum for outed sex workers and their allies to share information, resources and support. Rebecca would be the lead moderator. We are also considering a "speaking out" series where people can share stories about how the stigmatization of sexual expression or sexual identities have affected them personally. If you have such a story you'd like to share, please contact Elizabeth by using this contact form.

Click here to read Rebecca's Story in her own words

Rebecca DeosI have been outed twice in my life for different aspects of sexual exploration. There was over a 12 year span between the first and second events. Although the second time I thought I had prepared myself after living through it once, I was not prepared for the fallout that hit my family loved ones or our finances. It had engulfed more then just me the second time around.

The first incident occurred when I had lived in a Midwest suburban middle class bedroom community. I was on the PTA, and was a leader of a Girl Scout troop and for many years I was a stay at home mom.

We began a series of sexual exploration that included swinging. Our community was rather young, and contained a quite active swinging community. We were and still are very happily married. We started exploring out of love and friendship, not to fill any type of void in our relationship. It was a natural, organic step in our relationship.

Then it got out that I was a sexual "pervert". I don't know how, why or who found out and started the cascade of events, but all of my good friends disappeared. Acquaintances and even neighbors would turn their faces in disgust. No one would look at or talk to me for fear they would be put into the same category. It was unnerving that one day I was on top of the world and the next I was the scum of the earth. I was the same person doing the same things but somehow I was now different, tainted and no longer needed or wanted.

What I did in my own bedroom was now public and was frowned upon, even in a area that was a mecca for swinging. My girls were young at the time and I feared that they would be treated badly because of the sins of their parents. I was unsure what to do and how to handle it all. I had no one to ask or to talk to about it. I was very alone and felt completely isolated.

I became filled with shame, guilt and sadness. I was asked to step down from the PTA, Girl Scouts and ever thing else that had filled my days. The kids were left alone as long as I stayed out of the public eye. Months passed before I felt I could leave the house. The kids seemed unchanged and unharmed, and my husband's life also was mostly unchanged as his social circle was work-related, a different circle than mine.

I did finally begin to embrace myself. I went where I felt I would be accepted and got a job at one of the adult toys stores in town. I would have to say it was the best thing I ever could have done. Without it, I would have reverted back to a life of sexual denial. I rebounded by focusing my energies on taking an old website I owned and turning it into a swinger web site. The site was complete with helpful articles, an online toy store and a question & answer forum. It was way ahead of it's time. I continued to work at the toy store until we moved from the Midwest about ten months later, never getting my old life back but becoming content with my new one.

We moved to a new state and I had a new path for awhile. Over the years I learned to keep my mouth shut and not to make any friends. Acquaintances were OK, but close friends were out of the question. I wasn't going to change and I was never going to allow anyone judge me again. I was a much stronger person as I'd grown to completely accept my own sexuality.

My husband was a talented artist and I had a background in design so together we started a design and decorative arts company. Although I was very happy with home and work, after a lull, I decided to escort. For a few years previous, I was a companion for a private organization, so it wasn't a very big leap. I wanted something of my own, and saw it as a possibly lucrative venture in a field that I enjoyed.

I'm not sure how anyone actually found out about my escorting. Of course there were many things happening at the time, so to trace it back to ground zero is difficult. But there were a few things happening at the time which added fuel to the fire.

Looking back, friends and acquaintances were aware of my escorting for at least a month before I learned I'd been outed. I received an anonymous email claiming that people in town knew what I was up to and were not happy about it. Suddenly it started to make sense, friends not returning phone calls, or treating my husband and I rather distantly.

At the same time, we were having an issue with a "groupie" of my husband. She was also an artist who became quite attached to him, and managed to move across the country to the small town where we lived, even befriending some of our friends. While a red flag to us, no one else saw this as odd. Though I do not think she is the one who outed me, she was able to play herself somehow as another "victim" of my choices, and garner favors from local friends.

When the email arrived, my husband's first reaction was to attempt some form of damage control. He drove to the house of a friend, and upon her answering the door, he was simply told to leave or the police would be called. He arrived back home very bewildered at the treatment he received, especially after being helpful and charitable to that person.

While I was emotionally prepared for the fallout, my husband was not. And oddly enough, he was treated more cruelly in public than I was. It was as if he were being held responsible for my choices by either allowing or condoning my activities. He became nervous leaving the house, afraid of running into someone we knew, and receiving that strange look.

I didn't have that issue. I would shop, and run into past friends. Typically, they would walk the other way, pretending to not see me. That was fine with me. I would rather have that than a fake niceness.

In the past, my husband had developed an annual art exhibition, which was quickly taken from him before we even knew why. He was simply told that they would be taking the show in a different direction this year, and not using him or his group of artists. His business quickly came to a halt. While slow before this due to the economy, his referral network became nonexistent, and there were a million excuses on why he wasn't being used on jobs.

One difficult part was the kids. I had to sit the kids down and tell them. Having teens is hard enough without explaining to them that their mother is an escort. My kids are unique creatures themselves, and were unaffected when I told them. I did give them a watered down version, and my middle daughter laughed, and said "So people will pay to be your friend....are they insane?". They were raised in an atmosphere of two loving parents, and while they were relatively unaware, I think the stability in my marriage made everything else OK.

In a small town, even finding mainstream employment became impossible. We quickly became "those people". We made the decision to get out of town for awhile, let the dust settle, and at least temporarily move where we didn't have to deal with the issues of labeling.

There were a few things that struck me as rather odd throughout the latest incident. There were a few friends who I was helping with their businesses as they were dealing with medical issues, and preparing to close their store. Towards the end, it turned into a volunteer position, as the business was doing bad, and there were no further funds to pay me. They learned of my escorting, but were willing to take my time and energy, and only turned away from me when their store closed and there was nothing further they could get from me.

While in Florida, I frequented a little coffee shop, and worked there a few hours a week. I became friendly with an older man who was a regular. He moved to Florida a few years ago, and his wife quickly became ill with Parkinsons. For the last year and a half, his wife has been in a nursing home and didn't recognize him. He would visit her, then stop in for coffee. I would make him a special coffee drink, hold his hand, and talk about his wife and how much he missed her.

This man became a special friend to my husband and myself. We would go out of our way, and adjust our schedules to meet him for coffee every day at the same time. Sometime after people found out about my escorting, his wife passed away. Still unaware of what was happening behind my back, people refused to give me contact info for him in NY, where the funeral was being held. We had no way of getting a hold of him.

This was unfair on a few levels, not the least of which was to him. We became a large part of his support system, and while he wasn't told what was happening, he was separated from us as well. And being a part of his life, and having him share this chapter of his life with us was very special. And its an open wound for me that I was not given the opportunity to grieve with him, and share both his grief and relief, and allow closure for him, and a small piece for myself.

Through it all, I don't think I'm a victim, and refuse to see myself that way. This might sound pessimistic, but I think it is more realism. People will be around you and be your friend as long as you have something they want. After that, some will simply walk away, while others will throw you under the bus as a sort of leverage towards their next relationship or opportunity. And that principle is true in any walk of life, whether it is friendship, office politics, and many times relationships.

I didn't lose as much as it may appear. The "friends" I lost were not truly friends to begin with. The two true friends who shined through this were the ones that came to me and said "I don't care what you are doing. You were there for me when I needed you, without condition, and that is all that matters to me." (As an addendum, they have caught slack from mutual acquaintances for taking that position). There's tremendous value in cleaning out the people who can't accept another's choices.

I understand that my choices are outside the norm, and it would be unrealistic to expect most people to challenge their own notions of sex and sex work. Most people are not equipped to challenge themselves that way. To ask for more would be unrealistic on my part and lead me to disappointment. But I can't live to someone else's expectations or constraints to appease them and deny myself. That might make them happy, but it would make me miserable.

I understand that I am completely fortunate to have a great husband and children who support me. The true core of what is important is just myself and them. Nobody else matters.

It's the theory of the onion. My husband and children and I are like the nucleus of an onion, while everyone else is an outer layer of the onion. As long as the nucleus of the onion is healthy, the onion will continue to grow and flourish. If one of the outer layers of the onion becomes unhealthy, the onion pushes that layer further away from the nucleus to keep the nucleus from getting ill. Our nucleus is healthy, so the rest does not matter.

There's a lot I could be angry about: having to suddenly relocate, having everything taken away from my husband, and the uprooting of our children. But I'm not angry, and neither are they. It pulled us together, and in the big scheme of things, everything else, while possibly hurtful, is unimportant.

In many ways, recent events have been a process that has pushed me to grow further. Through it all, I have been given great opportunities. I have worked with fine art photographers, and been given a level of creative control that the 40-year-old housewife version of myself would never have been given. Much of my husband's new artwork has an erotic twist to it that he had been reluctant to pursue for quite awhile. Now even he feels free to explore without the restraints of what people might think.

It's simply another chapter.

When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die,
the world cries and you rejoice.
(Cherokee expression)


~ by Rebecca Deos~