Dans mon rêve, je suis avec mes amis, mais nous sommes perdus dans un tunnel sombre. - Yves
WHO WILL FIERCELY PROTECT THE SURVIVORS
why would a child who is traumatized and has been failed again and again by adults, including those in positions of power and authority, choose to believe another adult, a stranger, will protect him. what evidence does he have that shows him it would be safe to trust the adult speaking with him.
He was selling stuff on the beach. Key chains he had stolen. Gum. Paco was seven.
In 2004, I was in Mazatlan shooting commercial beach scenes Cinematheque was selling to European travel accounts.
Everyone is selling something.
I list myself as WHORE (all caps) on Twitter. It still has some symbolism for me. Paco is fifteen. He uses the word Puta. His english is only slightly better than it was in 2004.
I am slightly tempted to publish the photographs that were taken of him in what he calls California USA. Never just California. The Smash Street Boys have shown Paco his photographs in a sort of awe that they would give to any porn celebrity. Paco remembers the photos being taken. But they shame him. He will turn away. He was paid in meth.
This is the story of a key chain. He still has the one he was attempting to sell me in Mazatlan. He keeps the safe house key on it.
The reason I (I will spare you) want to show you the dirty pictures is not sexual. I do not find them erotic. I find them sad. The Smash Street Boys know all the signs. In one of the photographs, Paco is about to slip his finger into his rectum. His fingernail is caked in dirt.
It means he was homeless and probably in Los Angeles. California USA.
I have kept track of Paco all these years.
Sometimes I lose him for months. Then, he’ll call.
I send him money.
Money is what people need when they are homeless.
I wrote a story once that was published in an anthology by a New York book publisher. The story was about a mother who sold her son. You almost had to be there. Paco is from a family of eight children. That makes ten people who live on less than five thousand American dollars a year.
I go back to Mazatlan when I can. The year they were selling blankets was a good year. The year they were selling their children was not a good year.
You sell what you have to stay alive.
“No, no voy a comprar a su hijo. Los niños no están en venta. No es correcto.”
They sold the girls first. It is not hard to find traffickers at any of the late night beach bars of Mazatlan. Then, they sold the boys.
Sometimes, I wish I had bought him. Maybe then he would not have HIV. Maybe is a morally very vague word.
Sometimes Paco talks so fast, I do not catch all of it. How he got to Los Angeles — en un camión — flashes lightspeed by me.
Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles participates with other support groups (Youth Supportive Services is one of the best) to try and get kids off Santa Monica Boulevard. They do more than I can write about here. Kids in LA suicidal crisis mode: eight-seven-seven-nine-eight-five-zero-one-zero-zero.
Paco was sick. One of my cards that Rachel had made up was in his wallet.
Where do you draw the line with these kids. Do you say: we will only help American children. It would be a slightly stupid thing to say if you thought you would make any dent in sex work or trafficking on Santa Monica Boulevard. Latino boys on Santa Monica Boulevard are everywhere.
We only help American children. Then fuck you.
The first time I saw his dirty pictures, I vomited on the floor. Vomit and eroticism just do not go hand in hand for me.
Paco is in a safe house. The men he was pimping for, the men who took those photos, cannot find him. Not that they haven’t tried.
There are challenges.
I will not go into all of them. This is not about that. We do not go around looking for trouble. We keep a low profile.
This is not that. This is to let the latino kids who contact us know that people are out there who care. Eight-seven-seven-four-three-three-five-one-one-one.
I include this photograph of Paco because you looked like that once, too.
The bruises around Paco’s neck have healed. Suicide will get you before AIDS will. And then AIDS will get you.
It makes me sick that there is a World AIDS day. I see no progress being made.
With the exception of maybe one kid at a time.
I have banned ropes and unnecessary cords from the house. Even computers have gone wireless. You cannot hang yourself with an iPad. I am not kidding. I never kid.
Apparently, some of the places Paco was rented out were clubs.
He has a favorite song. You can’t escape songs and drugs and clubs (I can’t). I could lose myself in that hypnotic mixture. They are just a part of the life.
The Smash Street Boys got Paco to dance. All smiles. Hips grinding. You can hear waves in the background. Mazatlan is a long stretch from where Paco is living now. Pound the alarm.
Jeans so tight I can see the outline of the key chain in his pocket.
Oh, oh, oh, come fill my glass up a little more
Survivors do not suffer from the sort of vicarious trauma that debilitate many professionals across disciplines who are charged with providing social services, legal counsel and healthcare that protect a child's best interests. They are experienced and intelligent caregivers, very well versed in the diverse ways trauma is manifest and how to find ways for survivors of the international sex trade in boys to feel safer.
They do what they do, because they can. They do not have to hurt one more boy. Not one. We can stand up to these people. They are not courageous individuals. They are always poised to run.
rough whore blues
we were the only mother and son team in our building
i would fuck her and men would watch
and we would
have to swear we were really related
and we would speedball
mama and i and i would do some tricks on the side
but no holding out on mama she knew where i lived
in her pussy and her twat so then i started getting
public hair so she shaved me cuz shaved was what
those tricks wanted
and i do not think of myself as no
whore but i thoughta her one and she owed money
to a dealer fuckingshit so he paid me to beat the cunt
off that bitch
i hated her and her fucking needles and
her crispy creams was all we ever had you go live
in them projects you think it’s so funny boy i knock
your motherfucking teeth out your head
i hated that bitch
but men would pay us to watch me beat her up and
i beat her until that rough fucking whore turned
blue and if they paid me skank i’ll beat on you
so that is why i am a loser punk cutter dope bitch
who wants to die
with this disease please god i am so tired no
speedball can do me right
i have been sober a week and i hate it soaking
this chill in a thousand blankets
no one can get to me or hurt me
wrapped up in a thousand blankets
Tim Barrus (Creative Director): What is a safe house. A safe house can take many forms.
NOTE for SHOW ME YOUR LIFE/ SMASH STREET BOYS/ CINEMATEQUE peer mentors and students:
It’s still dangerous out there.
As many of you know, Kilian Sullivan (his sex work name), was found in a dumpster brutally beaten and raped. His camera, wallet, and passport were not stolen so we know the motive wasn’t robbery. We think that was part of the message, too. It’s not a secret that we suspect the police. Kilian has been moved to another hospital for his safety. He will recover. The scabs and the harder places will always be with him.
Kilian had been taking photographs of his old sex work haunts. We know that this can help prevent a relapse back into the life when you take those photographs and pass them around the circle of the group. This allows support to come into the process when your peers can see the streets you used to walk. There’s a dialogue that can occur.
For those of you doing the exact same thing, photographing the old haunts, we need to rethink it. I do not want anyone doing it alone. If you still have to do this, grab a buddy. Kilian didn’t have his because Eavan was working. Grab someone who can BE THERE.
Rape is not sex. It’s violence, and it’s about power. The message that Kilian’s assailant wants us to get is that if you leave, they’re going to fuck with you.
Anyone who leaves the group, and this can be any group whatsoever, is punished. Leaving engenders a LOT of anger because the person leaving is saying he doesn’t buy the power of the police to keep him in his place.
All of you have left anyway. That means you are at-risk. Being at-risk is nothing new to any of you.
We’re going to go back into workshop mode. Do not assume that things are so stable for you now that you will never relapse. Relapse can simply be a part of all the old realities. I want to put the workshops on the road. I think that some of you are sorely tempted to do a little tricking on the side for the extra cash. I am here to tell you it’s not worth it.
Remember Remy? When Remy was assaulted, he was fourteen. Fourteen and cocky. He will never be the same. Remy has had everything from MRIs to intravenous pyelograms. The kidney damage was real. Remy had not taken the S/M workshop where you get trained in how to avoid the kidneys. What happened to Remy was an assault, not a scene. The person who assaulted him simply saw a victim and Remy obliged because he thought he could use some extra cash for Christmas to buy gifts. What he bought was a lifetime of dialysis.
I want everybody trained. Even if you have left you are still at risk for relapse, retaliation, and being re-infected with new strains of HIV. This retrovirus mutates and when it does it becomes more difficult for the medications to work effectively. If the person assaulting YOU ends up getting cut or banged up he can get HIS infected blood on YOU. It could be the equivalent of being fucked without a condom. This can be a mixing of viral genomes.
Violence against sex workers and ex-sex workers, needs to stop. The sex work orgs are really trying hard to put together some kind of awareness that this violence has to end. You know who these people are, they’re mainly the women; ask them what you can do to help. The way the prostitution laws are written, the sex worker is completely discouraged from reporting assaults against his person. Who are they going to arrest. The prostitute or the assailant. Who are they going to arrest when the assailant is a cop. Remember jail time means a break from antiviral cocktail adherence. Jail time can mean rape and reinfection.
We are expanding our networks and building new ones help to keep people alive. I want to BE THERE but this time, really as a teacher. Okay, I am one of you, but that was a long time ago. What we ourselves construct is a series of metaphors. It's the very power of the metaphor that can reach out there and get implanted into some fourteen-year-old’s head. It is possible for him to take some responsibility for protecting his life. What he does not have to either sell or advertise is the idea that he is a willing victim.
I have a message for these kids. Adults HATE — really HATE — this message. I don’t care. Here is the message: If you are going to wait around for the adults to build you a safe house, you are crazy. It’s not going to happen. You CAN build your own safe house. I have been doing this for a long time, now. And here’s what I am just beginning to believe. Maybe the ONLY safe house that is truly SAFE is the one you build yourselves. That is why I am here. In this. I wish someone had been there for me. And I want to empower you to know you can build what you need YOURSELF. This is why I want to travel around to the places where we can build networks. I am not traveling there to save you. I am there to tell you that your person and your network can be powerful instruments of change for everyone. I see it every day in your video, your poetry, and your amazing art.
If you don’t construct it, no one will.
I want to impress upon you not to blow the workshops off. You need to be there as participants. You are not bumps on logs. If you have questions, ask them. How can we keep a camera intact during an assault, and maybe it can be used to photograph the assailant. All of you have cameras. If you are taking them back to old haunts to create work that begins a significant dialogue with your peers who have not reached safe houses, I would ask you to be careful. If it’s a cop giving you grief, don’t talk back. Just move on.
Kilian put up a major fight. He fought back hard. He was overwhelmed. He will recover. Time, as you know, does not heal everything. Thank you for your support.
Be safe.TRICKS CAN AFFORD APPROPRIATE HEALTHCARE, NUTRITION AND HOUSING.
REMEMBER THE overt INTERNET STALKING NEVER STOPS. It is what these men do when they feel an overwhelming desire to alleviate their feelings of being a failure. They do not know you and they never did. The only thing they know are their very personal ideas of who a boy is when they witness a boy being raped. The only thing they own is their intense longing for what they say to influence a boy's life. They are being idiotic and as rational and well-educated beings they know it. Their money, education, friendships, have never bought them the freedom for which they yearn. When they believe a boy they have raped or witnessed being raped has found a Safe House, they feel left out and scared of being left behind, again. Their private sense of loneliness is crippling them, as they watch a boy living as part of a strong group that protects and watches out for each other. Remember, it is okay for you to pity them, even in the moments you despise them for the role they play in the needless brutality being inflicted on your peers who have not yet reached a Safe House.
ANONYMOUS TO TRIG: I know you, you little whore. You were famous. I thought you were blond. I used to watch you working cars in all three parking lots in Jackson Park, 63rd off Cornell. You got very thin. I was really tempted, but I thought you would rob me. You were the one who was always hustling shirtless. Once, your eyes were both black and blue. The word was that the cops had beaten you up. I had a friend who was hot for you. A lot of men were hot for you. I watched while he fucked you in the backseat of my car (Cadillac). You were jack off material, but a little rough. I thought you would just die out there. You were shooting dope and smoking crack. You were selling it, too. I remember the cross. So this is what happened to you. Exactly where are you living? You just disappeared. Once a whore, always a whore. I never met a junkie who could beat it. The odds are against you boy. If you are still alive in six months, I will send you a thousand dollars. But you have to tell me where to send it.
TRIG: I sold the cross but I bought it back cuz I am catholic. Do not laugh at me. I believe in god. Tim is an atheist. There has to be a god cuz he got me here. The blond was from a bottle. I was shirtless cuz I did not have a shirt. A priest used to fuck me in parking lot 3. He was a repeat. I know people hate priests but he was kind to me. He got me to Smash Street. I got the black eyes cuz cops beat me up with batons at a demonstration. I could pick up tricks at demonstrations. The liberals always get a hard on when there is violence. I do not remember you. Please do not try and find me. It is not your business. This is my last hope. I have nitemares of those parking lots. I do not want money you would never pay anyway. If you r tricking with boys in those parking lots yer gonna die. I do not shoot no dope in a long time. I want to but I fight it. I make a lot of art. I got new shirts. I do home school. People like u hurt a lot of boys. You will not want to hear it. There is hope for me. There has to be. I am tempted to take yer money but I will not do it. Go away.
Safe places by Carolyn Srygley-Moore
I have been left for dead. You?
& no rubble covering my arterial dance. Tucking in the vest of his three piece suit
he kicked me once, looked back.
I felt it as one feels deja vu.
I was not even close to dead: that's what men know
or don't know. The aperture swirling between
two truths. I gathered change
from gutters & vending machines & boarded a bus.
There I could see the rubble had nearly hit me.
My eyes were bruised from too harsh
a verity. By feet purple from kicking
off, off. The wind touched my white girl's underwear
& ripped the silk along its trim.
You could have died someone said.
The sea was a place of safety.
But I didn't I said, & lay in the scorching sun.
A conch sang. The water is my blood.