FEATURE: What it's like to be a gay sex worker in Dublin 1 month ago

FEATURE: What it's like to be a gay sex worker in Dublin

One man tells his story.

The sex trade is one that exists under the radar. It is a sub-culture that many of us have heard reports of but have never experienced for ourselves. The sexual offences bill (2015) is soon to be debated in the Dáil and if it is passed in its current form it will mean the buying of sex is criminalised in the Republic of Ireland.

While this may seem as though it could protect sex workers who are forced into the industry, many fear that it will push the trade further underground, giving the buyer more power and endangering workers further.

The following account is one man's personal experience of working in the sex industry in Dublin.

Words by Joshua Collins*

Selling sex

It is perfectly legal to sell sex despite what you may have heard, however it is illegal to sell sex on the street or in a public place. The number of sex workers in the Republic of Ireland is estimated to have increased by 80% since Northern Ireland made it illegal to buy sex in 2015. It may be one of the world’s oldest professions yet it still carries one of the darkest stigmas. Staying within the limits of the law I became a part of Ireland’s booming vice scene online and with the help of gay dating app Grindr I introduced myself to Dublin’s gay sex-trade.

Heterosexual clients

Thankfully not every session lasted the full hour which I priced at €150. It’s a strange feeling to describe sitting at home and seeing a man you’ve never met before drape himself on your bed waiting for sex. I retched a couple of times before my first client and the stale smell hung in the air.

It was like that old cliche “butterflies in your stomach” but instead it was like my stomach was lined with angry hornets. I noticed throughout the week that most of the clients were “heterosexual” fathers and husbands looking for an escape from their lives, an escape which I was willing to provide, for a price.

Rape fantasy

The first client I encountered was a 47 year old Bulgarian man who had a rape fantasy. I stood there overcome with a fear of the unknown. The confidence I had at the start of the night began to dwindle as I stared into the abyss and it stared straight back at me.

Afterwards I thought to myself how bizarre it was to be both present but at the same time not at all present in a situation,. All I felt was a chilling numbness that both terrified and exhilarated me. But, in practical terms I now had cash to buy food for my fridge and bus money to get to college.

Another client, a 67 year old married gentleman, paid for over-the-phone services. He whispered down the phone for the duration of our session because, he claimed, his wife was asleep next to him. The call was uneventful but things escalated when he asked could he metaphorically climax “inside” me and I allowed it.

It didn’t feel wrong necessarily but knowing he lay inches away from his sleeping wife was a bit of a mood killer.

Drug dealer

One of the strangest clients I encountered was a drug dealer in a granny-flat in his elderly parents’ back garden where he lived. The guy in question was 5’3 and we had sex in front of his kitten, Cody. After the session had ended he admitted he could not pay me in cash but only with weed, I accepted.

As a gay sex worker I often ricocheted between the satisfaction of earning a living and the moral dilemma of who my clientele consisted of. During my week as a gay escort I have had clients show me pictures of their newborn children and while the interaction was supposed to be strictly business only it was hard to see these men suppressing their sexuality, shackled by an intolerant society.

Voluntary sex work is far from the way it is often glamorised in pop-culture but for some it is a means of living. With the current economic climate and increasing university tuition it should come as no surprise that more and more young men are opening themselves up for sex.

*Name has been changed.