In the wake of shootings at Georgia-based massage parlors, where the killer was reportedly heard saying that he would "kill all Asians" RuPaul's Drag Race season 12 contestant Rock M Sakura has opened up about her own experiences with sex work.
"I have to get something off my chest," the performer wrote to Twitter Thursday morning. "Something has been weighing very heavy on me for a long time now, but I feel needs to be said for me and for many [others] right now."
"With the violent crimes that have been affecting the Asian community as of recently and the hate crimes that were committed last night against Asian sex workers, I wanted to come out and say that I was a sex worker, specifically working with massage until my debut on season 12."
Over the past year, the United States has seen an uptick in unprovoked violence against members of the Asian community. This increase ran in direct parallel to rhetoric pushed by Republicans — led by Donald Trump — blaming China for the virus at the center of the ongoing global pandemic. As a result, a social media campaign began advocating an end to both the rhetoric and the violence.
This week, Robert Aaron Long went to three spas — Young's Asian Massage, Aromatherapy Spa, and Gold Spa — shooting and killing eight people. He later told authorities that he committed the act in order to "eliminate" his "sex addiction." According to him, he saw these locations as temptation. The statements showed evidence of racist fetishization, which the police have yet to publicly point out. Instead, they have hesitated saying the brazen attack was a result of race. This comes as a local Korean publication reported the gunman screamed he would "kill all Asians."
The tragedy has led many to speak out in support of Asian communities at large, but also specifically in support of Asian women and Asian sex workers.
"Why is it important that I come out and say this to everyone?" Sakura wrote to Twitter. "Everyday I have felt the emotional weight of keeping this secret from the community, and my fanbase, because of fear of being blacklisted from things like TV appearances and All Stars, slut-shamed publicly, or losing job opportunities in different countries." The performer noted that she has never been threatened or told these things would happen but had a fear of the unknown as a direct result of the stigma surrounding sex work.
"I remember feeling shame during [Drag Race] when asked [what I did] for a living, and I had to lie and say I was a full time queen," she continued. "The truth is, my job paid for my expenses while I lived in San Francisco] and helped me pursue and fund my drag, even on Drag Race." Sakura's experience is not alone, there have been many others (particularly within queer and trans communities) who have used sex work in order to make ends meet pursuing another passion.
"But right now people need to see, need to hear, and need to know that we need to stop Asian hate and protect sex workers," she continued. "What happened last night was exactly what it looks like: a hate crime against Asian people. I want everyone to have perspective, that could easily have been me. It could easily have been people you care about and love."
"I have often distanced myself from talking about matters involving myself sexually, tried to distance myself from thirst baiting, and avoided talking about my sex life, because to me, Sakura is not Bryan," she continued. "But I think it's important right now to use her platform to help you realize how much this means to me. How scared I am right now. After this tweet, I hope you will all respect me enough to understand that I will talk about this further if I want to. But, also know I don't regret sex work and I don't feel shame now that I've come out publicly and said it."