Amsterdam’s red light district is pretty infamous. There, sex workers sometimes stand in front of one of hundreds of windows, looking to catch the attention of passersby. But until now, those workers have been exclusively women. Well, for the city’s Pride, they are putting some men in the windows.
To be honest, putting gay male sex workers in the red light district windows is exactly the kind of equality that we are looking for we are looking for these days; true visibility. But, these particular men putting themselves on display in De Wallen are standing there as a part of a campaign put on by My Red Light, a nonprofit brothel that works to improve conditions for sex workers and HUNQZ, “the largest network for gay and bi male and trans companionship services worldwide.”
According to a press release, the two have paired together “proposing a future that sees sex workers being treated equally to other independent entrepreneurs.” For this particular aspect, they are highlighting the need for more safe spaces for male sex workers to do their work in much the same way that women do.
As an organization, My Red Light has four buildings with 14 different windows where they allow sex workers of all genders to rent spaces. In addition to providing this physical space, they put their efforts toward helping to influence policy aorund sex workers that will benefit the industry. Amongst these policies, the organization is pushing to ensure that sex workers have the same level of access to business services as other entrepreneurs. They also provide coaching, and organize workshops about health and entrepreneurial skills for the workers.
"As a gay man living in Amsterdam, I often walk through the red light on the way home and wonder how different it would be if there were men in the windows too," Jens Schmidt, founder of HUNQZ, said in a statement. "As the largest online network, we wanted to partner with My Red Light to raise awareness that every sex worker deserves the same respect and rights as anyone else for the work they do."
For this campaign, three sex workers from HUNQZ will appear in the windows tomorrow. Sadly, they will only be models for the effort and not available to be booked, but you can surely take selfies and chat! And that’s actually a big deal: taking pictures of sex workers is never allowed in the district without permission.
So, who’s bringing this sort of campaign to the States?