Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sex 4 Shelter

“Unlike step-fathers with roaming hands and implicit demands exacted from cruel caretakers, I found the open negotiation a far more decent prospect.”



“Those of you that have yet to get on your knees for shelter or cuddle up to a stranger to get out of the freezing rain might be wondering how a good person could do such things.”

Gas, grass or ass – Nobody rides for free

Survival SEX

by Alice Spence



Skipping out on a lousy foster home I hitched a ride to Hollywood & set out to find my fortune. I soon learned that a smile and friendly conversation wasn’t valid currency on the street. Nobody had any good reason to watch out for me unless I wanted to sweeten the deal. Gas, grass or ass – Nobody rides for free. It was a harsh reality, but I learned to appreciate the honesty in its delivery. Unlike step-fathers with roaming hands and implicit demands exacted from cruel caretakers, I found the open negotiation a far more decent prospect.



Those of you that have yet to get on your knees for shelter or cuddle up to a stranger to get out of the freezing rain might be wondering how a good person could do such things. What you might not know is how far you’d have to go to survive. The human compulsion to live, eat and stay warm can provide the strongest argument – it becomes easier to separate the body from the self if your sex is your most valuable currency.



While preparing to write this article I found a sad statistic from a Hollywood, Ca. shelter who surveyed 500 youth between the ages of 14-19. 96% reported having been sexually active with 50% boys and 39% girls admitting to participating in survival sex. After I mourned our collective loss of innocence I felt this deep connection to those souls who learned that they have a deep capacity to overcome a great deal. I only hope that they also learned to separate the act from the person so they could eventually heal – the self-mortification drove me to addiction and the brink of death.



Now 25 years later I work with homeless youth. They are far savvier than I recall being. Some skillfully manipulate the complicated legal system that failed to protect them. Others are fueled by the “immortality of youth” as they selectively use condoms and fly in the face of death refusing to believe they could succumb to HIV. I feel so fortunate to have reached the sane side of adulthood untouched by HIV and Hep C. I was off the street and on my way to better when AIDS began taking my friends one by one in the late 80’s. When I look back I feel like a survivor. I don’t think I would have been any different than today’s youth.



Some listen to my relentless lectures on self-protection. My status of having been-there-and-done-that lends some credence to my begging. I am most honored when I hear some repeating my words as they seek to help their friends. It’s then I know that I’ve turned bad for good.





Although Alice Spence is a pseudonym the woman is a very real person who takes pleasure in surviving the past and embracing the future. Though she holds close her anonymity she hopes her story will help others understand more and judge less.

2 Comments:

Blogger Elizabeth Calvin said...

Hi 'Alice'-

I work with Human Rights Watch and read your piece on what it was like 25 years ago and the fact that you are working with youth who are homeless now. Would you contact me? I'd liek to talk with you about some work I am doing on youth who are homeless and former foster children. Tel: 310 477 5540 or email calvine@hrw.org

3:52 PM  
Blogger JewelsGems said...

Thank you. It's been great to work with you.

9:47 PM  

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