When I told my future in-laws I was a sex worker, it seemed to go well at first. We had a lovely brunch the next day, and even visited a museum before they flew back to the Midwest.
It wasn't until a few weeks later, when they cut off all contact with me and my fiance, that I realized there would be no more Christmases and no more vacations with them. Despite spending two years getting to know them, my involvement in the sex industry was, and two years later continues to be, a deal breaker.
Being the partner of a sex worker takes courage to face the stigma that comes with it, and not everyone is willing to sign on for that.
Chris Soules, star of the 19th season of The Bachelor on ABC, was recently also confronted with the question of what to do when you fall for a girl who's naked on the internet.
The Bachelor is essentially The Dating Game meets The Hunger Games. A supremely eligible bachelor, along with 25 to 30 basically identical women, are put through weeks of isolation, interrogation, and an open bar in the quest for true love.
Each week, the women the bachelor is interested in are offered roses and another week on the show, and the others go home crying big Chardonnay tears. After a full season of helicopter rides, boozy meltdowns, and overly formal courtship, the bachelor asks for the winner's hand in marriage.
It's a fucking weird show.
Chris, this season's bachelor, is an honest-to-God corn farmer from Iowa, hell-bent on moving his reality TV bride out to his isolated farming town.
He was struck early on by a soft-spoken, sweet-faced brunette named Jade.
But (of course) Jade had a secret. A few years ago, she got the chance to pose for Playboy Amateurs, and she went for it. She's proud of posing for one of the most iconic brands in history, but was concerned that her nude modeling career would compromise her chances with the conservative Prince Farming.
“It is hard for me to talk about, because I do get judged a lot,” she said. “Either he accepts it and we move forward, or he doesn't and things are pretty much over for us. It's just uncomfortable and a little bit terrifying.”
When Jade did break the news, the farm boy took it in stride, reassuring her that it would not affect their relationship, despite the stigma that surrounds nude modeling.
“I don't consider this a deal breaker,” he said later. “It doesn't mean she can't be an incredible mother and an incredible wife. It's something that she'll have to deal with, and if I married her it'd be something that I'd have to deal with, especially in conservative Iowa. But if she's my soulmate, I'll stand beside her no matter what's out there on the internet, no matter what happens. That goes without question.”
Just like with my future in-laws, it seemed to go well at first.
But during the rose ceremony, when the choice came down to Jade or a blond virgin from Louisiana, Chris chose the virgin, though he told a tearful Jade his decision was not at all affected by the Playboy revelation.
But I have to give Chris credit for saying all the right things and not shaming Jade. There's no way to know what kind of pressure he had from the conservative ABC producers, and fairy tale endings are hard to come by for sex workers, especially in the Barbie-and-Ken world of The Bachelor.
But based on my own experience with Midwestern in-laws, Jade and Chris' chances of gaining approval from his family didn't look good. As fellow contestant Carly was quick to point out, having to say, “Hey Mom, don't Google my wife,” is a harsh reality Chris may not have been willing to face.
There isn't a guidebook for how to be a partner to a sex worker, and many balk at the prospect, as partners of sex workers face stigma and discrimination as well. For my partner, it has cost him his family.
Christmases and birthdays are particularly hard for my fiance. His parents often send curt Facebook messages once again condemning his choice to be with me, or worse, don't contact him at all. But each day, he continues to bravely confront this world that tells him he should not make a whore his wife. Not every man has that in him, not even the most eligible of bachelors.