Lips.social Founder Val Elefante's beautiful response to casual whorephobia

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Lips.social is a new Instagram-like image-sharing app. Unlike other social platforms, which arbitrarily silence, censor, and deplatform sex workers and other marginalized communities, Lips specifically courts us. Here’s my profile.

I’ve been trying to articulate the difference between what Lips is doing and what other social platforms offer. But I think the best explanation comes from Lips Founder Val Elefante in response to a user expressing concern that so many sex workers are using Lips and their fears their friends might be mistaken for sex workers. Her response is pasted in full below.

If you’re running an internet platform, whether it’s a social media site, dating app, whatever, you have a responsibility to not further perpetuate whorephobia. Take this as a model for how to handle the whorephobia you will inevitably encounter as you choose to do the right thing.

As you already mentioned and know, Lips will always be sex worker inclusive and, further than that, actually intends to elevate the content and work of sex workers who have for so long been censored and restricted. In fact, it is one of our goals with Lips to expose everyday people to sex workers for two main reasons: 1) to help them get clients and get paid for their labor, and 2) to expose everyday people to their work, creativity, humanity and therefore contribute to the destigmatization and decriminalization of sex work on a larger scale.

This all being said, as we evolve, we expect to see growing numbers of non-sex working folks on Lips mostly women, non-binary & LGBTQIA+ folks of course who are just looking for a safer and more accepting and supportive place to share their art, poetry, photos, experiences, etc. We suspect that these folks just aren’t as used to sharing openly & honestly in digital space (compared to sex workers) because there’s never been a place for them to safely do that without all the backlash & harassment they’d receive - backlash & harassment that sex workers have had to overcome/ignore/deal with in order to carry on with their work.

We will definitely be bringing over more of these kinds of folks as we expand. We’ve had to put a lot of our marketing/growth on hold in order to put all of our energy towards this equity crowdfunding campaign we’re about to launch. But, once we raise the funds, you bet we’ll be back to spreading the word about Lips to all types of creators.

This all being said, if you’re not feeling like Lips is the place for your work and the work you are creating with your friends, we recommend exploring other platforms. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to tolerate any sex worker exclusionary language in this chat or on the app. Perhaps you might think about taking this opportunity to ask your friends why they feel the way they do about their work appearing among the work of sex workers. Where does that bias come from? The stigmatization of sex work is a huge, and unfortunately, life-threatening problem so as an ally you might think about educating your friends about the harm they cause when they think and act that way. We’d be happy to send you some more resources about destigmatization of sex work, decriminalization, having these types of conversations, etc. Let me know.

But definitely do keep in mind that Lips is just at its beginnings… it’s a beautiful, ever-growing, ever-evolving community so we hope you do find your place here one day.

Best,

Val