Sex Work in Newark: A Panel Discussion

Date 06/16/2022 - 5:00pm
Location: Newark Public Library, 5 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102

Register now to join activists and scholars for a discussion of sex work in Newark's queer community!

The Queer Newark Oral History Project, in collaboration with the Newark LGBTQ Community Center and New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, presents this free panel discussion exploring the history and politics of sex work in Newark, New Jersey. Panelists: Janet Duran, Aaron Frazier, Nyella Love, Angela Raine, N’jaila Rhee, Evita Sawyers, and Aminah Washington. Moderated by Thayane Brêtas and Whitney Strub.

Meet our Speakers
Janet Duran is a co-founder of the New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, a community organizer, human rights activist and author who has been directly affected by police violence. Her local community work focuses on Newark, NJ where she has participated in campaigns with Newark Communities for Accountable Policing to help establish the first Civilian Complaint Review Board. Janet has also contributed to national shadow reports on the human rights of US sex workers presented during the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights record of the United States by member states of the United Nations.

Aaron Frazier is a 41 years a long term Survivor, poet, writer, and activist. He self-published two Chap books, writes for  La'Raine Magazine and several others locally and nationally. He holds a BS From Saint Peters College in Jersey City in Urban Studies Public Policy and an Associates in Liberal Arts Social Science from Essex County College. He is the Mother of the House of Divine of Greater Newark, a Volunteer for the Newark LBGTQ Community Center, a Deacon at Unity Fellowship NewArk Church, Chair of the Men's Group, a Member of Hospitality, a volunteer at Bethlehem Community Church, and Coordinator of Project Fire II of El club Del Barrio. He was also the Co-founder of the thread a long-term survivor group est. since 2009 which met at Newark Community Health Center. He was chair of the community planning group sub-committee, a counseling and testing and consultant with the state dept of health and senior services, and a previous member of Hyacinth Cab and Community Promise program, Thrive Role Model Story, a long term non progressor study participant with the National Institute for Health.

Nyella Love is an Afro Latina woman of trans experience existing in America today. She was born in Youngstown, Ohio and raised in New Jersey. But her passion for social justice and advocacy led her to New York City. Nyella had served as a peer advocate and trans conversations facilitator at the HMI NJ and as an assistant program manager at the Ali Forney Center Trans housing program. She has been featured in a beauty campaign with Sephora for trans and non-binary people alongside Isis King. In 2019, she was a part of Broadly’s Gender Spectrum Collection produced by Zackary Drucker and modeled for Playout Magazine.

Angela Raine was born and raised in Newark, after her parents moved up from the South. The last of six children, she attended Central High School and worked in various agencies in Newark doing HIV prevention and establishing transgender support groups. She continues to do transgender outreach work, and volunteers at the Newark LGBTQ Community Center. Married to writer T.T. Wardell since 1998, she has published Newark’s first transgender-owned and –edited magazine La’Raine since 2006.

N’jaila Rhee provides communications, marketing, graphic design, and procurement services.  Ms. Rhee has been instrumental in New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance’s digital outreach efforts and is on the leadership committee. She has advocated for the human and labor rights of sex workers rights since 2005. She is also a journalist, BBW adult web model and PSO, she is formerly an exotic dancer. She has organized and hosted a number of webinars and events for New Jersey Umbrella Alliance, including panels for the 2018,2019, and 2020 Commission on the Status of Women in NYC. 

Evita “Lavitaloca” Sawyers is a queer polyamorous author, content creator, educator,  influencer, speaker, and peer support guide. She is the subject of the polyamorous documentary “Poly Love”, has appeared on several major podcasts including “Inner Hoe Uprising” and “Multiamory”, and has been featured in articles for Yahoo Life and Vice. She covers a variety of topics such as relationships, sex and sexuality, gender, and race.

Aminah Washington is a 35-year-old transwoman of color born and raised here in Newark, NJ. She graduated from Malcolm X Shabazz High School followed by attending Boston legal. She obtained a bachelor's degree in business communication and started her career path in hospitality customer service restaurant management in 2007. A self-described, "open book" she welcomes the opportunity to chat.

Thayane Brêtas is a PhD Candidate in the Global Urban Studies program at Rutgers University-Newark. She graduated from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with a degree in law and a masters in Contemporary Juridical Theories with an emphasis on Society, Human Rights, and Art. Her masters research focused on the juridical dilemma of sex work and working conditions observed in the sex commerce industry in Rio de Janeiro. In her PhD, she is currently researching the sex worker rights' organizing in New Jersey, with an emphasis on the city of Newark and the interconnections between law enforcement, the urban space, and technology.
Whitney Strub is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark and co-director of the Queer Newark Oral History Project. He is the author of Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right, (Columbia University Press, 2011) and Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression (University Press of Kansas, 2013). He co-edited Porno Chic and the Sex Wars: American Sexual Representation in the 1970s (University of Massachusetts Press, 2016), with Carolyn Bronstein. Strub’s articles, covering such topics as censorship and race in Memphis, heteronormativity and obscenity prosecutions in Los Angeles, the filmmaker Pat Rocco's gay erotic softcore films of the late 1960s, and the fault lines of modern feminist activism, have also appeared in such venues as the Journal of the History of Sexuality, Journal of Women’s History, American Quarterly, Radical History Review, and Journal of Social History, as well as such popular venues as Vice, ThinkProgress, Newark's Star-Ledger, the Washington Post, Slate, OutHistory, Salon, and Temple of Schlock. Teaching in History, American Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, and LGBT Studies, Strub’s courses frequently focus on matters of gender, sexuality, culture, film, and politics. 

This event was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this event, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.