I just watched 42 this evening. As most people were, I was touched by this moving account of Jackie Robinson’s advance into major league baseball. What inspired me most was the courageous act of team executive, Branch Rickey, who challenged a social order (racism) at the heart of man–within an All-American sport. We endure social change on the political level, but when it confronts us at our most personal and intimate associations, we fight because we feel we have no choice. It’s the last stand, and we meet our true inner demons, protecting ourselves in the most fierce and sometimes obtuse ways. We also therefore have an opportunity for real and dynamic transformation that goes well beneath the surface.
The reason this resonated with me was because in every profession I have chosen, a bit of a rebel who pushes for deep social shifts is driving below the surface. What might be apparent to the onlooker is the joy of the celebrator of life: the dynamic performer, the gifted healer to those in need, the inspiring teacher to open minds. However, the Branch Rickey in me wants even more from life. I want to see humanity achieve something more. I want to see us put our arms around the “negro” in our home town and say for the first time, “I want them to see who I am.” I want us to fearlessly embrace what we ourselves previously rejected and give the world a chance to embrace it too.
These moments where we grow on a deep level and own that growth externally can really shake things up. When our inner world shifts, the world around us then equally shifts. That shift, when we put our arm around it in warm embrace, can become something extraordinary and full of grace. But when we shift, and on some level reject it, the world literally pushes back; it rejects us. We live dually in some kind of silent or cacophonic misery.
My journey as a courtesan is in part to wrap my arms around all in me and all in you that feels rejected or disjointed and say, “I see you and I see me.” I want to do this on the most intimate front I can find. And while I’m not sure the Methodist Branch Rickey would approve of my method, I do think he would understand my madness. There’s something “mad” in anyone who pushes the limits of society; it’s the fuel that flames the fire. I happen to find my method delivering me over to a more “shadowed” path, and I am surprised to find it radiantly lit.
Not many understood, and very few white people respected what Branch Rickey was doing as he was doing it. But over time through him, not only a sport, but an entire cultural stigma shifted. Not many will understand or respect what I am doing either. Between you and I, I’d like there to be this understanding that I value everything that I am doing in this profession. I likewise value your choice, for whatever reason that is, to be with me.
I respect the compassionate way I can approach men. With a deep familiarity and understanding, I like to tend to their needs, to soothe them and enrich their lives. Without becoming subservient, in complete command of myself, I can serve another. Through my own self-care I have learned how to truly care for others, and that gift is now my pleasure to give. I honor and cherish this ability. I have also found a depth within myself to receive pleasure and fill my lover with my resounding gratitude. There is nothing of a whore or prostitute in me. I wrap my arm around myself and say, “I want you to see who I am.”
There was a time when black men were called a niggers. And there was a time when women who shared their time with men were called whores. That time is over.