Written By *Joshua Collins
Edited By Adam Reilly
It is perfectly legal to sell sex despite what you may have heard, however it is illegal to sell sex on the street or in a public place. The number of sex workers in the Republic of Ireland is estimated to have increased by 80% since Northern Ireland made it illegal to buy sex in 2015. It may be one of the world’s oldest professions yet it still carries one of the darkest stigmas. I decided to take it upon myself to shine a light on this stigma and become a gay escort for a week. Staying within the limits of the law I became a part of Ireland’s booming vice scene online and with the help of gay dating app Grindr I introduced myself to Dublin’s gay sex-trade.
Thankfully not every session lasted the full hour which I priced at €150. It’s a strange feeling to describe sitting at home and seeing a man you’ve never met before drape himself on your bed waiting for sex. I retched a couple of times before my first client and the stale smell hung in the air. It was like that old cliche “butterflies in your stomach” but instead it was like my stomach was lined with angry hornets. I noticed throughout the week that most of the clients were “heterosexual” fathers and husbands looking for an escape from their mundane lives. An escape which I was willing to provide, for a price.
As reported in Le Figaro there is estimated to be around 40-42 million active sex workers worldwide with only 8 million of them being men. Unfortunately research on the gay sex trade is sparse in Ireland but if we take a transatlantic look to the USA the average gay sex worker enters the industry at the age of 14 and leaves around the age of 25.
The first client I encountered was a 47 year old Bulgarian man who had a rape fantasy. I stood there overpowered with a fear of the unknown. The confidence I had at the start of the night began to dwindle as I stared into the abyss and it stared straight back at me. Afterwards I thought to myself how bizarre it was to be both present but at the same time not at all present in a situation. In the aftermath of my social experiment all I felt was a chilling numbness that both terrified me and exhilarated me. As far as I was concerned I had money to put food in my pantry and bus money to get to university.
Another client, a 67 year old married gentleman, paid for over-the-phone services. He whispered down the phone for the duration of our session because, as he claims, his wife was asleep next to him. The call was pretty uneventful but things escalated when he asked could he metaphorically climax in my “inside” me and I allowed it. It didn’t feel wrong necessarily but knowing he lay inches away from his sleeping wife was a bit of a mood killer.
One of the strangest clients I encountered was a drug dealer in a granny-flat out his elderly parents’ back garden where he lived. The guy in question was 5’3 and we had sex in front of his kitten, Cody. To add insult to injury, after the session had ended he admitted he could not pay me in cash but only with weed. I accepted.
As a gay sex worker I often ricocheted between earning a living and the moral dilemma of who my clientele consisted of. During my week as a gay escort I have had clients show me pictures of their newborn children and while the interaction is supposed to be strictly business only it’s extremely hard to see these men suppressing their sexuality, shackled by an intolerant society. Looking at the results of the MRBI Family Values Poll only 1.4% of people claimed they were gay but a whopping 10% refused to answer the question.
Voluntary sex-work is far from the way it is often glamorised in pop-culture, but for some it is a means of living. With the current economic climate and increasing university tuition it should come as no surprise that more and more young men are opening themselves up to Dublin’s sex trade.
Would I do it again? Probably.