Audacia Ray's Blog

January 11, 2016

Big announcement time: after more than a decade doing sex worker rights activism in various forms and five years of founding and running Red Umbrella Project, by the end of February 2016 I will be moving back from the movement and from my role as Executive Director of RedUP.

I’m striving for transparency in my leadership and want to start talking about this now, during a good moment for both me and the organization. Stick with me for a long post as I lay out some ideas of why this is happening and WTF next.

Moving back, supporting new leadership: I have always intended to move back as the leader of RedUP at some point. From observing other organizations where founders hang on for decades and create a toxic environment, I have always known that I don’t want to be that person. I want RedUP, and the movement more broadly, to thrive without me being a central figure. I am a former sex worker, and at this point I have been a former / non-full time sex worker for many years. I’m also a middle class white cis woman with a masters’ degree who was an indoor, independent worker. The member base RedUP has established and continues to grow has radically different experiences of the sex trade than I do, and they are overwhelmingly trans and cis women of color. They, as women who are directly impacted by criminalization, need to be at the forefront of the movement, not me. The US sex worker rights movement is very white supremacist in its form and function - this is something that must be transformed. I don’t want to prop up entrenched, stuck leadership in this movement and I want to encourage other white sex worker rights leaders to consider their role, impact, and the space we take up, so I’m modelling this by moving back.

The personal toll of activism and trauma work: Last year when I was reeling as a very recent survivor of intimate partner violence, RedUP’s Board told me, “Its ok to quit.” I was determined not to, and though I have paid a personal toll for trying to keep doing work that I’m seriously burnt out on and often triggered by, I am glad that RedUP is now in a place that it can thrive without me, and that was not the case a year ago. Over the last year it has become very clear to me that the accumulation of years and years of trauma - my own and other people’s - has made me less effective and less empathetic, and I don’t want to be that person. I have put a lot of self and community care practices into effect over the past year, and I am taking that seriously in a way I never have before in my life. I have to keep reminding myself that my health and wellness, my survival, matters. It is not selfish, it is necessary. So though I am moving back for the above reasons, I am also moving back because I just cannot keep going the way I have been and honor my community and self without breaking down even more completely than I did this last year. I think I will come back to trauma and activism work in the future. But I need a break.

What happens now: Over six weeks, I will transition out of my role, and leading up to that I’m going to be working hard to raise funds for RedUP’s future and develop the organizational infrastructure further. I will celebrate all we have achieved at the Red Umbrella Project 5 Year Anniversary Gala on February 11th. On my departure, the very capable and brilliant Sarah Patterson will move into the role of RedUP’s Executive Director. Along with our community organizer Jenna Torres and our Board and members, including the Persist Health Project team, which became part of RedUP last year - they will kick ass. RedUP will become a community organizing-driven powerhouse beyond my capabilities as a leader, and that is something that makes me very proud. Within the next couple years, Sarah will also transition out and the organization will either move forward with women of color in paid leadership positions, or it will scale back dramatically.

What’s next in my life: The short answer is, I don’t know - but I am open to many possibilities. During the spring I will be taking a break to do a hard reset on my life. I want to have some adventures, so if you have suggestions or invitations that include bike touring, hiking, camping, road trips, weird history, other dog-inclusive outdoor experiences or something completely different - I want to hear about it. By late spring/early summer I will be making some career type and location decisions, and will hopefully be closer to answering big questions like NYC - stay or go? and what is next for me career-wise? I have some career ideas, which range from museums/history/arts education related stuff, to communications and advocacy work, to starting weird businesses in the woods. I’m open to having conversations with folks who have ideas and leads for me.

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Published on January 11, 2016 10:29 • 38 views

August 31, 2015

Dominick and Nadia

Boomer walking through Dacia's interview

Abbi and Anna

Peanut (Page's cat)

Daryl chewing on the couch (another of Page's cats)

Ceyenne's dog Sparky

Dacia with Ziggy and Jake

This week Red Umbrella Project is celebrating the WORLD PREMIERE of the Red Umbrella Diaries documentary at Portland Film Festival. We’ll have two screenings, plus cast members are running a writing workshop and a media training (both FREE and for current and former sex workers only).

To celebrate. I’m posting pictures of cast members and their pets!


Details on screenings and workshops here.

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Published on August 31, 2015 07:31 • 24 views

June 26, 2015


While many in our community post about how Caitlyn Jenner is so
courageous for transitioning, they are somehow blinded to seeing the
real heroes before them. Real courage is being the lone voice in
a room full of fake allies and still speaking up. Real courage is
putting your immigration status and life on the line to fight for your
immigrant trans sisters. Real courage is crashing a party at the White
House to demand liberation for your people.


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Published on June 26, 2015 09:03 • 30 views

June 21, 2015


I’ve been seeing way too much coverage of the terrorist rather than of the victims, which isn’t right, so I made this. Went more realistic to get more of a resemblance, and all information is based off what I could find on the internet. Hopefully it’s all accurate, if something isn’t, please tell me. 

Such a horrible event. RIP. 

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Published on June 21, 2015 18:28 • 11 views

June 18, 2015


Red Umbrella Project does Brooklyn Pride, June 13, 2015. Photos by Gabrielle Jay.

I’m still laughing about the slogans Sarah and I came up with for the posters we’re holding. Also our HOS BEFORE LITERALLY EVERYBODY t shirts. Sex worker humor is the best.

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Published on June 18, 2015 13:55 • 23 views

June 16, 2015

May 23, 2015




out of all the protests, shutdowns and demonstrations i’ve ever done, this was the most powerful thing I’ve ever participated in! 



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Published on May 23, 2015 17:10 • 27 views


Graphic journalist Dan Archer recently spoke with several community members in Baltimore about the unrest there since Freddie Gray’s death. All drawings were done live while people told their stories and shared their thoughts. Archer visited Gray’s neighborhood of Sandtown and nearby areas, retracing Gray’s final steps before being taken into custody.

More from this series on
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Published on May 23, 2015 04:24 • 23 views

May 20, 2015


Don’t ignore this. Trans black lives matter. 

London Chanel, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was stabbed to death in North Philadelphia early Monday, a city official told BuzzFeed News.

Chanel is the eighth transgender woman of color killed in the United States this year — a trend that anti-violence advocates have called an epidemic. And as in many of the cases, Chanel was misgendered in early reports.


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Published on May 20, 2015 04:23 • 19 views

April 29, 2015


this is the funniest thing ive seen on the internet all day

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Published on April 29, 2015 20:28 • 16 views