‘Marcus’: Is it Poverty, Pleasure or Lifestyle to Engage in Sex Work?

Marcus found his way on to the streets to try and make ends meet and this is what led him into being a sex worker.

It is Friday evening, the sun is setting slowly and everybody is keenly staring at the ticking clock. John, Nancy, Steve and Mark all working in the same office are trying to wind up and preparing to leave the office for town. To them, the day has been long and they need to go catch a drink before heading home.

Marcus on the other hand, who daily visits the LGBT office, is busy on the network and seems confused from the look on his face. As others try winding up, he appears reluctant because of the traffic he sees through the window.

Steve comes through announcing closing from one corner to another in the partitioned office and goes back to finishing up so as they can close the office and leave. This time round, Marcus walks to the mirror with his small bag, removes a small jelly comb, some cream and gently bends to the tap, probably to clean up the sweat as he gets ready for the night.

After wiping himself keenly, he applies some cream on his palms and gently applies it on his face. Looking at him, one could not fail to realize the difference on his face because this time round, he looks cute, smooth faced and more attractive than he was. One would smell the freshness from a distance and, by now, everyone has finished preparing and they are all set to leave.

With the bumper to bumper traffic, they all choose to use route 11 on foot because it’s faster and more convenient at such times.  In 20 minutes, they’ve already got to town and to avoid the Friday rush, they all head to a famous club commonly attended by the LGBTI community.

With everyone caring for himself, they scatter and sit in different places with the people they are most comfortable with. The club is well lit and the smell of beer and smoke coming out from different corners of the club is enough to tell you that the environment is different. People shouting and loud music around the place is something no fun loving person would fail to notice.

Marcus goes straight to the corner of the balcony and sits crossing his legs. He reaches for something in the bag and comes out holding a cigar. Checking the time, he clicks and lights his cigar. He puffs thoughtfully and from a glance at him, one can tell he is agitated or rather restless.

Taking an all round glance at the crowd, people seem excited, all smiles and dancing to the loud music in the background. Suddenly, two men in suits appear, dressed to kill so that everybody will notice their presence.  They greet a number of people and finally get themselves a place to seat.

Marcus has been following them with his eyes until they settle and his face is full of excitement and expressions that cannot hide his feelings. He quickly gets himself a mirror from his bag and takes a quick glance at himself.  Pleased with what he sees, he gets off the chair and calculates his steps, walks towards the gentlemen with a stunning smile on his face. He gives them a handshake and after what seems like a moment of exchanging words, they hug tightly and gently. Marcus drags a seat and sits between them. After a drink, they all walk out holding hands and smiling in a suggestive manner. His day has already started.

This is the kind of lifestyle Marcus has been leading since 2007. Sleeping for money, to him, is a job that earns him a living and one that he feels comfortable doing. Whilst normal working time for many is from 8:00am to 5:00pm, Marcus’s office opens at eight in the evening till dawn.

No matter how “disgusting” some people think sex work is and how much some people will point fingers saying it’s an evil and immoral job, Marcus stands firm saying that even though it took him a long time to accept it, he had no other option but to do it for his family. According to him, he never wanted to do such a job but the circumstances he was facing led him into doing it. Being the first born in a family of six and being raised by a single mother in an area where poverty is common was a challenge.

The worst came to the worst when his mother died after a long illness which was later found out to be the HIV virus and he was left with the burden of looking after his siblings. His wider family kicked them out of the only place they knew as home, calling them bastards and grabbing the few things they had.

Marcus found his way on to the streets to try and make ends meet and this is what led him into being a sex worker. The one main drive he has in life is to fight HIV among sex workers by discouraging them have unprotected sex. Concluding, he reflects that people are quick to point fingers about how people live without knowing the reasons behind it. That to him is the most traumatizing thing and he therefore urges everyone to always take some time to listen before leaping to judgement.