Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name, and Prostitution

“So the young person thinks, ‘My goodness I must be the lowest thing in the world, because not only do I do that, but I want to do it.'” ~ Maya Angelou on why she wrote her book “Gather Together in My Name

The only time I have been ashamed of my experiences with respect to prostitution is when others told me how bad it was and how horrible it must have been. I was chastised and outcasted for the choices I have made.

What was horrible, though, was being told that I was a victim when I didn’t identify as a victim. What was horrible was when I couldn’t access services, supports, or rights (like any other person) because of stigmatization and criminalization. What was horrible was when I had to lie about who I was and my experiences just to be treated like a person.

Another powerful quote from Dr. Angelou, “So that I would admit where I had been, and they could see that and they could realize that You will encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter the defeats to know who you are and how you can rely on yourself and where you can pull yourself from.” I will always remember the day she made it to my university campus. I was so overwhelmed, I cried.

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