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Archive for April 12th, 2021

Regular readers know that I feel strongly about promoting online resources for sex workers, especially if those resources are owned and operated by sex workers!  I recently met Val on Twitter and asked her if she’d like to introduce my readers to her sex-work-friendly social media site, Lips.  So without further ado:

Hello lovely readers of The Honest Courtesan!  My name is Val, and I am a tech researcher, erotic filmmaker, sex worker activist, and the community manager of Lips, a community-designed social media platform for women, non-binary folks, & the LGBTQIA+ community to express themselves openly & honestly without fear of censorship or harassment.  I am beyond honored that Maggie has entrusted me with this opportunity to introduce myself and Lips to you all today.

Lips began as a print zine on a college campus in 2008, and was founded directly in response to the mainstream media’s representations of female & queer sexuality – often through the paternalistic, patriarchal lens also known as the “male gaze.”  Lips invited folks to mail in (or anonymously drop into a P.O. box) stories, poetry, and artwork for the publication, and over time it grew into a much-needed community-led space for self-expression – including sexuality – that was safe, open and honest.  As the community grew and the zine moved online, it became increasingly apparent just how radical this project was.  The community faced tons of obstacles: internally, it was difficult to combat the shame that society projected and foster self-esteem and self-love, and externally, stigma, whorephobia, digital censorship, and harassment all posed threats to Lips’ existence.  This was when the team came together and decided to build our very own social media platform called Lips.social.  We hosted co-design sessions with groups of artists, sex workers, sexual health and wellness educators, and LGBTQIA+ young people to bring the community’s ideas together for what this app should do and be.  We co-wrote our own Community Guidelines that reflected our community’s values – not the values of the mainstream society we aimed to resist.  And finally, thanks to the generosity of a grant from the Headstream Youth Mental Health Accelerator, we were able to build and launch the first version of the Lips app.  On December 31, 2020, all of the hard work paid off and we welcomed a vibrant community of over 14,000 members into our new little digital paradise.

Of course, we continue to face obstacles like whorephobia, but will always respond with the care and best interests of our community at the forefront.  With Lips, our main mission is to design and build technologies that make the internet a healthier and safer place for marginalized communities – including sex workers.  We do this through:

  • A more nuanced, community-led approach to sexuality moderation
  • UX/UI that protects against harassment and trolls
  • A business model that is directly linked with the economic success of marginalized creators
  • And finally, most excitedly, the co-ownership of our company with the community members!


That’s right!  We are very excited to announce that we are now selling equity in the company to the community, so if you are interested in joining our team and becoming an investor, visit wefunder.com/lips to learn more, and reach out to us at team@lips.social if you have any questions. (Anyone can invest, minimum is $100).  Join us in building a better (digital) world for marginalized communities.

My parting words – Personally, I need Lips to exist because women, non-binary & LGBTQIA+ artists, activists, educators, sex workers, healers, and more have created the kind of body and sex-positive art and experiences that have saved my life and the lives of so many people around me.  So, if you’re still here, thank you for reading this far – you’ve already supported our work – and please become as involved with Lips as you’d like.  Every investment, every share, every new community member counts. Thanks y’all.

XX, Val

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