Anyone who’s worked in the adult industry in the past five years knows the challenges we’ve faced. Some people have even questioned staying in the business. After all, between cheap content, government harassment, regulatory dictates and political platforms that blame you for the decline of civilization, it can be a tiring fight.
But what I’ve found in the short time that I’ve been executive director of the Free Speech Coalition is that, when we work as a group, we win against all of the above.
As we move into fall and begin 2017, we have to realize that we are all connected. I ask that you join us, to not only ensure future victories, but to build a bigger, stronger and more robust industry.
In the past six months, we have scored victory after victory — and if we can build on these, we have a good chance of not only defeating pressing initiatives like California’s Proposition 60, but establishing a strong base to stop future attacks by building a progressive movement for the entire adult industry, and not just in the U.S. But we need our industry to see the bigger picture, participate, and to stand united.
Some of the huge victories we’ve had so far this year:
• Defeat of Condoms and Goggle Legislation at Cal/OSHA
The good news started in February, at a Cal/OSHA hearing where it was widely expected that the Board would adopt mandatory condom and goggles regulation for adult films. That is, until the Free Speech Coalition and over a hundred adult performers arrived, testifying for more than six hours. The regulations were defeated, and for the first time, Cal/OSHA was ordered to work with performers in drafting the regulations that concern them.
• Secured Republican and Democratic Opposition to Prop 60
For the first time, FSC was able to get both major political parties in California to oppose this ballot initiative, coming together to defend the adult industry and its workers. We even got the Libertarian Party on board! Let’s use this as a catalyst for change.
• 2257 Rebuffed
A three-judge panel ruled that 2257 enforcement requires the application of “strict scrutiny” — an incredibly high bar for the government to overcome. While the battle is not over, this victory will severely limit the government's ability to use the regulations to harass adult performers, and we are more likely than ever to win our case for the industry.
• Fighting Operation Choke Point
Since 2011, Operation Choke Point has caused major banking providers like Chase to close bank accounts for those working in adult. In the past six months we have managed to secure bank accounts with major, publicly traded, banking institutions for our members. With pro-industry advocacy, relationship-building, and the FSC code of ethics in hand, we are once again seeing a change in banking policy to welcome our industry.
None of these, or our countless smaller victories, has been accidental or “lucky.” Each has been the result of hard work, dedication and money, not only by our own team, but by coalition partners like the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), as well as generosity from our members to keep the fight.
And endless hours securing coalition partners, filing challenges, holding press conferences, traveling to Sacramento, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami and beyond for hearings and meetings and rallies.
Over the next few months, we’ll be focusing on Prop 60, an initiative that would not only mandate condoms in adult film, but encourage lawsuits against anyone who has a financial stake in adult film, from performers and agents, to cam companies and production studios, to distributors, retailers, advertisers, magazines, and affiliates — this affects all of us, and not just in California.
This is the most wide-ranging initiative ever proposed, and you’ll be hearing more and more about how to help fight it. But that’s not all we have planned:
• Increase Security
When the FBI caught a major U.S.-based pirate had broken into and stolen content 25 adult sites, they came to FSC. We’re now working with those companies to not only prosecute the criminal, but partnering with the FBI to create a series of seminars and best practices to help adult sites prevent future attacks.
• Counterfeit and Piracy
As the trade association we are aware of what piracy and counterfeits products are doing to the trade. We are, for the first time, building strategic partnerships with major search engines and online retailers to start working together with our industry sector committees on better policies to protect the industry and the consumer.
• Lubricant and Pleasure Product Regulations
Our industry is committed to producing quality products for sexual wellness and pleasure that are proven to increase sexual and mental health outcomes. But regulations in the US and EU market go above and beyond the intention of quality by requiring animal testing and more. The FSC has begun making inroads by educating institutions about the impact that some of these regulations have on the overall health of the population.
What I’ve learned in these first months is that, no matter where you are in the industry, we are all part of the same body. Not only with something like Prop 60, where so many different aspects of the industry are liable for a single film or clip, but with every single issue.
Distributors, retailers, producers, talent and the workers themselves — we all lose out when our content is pirated, or counterfeited. The health of the pleasure product industry impacts the revenue of filmed productions that rely on branding deals and vice versa. And anti-adult language at the government level, such as the recent “public health crisis” declaration of the Republican Party, influences the way all of us are treated by regulatory agencies, and the media. This is why FSC fights.
As we move into fall and begin 2017, we have to realize that we are all connected. I ask that you join us, to not only ensure future victories, but to build a bigger, stronger and more robust industry. Because, whatever we do, we always need to ask ourselves if this is about just us … or justice.
Eric Paul Leue is the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, campaign manager for Californians Against Worker Harassment, a member of the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV and a former director of sexual health and advocacy at Kink.com.