relationships

What it's like to tell your family you're a lesbian... oh, and a pornstar.

By the time I was 14 I had learned three things about myself.

1. That I had a calling to be a sex worker and that would involve me having sex with predominantly men.

2. That I was a lesbian. All my friends were talking about the electricity the butterflies they felt when the boy they liked was near and I had yet to experience that. Then one day in science lab, a person leaned into me and doodled in my exercise book. I remember that moment like it was yesterday. In that instant I was sexually awake, my body was alive – and it was because of a girl.

3. That if I were to be accepted by society, by my peers, by my parents, I had to at all costs conceal my true self.

Listen: Madison talks to Mia Freedman about the differences between having sex with a man, and having sex with a woman. (Post continues after audio.)

We build closets and double lives because we value acceptance more than we value our true selves. I built mine because I wanted the approval and companionship of my friends, I wanted to be good enough for my parents, I wanted to fit in with society, I wanted to belong. The problem, however, is that while closets feel safe, they are lonely.

We speak about coming out like it’s an event, a moment in time in which we step out from the darkness into the light and then it’s done, were out. Coming out is more a process, it’s a collection of little disclosures, many moments of fear where we retreat back to the safety of the closet, but most importantly I’ve come to realise that coming out is a series of lessons we learn.

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In October 2012, I created my most successful and public brand Madison Missina, I put Madison everywhere, I had been a host on TV, in many pornos, and I had gained a following overseas and was speaking about relationships and sexology at events in Vegas. So many assumed that I was already completely out as a sex worker and pornstar.

In February 2014, I was out to some friends, I was clearly out to porn fans and in a professional sense, but I was not yet out to my family. A jilted ex called my aunt and outed me as a sex worker (this unfortunately happens in a lot of our break ups) and my Aunt chimed in, telling me, “look at what this evil ex had you do, keep it secret, get a better job, get my life back on track – get away from this pimp” so on.

The thing was, in February 2014, I had been a sex worker for 14 years, I’ve always loved my career; sex work to me has been a calling, and I was proud. But as anyone who’s been through a messy marriage breakup would attest to, I had very little emotional resilience left to also go through the pain of a coming out moment on top of it. So I did all that I could.

I came out in a Facebook status. I wrote about my love for my industry, my success in my 14-year career and over emphasised that I was safe and happy. Then I logged out of Facebook and declined calls from my family for three months.

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When you come out as a sex worker, because of the misrepresentation of sex workers in the media and popular culture, most people have the stereotypical depiction of a sex worker run through their mind. First responses range from, “Who’s forcing you to do this? Do you have a drug problem? Who sexually abused you as a child?:

The secondary responses are ones of rescuers, “How do we get you out of that situation? Do you need to go to rehab? Counselling?”

Before the third stage of acceptance, which goes generally in two ways, I’m accepted as a sex worker or I’m rejected.

the prude and the pornstar
Madison works with Carla GS on the podcast the Prude and The Pornstar.

So I took three months away so that everyone could go through that process and I didn’t have to deal with justifying my life and fight not to be rejected.

When I came back I was pleasantly surprised. Most of my friends had all written words of encouragement; the ones that didn’t accept me simply removed themselves from life.

My family’s reaction was mixed. I have two aunts who both told me of their debates, one aunt wanted to work out a plan to get me out of the industry, my other aunt thought well she’s happy, she’s safe let's make sure she’s supported. They both sat me down and told me that they had figured out that I needed to find a good doctor, a good lawyer and a good accountant.

I still laugh at that moment, “Yes aunts, I’ve been doing this for 14 years I have all three already sorted.”

But then my aunts hit me with an insight, which I thought was so buried, so hidden down in the back of my closet.

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“You do realise that you are lesbian? It's okay but we just think you’d be happier if you stopped trying to date these guys.”

At this stage in my life I identified as a polyamorous bisexual which meant that I was in relationships with both men and women simultaneously.

Madison Missina shares her life on Instagram. (Post continues after gallery.)

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And then it hit me, in the form of an identity crisis meltdown. With the freedom of finally being open about my work came the stark impending feeling of doom about the other door to my closet, that I am not bi-sexual, I am a lesbian.

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So I began the process of coming to terms with and coming out about my homosexuality and my love of my career as a sex worker. Coming out to my friends and family as a lesbian was really no event whatsoever, but coming out as Madison Missina was different - I was going from the appearance of being a very straight, clean cut girl next door to a pornstar.

Going from pornstar to lesbian was another coming out for Madison. (Image via Facebook)

That process took two years; in fact I think I’m still going through it. I started by telling my regular clients. Would knowing this about me change anything for them? Have we reached a point where we can understand that sex work is different to selling my sexuality? That it absolutely possible to have good sex with a man even though I have not attraction to their sex?

I have no doubt I’ve lost some clients to it. But for the most part my clients have stood by me, and that makes what we have so much more meaningful. Being able to really be myself means everything is better now, no more faking.

Listen: Madison's full interview with Mia Freedman.

The most beautiful part about finally burning down my closet was attracting into my life a partner who I can be entirely myself with.

For the first time in my whole life, I’m able to be completely open be embraced for all the parts of me I kept hidden. At the last Sexpo, my brother-in-law helped me install my exhibition RAW and was front seat at my seminars, and I now have a mother in law who wants to put Madison on her wall.

So three years on, I get to completely live my life as me. I’ve built a world that I dreamt of as a little girl and what could be better than that?

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