The Red Umbrella Project (RedUP) amplifies the voices of people who have done transactional sex, through media, storytelling, and advocacy programs. We are a small and feisty community-based organization in New York that is peer-led and works to ensure that cisgender and transgender women, cisgender and transgender men, LGBQ people, people who are impacted by HIV/AIDS, people who are parents, people of color, people struggling with addictions, people with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities, and people with complex experiences of the sex trade have space to share their experiences with a wide audience, fight discrimination, and use this platform to advocate for change.
Our work includes:
Speak Up! Media and Advocacy Program
- Media Training: Participants in our weekend-long intensive training learn to create strategic responses to media and public events. We cover the skills needed for staying on message while being interviewed, producing press releases and letters to the editor, developing media campaigns, evaluate the risks and rewards of being “out,” and more. We offer media trainings in the fall and spring.
- Advocacy Workshops: Participants in our free day-long advocacy workshops learn from a veteran staffer of the state legislature how bills become law, how to monitor bills as they make their way through the process, and how to talk to elected representatives about issues that impact people in the sex trade. We offer advocacy workshops in the spring or whenever a specific campaign arises.
- Campaigns: In collaboration with members of our community, we have run campaigns to end the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution in the state of New York, stop the arrest of sex workers in Long Island during the ongoing search for the Long Island serial killer, encourage collaboration with harm reduction service agencies, and raise awareness about the humanity of sex workers.
Red Umbrella Diaries: Storytelling Program
- Red Umbrella Diaries storytelling event: People with experiences in the sex trades share true stories about their lives in front of a public audience at our free monthly storytelling event at Happy Ending Lounge on New York’s Lower East Side. We record everyone who wishes their story to be documented and have published more than 70 episodes on our Red Umbrella Diaries podcast, which is available for free on iTunes.
- Memoir Writing Workshop: Participants learn the basics of memoir-writing in our free, eight-week long, creative nonfiction writing course for individuals with experience in the sex trade. This workshop is intended for both experienced and first-time writers, and culminates in the publication in of Pros(e), RedUP’s literary journal. Offered for the first time in September 2012.
- Improv Storytelling Workshops: Participants build their storytelling skills and confidence talking in front of an audience in these two hour learning and practice sessions, offered in collaboration with community organizations.
The expansion of our work has been made possible by grants from the New York Women’s Foundation, the New York Foundation, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), the Craigslist Foundation, Feminists For Free Expression, Poets & Writers / New York State Council of the Arts and generous private donations.
If you are interested in supporting our work, please contact RedUP’s director Audacia Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.