Ask Aria: "My Friends Or My OnlyFans?"

January 21 6 min read

Dear Aria, 

Let me start by saying, my friends are great and I love them to death! I've known them for years and they've been with me through all my ups and downs. That's why I was shocked by their reaction to me expressing interest in making an OnlyFans. We all just finished college and are trying to navigate that transition in a really crazy year. During school I was closed-minded about sex work, and had access to more financial support. Now both of those things have changed, and I'm entertaining the idea of supplementing my income by making erotic art. 

I haven't even given it much thought yet! I just wanted to bounce the idea off of my friends, and it did not go as I expected at all. They were really judgmental, and even seemed repulsed. They kept telling me it was a horrible and dangerous idea. Based on conversations we'd had in the past about our sex lives, I thought they were more sex-positive than that, but I see now it's not the same. I get that they just haven't unlearned the stigma around sex work that our culture is steeped in, but I'm still really hurt and confused. 

My friends have always been my compass and I feel so confused about whether or not they're right. There really isn't anyone else in my life that I trust enough to talk to about this, especially after that first reaction. It's my decision, but if I do choose to explore this option, should I not tell them? I don't know how to follow my heart and also keep their respect. 


My Friends or My Fans?

Dear MFoMF, 

I'm so sorry that your friends had such a disappointing reaction to your interest in starting an OnlyFans. You offered them a lot of empathy with your recognition that they simply aren't learning and growing at the same pace that you are. You also had every right to expect the benefit of the doubt, if nothing else, after all you've been through together. It's not like you told them you wanted to rob a bank.


To be fair, I do see where your friends are coming from. OnlyFans became something of a household name last year after the pandemic recession led to a surge of new accounts, and big names like Bella Thorne got wrapped up in controversies about stepping on career sex workers and gentrifying the platform with their presence. Your friends know the world can be unkind to sex workers, and they don't want to see you struggle. Their hearts might be in the right place.

"For a lot of folks, feminism and sex-positivity end where sex work begins."

However, their fear-mongering language suggests they were likely just regurgitating stigmas they'd heard somewhere else. For a lot of folks, like you observed, feminism and sex-positivity end where sex work begins. But sex work is work, and there are no shameful professions under capitalism, which demands that you work or be left to die. It may be misunderstood, but sex work is an entirely valid way to labour, and is therefore worthy of respect. 

You seem to understand this well, so good for you. But hopefully, even if you didn't and the tables were turned, you'd know that being judgmental is never a good look. The thing is, even when the people we love consider or make decisions that we dislike, or don't think are in their best interest, it's still our job to support them and try to understand the whole story. Even if they did feel shocked at first, I wish your friends hadn't completely shut you down in their ignorance. Now, no matter what you decide, you've likely lost a bit of trust in them, and they'll have to earn it back. 

Let's say you do choose to start your OnlyFans, and decide it's worth the investment of your time and energy. If you're very close to them, hiding the truth from your friends would be pretty difficult, not to mention mentally and emotionally draining. Not an ideal way to get started, is it? I would recommend being front about it, and seeing who stays on board. You may even discover that one or two of them is inspired by your confidence and starts to change their tune.

If OnlyFans feels empowering to you, or like an exciting creative outlet, or even just a way to earn that you find entertaining, then I hope you decide to pursue it. The only person whose respect you need is yours, and declining to explore things that intrigue you, in order to earn it from other people, will leave you with low self-esteem. It must be disorienting to lose relationships that had previously served as a compass, as you put it, but I hope this can be the beginning of you learning to listen to your own intuition. It's the inner compass you already possess. 

"The only person whose respect you need is yours."

If you do decide to take this seriously, start getting connected to other virtual sex workers online. They are a group that's often just as marginalized on social media as they are in real life, and as a result, they tend to form tight-knit digital communities. Find and follow sex workers and other creatives under the sexuality umbrella, including toymakers, erotic artists, educators, pornographers, therapists, literally anyone with an interesting point of view about human sexuality. You'll quickly become much more well-rounded. 

Full disclosure, I've never done sex work myself, but writing about sex online for the past few years has offered me proximity to the internet space they occupy. I've learned so much about the social and political issues that sex workers face, particularly the way they've been canaries in the coal mine for internet censorship in the West. Do your homework about the history and legality of sex work in the country you live in, and keep unlearning social stigmas that you've unwittingly internalized. Your mind is not instantly rid of them upon entry into the industry. 

Once you find your first friend in the biz, don't be afraid to start asking questions. What are some standard start-up costs for supplies like cameras, lighting, etc.? What are good places to shop for toys and lingerie? Which social media platforms are worth trying to build a following on, and which have the most regressive rules? How will taxes work? Remember, you're essentially starting a business, so your decision-making should reflect that. If low-key research is more your thing, then head over to Youtube where seasoned performers like Lena The Plug are offering their advice on how to make money on OnlyFans.

Ask some questions of yourself as well. Why exactly do you want to explore virtual sex work? Glamorous portrayals in movies don't tell the whole story. Will past sex work jeopardize your ability to fall back on what you went to school to do? Do you want to tell your family? It might seem trite, but I actually like making pro/con lists to boil down the facts of big decisions. Try it! 

My friend, you're at a point in your life when things are going to start changing really quickly. It's entirely normal to start looking around at your innermost circle and wondering who might not survive the transition. One of the best ways to help you figure it out is to let your inner light shine as brightly as it can, and see who is drawn to it, and who is repelled. Chasing your passions can serve as an excellent litmus test for determining who to bring along for the ride, and who to leave behind. No matter what you decide, this sounds like a really important journey for you, and I think you're gonna love where it leads. 


Aria Vega
« Aria is a poet, essayist, and advice columnist (ASK ARIA @ Lustery POV) based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work explores sexuality, relationships, and somatic experiences. When she's not daydreaming about living underwater, she's probably talking to her houseplants or meditating under the moon. " » All posts →