The Red Umbrella Project (RedUP) is a small peer-led organization based in Brooklyn, New York, which amplifies the voices of people in the sex trades to take greater control of their lives and livelihoods through sustained and structured peer-mentoring initiatives, multimedia storytelling platforms, and public advocacy skills development programs.

We strive to build the capacities of people in the sex trades people both as individuals and as a community, so that we can engage in debates about issues that affect us and make positive changes both on personal and political levels. Because of the stigma, discrimination, and violence our community faces there are major barriers to our participation in civic and political life. We create programming that supports the development of skills, confidence, and political analysis among our members so that they can better navigate social and economic justice issues. About 80% of our program participants self-identify as LGBTQ.

We work 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 who use drugs, 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 advocate for change.

How We Work

  • People in the sex trades learn about RedUP through word of mouth, referrals from services providers, or through connecting with RedUP member stories at events, on our podcast, in our literary journal, or online
  • Sex workers participate in our memoir writing, improv theatre, media spokesperson, and advocacy workshops, where they meet peers, deepen their understanding of their personal circumstances, and connect their experiences with the struggles of the broader community
  • RedUP members get one-to-one and group leadership development support to pursue personal goals like becoming a published writer, improving working conditions, or applying for jobs outside of the sex industry, and they give back to the community by facilitating workshops and becoming mentors to other program participants
  • A diverse group of sex workers comes together and becomes part of RedUP community organizing efforts to reduce stigma, discrimination, and violence

Our Support

We are currently supported by grants from the New York Women’s Foundation, the New York Foundation, the craigslist Charitable Fund, and generous individual donors.

Past supporters include the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), Feminists For Free ExpressionPoets & Writers / New York State Council of the ArtsSparkplug FoundationRed Umbrella Fund, Left Tilt Fund, and Puffin Foundation,

If you are interested in supporting our work, please contact RedUP’s director Audacia Ray at audaciaray@redumbrellaproject.org or make a gift here.