Pose star Dominique Jackson opens up about sex work journey: ‘For years I struggled with my past’

Dominique Jackson

Dominique Jackson, who starred in Ryan Murphy’s queer ballroom drama Pose as the fierce and ferocious Elektra Abundance, has opened up about her past in sex work while praising documentary The Stroll.

Queer trailblazer, activist and actor Dominique Jackson has never been one to shy away from sharing her past. As a Black trans woman, she’s keen to highlight the often severely unpleasant lived experience of people like herself.

It seems that Jackson is keen to keep up that tradition, as the Pose star has further shared details about her past occupation as a sex worker, and how it affected her – and she did so in a post on Instagram, praising a new documentary on that very same subject, The Stroll.

An HBO Original, The Stroll takes a look back on the tumultuous lives of Black trans sex workers in New York City, and has been made by two trans film-makers, Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker.

Trans icon Jackson posted the trailer of the documentary to her Instagram with a heartfelt caption praising the “amazing, brave, courageous, beautiful, inspirational women” who have told their stories, and commending both Lovell and Drucker’s creation.

The star, who played house mother Elektra Abundance on FX’s Pose from 2018-2021, also opened up about her own past as a trans sex worker, delving into “the trauma, the tough experiences, the struggles” which “all present as shame and barriers to living a life of certainty and happiness”.

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Jackson wrote that she “struggled” for “years”, and thought that “those 14th Street nights were condemnation, but they were not,” referencing her own time working at the centre of New York‘s sex work scene and slaughterhouses – West 14th Street.

“They were a lesson so harsh in the struggle to my independence and freedom from condemnation and low self esteem!” she said.

“If I could risk my life each night to survive, doing something that from a very personal perspective made me feel less than, to negotiate for body/my temple shook me in every negotiation, I loathed me, but I knew I could face any struggle to not just survive but thrive.”

And thrive Jackson has. Aside from starring in Emmy-award winning ballroom drama Pose, Jackson’s influence has extended into everything from appearing in American Horror Stories, guest-judging now-cancelled voguing competition Legendary and quite literally setting the queer agenda.

On The Stroll, Lovell told The Guardian: “It was just time to tell this story. There was a void, a generational void, where we went from the likes of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson to this new generation that’s coming up and fighting again for trans rights, and there’s a generational gap.

“Trans history is something that’s not taught in schools, so the new generation really didn’t have an understanding of all this stuff.”

Drucker added that very focused and controlled representation of trans people in the media has “led to this erasing of trans sex work from our history”.

“Trans people have always survived through the centuries as sex workers and in underground economies. It’s overdue for us to highlight and foreground the stories of trans sex workers,” Drucker continued.

Kokomo City, another documentary, similarly flips the script on the stories of Black trans women, winning an award at the Sundance Film Festival with its humour and candour. It will screen next at the Berlin Film Festival.

The Stroll is available on HBO and Max from 21 June, and in the UK at a later date