Monday, 30 July 2007

Cafe Catholica

This afternoon we had a new guy show up at the House of Hospitality, although we've encountered him on Street Outreach 2-3 times. We've spoken about him in a previous post. Today he expressed wanting to go to rehab for his problem with alcohol.

The first time he was drunk was when he was 13 years old, and that was with his father. Throughout his teenage years he was more into smoking pot (marijuana) then he was into alcohol. He explained it was until he was about 19-20 years old that he really started drinking heavily. Over the past 20 years, the longest he's ever been sober is 10 months and that was with the help of AA. Part of today was spent phoning different rehabs to see who had room available; the best rehab that Nathaniel prefers to send people to denied him because he is HIV positive. So that was pretty unfortunate.

A lot of the men Emmaus encounters talk about getting jobs, going to rehab, or following through with this or that; but it's the following through part that's the problem. So although this guy says he wants to go to rehab and get back to a normal life, we're trying not to get our hopes up too much because in this type of ministry it's pretty common for people to fall back into their old habits.

This evening, Roger went to a young people's meeting (20-30 years old) called Cafe Catholica to recruit people to volunteer and to promote Emmaus. Several people signed up for information on volunteering and to be put on the Emmaus mailing list.

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Holding Down the Emmaus Fort

I think we mentioned that Nathaniel is out of town this weekend and Brian is gone until the end of the month, so we I were on our own. We both felt pretty confident about it but, we wish we could say that sentiment was shared among the hustlers. Friday night, when we went out on Street Outreach, we had 4 different hustlers tell us, "Be careful tonight," or "Take care of yourselves," or some other phrase that conveyed their concern for our safety. Each time I walked away kind of confused and said to Roger, "Do people normally say that kind of stuff to you?" Roger said, "No, but that's because one of us is usually with Nathaniel."

We concluded that everyone must see us as being really young and innocent. As one of the hustlers put it, "I have one foot in paradise and one in the grave. You two have both feet in paradise and yet, you choose to come here." We thought that was a really interesting way to describe what he was doing. He has one foot in paradise, probably meaning a family, a nice home, and a nice job. His other foot, the one that wants to be in a neighborhood like Montrose to do drugs and to hustle, is in the grave.

Despite the 'young and innocent' barrier we had to climb last night, we still ended up having good conversations with quite a few men. We even met one new hustler, who has only been on the street for about 4 weeks. He claimed to be very interested in rehab because he desperately wants to be off the streets.

Another interesting conversation last night was with a man that Nathaniel and I had spoken to before at Cousin's, the drag bar. He was telling us that he has to make $100, which is about 50 pounds, each night. He's in 40s, which is considered old for a hustler. This means he has to take less per trick in order to make the amount he needs. He told us when he gets desperate he takes his shirt off. Younger hustlers say that making money is so easy; that's why oftentimes they are hesitant to leave that lifestyle because money is consistent and plentiful. $100 is enough for a hotel room (aprox. $60-70), food (maybe $15), and just enough left over for drugs or alcohol. He told us the other night he made close to $250. One would assume that since he made more than usual that night he would take a night off from hustling, but instead he spent it on alcohol. 

This morning we ran the House of Hospitality. Usually just one or two guys show up, but three showed up today so we were pretty psyched! It was a little difficult because the men always have to be accompanied so in that sense we were out numbered, but everything worked out fine. The new guy that showed up became very chatty after lunch was over and pretty much opened up about a lot of different things.

He told us that is mom had given him weed (Marijuana) at the age of four years old. When he and his sister were fighting or rowdy, (aka being kids) she would tell them to smoke a joint to make them stop. He said he's not angry with his mom and doesn't hold her responsible. He thinks it's a great thing she did, exclaiming, "Weed's the greatest thing ever!" It's no wonder that he's hooked on the drugs he is now if his first drug experience was at the age of four and encouraged by his own mom. Roger and I were both pretty bothered by this. It just seems like such an unfair start to life.

Friday, 27 July 2007


Last night, I went out with Gail, who has been volunteering with Emmuas for about a year and a half, on Street Outreach. I struggle writing about a night out on the streets. There's always the dilemma of what details to include, so that you can understand what it's like out there as well as understand the men we meet, in a way that doesn't break their confidence. The least I can say about last night is, it was slightly unusual.

We walked into the usual areas and stood on a specific street corner most known for prostitution. Try and imagine: it is a busy corner, the hustlers are hanging around, coming and going. The drug dealers are always just near by down the street usually standing in the darkness. There's a bar called 611 right on the corner (here's a short review on it) and a club just opposite as well, which makes it the perfect place to sell what ever it is you have to offer. So for us, this a a great place just to sit on the curb side and speak to who ever is willing to join us.

Very soon after we had arrived I hear a guy shout out, "Hey man!" As I turned round 'the man with the chain' was walking up with a massive smile on his face, and his hand out to greet me. He seemed pleased to see us. We sat and started to chat. After a while we all headed off to a local pharmacy to get some bug spray as we were all getting bitten by mosquitoes. Oh and by the way I have 15 new bits just from last night and they really itch. Anyway during the walk he started to open up to us about his past life. Needless to say he has seen it and done it all: hustling, drug dealing, shootings, and a lot of time in prison, for different reasons. And of course he is still involved in a lot of that.

He has a great knowledge of the Bible. A lot of these men have been brought up in a church or have been ministered to while on the streets or in prison. But as he puts it he, "is not living a sanctified life." In other words, he is not being changed to be more like Jesus. He explained that he knows to be more like Jesus it is a partnership between him and God. He is completely right; he needs to want to change just as much as God wants to change him.

It was nice to have an honest chat with him about his relationship with God. A lot of these guys, him being one, would class themselves as Christians. They know that they not only need to ask God for forgiveness, which many of them have done, but to live a life that is pleasing to God. That's the part where they are struggling, and seems to be where Emmaus Ministries comes in, to help them live out their Christian faith in accordance with the Bible.

We arrived back to 611 and sat down again on the curb side. Soon after, we were joined by a new guy. He had been out on the streets since 1989. I straight away noticed something square-shaped tucked under his sock. As we chatted he told us that he had been working out of a motel and hasn't worked around here for quite a while because he is getting too old and soft for the streets. He said he's getting tired of this life now. He reached down to his sock and pulled out his wallet and showed me an address to a good rehab unit in Houston. They had agreed to take him into a one-year program of drug rehab. He had come down last night to say good bye to an old friend of his but had found out that he was in jail.

Like most nights, the cops were driving up and down the streets. We started to joke around that we were going to get moved on soon, when two cop cars pulled up. The policemen got out of the cars and said (pointing at Gail, myself, and two other hustlers standing next to us) put your hands on the hood (bonnet) of the car. As we started to stand up Gail pointed at our name badges and said that we were with Emmaus Ministries the officer looked at his watch and seeing the time told us to sit back down. After the three officers frisked the hustlers and let them go, he came and had a chat with us. He was nice, he asked what we were doing and in one sense showed a good interest. As he walked away he shouted out to us, "Stay safe!"

Thursday, 26 July 2007

The Guy with the Chain

Remember the posting a couple of days ago where we mentioned "that some guy attacked another guy with a thick steel chain"? Well, guess who came to the House of Hospitality today?! The Guy with the Chain!! During lunch, I asked him, "Haven't I seen you before?" And he explained that I had seen him on Tuesday night. Then it occurred to me, "You're the guy with the chain!" He laughed and said, "Did I look pretty angry that night." I said he did. He explained that the fight was over an unresolved financial issue where a guy owed him some money but wasn't willing to pay it. I asked if he had gotten hurt during the fight, to which he replied, "I was the one with the chain, remember?"

we really enjoyed getting to know him. He has an interest in God and the Bible and can quote scripture and stories. He explained that during time spent in jail, he and some other inmates would have bible studies and prayer time together. When he got out of jail it meant that he had lost his Christian network. He is struggling with drugs and has been prostituting on and off for the last 14 years. One thing that Nathaniel commented on was his honesty. The fight a couple of nights ago, for instance; he came right out and said what he had done and why he had done it. He didn't try to play it off as if he had been attacked or try to convince us of the other guy's wrong doing. He was very open and straightforward about everything. If there was something he didn't want to talk about he just stated that, rather than coming up with some wild story. Roger and I both tend to trust Nathaniel's judgment of character when it comes to these guys.

I had a really interesting chat with one of the other guys who came to the House of Hospitality today. He's come about twice before and is always pretty open to chatting. He admitted to me that he is back to using drugs again. It was kind of a blow because he was coming up for almost 10 days without using, which is the longest he's ever gone. We were all praying for him and trying to encourage and support his decision to stop using. He explained, "I didn't go out looking for drugs, but instead it found me." He didn't get into details, but basically I think he means that someone else had some drugs and offered it to him and he was too weak to resist. He said, "I wish I could just walk away from situations like that."

As we kept talking about it, he asked what I thought to be an extremely thought-provoking question: Why do we poison ourselves? Drugs are similar to alcohol and cigarettes in the sense that it does damage and is addictive, although maybe a bit more, but for the most part it has the same affect. So why is it that the human race enjoys poisoning themselves?

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Eggs and Police

Last night, we all went over to Nathaniel's for dinner; his wife, Catherine also joined us, which was nice. We met to discuss our reading for this week, The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard. Even though it was a hard read the author had a very good message: ministry done without relying on Jesus and calling on his powers is, as the author puts it 'stupid self-conceitedness'. Nathaniel wants us not only to minster to the men but also to grow in our relationship with God during our time out here, this book was one way of helping us in that. After dinner, all 4 of us went on outreach. It was 2 teams: Lail and Brain, and Roger and Nathaniel.

Nathanial and I had some good conversations with the men that night. We met a couple of new hustlers. This isn't unusual as these men are always moving around the country or are in and out of jail. One unfortunate incident of the night, was, that we did get eggs thrown at us I think out of a car.

We also got into a conversation with one of the hustlers that got very angry at Nathaniel. Apparently, this guy had sent off for his Social Security ID, however it got lost in the post so Emmaus never received it. The men use Emmaus' address to have post sent to them as a lot of them are homeless. In the States, you can't do anything with out an ID, so in order for him to get a job or housing, and eventually get off the streets ID is essential. Instead of talking to the post office, this man thought it would be better to take his anger out on Nathaniel. Nathaniel said that is not unusual behavior for him - but that didn't make it any nicer.

The evening for Brian and me was slightly better than the previous night. We had a few good conversations with the hustlers. One in particular was with a man, who is not a hustler, but is a homosexual man in his 40s who used to bar tend in the Montrose area for about 12 years. He's now a chef in the city but still comes back to the area to party. This man was raised Catholic and is extremely angry and cannot seem to reconcile his past with Catholicism. He kept exclaiming, "Catholics are messed up, man!" (He didn't use the word "messed," but I think you guys can figure out what word he used instead). He said the the Catholic church is the perfect place for pedophiles to hide out.

He kept saying, "I love God and he loves me...but I will never go to church again." I asked him what he thought it meant to love God, to which he repeated his previous statement. I forgot to mention that he was pretty drunk so having a conversation with him was quite difficult. I asked him if he would agree that to love God means to serve Him, to worship Him, to submit to His will, and to read His word? But he just said,"Hell no!" The conversation sort of kept going like that for about 30-40 minutes. He talked a lot about how hard it was for him in high school being gay and being terrorized, and beat up on a daily basis, by the other students. Brian and I could tell there had been a lot of past hurt in his life and we were only scratching the surface. I really hope to be able to talk to him again, maybe even have a sober conversation with him.

Around 12am Brian and I were sitting on the curb outside of a bar. It's a really good place to sit because a lot of people walk by and often 1 or 2 hustlers will come and sit with you. A police car was slowly driving down the street and stopped by us. One of the hustlers came to our defense and said, "They're just church people." The police officer, in his Texan drawl said, "Take your ministry some place else! We don't allow people to just sit on the curb!" We didn't hesitate to comply, we just moved on. It wasn't worth getting into it with him.

All in all, we can both say that our experiences with outreach has been very good. The only bad things are the mosquitoes! Every night after outreach we both come home with fresh bites! The joke goes: What's the state bird of Texas? Give up? Mosquitoes!!

There's an article that is pretty interesting; it's called Battle Scars. We should warn you though, it's pretty crude, but very informative about life as a hustler.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


Last night Nathaniel and I went on Street Outreach. Right away the night started with sort of an odd feeling. Nathaniel stopped walking and said, "Have you heard of the Nicene Creed?" I told him it sounded familiar. He explained that he was talking to a priest about spiritual battle/demonic forces and asked the priest what he suggested. The priest told him to pray the Nicene Creed. We both prayed it.

We then went to a local bar and sat outside on the sidewalk. We chatted with different people that were walking by and told a couple of them about the House of Hospitality and how we would love to see them there. Then out of nowhere, we heard a huge crash like the sound of breaking glass. It sounded like a car window had broken. Shortly after a police car and an ambulance came by. We found out through talking to people during the night that some guy attacked another guy with a thick steel chain. The man who was attacked, out of retaliation, smashed the other guy's car window.

We quickly moved away from that situation only to find ourselves in a worse one. We were walking down the street and saw a group of people at the corner. All of the sudden we see one guy get punched in the face and fall to the ground. He then was kicked in the head twice. It was awful. You know how you see violence in movies and you're sort of desensitized to it? But in real life it's so different; I could hear the sound of fist against skull and then just saw his body crumple to the ground, and then heard the sound of foot against skull. I felt like my heart stopped for a second.

After the group sort of scattered, Nathaniel and I went up to the man who was still not moving. The good thing was he was breathing, but wouldn't respond when we asked him his name or if he was okay. A local resident, who I think must have witnessed it as well, went into his house to call for an ambulance. The man who had punched him came back and started swearing at him saying he had gotten what he deserved and he would "knock his punk ass out again." At this point I was sort of nervous because the whole group of men were back and I thought they were going to finish him off. They ended up leaving though - thank God.

Eventually the man started to open his eyes slightly and move a bit. We asked if he was okay and he said he was. He stood up and we asked him what happened. He explained that his friend was there to buy drugs, but was expecting him to pay for it. When he refused, his friend took off and left him with an extremely angry drug dealer who had just been robbed in one sense. The drug dealer was the one that had beaten him up. We told him that an ambulance was on the way, but he refused and said he would be fine; he added that he'd survived worse. He wiped the blood off of his face and thanked us and shook our hands. He asked which way the bar was, and then just strolled down the street as if nothing had happened. Nathaniel and I were pretty unsettled by all of this.

We then went on to Cousins, the local drag bar. We talked to one hustler the whole time. He told us that he is seriously wanting to do rehab and would come to the House of Hospitality on Thursday to discuss it more - I hope he comes! He also told us that he can't stand women. He had been sexually abused (technically raped) by a female friend of the family, which explains his negative association with women. Therefore he concludes that he's homosexual. Nathaniel was explaining to me that often times hustlers get confused about what they prefer sexually after they've had sex with so many men. They sometimes enjoy it, even crave it, although at one time in their lives they preferred women.

It's hard to think about the things kids have to suffer at the hands of adults who are angry, confused, and probably have experienced similar abuse as children. Someone once asked me, "Why bother helping male prostitutes? If this is the life they choose, then leave them alone. It's their choice and therefore their fault for being in the situations they are." Emmaus has a great promotional pamphlet about this concept of Choice. I can't remember exactly how it goes, but it's something to this affect:

The choices they had, and the choices you had, were very different.
And maybe if you had the choices they had, then maybe you would be a prostitute too.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Emmaus Mobile

Today was the House of Hospitality again. For the first hour Roger and Nathaniel went on outreach, to see if they could find any one to bring to the center. The streets were empty, so they spent most of their time in a bar talking to the bartender. He was a new employee, but during his time there he has seemed to have cleaned the bar up - at least in the day time anyway. He won't let the men hustle there anymore. We left him with some Emmaus cards for him to give to any hustlers that he thinks might need our help.

A new guy that Roger and Nathanial met on Saturday night turned up to the House of Hospitality. He, in one sense was unusual, in regards to his family background and job experience, in that his parents are still together and he had a normal upbringing, he has also held average jobs for years at a time. But like a lot of the hustlers he's been on and off the streets from a young age.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Rogers First Outreach

Last night was my first time with Nathanial on outreach. Like Lail we met at 9.00pm and chatted for a while about the do's and don'ts. Nathanial also gave me some good tips if a guy started to touch me / chat me up. In one sense this is expected while out on the streets and in the bars, because the men are there to pick up a guy or hustle. As a man I'm a potential customer until they realize I'm with Emmaus. But we must never let them get comfortable with that behaviour towards us. We then went onto the chapel and got on the streets around 10.30pm.

We had driven around this neighbourhood a number of times, and each time I found it hard to imagine what it was like at night because it seems like such a nice couple of blocks (here's a link of the area). But when we walked into it, it seemed to be a totally different place - it was like walking into a new world, but one that had been established for many more years. The later the night went on the more men, drag queens, hustlers and tricks came out, and the more it changed.

Like Lail, Nathanial took me to the oldest gay bar in the neighbourhood, it's been open for about 30 years, and was the reason the Gay community moved into that area. Its the bar where drag queens put on their shows and hustlers work out of, and thus the most seedy in the area. But at the same time, there was a feeling of community about it. The type of feel in one sense that you might find in any club or church: they all knew each other, they were joking around, having a laugh and catching up - it was a place were they felt safe and with people that understood them and felt like them. The greetings they gave each other and the jokes they told might have been different from that of a club or church, but it did have that same hustle and bustle about it. However underneath all that there seemed to be a sense of desperation and futility.

The streets again had that community feel. All the hustlers and drug dealers knew each other and of course Nathanial. There was a sense of openness in part to what they were doing. The same cars would slowly drive by many times looking at the hustlers, I was offered drugs on while walking around because they didn't recognise me to be with Emmaus yet. The police would be driving up and down, however barely powerless to do anything. On every corner there would be a deal going on, between the hustlers and tricks or the dealers and hustlers or just the normal clubbing punters.

But again underneath it all there was a real sense of distrust. Every one is checking their backs the whole time. Making sure their either not in danger or missing out on a deal. We of course are the same, positioning ourselves so we can see each others backs.

We spoke to a number of men over the night - all with different stories. All on some kind of drug - Marijuana, Crack, Crystal Meth. They all had two things in common - the job they were doing and the fact they need help - spiritually and physically to get off the drugs and the streets.

We finished at 2:00am, went back to the church, made a few notes and headed home. I was in bed at 3.30am.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Important Facts

Heres some important facts about male prostitution.

  • What is the street name for a male prostitute? 37% of you said Escort. The correct answer is Hustler. Here's some more street slang: the client or buyer of male sex is known as a 'Trick'. To professionals or law enforcement, these guys are known as the 'Johns,' but on the street they are tricks. Also, 'Turning a Trick' is the street expression for the act of sex.
  • Are male prostitues for women, men, or both? 81% of you said Both. The correct answer is Men. The vast majority of male prostitutes' customers are men.
  • What is the sexual orientation of most male prostitutes? 80% of you said Bisexual. The correct answer is Heterosexual. Male prostitutes are not usually Homosexual or Bisexual. In one study, only 17.9% of the male prostitutes surveyed identified themselves as homosexual, which is less than 1 in 5.
  • What percentage of male prostitutes have HIV? 46% of you said 40%. The correct answer is that rates of HIV infection run at about 30% among male prostitutes.
  • Is male prostitution on the rise? 93% of you said Yes. And you're absolutely right! Prostitution arrests involving men rose from 20.7% in 1970 to 42% in 1998. Between 1989 and 1998, arrests for female prostitution dropped by 13.3 %; arrests for men during the same period rose 16%.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

House of Hospitality

Today was our first experience with running the Hospitality center. We were very pleased with how well it went. Only one guy showed up for prayer, but it was fine because it gave us a good chance to get to know him. So the five of us prayed together this morning before having a great pizza lunch. Emmaus Ministries strives to provide a home and family atmosphere. So we eat together around a table like a family would. Everyone signs up for a chore, like setting the table or clearing up afterwards, which also contributes to the family atmosphere. After lunch, we spent time just chatting about different things. At 2pm, when the Hospitality center closed, we drove him back to the place he's currently staying.

This evening, we had the other intern, Brian, over for a time of prayer and sharing a meal together. We decided to cook a traditional English dish - fish and chips!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

First Day at Emmaus

Today we met Nathaniel (that's him on the left of the picture), the director of Emmaus Houston and our boss for the next month. He gave us a tour of where we will be working and we also found out what are schedules will look like for the next month.

So here's what we know:

  • We meet every morning at 10:30am for staff prayer time. Some of the men we serve will come to pray at this time too.

  • We run a House of Hospitality (pictured here) every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday from 11am to 2pm. This is a time of sharing a meal with the men and then just hanging out and getting to know them. Brian (pictured on the top right), the other intern, explained that this it a time when Nathaniel gives spiritual guidance to those who are seeking.

  • Three times a week we will be involved in Street Outreach. This will happen from 9pm to 2am. We may go into nightclubs or gay bars known for prostitution. We'll always be in groups of two when we go out.

  • Once a week, we will get together with Brian for a meal and prayer time

  • Once a week, we also will meet for a meal and discussion with Nathaniel about the reading for that week. Every week we will have an article, or excerpt having to do with or related to male prostitution.

  • We have to also meet with someone (who is not part of Emmaus) once a week for about an hour or two to have regular one-to-one bible studies with, spiritual encouragement/accountability, and basically just someone to unload on if we've had a tough week. There are two people that Nathaniel has set up for us. We should be contacting them soon.

  • And lastly we have weekly reflective writing to do. This is just a time for us to process our experience. At the end of our internship we will have a brief essay due describing our insights. And an exit interview with Nathaniel.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Emmaus Ministries

Tomorrow we're off to Houston, Texas for a month. We will be interning/volunteering with Emmaus Ministries, which is an organization that does street outreach to men involved in prostitution. Emmaus Ministries originally started in Chicago, Illinois. Lail got involved with them towards the end of her senior year. However, when the opportunity to travel to Denmark to study Human Trafficking & Prostitution came up, she took that instead of staying on with Emmaus. We contacted Emmaus Chicago to see if there would be any opportunities with them for this summer and they steered us toward Emmaus Houston.

Emmaus Houston is still in its starting up phase. They currently only have one full time employee, who is also the director, Nathaniel Saylor; he and his wife, Catherine both work there. There will also be one other intern, Brian, who we will be working with. We're both pretty excited although at the same time, we're not really sure what to expect. We told Nathaniel that we want to learn all the different aspects of what is involved in running Emmaus. He assured us that we would get a taste of everything: street outreach, running the hospitality center, networking, some administrative working, reading up on the subject, etc. The part of Houston we will be working in is called Montrose, (similar to Boystown in Chicago, or Soho in London), which is known for tons of night clubs and gay bars, and of course, male prostitution.

There are many reasons for wanting to go to Emmaus. First and foremost, is that we want to share the gospel with men who are in desperate situations. One of the other things we hope to accomplish in this month, is that we want to understand what all goes into running an organization such as this, with the hope that we could go back to London to one day start something similar.

When most people think of prostitution, they generally don't think of men being involved. Along the right margin we have included 5 questions about male prostitution to test your knowledge on the subject. Other people won't know what you have answered, so don't be shy! It's just a fun way to gain some knowledge in this area.