When I sat down to write this, I had to stop and think for a minute about how I’d first learned of Tina Horn. It was back in 2015 and my life was in a very different place. I’d been doing grad school for around two years and sex work for around a year, but both were on hiatus for the moment. I was home for the last time, and I was a little lost. It was after a death and I had far too much to occupy my hands and far too little to occupy my mind. And that’s when I found Why Are People Into That?! (YAPIT).
I was hooked. Here was this awesome, queer punk interviewing the most interesting people on such a wide variety of kinky topics. It not only gave me a deeper appreciation for things I already loved, but it gave such clear insight into realms of kink that I had never experienced. So yes, go listen to it. But that’s not the primary thing I wanted to talk about today.
I want to talk about Love Not Given Lightly. Because while YAPIT is an exceptionally good podcast, and I knew that I was likely to like anything Tina Horn wrote, this book surpassed any of my expectations. And there are a couple of reasons for that.
Love Not Given Lightly, is not, as I had expected, a book about sex work. It really isn’t a book about any large concept. Rather, It’s a book about a number of individual sex workers and clients. It displays their lives, loves, aspirations, pain, and humanity. The subtitle calls these glimpses ‘profiles’, though that word might conjure something a bit more technical and formulaic than what we see here. What Tina presents are slices of lives with respect to their intersection with sex work. And each slice is both fascinating and beautiful.
The work is brief and remains focused on its subjects. Tina herself acknowledges that a general treatment of sex work and sex workers would require more diversity (which one can even see YAPIT and her other work as attempting to deliver). But despite that, there is a great deal of the universal in these accounts. These are the little experiences that are common to all of us. And while some of those experiences will resonate strongest with those of us in the business of pleasure, I think it would be impossible for anyone to read this book without experiencing a deep empathy for the people in its pages.
Additionally: Tina Horn can write really well. I mean really well, y’all. It’s an exemplary work of non-fiction. I know not everyone is attentive to or enamored with writing quality, but if you are, this book is even more of a delight.
So please, give Love Not Given Lightly a read. If you enjoy it half as much as I did, it’s well worth it at any price. And if you tell me you made it through with eyes that are perfectly dry and a soul that hasn’t been touched, I’ll give you a smile and call you the liar you are.