There are two kinds of locals during Derby. The kind that dives into the season, hits all the parties they can afford and readies their TwinSpires accounts for playing the ponies; and there is the kind that bristles with discontent at the Derby months before it comes, plans their vacation during the season and shakes their fist at the inevitable traffic that arises.
I’m the former.
I avoid most crowded events such as Thunder, but I can’t wait for the pre-Derby fashion shows, Derby parties and late dancing and bourbon-drinking hours. During Derby, in full Kentucky girl fashion, I go all in and wake up the week after Derby with mild regrets — but great memories.
Derby is the time to let your hair down, sample the local sips and forget that you’re a responsible adult. There are enough cabs, Lyfts, homey totes to keep your irresponsible ass off the roads and provide you with the lack of accountability you seek during Derby season.
If you are local and receiving guests for the Derby, give them this piece of advice… leave the hangups at the state border. Come, have a good time and get out and meet the real people of our city. Ignore that we have a Bible-beating governor, who is more concerned about selfies than his citizens, and know that during Derby, we don’t give a shit about him, his cohorts or his King James — we’re here to party. During Derby, damn near anything goes… damn near. One thing, and it is major… don’t bring us your human trafficking creepiness.
We don’t want that.
With that said, during each Derby season, the instances of human trafficking tick up. People want fun and, for grownups, that fun often includes sex. We know that some out-of-towners bring their own purchased companions, and then others come to town and seek more local flavor, and unfortunately that can include the harm of many young women and children.
We welcome you to our city, but we don’t welcome the damage that human trafficking leaves behind. Note: This is not a demonization of sex work or consenting, sex workers. I’m not concerned with people finding other grownups with whom to get their rocks off. I’m only concerned that the people involved in the sex work want to be there and are old enough to make that decision.
What I don’t want to see are the scores of hospital visits, rape kits that will never be processed, police reports, arrests and infectious disease reports, which all are tied to the illegal sex trade and, particularly, when that trade affects children. More than half of human trafficking victims are children, and many have been forced into the trade and kept there through intimidation and abuse.
There are many reasons to be vigilant during these next few weeks. We want to think that our city is a place to come and have a good time. We want to think that the good time people are having doesn’t have a human body count. The industry that surrounds gambling and stakes racing has in its underbelly the element of debauchery in all its forms. Debauchery is part of the fun of Derby. It really is. Just be mindful that all participants aren’t ones who are able to choose their participation or enjoy what that means.
Many years ago, I worked with a child whose parents sold her at the Kentucky State Fair. She wasn’t an unusual case. It is another local event that draws many visitors and the demand for easy sex. People come to the Derby with money to spend. They want to drink, they want to bet and they want to fuck something or be seen with something beautiful. Those dollars are attractive to people in poor neighborhoods surrounding the racetrack, and the draw of that money extends through the entire event. There are sex workers who come each year to take advantage of those dollars, and there are the criminals who coerce or force unwilling individuals to participate in sex work for the sake of getting access to the money being spent in the city.
This isn’t a glitzy problem. I’m not concerned about celebrities coming to town and buying children. I’m also not saying it hasn’t happened, or that it never will. I just know that the majority of those victimized during this season are abused by people who aren’t high profile and many who aren’t even big spenders. They are the real creeps. They are the ones who come to town with these intentions. Keep them in your sights and keep victims of sex trafficking in your mind.