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Before Margaret Cho was a comedian, she was a sex worker. And she's not ashamed.

'I was a sex worker when I was young. It was hard but well paid. There's no shame in it.'

There's been a lot of talk about sex work recently — what it is, who's doing it, and how society and the government should treat people who make money from sex work.

It's a sensitive debate, and advocates on both sides of the issue have strongly held beliefs. But one group that too often gets left out of the conversation? Actual sex workers.

Sometimes that's because sex workers choose to keep their identities hidden because of safety and legal concerns. But often, the stigma against sex work also silences their voices.

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Courtesy of Chef El-Amin
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When non-essential businesses in NYC were ordered to close in March, restaurants across the five boroughs were tasked to pivot fast or risk shuttering their doors for good.

The impact on the city's once vibrant restaurant scene was immediate and devastating. A national survey found that 250,000 people were laid off within 22 days and almost $2 billion in revenue was lost. And soon, numerous restaurant closures became permanent as the pandemic raged on and businesses were unable to keep up with rent and utility payments.

Hot Bread Kitchen, a New York City-based nonprofit and incubator that has assisted more than 275 local businesses in the food industry, knew they needed to support their affiliated restaurants in a new light to navigate the financial complexities of shifting business models and applying for loans.

According to Hot Bread Kitchen's CEO Shaolee Sen, shortly after the shutdown began, a third of restaurant workers that they support had been laid off and another third were furloughed.

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