23-year-old EMT speaks out about article revealing OnlyFans work: 'I'm a damn good paramedic'
A 23-year-old paramedic in New York City is speaking out after a New York Post article revealed that she’s been posting topless or lingerie-clad images of herself for paying subscribers on OnlyFans to supplement her minimum wage salary, saying that the journalist used her information without permission and shedding light on the larger issue of overworked and underpaid health care professionals.
Lauren Caitlyn Kwei took to her personal Facebook page on Monday to share her emotional experience since her “life and the intimate details of it have been made public for millions of strangers to read and judge” through a viral article published on Saturday afternoon. The piece, written by Dean Balsamini and Susan Edelman, detailed what was referred to as Kwei’s “side gig” on the pay-per-view platform made popular by sex workers, and referred to the photos that she posted and profited from as her “online exploits.”
But after days of readers making their own assumptions about Kwei and sometimes defending her against the article — as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., did — the young woman from West Virginia decided to speak for herself.
More important, Kwei shared how she felt misled and misrepresented by the writer of the article.
“Let me be very clear: I did not want the NY Post to run this article, much less use my name. When Dean Balsamini first ‘interviewed’ me, he did not tell me what this was about until after I disclosed most of my background,” she wrote. “He did not include in his article that I started crying on the phone when he finally did tell me what he was inquiring about. He did not include that he played this ‘friendly guy’ reporter who just wanted to get MY side of the story, since ya know, they were gonna run it anyway, with or without my input.”
Neither Balsamini nor the New York Post responded to Yahoo Life’s request for comment. Kwei, however, made additional claims against the reporter in a statement posted to a GoFundMe page created by a friend on behalf of Kwei.
“Most of the quotes in that article are me defending myself to this reporter. He did not include that I begged him to remain anonymous (which was never agreed to) and that I told him my safety and job were going to be at risk if he posted this article. He truly did not care. He went on to call my employer and my mother,” she wrote on Sunday.
On Facebook one day later, she went on to share details about her upbringing, noting that her mother’s family is from West Virginia and her father’s parents emigrated from China, making her and her three siblings “one of the only mixed race families in my predominately white town.” She explained that she was active in performing arts throughout high school, and went to New York City when she was 18 to pursue her dreams of being on Broadway. After her time at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, however, she decided to try a new path.
“So I became an EMT. I worked as an EMT for a year then I quit because I couldn’t put myself through paramedic school on minimum wage,” Kwei wrote. “I went back to hosting at a restaurant to make ends meet while I worked a year through paramedic school, which was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. I graduated paramedic school in February of 2020 and have been working ever since.”
Kwei works as a paramedic at SeniorCare Emergency Medical Services in New York, where she makes minimum wage, about $15 an hour, according to the Post. SeniorCare didn’t immediately respond to Yahoo Life’s request for comment. However, Kwei shared that she still had her job as of Sunday, although she feared that she’d be fired after Balsamini brought the young woman’s OnlyFans account to her employer’s attention.
“I am a damn good paramedic. I LOVE my job and I love taking care of people. I don’t want to quit my day job and get my bag on OnlyFans — I want to serve the city of New York. That’s all I have ever wanted to do,” she wrote on Monday, admitting that she has faced numerous struggles throughout the coronavirus pandemic. “I was suicidal a lot of this year. I had panic attacks at work and even had a supervisor tell me I should consider another profession if I didn’t grow a thicker skin.”
In her initial post on GoFundMe, Kwei revealed that she declined to pick up extra shifts at work for the sake of her mental health. She also said she returned home to West Virginia to help care for her father, who recently went into cardiac arrest.
With the encouragement of those who have read and shared her story, including Ocasio-Cortez and a number of health care workers across the country who have voiced similar struggles, Kwei is determined to use her platform to shed light on the larger issue of compensation within the industry.
Leave her alone. The actual scandalous headline here is “Medics in the United States need two jobs to survive”
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 14, 2020
As a direct care RN, I considered: stripping or a sex hotline to make ends meet. I needed a flexible part time job that pays well because I'm a single mom. The real story here is health care workers don't get paid a living wage to risk our lives for yours.
— LadyL Socially Distant Forever☀️🇺🇸😷 (@LadyLecondoliak) December 14, 2020
Been a medic almost 20 years. At one point, to make enough to support my family, I was working four different jobs.
I worked 120 hours in a row.
Because the only way to make the hourly wage worth it was the OT.
Other countries don’t have this problem.
Leave her alone.
— Sahaj S. Khalsa (@ssk040) December 14, 2020
“I’m here to tell you all that my First Responder brothers and sisters are suffering. We need your help. We have been exhausted for months, reusing months old PPE, being refused hazard pay, and watching our fellow healthcare workers die in front of our eyes, in our ambulances,” Kwei wrote. “At least three NYC EMS workers died by suicide this year and there has been very little action about the lack of mental health care accessibility for first responders. EMS are the lowest paid first responders in NYC which leads to 50+ hour weeks and sometimes three jobs. My brothers and sisters DESERVE CHANGE!”
The GoFundMe page made on behalf of Kwei had raised at least $56,000 as of Tuesday afternoon. Kwei said the money would go toward supporting her and her family; her father will be out of work for a couple of months following his medical emergency. She also used her statement to point people in the direction of the Emergency Medical Services Public Advocacy Council with the goal of creating equity among EMS workers and the police officers and firefighters who are paid significantly more.
“Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart for your donations, support, and love,” Kwei wrote. “I am so thankful and plan on using this platform to voice the needs of my NYC EMS family. This is just the beginning, folks.”
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