A New York City paramedic who feared her career was “fucking ruined” by a newspaper article exposing her OnlyFans account has received over US$60,000 (AU$79,000) in donations and pledged to fight for better working conditions.
On December 12, The New York Post revealed first responder Lauren Kwei, 23, operated an OnlyFans account on the side.
The piece quoted Kwei as saying the OnlyFans account was a way to “make ends meet”, given the low salary offered to many early-career first responders.
Kwei said the account had no bearing on her capacity to provide vital health care services.
“What I do in my free time is my business,” she said. “It has no effect on how I care for my patients.”
‘Big whoop’ is the appropriate response. But the article – which took pains to luridly describe some of her OnlyFans content – went on to quote an anonymous first responder, who criticised Kwei and said she should simply take on more shifts.
Kwei took to social media after the article was published, condemning the way the article was framed. She also claimed that she “begged” to remain anonymous, but the paper never agreed to it.
The reporter “truly did not care,” Kwei wrote on Monday.
The paramedic feared the subsequent article placed her employment at risk.
“He went on to call my employer and my mother… As of right now, I do still have a job but I will probably find out tomorrow if I don’t.”
In a separate statement, Kwei accused a journalist of falsely portraying himself as a “‘friendly guy’ reporter who just wanted to get MY side of the story,” adding that she cried when he revealed the focus of his inquiries.
In a text provided to the New York Post, Kwei said she had deleted her OnlyFans content “in the hopes that I won’t lose my job in the middle of a pandemic and three weeks before Christmas.”
Kwei reached out to a first responders Facebook group for assistance, leading to one member kicking off a GoFundMe campaign to support her and her ill father.
As news of Kwei’s experience spread, the number of donors grew. At time of writing, nearly 3,000 people have kicked in to the fund.
The situation has also sparked a backlash against the New York Post, which has been accused of prurient muck-racking.
It also opened a broader dialogue about compensation for health care workers during the pandemic, and why anyone in such a vital field would need to pick up a side-gig to pay the bills.
Among those to underline that particular issue: Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called on the paper to “leave her alone” and focus on the “scandalous” underpayment of paramedics.
Kwei, who is currently with her family in West Virginia, said she is yet to hear from her employer.
She said she hopes to use the recent media attention to highlight the first responders who are “suffering” through the pandemic.
And she returns to the city, she wants to get back to work as a paramedic.
“I don’t want to quit my day job and get my bag on OnlyFans – I want to serve the City of New York,” she said.
PEDESTRIAN.TV has contacted the New York Post for comment.