Mid-December 2015

The principal photography on Ederlezi Rising was complete, though the first few scenes of the movie still needed to be shot and funding for post production was a looming question mark.

I’d been largely protected from the media shitstorm, thanks to Kayden, Joanna, and that thing where I’d put an away message on my email and blocked all but a few numbers in my phone shortly after arriving in Serbia. This was great while I was trying to focus on the movie, but also meant that I had no idea what I’d be walking into when I arrived home.

And, for the first time since 2009, I’d flown without Xanax. I was so proud of myself.

Steve Prue—my roommate—and Hot [redacted] came to pick me up from the airport. Steve has a car, and during the times we’re living together he picks me up any time he’s in town.

It wasn’t abnormal for Hot [redacted] to ride along. Or to take the train out to meet me on his own. But it was completely abnormal for Steve to come into the airport. Steve has always been a “I’ll be waiting in the cell phone parking lot, call me and I’ll meet you at the passenger pick-up curb” kind of guy. I appreciate the efficiency, and I don’t have to walk nearly as far that way.

This time, Steve and Hot [redacted] were waiting at the border control exit. Which was a deviation from an expected routine. One that Steve and I had been following for years.

Which meant that my behavior deviated from the routine of big hugs and immediate so-glad-to-see-you that Hot [redacted] had reasonably come to expect.

It would be easy to say this is the moment that our relationship began to fall apart, but relationships have many moments of difficulty and some survive them all. We’d never used the words boyfriend and girlfriend, because I’d become superstitiously against them. Two or so months prior we’d dropped both the structure we thought of as “dating” and the word itself because neither were working for us. What even were we, aside from a pair of people playing games with semantics?

I don’t know whether it was that night or some other night that week. Either way, Hot [redacted] and I were on the couch. It was late. I was tired.

I said “Let’s go to bed.” He heard something along the lines of “Let’s go have sex.”

I’d spent an entire month feeling like a human, like an artist, like anything but an object. It had been glorious. His reasonable assumption blurred into pent up feelings about years spent being subject to nonconsensual objectification. Being treated like a prop on set, whether that set be adult, music video, or fashion editorial. The scale of my reaction to Hot [redacted]’s sexual advance was akin to using a nuclear warhead to kill a mosquito.

I wanted to rest and hold onto that feeling of being a human being of inherent basic worth, with agency, with a right—not privilege—to dictate when and how I was touched, much less fucked. Never in my adult life, even before I started taking my clothes off in public, could I remember expecting to walk around in the world without being kissy-noised at or grabbed at. I know Serbia isn’t perfect, and I’m aware of the atrocities committed during the many Balkan wars, by all sides. But every time I’ve been there I’ve been able to just live, and that has felt magical.

But back to the situation, which had rapidly degenerated.

I was approximately in one corner of my sleeping space (more of an open loft than a bedroom) and he was firmly in the opposite corner. I was very precisely enunciating every single letter of every word I said with a hissing quality to my speech, punctuating my statements with a finger jabbed downward through the air. All 6 foot plus of his well exercised frame was telegraphing small boy being scolded, his hands tucked behind his back.

I felt like my mother. The only thing I hated more than feeling like my mother was seeing in Hot [redacted]’s body language a confirmation that I was behaving like my mother.

I’m pretty sure he went home to sleep in his own bed that night. If he didn’t, he should have. If he did, it was for the best.

(copyright Stoya Inc 2016)