On Stealthing | How a gay bar, an Iraqi man, & a bathroom stall fixed me

I saw his friend dancing like a mime all night. I didn’t see him until I was flamingo-legged, waiting for my own cara. He approached me. I said Guten tag. He told me I was wrong: Morgen. Maybe I should add one more thing to the above list: the broken German that I failed my first year of college with. Then Duolingo taught me a pick up line about dancing so I used it.

This nightclub was undiluted gay culture; the underground type that you see in films, the roots of the roots, the place where body shaming comes to die. Places like this are my rebirth and there were things that I needed to shed before walking down into that club. I had only learned the word for what keeps happening to me. There’s an S to go along with the big R.

Stealthing. Rape.

Having a fit on your bed is a good measure of something’s impact and these events were becoming part of my identity. The memories of which had the power to shut my brain down. I would involuntarily smack myself and incessantly murmur; ‘He did it and he didn’t care. He didn’t care.’ People often treat sex as a grey area. They act unabashedly and risk someone’s comforts and mental health, and for what? A couple of minutes of having their raw dick coated by pussy or anal juice?!

A fear started bubbling away inside of my cells. It was a fear of what the next man would do while we were being intimate. When you become increasingly stimulated, it becomes impossible to distinguish the separate parts of your body but the miserable thing is this: I shouldn’t have to keep checking whether you have snuck your bare dick inside of me. You should respect the boundaries that I set out from the beginning.

Any wilful overstepping should be viewed as ‘rape adjacent’ at the very least. With this newly bestowed fear, I couldn’t muster up the thought of being in bed with a man. Although a bed wasn’t a conduit for my healing. It was in fact, a bathroom stall.

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Some whimsically faultless character didn’t act as my healer. It was a very real, very human Iraqi man at a gay bar. He went in the pursuit of condoms, prompting the awe to tear at my eyes. I wanted to celebrate. This is consent culture. ‘A’ adhered to my requests regardless of the fact that we didn’t speak the same languages. He with his Arabic and German and I with my English, Irish and babble level whatever of Spanish. Yet, we communicated like crazy. He watched for my body language and subtleties. He had abrupt reactions to my very obvious, cross country no’s. He didn’t act as if the limited pleasure I felt comfortable with giving him was inadequate. If my neck is any testament to it, he didn’t mind at all.

So here is where I stand, and exactly how your cock should stand. No one in a sexual exchange should appoint themselves as obligator. Your autonomy and comfort levels do not become your bed partner’s by default. They consented to have sex with you, yes, but that permission may be revoked at any time. You do not get to act out and you do not get to use the fear of your discontent to paralyse her/him to the bed.

The thing about white ceilings is that they start to engulf you when you are staring above the shoulder of a man who won’t budge. He keeps trying to kiss you but you crumple your lips in shut. Is he attempting to normalise this so that you won’t bring about the realisation of one of his fears? That being the monkey barred justice system.

I will tell you what this man has done for you. He has made your path to healing a disorientating one. He has taken charge of that too even long after he is gone. Just when you thought you reached your new version of wholeness, your hands slip from the monkey bars and your past victimises you once again.

I was broken when I embarked on this holiday. My mind was scarily tender and I was tethered to reality by the most brittle of strings. I know I must seek professional help. Those appointments will be made and my heart will become steadfast again. Of many things I am sure and of many things I am hopeful. There is one man who I will appreciate go deor na ndeor. That is the man who showed me that full consent isn’t a myth. It is a given!

Auf Wiedersehen, A!

Many thanks to the woman beside me on the plane who gave me extra paper when she saw me writing feverishly. You asked me if it was a poem. I told you I didn’t know what I was doing. Well here it is. I hope this somehow finds its way to you.

My love to the woman who has turned me into a warrior. You’re another ‘A’ in my life, and you are the who behind my resonating voice.

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