Saturday, 2 June 2018

"Faggots and Hoes" or why gay men should stand up for sex workers

People sometimes ask me why I care so much about sex workers' rights. One of the reasons is because gay men and sex workers have way too similar experiences with stigma, discrimination and harassment, and our struggles for rights and acceptance have a lot in common. For me, the question is, rather, why don't more gay men stand up for sex workers? [This post will focus mostly on gay men since I'm not very familiar with the experiences of lesbians, trans* people and other non-hetero, non-binary or non-cis people]

In the conservative small town in a communist and post-communist country where I grew up, the phrase "faggots and hoes" ("hoes" being sometimes "whores" and sometimes "prostitutes") would just naturally roll out of people's mouths. I would often hear, from my family, neighbours or random people on the street, how faggots and hoes were sick, dirty, immoral and diseased, and had to be locked up, reformed, killed, or at least invisible. No particular arguments were necessary for these qualifications - they were supposedly self-evident and no one questioned them. I only questioned them in my head because it was pretty clear that this hatred of faggots and hoes was not based on any rational reasons or bad personal experience, but on moral objections against the wrong kind of sex (anal, oral and A LOT of it). 

But of course faggots and hoes have a lot more in common than the disapproval of small-minded rednecks in Eastern Europe.

Today, 2 June, is International Sex Workers Day. It commemorates the day in 1975 when 100 French sex workers occupied the St Nizier church in Lyon to demand an end to the constant fines, arrests, prison sentences, harassment and extortion by the police and the mafia. Their bold action quickly became the centre of local and national media attention and was followed by similar actions in other French cities. The occupation lasted for eight days until the police forcibly evicted the women. Although sex workers had organised to demand recognition and resist oppression throughout the ages and throughout the world, this event is often regarded as the beginning of the organised sex worker rights movement. 

A black and white photograph showing the backs of three uniformed police officers and a man with short-cropped hair in a suit pushing back a crowd of young men with longer hair dressed in jeans and contemporary clothing for the late 1960s, arguing and defying the police; other people in the background on a stoop are watching
By Source, Fair useLink
Also in June, six years earlier, some of the most marginalised members of the LGBT community - homeless youth, sex workers, trans women, effeminate gays and butch lesbians - rioted in the Stonewall Inn in New York City in response to the frequent raids, arrests and harassment of the community by the police and the mafia. Word of their defiance quickly spread around and soon hundreds of other LGBT people joined them, leading to four days of riots. This event, too, is often regarded as the beginning of the organised LGBT rights movement in the US and internationally. 

Almost five decades later, both the sex worker rights and the LGBT movement have grown in numbers, visibility and influence, and have won important victories. Nevertheless, homosexuality, or aspects of it, remains criminalised in many countries, and in some, is punishable by death. Sex work, or aspects of it, are criminalised in almost all countries. 

Stigma and shame 
Even in countries where homosexuality and sex work are not criminalised, faggots and hoes are highly stigmatised and can be subjected to violence and harassment by the police and society in general, and denied access to social and healthcare services. 

Gay men who became sexually active before the advent of the internet had very similar experiences to sex workers. We [usual disclaimers apply - I don't speak for everyone, blah blah] had to cruise for sex in parks, public toilets, parking lots, backstreet alleys and bathhouses where we risked being robbed, raped or beaten, either by the police or by homophobes pretending to be gay. If we were robbed, raped or beaten, we wouldn't report it to the police out of shame and mistrust in the authorities. If we did report, we risked being beaten or raped, ridiculed, dismissed or exposed. We had to hide who we are from family, friends and colleagues who too could threaten us with outing or ostracise us. We learnt to rely for support on ourselves, our gay friends and perhaps the few NGOs that care about us. When we fought for our rights, our rights were framed as Western propaganda by the powerful gay lobby paid for by George Soros. 

Like us, sex workers, whether working in brothels, on the streets, or as escorts, risk being robbed, raped or beaten in the course of their work but avoid reporting these crimes to the police because of shame, stigma and mistrust in the authorities. If they do report them, they risk being beaten or raped, ridiculed, dismissed and exposed, or "rescued" and "rehabilitated". They hide their occupation from family and friends who can threaten them with outing and ostracise them. Like us, sex workers have learnt to rely on themselves and their colleagues and perhaps the few NGOs that care about them. When they fight for their rights, their rights are framed as propaganda by the powerful pimp lobby paid for by George Soros...

Faggots and hoes are among those most affected by HIV worldwide, which can be attributed to a large extent to stigma and criminalisation. During raids on gay bars and brothels alike the police confiscate condoms and use them as evidence of "promotion of homosexuality/prostitution". As a result, such establishments may refuse to keep condoms on their premises and faggots and hoes may avoid carrying condoms. In the 1980s thousands of gay men had died before the Reagan administration took the issue seriously. PEPFAR (US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), a programme that provides testing and anti-retroviral therapy to HIV-positive people, including sex workers, requires organisations to sign a pledge that they oppose prostitution, effectively de-funding sex worker rights organisations and undermining HIV prevention efforts

Academics, activists, UN agencies and health organisations have long called for the decriminalisation of both homosexuality and sex work as the only way to drastically reduce the number of new HIV infections globally. 

Faggots and hoes
In general, sex work is not particularly stigmatised by the gay community. Many faggots sell or buy sexual services either regularly or occasionally. We are friends with women who are, or are perceived to be, hoes. 

The overall individual support and the sporadic institutional support, though, is not enough. There is a sense among many in the hoes movement that Western faggots nowadays are so obsessed with conformity and their right to white picket fences and wedding cakes, that they've forgotten about all those in our community who can't - or won't - conform to the "right kind of sex". 

We are family...

The aim of this short and somewhat shallow post was just to give some food for thought to my fellow faggots who don't think about hoes' rights. 

The thing is, as a social group that is oppressed and stigmatised for the wrong kind of sex it has, faggots need to be more sensitive to the needs of hoes who are oppressed and stigmatised for pretty much the same reason. 

If you're outraged about the treatment of our gay brothers in Chechnya, Indonesia, Egypt, or Uganda, then you should also be outraged by the treatment of our sex working sisters in Russia, South Africa, Brazil, India, the UK and so on.

Bobby at a protest of sex workers in Amsterdam, 10 April 2015
(the guy with the bald head in front of the tree)
So how can you support hoes? Perhaps the best you can do is inform yourself, read relevant reputable literature or reports by international organisations (for example, Amnesty International) and contact a local sex worker organisation and ask them how you can support them. If that's not your priority, there are other ways that won't require a lot of time or effort. You can at least like the Facebook page of your local sex worker organisation, or of global ones, like the Global Network of Sex Work Projects or Red Umbrella Fund, like and share their posts, etc. - these things matter to small organisations. You can take part in a protest of sex workers in your city, if you hear about one. Protests are sometimes organised on 3 March (Intl Sex Worker Rights Day), 1 May (Workers Day), 2 June (Sex Workers Day) or 17 December (Day to end violence against sex workers). 

Don't buy into the "fake news" that most sex workers are trafficked or that legalised sex work leads to an increase of trafficking - there is no evidence to support such claims. But also, think of the persistent ways in which homosexuality and paedophilia are being clubbed together to deny rights and recognition to faggots. Like, decriminalisation of homosexuality, or the holding of a pride parade, or the recognition of same-sex marriage, will lead to an increase in paedophilia or bestiality...

Don't buy into the bullshit that sex workers who openly speak up about their experiences, and sex worker rights organisations are "a few privileged white western women" who are part of the "pimp lobby" funded by George Soros. There are literally hundreds of thousands of sex workers campaigning for their rights and recognition in countries like India, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil or Argentina. But also, just think of the myth of the "gay mafia/gay lobby/LGBT lobby" and how it's funded by the same man

Most of all though, if you happen to interact with sex workers, treat them with kindness and respect - not disgust and pity! Think of how you want to be treated by people who know you're a faggot. 


* I did a fair amount of reading or grey and not so grey literature but I know that not all claims made here are supported by proper references. If necessary, we can discuss these in the comments section. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

FLOB-bing on Sofia Gay Pride

So, Sofia Pride took place this last weekend and it was great! I watched the live stream from Bangkok. If you don't remember what a small-scale pride with 3000-people (that's a lot for Bulgaria, the biggest so far!) and not yet appropriated by corporations looks like, check out the latest videos on the Sofia Pride Facebook page. And this despite the announced neo-Nazi event to 'clean up Sofia streets of garbage' planned for the same place and same time as the Pride, which Sofia Municipality had allowed. 

See, friends, Sofia Pride is not really supported, or even acknowledged as a thing, by politicians in Bulgaria. Not by the mayor or city council. In fact, both the right-wing parties and the socialist party (which means something different in Bulgaria) actively opposed it. Several foreign ambassadors and the vice-mayor of Amsterdam were there. 

But that's not the what this post is about. It's about the musings of FLOB - defined by the Oxford Dictionaries as 'a piece of spittle and mucus that has been spat out' but used here as First Lady of Bulgaria or, in other words, the wife of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev - about the Pride. Apparently she shared these on her Facebook page and they were picked up by the media (for example, here) a couple of days later. I don't even want to comment on those musings, so I'll just offer a translation of her post here for you to judge her and the general level of political and social 'thought' in Bulgaria...

I took our six-year-old cat Charlie to the vet - just a routine check-up for flees and ticks. And just like that, out of nowhere, the vet asked if I wanted him checked for feline AIDS. I was shocked! I never even thought this disease affects cats. I asked him, and if the result is positive, what do we do then? He replied, nothing, you'll just know. There's no cure. I asked, is it infectious for people, for dogs? No, said the nice doctor, it's transmitted only through sex, among cats. 

Somehow by association I thought about the Pride and I hoped that the participants remember, just like that, among other things, to conduct an information and prevention campaign about HIV/AIDS, even if only with leaflets. Just because the statistics for 2016 show that 39% of new infections happened via heterosexual contact, 49% of new infections via homosexual contact and 12% via intravenous drug use. 

And the pride will be seen by many adolescent men and women and young children. 

And speaking of young children, I remembered that joke about Holmes and Watson: 
- What's that noise on the street, John? 
- Gay pride, sir. 
- What do they want? 
- Same-sex love, sir. 
- But who forbids them from having it, John?
- Nobody, sir!
- Then why are they shouting? 

You know the answer. Imagine if this conversation takes place between a mother and her child... Actually, to me, the Pride means to show that these people want to express their courage and even pride that they are different. This is worthy of respect! Brave, breaking the stereotypes, colourful and happy, all of them in one way or another gone under the rainbow. I have many such friends and we have very good relationships and a lot of respect for each other. Everyone is entitled to their choices. As long as they don't hurt anyone. 

I have nothing against homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders and their derivatives. I'm against their pretension for difference. 

Dear Pride-goers, please don't forget the fact that we are all different. Regardless of whether we have hetero or homo orientation. DNA is the same only in the case of identical twins and even then not always. In all our veins runs a code different from that of our neighbour.

I respect you but please don't overdo it! Nobody has forbidden you anything! You are just as discriminated against as Bulgarian pensioners, for example. As mothers with multiple children. As hetero-oriented people, even. (Why don't we organise a Pride of heterosexuals, eh?)

If you really want to be more useful in society, next time, apart from the pink pompoms on your drums, organise some leaflets about HIV/AIDS prevention, risk groups and the statistics in the country and the world. I'm just giving you an idea, so that it becomes more meaningful for all of us.

Yes, life is too short to be taken seriously. But new generations come after us that we need to educate, inform, so that they can make the right choices.
P.S. Actually, I'm wondering if you, who are calling for tolerance and recognition, realised even for a moment that the day of your Pride was supposed to be a day of mourning, of humility and repentance. Because a military man died in times of peace. And became one with the rainbow (your professed symbol). This was a tragedy that filled our hearts with sadness and a lot of anger. Now is the time, I think, to be more Bulgarian than open-minded cosmopolitans. Nothing personal. 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

14 fun and easy ways to #EndSlavery

About the problem

There are more than 36 gazillion slaves in the world today – more than at any other time in the 6000-year history of the Earth! And this is just the tip of the iceberg!!1!1

You may think slavery was abolished over 100 years ago but it actually still exists in every country and every region of the world, even in your own backyard!

It is the largest criminal enterprise in the world, second only to drug trafficking and arms trafficking, generating 150 billion US dollars annually – more than the GDP of Hungary!

Slavery has many forms and shapes – human trafficking, child trafficking, sex trafficking, labour trafficking, organ trafficking, begging trafficking, forced, early and sham marriage, domestic servitude, child labour, surrogacy, etc. etc. etc. - but only one size – XXXXXXXXL!

Modern slaves are everywhere around us – invisible, hidden in plain sight! Practically every aspect of our lives is affected by slavery!

Obviously this is outrageous and we MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! It is time to #EndSlavery! NOW!

Now you might be tempted to think that to #EndSlavery governments around the world should work to end inequality, injustice and corruption, ensure access to education, social protection and employment for all their citizens, enforce labour laws and relax migration regimes.

But this sounds like a mindboggling task for boring people. Ending slavery should be something that we can all do together, share with friends and family and have fun in the process! And what better way than to chase it away with selfies and hashtags on social media!

What is being done about it?

And for those of us who are not athletic and don't like exercising but still want to F*CKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and #EndSlavery, we can take a selfie with a hands-shaped heart and share it on social media with the hashtag #igivehope – to give victims of slavery what they have lost – hope! Or we can make a paper airplane, pledge to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT and share it on social media with the hashtag #FlyToFreedom.

But can we really #EndSlavery with one-off actions once or twice a year? NO! Raising awareness about this terrible injustice and ending the scourge of our times requires us to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT every day, all day! After all, it's the greatest human rights challenge of this century and deserves our full attention!

What can YOU do?

So here are a few ideas how you can incorporate ending slavery into your daily life with very little effort. I've prepared a list of 14 everyday activities that are sure to #EndSlavery (in no particular order of importance)! The list is by no means exclusive, so I welcome suggestions for more easy and fun daily activities we can all share with friends and family to #EndSlavery! After all, I'm just one guy and to #EndSlavery we must all take a stand! Immediately!

So, pull yourselves and your mobile phones together and let's #EndSlavery! And don't forget – sharing is caring! 



1. Write it on a piece of paper in a stern tone, take a photo (better yet, a selfie) and share it on your social media with the hashtag #EndSlaveryNow.

2. Sing to #EndSlavery. As a suggestion, some particular songs that you can sing, if they fit your music taste, can be George Michael's Freedom, Grace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm, Cher's Gypsies Tramps and Thieves, Paul Robeson's Let My People Go, or the Prologue (Look Down) from Les Miserables (and almost any other song from Les Mis). Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #SingForFreedom.


3. Write a letter to Santa. You could write something like “Dear Santa, I've been nice all year long. Please #EndSlavery!” Don't take a photo, though, because it must be a secret, but when you put it in an envelope, stamp it, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #StampItOut.


4. Do your laundry, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #WashItOut and #LaundryForFreedom.

5. Pray, for example, like “Our Father, who art in Heaven, please #EndSlavery!” [Change to suit your deity of choice]. Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #PrayTheSlaveryAway.

6. Throw out your trash, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #DumpIt or #TrashIt.


7. Bake a bunch of (unappealing but tasty) pumpkin and cinnamon rolls (filled with jam and walnuts, if you like) for those whose freedom has been taken away from them and can't bake pumpkin and cinnamon rolls for themselves. Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #BakeForFreedom.

8. Flush the toilet after doing your thing, take a photo and 
share it on your social media with the hashtag #FluShItOut.


9. Masturbate compulsively – the surest way to #EndDemand for #sextrafficking. Don't take a selfie but you can still announce your tireless efforts to #EndSlavery with the hashtags #BeatIt and #EndDemand.

10. Gather your friends and watch together all 100 episodes of Escrava Isaura. Take a selfie (or a group photo) and share it on your social media with the hashtag #DamnYouLeoncio or just I <3 Isaura, to show enslaved girls all over the world that not all men are like Leôncio!

11. Smoke a cigarette for those whose freedom has been stolen from them and can't smoke a cigarette themselves. Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #SmokeItOut, #BurnIt or #LetItBurn.


12. Ask the Universe to #EndSlavery by simply thinking about it. But think it positively (e.g. not “I wish there were no slaves in the world” but “I wish all people were free”!). Take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #WishTheSlaveryAway or #DearUniverse.

13. Clean your apartment (oven, shower, basement, room, whatever), take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #KeepItClean.

14. Play some Candy Crush Soda Saga, take a selfie and share it on your social media with the hashtag #CrushSlavery and #Sodalicious.

Feel free to share your selfies with me and to suggest more fun and easy ways to #EndSlavery!


Now on a more serious note. The aim of this little outburst of sarcasm was to mock the futility of some awareness-raising campaigns and actions out there. While undoubtedly, people need to be aware of exploitative labour situations, most campaigns and calls to action that I see just make me roll my eyes in exasperation of their simplistic story of it being about “bad people doing bad things to poor victims”. But exploitation doesn't happen in a vacuum and it is not even the problem – it's a symptom of deeper problems in society that cannot simply be wished away.

Consider, for example, this analysis from Prof. Chuang's article in the Anti-Trafficking Review:Depicting slavery as the product of individual deviant behaviour, modern-day slavery abolitionism creates a simple moral imperative with enormous popular appeal. And in so doing it depoliticises and absolves … the state for its role in creating the structures that permit, if not encourage, coercive exploitation of workers, especially migrants. The resulting prescriptions thus narrowly focus on punishing the enslavers and rescuing innocent victims. They further suggest that governments, corporations and individuals can eradicate slavery simply by engaging in more ethical consumption of goods and services. Any commitment to addressing the structural contributors to the problem thus becomes extraneous to the anti-slavery project.” And in practical terms, this “simple moral imperative”, these popular representations of "slavery" actually lead to policies and actions that often do more harm than good to real people.

So if you really want to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, start by informing yourself properly and thinking critically. Take a look, for example, at Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, which offers such a critical analysis, and question awareness-raising. If you don't feel like it – that's fine, get involved in another cause or simply enjoy your life and try to be a good person. Or even follow my 14 ways and take selfies, but don't fool yourself that this will change anything.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Vienna-Bratislava or how I ended up undocumented for a day

Sitting with Miro in the University of Vienna
Now this is another one of my travel accounts, or rather about a specific part of my trip to Vienna and Bratislava. I don't want in any way to compare my short experience of losing my documents in a foreign country to the actual difficulties of the millions of undocumented migrants in the world, but I just thought it would be fun to frame it like this. This story, like some of my other stories, has important conclusions (well for me anyway), so keep reading :) 

So at the end of September 2008 my friend Miro invited me to join him for a short trip to Vienna. We were going to fly with a low-cost airline on Wednesday evening and return to Sofia on Monday morning around 8 am in order to go to work. The plane ticket for the return journey was something like 30 Euros, including luggage and we were going to couchsurf in Vienna. The whole trip was supposed to cost us not more than 150 Euros, food, transport and souvenirs included, which, considering our Bulgarian salaries, was a great deal! This was my first ever going abroad for a fun long weekend and I was super excited.

Schönbrun Palace
Our couchsurfing host in Vienna was great and left the next day for the Oktoberfest in Munich, so we were alone in her apartment in the city centre. In the next three days we walked around in Vienna like crazy, went to the Schönbrun palace, the Freud museum, Belvedere, gay bars and discos, the Prater and what not. We had a great time and I loved Vienna. On Sunday, our last day, we decided to go for a day to Bratislava (or as it advertised itself - Bratislover:) - it was one hour and ten Euros away by train. We were supposed to come back in the evening and leave for Sofia the next morning. "Supposed to" being the operative word here. 

We arrived at Petrzalka station in Bratislava around 10-11 am and headed towards the city centre. Not even ten minutes down the road, however, I realised that I don't have anymore my wallet with me - along with my credit and debit cards, my last 20 Euros and my ID card. Now I should mention that part of the fun of being recently accepted in the EU was the ability to travel abroad with our ID cards and not passports, so out of principle I hadn't taken my passport with me. And so I found myself undocumented in a foreign country. Luckily, Miro was always more ... composed and experienced in strange situations than me, so he dragged my sorry panicking ass back to the train station and we found a police station there. The plan was to report that I've lost my ID card and ... well take it from there and see where it goes. But reporting a problem at a police station at a train station in Bratislava on Sunday turned out to be a challenge. We tried to speak English to the first police officer we saw, who then started fretting and going around every possible room to find someone who actually speaks English. After about half an hour of sitting and waiting, I started losing my patience, went to the police officer and explained in what can only be described as a "Slavic language" (so no particular language) that maybe if we use Russian, Bulgarian, Slovakian and hand gestures, we would understand each other. So using such (para-)linguistic mediums, I explained that I've lost my wallet with my ID card. He kept suggesting that it was probably stolen and finally I agreed, considering that you don't pay a fine for a stolen ID card but you do, when you lose it... He gave me a paper stating that I've reported this to the police and told me to go to the Bulgarian embassy, where they can help me. We found a map from a travel agency at the station and headed there. 
Miserable in the centre of Bratislava

I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting from the Bulgarian embassy - I think I had seen too many Hollywood movies where the American hero runs towards the embassy chased by hundreds of baddies shooting at him/her, the embassy opens the gates and he/she then receives care, nourishment and a helicopter to take him/her back home the next day. The harsh reality was that the embassy guard came to the gates and after hearing my story said "I'm sorry but I can't help you, it's Sunday, the consul isn't here, she'll be back tomorrow, so come back at 9 am". So this was a bit of a disappointment but ... better than nothing. Miro and I went to the centre, called the banks to cancel my credit and debit cards, sat on a bench and made a plan - we'd walk around to see Bratislava, he'd give me 100 Euro and go back to Vienna to catch his flight the next day and I would find a hostel to spend the night and go to the embassy in the morning, get a temporary identity document (like those I knew they issue to victims of human trafficking) and take a bus back to Bulgaria. 

Sucker for statues
Now that there was a plan I could finally relax a little (yeah I'm one of those people). Bratislava is a small city, which can be described as "cute". It has a little Czech, Austrian and German spirit but also its own post-communist, recently-EU face. In the early evening Miro took the train back to Vienna and I found a little hostel to spend the night. Then I went to an internet café to check what buses to Sofia there were on the next day and to inform my colleagues at Animus about my predicament and that I won't be able to come to work as planned. I told them that I'd go to the embassy in the morning and hope to travel in the afternoon and be back at work on Tuesday. I checked in my hostel and went for a drink in a gay bar called Apollon. I had a couple of beers and chatted with some guys there and then went to check out a club/disco also called Apollon. To my surprise, a little person opened the door of the club and told me they were having a naked party and I had to undress in order to get in. Or I could stay in my underwear but pay 200 crowns (about 7 Euro) entrance fee. Needless to say, naked Slovakian boys were not my priority at the moment, so I went back to my hostel, had another beer, socialised a little with other hostel visitors and went to bed. 

At 9 am the next morning I was in front of the Bulgarian embassy. Just as I was explaining my situation to the consul and trying to figure out with her what to do next, an embassy officer came in and said someone called to say they found my wallet and will bring it to the embassy around 11. I felt more than relieved and went back to the city centre to take some more pictures, explore some more and kill two hours. I came back at 11, took my wallet with all my things still inside but soon it dawned on me I had another problem now. The bus I was planning to take in the afternoon passes through Serbia where I can't enter with my ID card - I needed a passport. The consul confirmed this and said I could take a bus on Wednesday, which passes through Romania, so I wouldn't need a passport. "But what am I supposed to do until Wednesday, I don't have enough money?", I asked. She said now that I had an ID card, I could call Bulgaria and ask someone to send me money via Western Union. I could use the embassy telephone to make a call, she offered. A PHONE CALL? Not a helicopter, not a bed and a warm meal - just a phone call... Such a banana country! I told them I'd be fine without their phone call and went off to find other ways to get home. 

By now the only way of getting back home seemed to be a flight from Vienna for 180 Euros - three time what we had paid for our return flight! But since my credit card was cancelled I couldn't even pay for it myself, so I had to text Miro again for help. Miro had lost his own credit card a week before but luckily found a friend who could buy my ticket. Finally there was a plan again, I took the train back to Vienna, spent the night at the airport and returned around 8.30 am in Sofia, so happy to be back, unlike all other Bulgarian travellers. Needless to say, after all this, I wasn't a Bratislover at all! 

I thought it was also worth mentioning how my wallet actually found me. When my colleagues from Animus went to the office on Monday, they saw my email about being stuck without documents and then they saw this email from a certain Zdenek from Bratislava. 
With their long experience in coordinating the return of victims of human trafficking, my colleagues immediately called him and told him to take my passport to the Bulgarian embassy. Then they called the embassy to inform them to expect Zdenek. Once back home, of course I sent a thank you e-mail to him too. 

And finally, the promised conclusions. First and most importantly, I now always travel with as many identity documents as possible, and of course, I keep them in separate places. Second, I never choose the cheapest vacation options, out of fear that, like Vienna-Bratislava, it would end up costing me dearly (in the end, I had borrowed an additional 280 Euros!). If I book a cheap flight, I try to book a not-that-cheap hotel. If both are cheap, I just splurge on other things - kind of to appease the gods of travelling abroad. Third, I always keep a business card of my work place in my wallet - the business card of Animus, which was in my wallet for no particular reason, had saved me. Lastly, if in trouble, I would try to rely first on my friends and then, if absolutely necessary, on (Bulgarian) institutions.