Writing From Factor X

May 25, 2011

Wednesday Linkspam

Filed under: Signal Boost — Sciatrix @ 8:47 am

Feel free to link to blogs I haven’t seen or self-promote in the comments, as usual!

From genuineexpression: The Sexual Privilege Post

This is something that’s come up over the past few days that I really think needs to be explained. I’m going to do my best to define it, but there’s very little scholarly material on it that I’ve read (if anyone has any worthy articles on the topic, I’d love to read them!), so this is just from what I understand sexual privilege to be.

From Ace Anghraine: this makes me feel… mildly annoyed

[Sexual privilege] is not, not, not straight privilege. Neither does it deny straight privilege. They’re not mutually exclusive, they intersect. Patriarchal society revolves around heterosexual, romantic, male-dominated pair-bonding and enforces a binary conception of gender and sexuality. Thus, along the gender-sexuality metric, society grants certain privileges to people who are male, who are straight, who are romantic, who are monogamous, who fit neatly within the male/female or gay/straight binary, who are cisgendered, so on and so forth.

From Asexy Miri: …But Not For You

There’s been talk lately (as there sometimes is) about whether or not asexuals are oppressed, and if they’re sufficiently oppressed to be considered queer.

From Lashings of Ginger Beer: Erasure and Identity

This post began life as a discussion of the ‘I’m-more-oppressed-than-you’ game. There’s been a spate of posts on various sites recently discussing whether asexuals have a ‘claim’ to the queer community, and one argument is that we aren’t oppressed in the same way. Rather than argue this out, I’d much rather share with you my experiences of one particular kind of oppression, one I’m sure many of you are familiar with – erasure.

From Ace Admiral: Can I tell you something?

How can I convince the people who don’t believe me that this is a big deal when all I have is myself? And I don’t just mean the people on the internet whom I can ignore if I want to, I mean my parents.

From lizziegoneastray: So remember that post I made about getting through to my brother Ben?

 Yes, change is always a possibility, but it’s possible for all sexual orientations, not just mine.  So why are asexuals the only ones required to keep an open mind about it?

From Asexual Childfreedom: I Can’t Prove It

Sure! The vast majority of people are parents, or want to be parents… and almost everyone is sexual. That is not proof that YOU, specifically, won’t change your mind. Other people’s life decisions are not evidence for the validity of yours.

From Asexual News: “Shades of Gay” author asking for help on Asexual Suicide Project

In this case, she needs to get in touch with people who are willing to share their stories.  Names are not needed and anonymity will be protected. While numerous studies on suicide rates among LGBT people are common, no one has thought to study the suicide rates among Asexuals of any age.

From sophia_sol: A question for you.

So there is a fic I am making vague stabs at trying to write. It is not going very well. This is in part because I lack some crucial information! Namely, what is it like to experience sexual attraction?

From outlawroad: When Sex and Romance Do Not Mix: Or, Having Two Different Orientations

This post is about bringing attention to the following fact:

There are people in this world whose sexual orientation and romantic orientation do not match.

From Ninny’s Acetravaganza: Things to remember when writing about asexuality for educational purposes

Writing about asexuality in terms of how you experience it can create conflicting ideas of what asexuality is, and can cause confusion for those new to the concept.

From Shahrazad in Pants: Advice from Aces and Ace Allies?

I’m doing a little summer project that may or may not go anywhere, and I’m looking for a little input. 🙂

We’re All In This Together

So in the wake of the shitstorm that’s been happening on Tumblr this week I’ve seen one thing over and over again, and it bugs the shit out of me. It happens basically whenever the policing of asexual queer identities comes up, actually, and it hasn’t gotten any less obnoxious over time.

Sexual people, you actually don’t have the right to tell asexuals that our primary identity is “really” whatever our romantic orientation is. No, not even if we’re identifying as queer.

Some asexuals identify first and foremost as asexual. Some don’t. And that goes regardless of what romantic orientation any given asexual may or may not have. (Hey, some of us don’t have romantic orientations that make a lot of sense! It’s funny how life is confusing that way!) You don’t actually get to tell anyone that their primary identity is totally invalid and they have to use a secondary one (or even a different but related one) because it’s easier for you to understand.

And even for those who don’t put any different weight on either their sexual or romantic orientation, erasing asexuals’ identities as asexual is still absolutely not okay. A heteroromantic asexual person is not the same thing as a straight person. A homoromantic asexual person is not the same thing as a gay person. The experience of being a romantic asexual is different from the experience of being a person with a matching sexual and romantic orientation in a whole bunch of ways.

I think it’s telling, in fact, that when asexuals do divide themselves based on romantic orientation, the usual divide is between people who identify themselves as unambiguously romantic and aromantic or confused people. Within romantic asexuals, I almost never see people dividing themselves between heteroromantic, biromantic, or homoromantic, and the similarity of experiences between these groups is almost always emphasized.

I am really sick and tired of sexual people trying to ignore the reality of asexual identities by pretending that they don’t exist. Because that’s exactly what’s going on when these people try to claim that heteroromantic people are really straight and homoromantic asexuals are really gay. Instead of engaging with the reality of asexuality as an identity in its own right, these people think that they can just sidestep the issue by claiming that asexuality itself doesn’t matter, romantic attraction is the real identifier of queerness or not-queerness!

(You will notice that these people never engage with the reality of aromantic asexuals, except sometimes to put us in the box marked ‘straight’ with no discussion or explanation. You know, it’s funny but I thought that to be a straight girl I actually had to like cock. It’s good to know I was wrong about that!)

Of course, if you brought up the reality of aromantic heterosexual people to these Lord Gatekeepers of the Word Queer, I bet you dollars to donuts they’d claim that those people are also Totally Straight. Yes! Apparently if you’re heteroromantic asexual, romantic orientation is the really important part, but if you’re aromantic heterosexual, sexual orientation is far more important.

The thing is, this is a great way for sexualnormative queer people to avoid having to actually engage with the idea of asexuality as a queer identity. It provides them with a tailor-made way to pretend that asexuality itself is unimportant and that asexual concerns can be dismissed as so much unimportant whining. After all, if you’re saying that the only important problems asexuals have come from their association with The Gay (or, in very slightly more enlightened circles, The Bi), then you can dismiss asexuality itself quite easily from the lists of things that you should probably pay attention to.

Unfortunately for them, the reality of asexuality is much, much more complicated than that. There’s a reason that asexuals discussing sexuality amongst ourselves don’t divide our experience into the “really straight” ones and the “really queer” ones amongst ourselves. That’s because when we share our experiences amongst ourselves, the similarities between us are far more starkly evident than the differences.

Besides, there are a lot of queer issues that apply to heteroromantics specifically because of their asexuality. Ace Admiral recently dug up the Queerness Invisible Knapsack and pointed out that fully 36 out of 40 points can apply just as much to asexuals–including heteroromantics–as they can to other kinds of queer people. Now, if you’re an identity-policing queer person, you get to make a decision here. Do these things matter in terms of oppression, or do they not? Is being “accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my sexual orientation” important? Because that’s something almost every asexual I know has encountered at some point. How about being able to “count on finding a therapist or doctor willing and able to talk about my sexuality”? Important or no? Does it matter when it happens to aces, regardless of any other aspect of their identities, or only when it happens to gay people?

I’m open to discussion of the use of “queer” by asexual people. But that discussion needs to refer to all asexual people, regardless of their other characteristics. And it needs to engage with asexuality as a primary identity on its own first. This divide and conquer bullshit is just that–bullshit. And it needs to stop right now.

May 22, 2011

Writhing in the Throes of Unrequited Like

I’ve been thinking a lot in terms of my romantic orientation lately. I keep seeing things that invite me to discuss them based on whether I identify as romantic or aromantic, for one thing.

The trouble is, I’m not always entirely sure what my romantic orientation is, or even how to define romantic attraction to begin with. I have asked a lot of people to explain how the difference in feeling is so I can tell, and I haven’t really gotten anywhere. I don’t actually expect to any more at this point, to be honest. I usually put myself in the category “aromantic” under the theory that if I was experiencing something that felt like romantic attraction which was qualitatively different from desire for friendship that I definitely experience I would almost certainly notice. Maybe.

It would probably help if I subscribed to a binary understanding of friendship/romance, wherein you have a bunch of friends who you’re rather fond of and like to hang out with sometimes and, basically, like, and then you have your romantic partners who get to cuddle with you and matter more than everyone else and whom you love. Except I don’t, because that trivializes friendships and also would mean that I am dating about ten people by now, some of whom are in monogamous romantic relationships with other people. And I don’t think I am anyone’s secret hidden love affair.

So okay, I tend to identify as aromantic when I’m feeling easily categorizable and wtfromantic when I’m feeling frustrated and cranky. (I don’t actually like greyromantic because it’s not a matter of experiencing romantic attraction rarely or only in certain situations or whatever, it’s a matter of not being sure I even know what romantic attraction or, for that matter, a romantic relationship even is. I can only rely on what other people tell me and a lot of it is contradictory or feels very, very weird.) I can live with that, even if it’s a little unusual. Besides, I know several other people who feel pretty similarly to me, and talking to them helps a lot. (Hi, guys!)

Except I keep running into things where people say they wish they were aromantic and asexual because that seems like it would be so much emotionally easier, and it must be really nice not to have to ever deal with unrequited love, and aromantic people are so lucky to be able to avoid that! And then I have to laugh, and laugh, and laugh, and then sometimes go hit something.

For those people who are allergic to tales of personal woe, you may wish to turn back now.

Background information: the kind of relationship I actually want involves a bunch of things, but it boils down to having a friend who is close enough to me that I get to see them all the time and either live very close to them indeed or live in the same home. I don’t really want to share a room or a bed, just live in close proximity and do things like cook dinner and bicker over terrible television and shove books at one another and, you know. Share my life with someone. In short, I would like to have a zucchini one day. I really don’t care if said zucchini dates anyone else or gets married or anything like that, as long as they don’t either leave or make me leave. Most of what I want can be found under the TV Trope Nakama, which makes it really awesome that the trope description includes this sentence:

This sort of group dynamic appeals to younger audiences who are unfamiliar with romance, and appeals to older audiences who live in a world of complex relationships and convenience masqueraded as false friendship, who are feeling nostalgic about the times when friendship meant a lifelong bond.

Yeah, either I’m an immature child who doesn’t know what real romance is yet or else I’m… nostalgic for oversimplified, easy relationships from a time in my life I haven’t actually experienced. Ever. It really gets you coming and going–either you love this trope because you’re too naive to understand it’s not real, or you love it because you’re too cynical and embittered to like romance the way it is! Wow, I love reading that sentence, it makes me feel invisible and insulted all over again every time I see it. That’s quality erasure right there.

Anyway, I am unfortunately no more logical and in control of my emotions than any romantic person is, and I have been fixating on a friend of mine and wanting her to be my zucchini for a depressingly long time. (Because I like puns and neither “crush” or “squish” seem to work–I don’t want to date her and we’re already friends–I think of this as an unrequited squash.) This is almost certainly not going to happen, which does not prevent my friend from giving me the mother of all mixed signals every time we have a discussion about our relationship. It is very painful.

In a lot of ways, I actually would rather that I had an unrequited crush on my friend, because then (assuming I could get the courage up), I could say “I have a crush on you, and I need you to know this so that I can take some time to avoid you for a little while until I get over it.” And then I could flee until the waves of embarrassment subsided and eventually we might have been able to be friends again properly. At the very least, in that situation I could say that sentence and the mixed signals would probably go away.

In the situation I have now, before I could say that sentence I would need to have a protracted and extremely painful discussion of romantic orientation in general, mine in particular, several months’ worth of conversation with other like minds, my own personal dreams for the future and depressing certainty that they are unlikely to come to pass, and also my complicated and apparently one-sided feelings for her. And then I would need to gamble that she a) understood and b) believed me and also c) did not take this as an opportunity to send me even more mixed signals and then not actually follow up on them.

Things are not exactly going well. So, you know, if I hear one more romantic person say they want to be in my shoes because my emotional life must be so much easier than theirs I might have to scream. After all, from where I’m standing at least romantic people can expect everyone to understand what they’re talking about when they complain about their personal problems.

May 18, 2011

Wednesday Linkspam

Filed under: Signal Boost — Sciatrix @ 5:46 pm

I have a laptop again! Which means my enforced hiatus is hopefully over, thankfully. I’m celebrating with a linkspam.

Also, I am caving to my desire to comment on various tumblr things and acquiring a tumblr. I really hate the format the site uses, and most of my content should still be posted here, but if you want to ask me something or are interested in it, it exists.

From asexy beast: Carnival of Aces Round 2: Call for Participation

The theme for this month’s post is The intersection between race, ethnicity, culture, or nationality and the asexual identity.

From Things and Stuff: A Happy Post About Asexuality

Tonight I had a wonderful conversation with a friend/dormie who is also asexual and we realized that we had an unnaturally large number of people who were asexual (including those who might be, but we weren’t sure) currently living in our dorm.

From Confessions of an Ist: Yes Means Yes: Asexuality and Enthusiastic Consent

A Feministe post on enthusiastic consent got me thinking that it might not be a bad idea to talk about this asexual’s misgivings about enthusiastic consent.

From Shades of Gray: Willing Consent

Ironically, a standard designed to remove pressure may actually be causing some people to feel pressured, so it may be a good idea to start using a new term in addition to enthusiastic consent.

From the Unapologetic Ace: Oh, Wait.

Asexuals aren’t abnormal, they’re just uncommon. Quit picking on them, deal with it, and back off. No one should have to prove the legitimacy of their orientation, asexual or no.

From asexual curiosities: The big, bad wolf

But sex is more important for me than (traditional) romance. I’m on that side of the ratio. You know, the evil side.

From outlawroad: Examples of Sexual Ignorance, Exhibit B

I think it’s some fucked up Bullshit that America has its people trained to think the essence of humanity is demonstrated primarily or exclusively through romantic coupling. Because that’s basically what this girl was saying—that if you have no interest in romance (sexual or asexual), you aren’t human. Or at least, not properly human.

From Nami: response to a queersecret

 I get enough crap for being aromantic elsewhere, I don’t need to go into my community and be reminded of the fact that other aces don’t want me to represent them because I’m weird and they don’t want people thinking they’re weird too.

From An Asexual Space: Realizing my asexuality

Reading this journal is yet another reminder to me that visibility is important. Because when you’re invisible to other people, they may ignore you unintentionally, they may not make space for you, they may make assumptions about people with your behavior sets. And when you’re invisible to yourself, you may make assumptions, too.

From Ace Admiral: Comparing Apples and Roses

Anyway, I saw a topic that I wanted to say something about, and I am not above petty theft of topics, so: slurs against asexual people, namely “frigid” and “prude.”

May 1, 2011

Carnival of Aces Guest Post

Filed under: Carnival of Aces,Coming Out — Sciatrix @ 5:33 pm
Tags: , ,

Although I accepted the fact that I was asexual pretty much as soon as I first learned the word, it took me a while to get comfortable coming out to people.  In fact, I didn’t actually open my mouth and say the words “I’m asexual” to another person for almost six months.  I was a freshman in college then, and I’d heard way too many horror stories from people on AVEN about how they attempted to come out only to face derision, concern-trolling, anger, etc. for me to be comfortable with the idea. I didn’t feel ready to deal with any of that, so I just didn’t tell anyone at first.

Then, months later, the campus LGBT organization came into one of my classes and did a student panel where they discussed every letter on the full LGBTQQIAA acronym and what it meant, and the students on the panel shared their personal stories.  The final letter on the acronym indeed stood for asexuality.  I was floored.  Not only was asexuality included on the acronym, but they actually gave the correct definition for it!  And even talked about romantic orientation!  As though they’d actually cared enough to do research on asexuality and familiarize themselves with the concepts!  As though *gasp* they’d actually talked to asexual people in the process!

I was beyond elated, but I didn’t say anything or out myself to them.  However, by the time class was over, I’d reached a decision:  I’m going to do it.  I’m going to come out to someone.  I figured that people were less likely to be assholes about it since it had just been discussed by the panel, and anyway, I didn’t know anybody in that class very well so even if there was a bad reaction, it wouldn’t hurt as much.  With that in mind, I struck up a conversation with one of the returning adult students, a woman in her late forties.  We were talking about how cool it was that these student panels worked to educate people and how important it was to hear people’s stories, and at one point I finally took the plunge and said, “Yeah, you know, I’m so happy they actually included asexuality, because I’m asexual and people usually don’t even know we exist.”

I paused, heart racing, and tried not to look too anxious during the approximately second-long interval before she answered with, “Oh, wow!  That’s awesome.  I didn’t know asexuality even existed before this, but I’m glad they discussed it.  It must be awful when you’re not included anywhere.”

I felt slightly stunned.  I’d actually done it:  I’d actually come out to someone.  And I didn’t even get bingoed!  In fact, the response had been awesome.  I hadn’t even realized how much I hated being in the closet until I’d finally come out of it for one brief moment—it felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from my heart.  It’s incredible how much that affirming, positive response meant to me.  I felt like I finally had permission to be myself, no more lies and silence involved.

After that, coming out became much easier.  I came out to some more random classmates and even two professors, all with positive responses.  Then came the considerably more nerve-wracking step of coming out to someone close to me, in this case my younger brother.  I spent days angsting over it, but the actual event was pretty anti-climactic: he just stared blankly at me and said, “Why would I care if you’re asexual?  It doesn’t matter to me what orientation you are.  You’re my sister and I love you.”  Fwawwwww…

With each coming-out that I did, my confidence increased and I got better at it.  Since I no longer felt like I was going to die of anxiety when I told people, my initially nervous, hundred-mile-an-hour ramblings about what asexuality was gradually became a simple, matter of fact explanation:  This is who I am.  This is what it means.  It’s in no way up for debate.  I am a queer person and have always been.  Trying to invalidate my identity is heterosexist and hurts my feelings.  Plus it makes you look like an asshole.  (This last part is subtly implied.)

Tone of voice and how you present yourself are extremely important when you’re coming out to people.  When you’re calm and confident—and above all unapologetic—it’s much harder for anyone to bingo you.  People are less likely, in my experience, to concern-troll someone who seems relaxed and uses “I am” statements instead of “I think” or “I feel like.” However, if the Marginalized Ace Person ™ hirself seems nervous or unsure, it becomes much easier for the Privileged Straight Person ™ to pounce on this perceived sign of weakness and mask their assholery as concern.  After all, Ace Person is clearly distressed and Straight Person is just so worried about them—they only want them to be happy!  I mean, how can they comfort Ace person with reassurances of (straight) sexual-ness if Ace person actually seems *le gasp* happy with who they are?

Now, I know a lot of aces have gotten bad responses from other queer people as well (which is truly sad and should not happen).  However, I myself have never been bingoed by anybody who wasn’t straight.  Also, I know it’s not always easy to be confident about coming out—let’s face it, we live in a society that does not respect queer people (to put it incredibly mildly).  And like I said, it can take time to work yourself up to that place of confidence and being relaxed and comfortable in your identity, and that’s okay!

If you’re expecting a bad reaction from someone, it can help to prepare yourself by reading and/or talking to other people about their experiences.  The first time I got bingoed was definitely upsetting, but I was able to handle it.  I’d read the advice and compilations of snarky and/or intellectual comebacks that other ace people had graciously put together to help newbies like myself, and this proved invaluable.  (The good thing about bingos, by the way, is that they’re incredibly predictable. Once you become even slightly familiar with them, you can spot one a mile off.)

These days I’m out to pretty much everyone: friends, classmates, professors. (I’m not out to my parents, but that’s a whole other story.) The responses have been mostly great, with a few exceptions. I even joined the campus queer group I mentioned earlier (who were thrilled to have me, and have been unbelievably wonderful and supportive), and I sign up for as many student panels as I can in a semester so that I can come out to entire classrooms of complete strangers and share my story in an environment where no one would dream of bingoing me.  Because coming out is important.  Coming out shows people that we exist, and that there’s nothing wrong with us.  We’re here, we’re queer—a lot of people haven’t gotten over it yet, as evidenced by the ridicule and the harassment and the outright pathologization that we’re continually blasted with, but if enough of us come out, they’ll have to get over it.  Already many people have heard the word “asexuality” and perhaps even kinda sorta know what it means, but our fight is far from over.

And more importantly, you coming out is how other aces learn they exist, how there’s a word for their feelings, how other people feel the same way, how they’re not wrong or sick or strange or broken.  I think maybe one of the proudest moments of my life was when another adult student, a man in his early fifties, came up to me after a panel and said, “Hey, I thought about what you said, and I honestly think I’m probably asexual,” and then told me his personal story, which was indeed pretty indicative of aceness.  He surprised and relieved to finally discover a label that fit.  Moments like that, and the wonderful experience I’ve had with these panels in general, are why I fight so hard for visibility. (They’re also why the acceptance and support of the greater LGBT community are so, so important if we’re to receive recognition as a valid orientation and respect as human beings, but that’s a topic for another time.)

So if you can, and if you feel comfortable doing so, please: come out to people.  Be open about who you are.  Be proud, not ashamed.  The world will be a much better place for it.

A Carnival of Aces Round-Up: Coming Out

Filed under: Carnival of Aces — Sciatrix @ 12:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the round-up for the first edition of the Carnival of Aces!

First, thank you to everyone who participated or commented on participating posts. This carnival couldn’t happen without you guys, and I was really thrilled to see the level of response that came out of this project. You guys are awesome.

Certain themes ran through many of this month’s responses. Many people talked about being afraid to come out, while several people who had come out described it as anticlimactic. Several people thought that coming out wasn’t worth the hassle. A lot of people discussed coming out as something that is a lot easier online than offline. The theme of dealing with negative reactions in particular ran strongly through almost every response. Regardless of topic, though, I was thrilled to see every entry, and I can’t wait to see what else the carnival goes on to produce.


Siggy talks about being an experienced outcomer–and about how coming out never really stops.

Teafeather wonders how coming out might be made easier for asexuals.

Astrid discusses the difficulties of coming out for one personality in a multiple system.

Elizabeth talks about pressuring people to come out and why that’s a bad idea.

Pipisafoat doesn’t like the term “coming out” at all–after all, zie’s not exactly hiding!

Anonymous thinks it’s better to show, not tell.

Wiring’s not sure coming out is worth it.

The Ace student has good reasons for not outing herself to everyone.

The Ace Eccentric is choosy about who gets to know–and most of them are on the Internet.

Avail is very slowly sliding out of the closet.

Pippin is coming out of the closet in stages, too.

Lasciel doesn’t want to be closeted ever again.

Eowyn thinks that coming out reminds people that we exist.

Divalady shares her feelings on a very uneventful coming out experience.

Gretchen’s coming out was similarly anticlimactic.

Elizabeth Barrette contributes a poem about an asexual character coming out.

And I told the story of the process I went through before I decided to come out at all.

And with that, the carnival draws to a close for the month! The next round of the carnival will be held by Ily at Asexy Beast and will be concluded on June 1.

Thank you all!

Edging Out Of The Closet

This post was originally written for the Carnival of Aces.

When I first identified as asexual, I swore I’d never be out.

Okay, so obviously that’s changed considerably in the intervening years. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I identified as asexual for about three and a half years before I felt brave enough to come out to anyone. I admire anyone who is brave enough to come out in high school; I’ll tell you right now that I wasn’t one of them, despite the fact that I was pretty sure what I was and even had the words before I’d finished my freshman year of high school.

I was terrified to explain, you see.

I’d spent quite a bit of time watching discussions about asexuality online after I thought “oh, that’s me,” and I hadn’t failed to notice that claiming asexuality in those spaces didn’t exactly get you friendly, polite reactions. And okay, it’s not like I particularly trusted anyone with that information. My parents weren’t overtly homophobic–but they reacted to any hint of queerness with giggling discomfort, and that seemed like a bad omen. As for my friends, well, I moved a few months after I started identifying myself as asexual, and there was no one at my new high school that I trusted not to react badly.

Also, I was pretty sure that no one would believe me. When I found out about asexuality for the first time, I was fourteen–and I was already accustomed to being told that no, eventually I would totally change my mind and want to marry a boy some day. (I even believed it some of the time. Not that I was actually changing my mind for the moment, but that I would eventually.) To add insult to injury, by that point my mother had spent years insisting that I definitely had a secret crush on one of my two male best friends, despite the fact that I hadn’t seen either of them since I was ten. I was pretty sure that if I couldn’t even get people to listen when I said I wasn’t interested in a specific person, they weren’t going to listen when I said I wasn’t interested in anyone.

So I decided coming out wasn’t worth it. But the idea of trying to hide, of feigning crushes on boys or trying to feign an actual relationship, seemed anathema. I don’t lie if I have any choice at all, and I certainly don’t lie if there’s a chance of hurting anyone as a result, and in any case I’m quite bad at lying to begin with. So I figured that if I pretended that being myself was just a subset of me being a bit weird, that if it was just an individual idiosyncrasy, I’d fit better–or at least I wouldn’t stand out quite so much.

At this point another fact about me needs to be mentioned: although I’m a cis woman, my gender presentation is not exactly femme. And in fact, as I was easing into identifying as asexual to myself, I was also easing into the kind of gender presentation that made me feel most comfortable. I cut my hair shorter and shorter, despite my parents’ increasing objections and nagging. I wore baggy T-shirts a lot. My gender presentation was ambiguous enough that it wasn’t unusual for people to assume I was a boy or to try to guess my gender while talking to me.

It’s perhaps not surprising in that light that a lot of people started to assume I was gay. I must have been asked up front about my sexual orientation dozens of times before I came out with varying levels of politeness and tact. In middle school, before I even knew what I was, I think it was mostly an attempt to hurt me; by high school the questions tended to be more polite, but I still found them annoying. My parents sat down with me and attempted to coax me into confessing my possible gayness several times, alternating between “if you are gay, we’ll support you” and “if you don’t act more girly, a lesbian might hit on you, and that would be terrible!” The mixed messages that came out of those talks weren’t precisely encouraging.

I am not good at passing for straight, is what I am saying. And the net result of all the questioning is that I started to get aggravated. For me, saying “I’m just not interested” and leaving it at that doesn’t seem to be an option, at least not for people I spend any length of time with. Besides, as all this was going on I was starting to feel more secure in my orientation itself, and I was starting to think more about what being asexual meant to me. There were times when I really wanted to talk to someone about what being asexual meant to me, and anyway I was sick of not sharing all of myself with people I cared about. Also, I was really getting tired of the thinly-veiled attempts to figure out whether I was secretly a lesbian.

So in the summer after my senior year, I decided that when I went to college I was going to be out, at least to my friends, if only to make the “are you really gay?” questions stop happening. And in the fall, a few weeks after meeting the people I ended up being friends with, I came out in meatspace for the first time. All at once, so I didn’t have to hunt people down later. I remember being prickly and sharp and making it very clear that this was not a subject open to debate, and I remember being absolutely blindsided by the immediate reaction of one person, who exclaimed “Man, that’s awesome, now I know someone from every sexual orientation!” That experience went well, although not all of the later ones did.

Coming out didn’t solve everything, though. It didn’t necessarily let me talk more about what my asexuality meant to me. It didn’t solve all of the misconceptions people, including friends who knew me well, had about who I was and what I wanted out of life. And it didn’t stop me feeling terrified every time I did try to mention asexuality. So eventually, after a year or so had passed, I resolved to actually talk more about asexuality and be more open about what I was–not just coming out, but discussing my sexuality past that point and sharing some of the things going on inside my head with the people I care about.

I told a friend why Mercedes’ Lackey’s Oathbound books were so important to me, and I talked about what the publication of Guardian of the Dead meant to me when it came out for the first time and I bought it. I lent it round to everyone I knew, too.

I came out in the middle of a class to explain my asexual perspective on the discussion topic, and then brought up asexual perspectives later on over the course of that semester. (Another person came out right back to me. It was exhilarating once I got past the fear.)

A year ago, I finally bought a black ring. I was so nervous about it that I waited to purchase one until I made a solitary out-of-state road trip, and then bought one from a rock shop on my way home. I went through several before I got the one I have now.

I started this blog, and a few months later I mentioned that I was writing it to my friends. I don’t think any of them reads it now, but I know that two of them have looked at it.

A month ago I finally got around to explaining the joke about the name of the show “Ace of Cakes.”

I’m not to the point where I want to be yet, but I’m getting there. And even though it’s scary for me to keep talking, I’m glad I started. For me, being able to share all of who I am with people I care about is worth it.

Carnival of Aces Guest Post: Coming Out: Is It Necessary?

Filed under: Carnival of Aces,Coming Out — Sciatrix @ 11:19 am
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This guest post was originally written by Anonymous for the Carnival of Aces.

Let me preface this post by saying that I have told my immediate family, my three closest friends in the meatspace, two of my closest friends in the virtual space, one other friend, and two friends/acquaintances (with whom it came up in context), that I am asexual. I told different people for different reasons. My friends who know I am asexual are very helpful in having discussions with me about our society’s sexual and romantic norms, and these discussions help me try to understand things that would otherwise be a blank. My family, on the other hand, I was apprehensive about telling, but I was afraid their feelings would be hurt if they later discovered I had been positively identifying as asexual for some time. In retrospect, that might not have been the best reason, but their reactions were net positive, and now I can have helpful discussions with them, as well. I have, therefore, experience with telling people that I am asexual.

Now, I am in an odd position where the people closest to me know I am asexual, but the vast majority of the people I interact with on a daily basis do not. Offhand, I can think of at least two friends who might be either surprised, or hurt that I have told other people but not them; I can think of conversations that have gone oddly because the other participants assumed I had a working knowledge of sexual attraction and/or entered into society’s sexual and romantic norms, where I did not choose to enlighten them. This prompts the question, why haven’t I told my friends, and why don’t I explain to make conversations simpler?

There are multiple reasons. Sometimes, I worry that my friends’ reaction would make me think less of them, and would damage our bond for a while. Sometimes I’m just tired of explaining. The biggest reason, though, is usually apathy. I’ve told all the people to whom it really matters to me to tell, and now my sexual orientation has settled into the status of being just another fact about me that not everyone knows, like the fact that I’m a dancer or a scientist. Beyond that, I get annoyed at the idea that just because I am different from most of the population, I should feel the need to go around telling people so. My sexual orientation is just as much, if not more, part of my private identity as my public identity, and I like to keep private things private. I’m not ashamed of them, but they’re not everyone’s business, either.

I’m not going to lie to anyone, but neither am I necessarily going to tell them I’m asexual unless directly questioned or unless conversations are impossible to detangle otherwise. The longer I seem “normal,” the more normal asexuality will seem when I eventually am discovered as asexual; the less of a deal I make about it, the less likely other people are to see asexuality as something huge, something problematic, something pitied… or so I hope, anyway.

This is a position of privilege, I realize. I’m not homoromantic or biromantic, so I usually pass as heterosexual; I don’t live in a community where my lack of heteroromantic attachment has raised any eyebrows or put me in any danger. I’m neither trans nor genderqueer, so my gender identity, which is often perceived in tandem with one’s sexual orientation, is not under scrutiny. I am not saying the way I have publicized my asexuality, or my reasons for doing so, are good for or applicable to anyone else; I simply want to present another way of looking at the concept of “coming out.”

Carnival of Aces Guest Post: “Untitled”

Filed under: Carnival of Aces,Coming Out — Sciatrix @ 9:00 am
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This guest post was originally written by Avail for the Carnival of Aces.

I haven’t bothered to “come out”.
Well, technically. I’ve admitted that I’m asexual to a grand total of 4 people, 1 awkward slip of the tongue and now, the entirety of the internet. Funny how it works.

There’s been nothing spectacular or inspiring or even note-worthy about it. A question here and there, an “ok, that’s cool” and back to the topic at hand, a “duh, I figured”.

I never expected or wanted fanfare, especially for something I never actively hid. My friends think I’m a “closet freak” because I’m a walking reference book for kink and sexuality. I just like to be educated about the human body, and think sex is a fascinating subject. My nickname for the past four years was “Heartbreak Hernandez” because I left a trail of rejected boys. I wasn’t playing coy, I just knew what they wanted and I wasn’t interested. My mother anxiously waits for an introduction to a boyfriend. I simply tell her that the chances of finding someone like me is a tad low, and to stop wasting her time. I’m the nuance of phrasing responses. I’m a little white lie, hoping no one gets hurt.

I’m not rushing out of the closet. I’m slowly slowly sliding out, but the little steps (like this post) give me more confidence. It’s a process, something I’m coming to terms with. My family is steeped in secrets, they might not ever know. But telling friends, my support system, who were willing to listen was a relief. It was the feeling of wanting to burst from this secret in me, the desire to be open and honest about who I am. And how could I, who value the truth so much, not reciprocate with the people closest to me? That’s why I’m writing this.

In my dream world, there wouldn’t be a need for posts like this. It would all be taken with a grain of salt and without judgment. And maybe with a heartfelt “I’m happy for you” and “You’re not alone”.

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