Writing From Factor X

July 2, 2012

Simplifying The Outing Process

Filed under: Coming Out — Sciatrix @ 8:48 pm
Tags: ,

I’m currently preparing to move to another city quite far away from the one in which I currently live. I don’t know anyone in my new city yet, and I’m leaving behind a supportive, awesome friends circle where I’m already out to people and the asexuality isn’t an issue. Ideally, I would like to create a new supportive, awesome friends circle in my new city, so I am already planning how best to go about doing that.

This has gotten me thinking about coming out. Obviously I’m going to be doing a lot of outing myself in the near future as I get myself out and about meeting people, so I may as well think about how to do it as easily and stress-free as possible. I tend to be someone who worries a lot, so coming up with plans for handling future awkward situations is something I find comforting. Alas, coming out isn’t something you can do once and never have to bother with ever again—Siggy has an excellent piece on this you should probably check out—so it pays to think about efficient ways to get it over with.

Occasionally I am jealous of gay people who can sometimes come out relatively tactfully just by mentioning the gender of an ex or a current partner. So I started channeling that feeling productively by thinking about low-key, easy ways to come out while not having to direct the conversation immediately into Asexuality 101 unless I really want it to go there. I often like doing Asexuality 101, but not necessarily when I am trying to socialize and get to know someone better.

I have a history of outing myself really, really unsubtly by hauling the conversation over to where I want it to be and announcing my asexuality with all the finesse of a wolverine with a toothache. This was fine when I was more anxious about the whole thing than I am now, but not really what I want to be doing in the future.

Recently I had an awkward outing that went hilariously well—in part, I think, because I assumed that the friend I was outing myself to already knew I was ace. (In my defense, we have at least one mutual friend who did know and they had made several jokes/asked me several questions that made more sense if I assumed they knew. Also, there was the whole thing where I mentioned not getting crushes on anyone some time previously.) I wore a shirt with a Kinsey Scale joke on a mutual trip and this friend asked about it, having mistaken the “X” on my shirt for a chromosome in mitosis. In the process of explaining the joke I revealed my actual identity, causing the friend to go “ohhh, so THAT’S what you identify as.” And then we proceeded to talking about how awesome science was and getting on with our trip.

I’m still considering whether to frame that success as “act as if people already know you’re ace” or “don’t bother with it until the subject comes up organically.” In the case I just mentioned, my friend is a coworker I see almost entirely in the context of work, and I’m not necessarily always comfortable mentioning my sexual orientation in a work context for a variety of reasons. This friend was also aware of asexuality before I outed myself to them (which is part of why I thought I had been out—most people don’t discuss it unless they know full well I’m ace!), and that pre-knowledge made the whole thing much easier in a way I’m not necessarily used to experiencing.

Well? Any thoughts from those of you who are used to finding tactful, low-key ways to let people know? This is a big enough part of me that any friends I make will have to find out sooner or later. I’d rather make the telling as easy as possible.

7 Comments »

  1. Well, I usually go the “act like everyone already knows” way for outing most stuff, also autism. I just talk about my disability benefits like it’s the normalest thing in the world, and they can see the autism organisation magazines lying around on tables, etc. I also usually just try mentioning stuff like “I don’t find people hot” in passing like it’s normal and everyone already knew. Or I’ll mention some conference on the subject that I’ll be attending. Sometimes I’ll carry around books on the subject for personal reading, and people can see it in my bag or see me reading it on breaks or during travelling. Then, if people ask later (they usually also try to make it part of ongoing conversation then), I can explain more, if necessary in a 101 way.

    This works well a lot of the time, but it does mean that there is also still a significant group of people that just doesn’t know, or where I don’t know if they know and how much. That group is larger for asexuality than for other stuff.

    Making a sort of declaration of it, even if it wasn’t really like a “big announcement” or “big talk” has usually gone a lot less well, especially with people who were *not* familiar with such subjects.

    Comment by Norah — July 3, 2012 @ 11:32 am | Reply

    • Yeah, you can really do that with autism because it’s something most people have heard of and know (roughly) what it is–asexuality, often not so much. But mentioning some of the activist work I’ve done in the past could maybe work. Hmmm.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 3, 2012 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  2. Hurrah for ‘make like everyone already knows everything’. I tend to deliberately introduce my sexuality/romantic orientation/general non-straightness as if I was talking about some friend that I forgot I hadn’t mentioned before to the person I was talking to (‘So I was hanging out with Bob and he was doing this thing that was classic Bob- wait, I’ve never told you about Bob?!’)

    It makes everything not a big deal, but it’s also kinda a confrontational strategy, because it’s less like ‘I submit to you my identity and humbly wait for your decision on how big a deal it is’ and more like ‘This isn’t a big deal. There is NO SPACE for you to make it a big deal. Deal.’

    Comment by slightlymetaphysical — July 3, 2012 @ 11:48 am | Reply

    • Yeah, my immediate inclination is always to leave no room for criticism/mocking/general negativity on my identity, which is why I’ve gone with the Toothache Wolverine method of coming out in the past. This sounds like a sliiightly more subtle way of achieving that, now you put it like that.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 3, 2012 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

  3. So your post got me thinking and thinking got me writing and, well: http://queenieofaces.tumblr.com/post/27237426609/coming-out-casually-or-how-to-keep-trains-from
    Long story short: I basically have the same problem as you, in that it’s pretty hard to come out casually, and I usually out myself with all the subtlety of an exploding train. And sometimes when I actually manage to be subtle about it, it just flies right over people’s heads. OH NOOOOOOO.

    Comment by Queenie — July 16, 2012 @ 1:46 am | Reply

    • Oh man, I am so sorry it’s taken so long to respond to you! I’ve been in the process of moving this week, so I’ve been pretty disorganized.

      I do think that bringing up asexuality ahead of time before coming out is a pretty good idea. I’m just… impatient, a lot of the time. Ahem. I don’t think it’s necessarily one of those things you CAN be subtle about, though. To be subtle about bringing something up, I think there needs to be enough awareness of that thing that people can catch it without explicitly being told. I don’t think asexuality has enough wider visibility yet for that.

      Comment by Sciatrix — July 22, 2012 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  4. How do you come out if you have agreed to meet someone for a concert and suspect he has romantic intentions? He’s a nice guy and I don’t want to keep making excuses not to see him alone. I guess I have to bring it up in casual conversation before it seems like a rejection. I’m old(ish) and I ought to have got this figured out by now, but I haven’t!

    Comment by BC — January 20, 2016 @ 12:35 pm | Reply


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