Writing From Factor X

January 29, 2012

Paneling Versus Coming Out: Thoughts On Presentation

Filed under: Carnival of Aces,Visibility — Sciatrix @ 11:19 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This post was originally written for the Carnival of Aces. This month’s theme is “Re/presentation.” 

As it happens, one of the things I’ve been doing while I’ve been on posting hiatus recently is doing Q&A panels with my local LGBTQA campus group. (I have posted recaps of some of them in other places.) Recently, I’ve been thinking about the differences in the way that I present myself when I’m speaking on a panel as a representative of aces and the way I present myself when I’m just coming out to someone I think needs to know I, specifically, am ace.

For one thing, I’m pretty guarded when I’m coming out. About a year ago I wrote about a concept I called the “unassailable asexual,” in which I argued that there was pressure (especially internalized pressure) on aces doing visibility work to present themselves in a way that opened as few avenues to attack on their sexuality as possible.

I still think that that internal pressure is a bad thing that discourages some people from doing visibility work, but it’s not something that I spend that much time personally resisting, either. Particularly when I out myself, I often take care to omit anything that might be construed as an invitation to doubt my orientation. I’m actually a lot more willing to talk about some of the ways in which I fit the ways that people usually attempt to invalidate asexuals  in panels than I am when I come out.

I think this may be because I’m typically much more relaxed when I’m paneling  than I am when I’m coming out to someone. There are several reasons for this. First, when I’m paneling I’m sitting as an invited authority next to two to three other representatives of other groups from my LGBTQA organization. Often I’m paneling for a class of some sort, in which case the instructor has often warned their students to be polite beforehand (and in one case, had apparently briefed their class roughly on asexuality before I ever walked into the room!). In contrast, when I have to come out, I don’t have any more psychological authority than the other person does, which means that people are less likely to acknowledge that I know what I’m talking about, even when it comes to my own sexuality.

I also feel more comfortable when I’m giving panels because it’s understood, when I panel, that I’m speaking as an individual representative for a larger group of people who share an identity, not just for myself. The very fact that I’m sitting on a panel states that I’m not speaking and answering questions purely for myself but for a larger category of people whom I belong to. It’s easier to avoid invalidation when the discussion becomes not a question of whether you personally are deluded/lying/ill but a question of whether a large group of people could all be correct about themselves. 

Panels are easier for me, too, because (paradoxically) the point is to be as open and forthright about everything as possible. I often find that I have a hard time figuring out where the social line between “silent and vaguely uncomfortable on all aspects of discussion of sexuality” and “cheerfully breaking out odd facts about animal reproduction as well as interesting aspects of human sexuality” lies. The fact that I have no personal experience with romantic relationships or romantic and sexual attraction usually doesn’t help. Panels are squarely in the “TMI” category, which makes it much easier for me to deal with the limits of what counts as socially acceptable and what doesn’t. 

There are also certain questions, like the masturbation question, that I am actually personally completely unbothered by answering. However, outside of a panel situation where I have offered ahead of time and signed up to be asked all manner of personal questions, I don’t believe in encouraging people to ask random aces that question or allowing people to demand aces to bare every detail of their personal lives as the price of coming out. I believe that (outside of a situation in which I’ve agreed ahead of time to share), if one person is sharing in a conversation, everyone should expect to have to share the same level of personal information in the conversation. I also find that many people asking aces the masturbation question become extremely uncomfortable if you ask them to share their own personal sexual habits. Given those beliefs, it can be a little difficult for me to handle questions like that in a personal setting. Panels let me answer them and then add a post script on the basic right of privacy for everyone outside of a specialized situation in which people are offering to answer questions. 

There are other differences in the way I behave when I panel and the way I behave when I come out. I am often much friendlier about the whole topic when I’m paneling than I am when I out myself. Part of this comes back to the point I made earlier about feeling safer and more comfortable when I’m paneling, and part of it comes back to the fact that I have found that the more brusque and confident I am when I out myself, the less likely people are to take this as an invitation to attempt to invalidate me. 

I also sometimes out myself in situations when I’m not mentally prepared or particularly willing to answer many questions, and I have found that being not particularly friendly and welcoming about coming out lessens the chance that I will suddenly be expected to give a tour of Planet Asexual without warning. This usually happens when I’m suddenly asked a direct question about my sexual orientation or about my romantic status and I want to clear up the problem, but I don’t have the emotional energy to discuss much further or entertain the inevitable personal questions. 

To give an example of suddenly be expected to educate without warning, I was once hanging out with a group of friends. I had been there for a few hours and was dozing, half asleep and completely relaxed, on my friend’s couch. Suddenly one of my friends, who I was out to, mentioned asexuality to a friend I was not out to as part of some other conversation. The second person was understandably interested and wanted to know more, whereupon the first said “Well, it’s [Sciatrix], you should ask her!” There went my lazy afternoon! Now I was expected to drop everything and play question-and-answer with a person whom I hadn’t actually had any plans to talk to about asexuality in the future, let alone in that particular instant. 

Paneling, by contrast, has a specific schedule and a time limit, and I know exactly when and for how long I’m agreeing to answer questions. Moreover, I’ve agreed to do that ahead of time, so I can’t be surprised by the sudden need to educate, and I can have as much time as I want to prepare for any questions that might come up. The questions are even pretty standard both ways, so I can prepare answers ahead of time if I want. 

I don’t think any of these reactions are particularly ace-specific, but I do find it interesting that I am far, far more comfortable paneling than I am coming out to new people. I hear a lot of people tell me “Oh, I could never do that!” when I mention paneling in ace spaces, but I find that at least for me?

The paneling is way less scary. 

June 26, 2011

On Community

This post was originally written for the Carnival of Aces. This month’s prompt is “community.” 

When I first saw that Siggy had chosen the topic of community for this month’s carnival, I was excited. I could do this one! I’d been meaning to write a post about community anyway!  I could share my feelings about how important community is to me!

And then I promptly got distracted and forgot to actually write the post for several weeks. Whoops. (In fairness, I am less late than I have been with the two other carnivals I’ve written things for, when I ended up writing posts on the evening before. I’m not great with deadlines.)

The thing is, I think community is really, really important. Especially if, as with asexuality, you’re banding together around an identity that’s generally rendered invisible in every aspect of our lives. When you’re dealing with people telling you all the time that you can’t exist, it can be lifesaving to have people who not only say “yes, you are real,” but “and I’m the same way.”

I’ve gained a lot from interacting with asexual communities over the years. Just the knowledge that I’m not alone is very important to me. I can’t stress that enough; knowing you’re not the only one out there

But it’s stronger than that. It’s things like–when I was beginning to figure out what I wanted in terms of relationships, when I was confused and upset and trying to understand what I wanted, I had people who would tell me that it was okay, they wanted that too. And I had people explaining what they wanted when I asked, and trying to explain what they felt when I asked to know that, and telling me that however I ended up it was okay. Even when I didn’t ask, reading the explanations other people wrote of the kinds of relationships they wanted and didn’t want helped me to understand what I wanted, too.

When I’ve said I’m scared for my future, people have crowded around to tell me they understand, they’re scared too. Or that they’re optimistic that things will get better. Or even just that they hear my pain, they acknowledge it, and they wish the world was a better place.

When some asshole on the Internet says something nasty about asexuals, I know that I’m not the only person who will stand up for us. When I complain about being depicted as sociopaths in media, I know that other people will band around me to share in my anger, and when I’ve needed to vent about experiences that have left my hands shaking and barely holding back tears, I have had people who will bandy around me and tell me that what happened was wrong, but not my fault.

Community is important. Standing up for each other is important. Alone, I am easily ignored; with community standing behind me, we can begin to change the world a tiny bit.

When the Ace Admiral wrote this post about responsibility for one another some months ago, I nearly applauded before I remembered I was sitting at a laptop. Because I fundamentally agree with the central argument of the post: we have a duty to one another. Not a duty that asks for more than we can give, no. But I think that we owe it to each other to pay support forward at least a little. And I think we have an obligation to help each other as best we can.

One of my primary goals in creating this space is to try to engender a sense of community in the asexual/aromantic blogosphere. It’s why I run linkspams: I want everyone’s voices to be heard, not just a few voices. It’s why I started the Carnival of Aces to begin with–I wanted to come up with a way to encourage people to start sharing their thoughts. It’s why I’m experimenting with open threads right now. I want people to discuss their problems and feel comfortable bouncing ideas off each other and find support with each other. I want people to feel comfortable writing their own blogs or sharing their experiences or speaking their minds in any format they like.

And I want them to have different spaces to have those discussions in. I am a big believer in decentralized communities and having multiple spaces devoted to particular topics. I’ve seen many new community types spring up in the past year, from vlogs like HPOA to a slew of new blogs in the blogosphere to the active Tumblr scene to at least three or four new forums. Having a lot of different spaces to interact with serves a variety of purposes. Some people are more comfortable interacting with people in some formats than others; I, for example, really dislike dealing with video, so spaces that are more text-oriented work much better for me. And the different cultures that form in different spaces even within the same medium can create niches for different people.

I’d like to see more kinds of spaces for asexuals yet. I’d like to see more offline spaces, just for starters. Most of all, though, what I want to see is asexual communities decentralizing. I’ve seen communities take huge, bounding steps in this direction in the past year, and that fills me with joy. Because here’s the thing: Lots of smaller communities are more likely to be able to serve everyone, or almost everyone, than one big community.

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.

Enjoy!

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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”.

Blog at WordPress.com.