So I was in Barnes and Noble and this book caught my eye. It’s called “SEX” and it’s by Nikal Hasler. Even though I didn’t think they would have something on asexuals (because of the constant erasure we face) I flipped to the index and scanned for asexual. I was greeted by the pleasant surprise that are these two pages, one on sexualities and the other on gender. Even though there are a few missing, the fact that this book is out there and spreading the word on bi, pan, and asexuals, made my day. So yeah, just wanted to share this with the community :)
So apparently people are under the impression that I am some kind of coming out guru. I’m not. But it’s nice of you to think I am, I guess! But, anyway, I keep getting asks about tips for coming out, so I figured I’d drop them here, just in case people want to take advantage of my not-guru-ish powers.
Standard disclaimer: I am not a coming out guru. I am actually pretty awkward at it a lot of the time. These are problems/responses I’ve specifically run into when coming out, and ways I’ve come up with to make the process smoother. These are tips specifically for people who are coming out as asexual, but I think some of them could probably be adapted to coming out in general.
Also, I’ve written a bit about coming out before here and here.
Anyway, tips for coming out as asexual, Queenie edition! (This is huge, because I am incapable of writing anything concise.)
Don’t submit your orientation for approval.
This is mostly a question of how you come out. Don’t apologize. Don’t say you might maybe be kind of asexual-ish. (If you are unsure, that’s totally okay! Personally, I wouldn’t recommend coming out as questioning to people who are unlikely to respect that. However, if you’re portraying yourself as questioning because it seems like a safer bet than saying, “I’m asexual and I know it in my BONES,” take a second to figure out why you feel that way. Are you wanting to phrase it that way because it seems less aggressive? Are you afraid that people will take it badly?)
Generally straight forward works best. "Just so you know, I’m asexual.“ Hey, that wasn’t too bad! If you don’t make a big deal out of it–and don’t give any impression that you’re looking for approval–people will be less likely to give you trouble for it. If you say, "Gosh, I dunno, I might maybe be asexual, but I’m not really sure. I’m sorry,” people will tend to start whipping out the “maybe you’re just confused” cards.
If you’re nervous, do a practice run.
I did this all the time when I was first coming out to people. It sounds pretty silly, but sometimes it helps to just sit down and tell your teddy bear (or tea mug or pillow or other convenient object), “Hey, just so you know, I’m asexual.” When you’re faced with an actual human being, saying that simple sentence can seem as difficult as reciting a Shakespearean sonnet while wrestling a crocodile, but if you remember that it’s just a single sentence that you’ve said before (and not died from saying!), that makes it a little bit easier.
Better yet, if you have a friend you trust (who you’re already out to) and you’re planning on doing Asexuality 101 when you come out to people, practice with your friend! Get them to throw the most weird, awful questions at you possible, and if you can answer them with grace and poise (or at least without faceplanting everywhere), you’ll almost certainly do okay when you’re actually coming out.
This month’s Carnival of Aces is about the intersections between asexuality and age/ageism. (You can read the submission post here! And you can read all the posts for the carnival here!) Since I can’t really address the older end of the age spectrum (yet), I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the difficulties of going through puberty/adolescence as an asexual, and why it is that so many aces only realize/accept that they’re asexual once they’re in their late teens or early twenties (and sometimes even later).
I was actually talking to one of my friends (who is openly gay) about this exact topic a couple of months ago. I mentioned that I realized I was asexual much later than my other LGBTQ+ friends, most of whom came out between the ages of 13 and 16. He said that he also knew a lot of kids who came out in high school (he was included among the bunch), and then added, “It seems like it’s not uncommon for asexual people to realize they’re asexual pretty late. At least, my other asexual friend didn’t start identifying as asexual until college.”
Of course, that got me thinking. Why is it that so many aces take so long to realize/accept that they are ace? Is it just a lack of education? (That was certainly a contributing factor, in my case.) Or are there social expectations that stop people from identifying as asexual? (Those were also contributing factors!) After a lot of thinking, I came up with four reasons that it takes a really long time for some aces (myself included) to realize/accept that they are asexual: the “coming out window,” fear of coming out as the “wrong” orientation, education and visibility, and the “late bloomer” excuse.
AVEN has released a statement regarding 'A is for Ally'
LGBT rights organisation GLAAD’s recent campaign, entitled “Got Your Back”, promoting allyship, has garnered much attention in regards to its tagline “A is for Ally”. The AVEN board of directors and project team would like to share the following statement:
A is for Asexuals, Aromantics, Agender people… and for Allies
GLAAD, an internationally renowned LGBT rights organization, created a campaign called “Got your back” with the tagline “A is for Allies”. At AVEN we hugely value the role that allies play in our community and in the wider LGBTQ+ movement. However, “A” stands for Asexual, Aromantic and Agender people as well as Allies.
The phrase “A is for Allies”, used in isolation, conjures memories of marginalization and exclusion from LGBTQ+ groups for many asexual, aromantic and agender people, for whom invisibility and erasure are still huge problems.
We applaud the many activists who brought this issue to wider attention. We also applaud GLAAD for revising their campaign accordingly and acknowledging asexual, aromantic and agender people, and the issues they face. GLAAD illustrated the allyship that they celebrate as an organization by correcting their honest mistake and taking a firm stance on the inclusion of agender, aromantic, and asexual people in the LGBTQ+ community.
We hope to work closely with GLAAD in the future, both to ensure better representation of asexuality, aromanticism and agender identities in popular culture, and to act as good allies ourselves for the wider LGBTQ+ movement.
For more information, visit asexuality.org, asexualawarenessweek.com or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for general information and email@example.com for media requests.
don’t ask asexuals if they had a bad sex experience.
don’t tell asexuals that one day they’ll find someone who will make them allosexual.
don’t assume asexuals have a disorder or hormone imbalance
don’t erase asexual identities
A new documentary by Sam Broadley ‘Taking The Cake’ has been released. If you’re looking for a good documentary to introduce people to some of the issues asexual people face, this 30 minute film is a great start, with appearances from asexual activists, sex educators, and therapists. Best of all, it finishes on a positive note!