While I’m on the topic of coming out, it occurs to me now that I’ve never said anything much here about when I first ‘came out to myself’. Mine was the relatively common experience of one lacking the vocabulary to properly describe all things non-heteronormative. I had one word at my disposal back then, ‘gay’, and so I used it. (It was only later that I’d learn of the existence and meaning of other terms like those which include bi-, pan-, a-, cis-, trans-, -queer, and the like.) I had many reasons to suppose that I must have been ‘gay’. Among other things there was, of course, the vague way I didn’t seem to share my peers’ interest in sex. I remember too an experience I had on a class trip in high school. We’d gone to a park where there was one of those big human chess boards. Those of us who were there at the site of the board split into two groups for a match of boys against girls. I stood at the side and watched, knowing well that I simply had no place on either side. That was something beyond all doubt. But what was that? I later determined that it was of course my being ‘gay’, because really I didn’t have anything else to call it.
I recall now a line from The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” It didn’t take me too long to realize that I was mistaken, although it took a few years to understand how I’d been mistaken and to be able to better articulate my understanding. For instance, like many asexuals I eventually learnt what asexuality is from Wikipedia, where it has for a few years now been listed together with other sexual orientations, and in an important way that is what led me to begin identifying as asexual. However, before this I had nonetheless perceived that, as I could later say, the whole heteronormativity thing wasn’t working out for me: that is what I had been able to recognize and admit to myself then. It was frightening. After all, the most basic assumptions I’d had about what I’d do as an adult involved getting married and starting a ‘traditional’ family and that sort of thing. It didn’t seem that this would be an option after all. More generally, there was a sense of what I was expected to do and be which was greatly at odds with my very nature. That is in fact unchanged, or rather it has grown more pronounced as my adult life has indeed begun to diverge visibly from such expectations.
I’m not complaining about that. As regards myself, the only thing I wish is that I’d more clearly known sooner, for it would probably have saved me a fair bit of trouble, or at least spared me certain especially useless troubles in place of other ones from which I might have gained something more beneficial. Things being what they are, I hope now to be able to deal with those troubles.
(This is just a personal rant. I’ll hopefully have a more interesting post up for this month’s Carnival of Aces shortly.)
I haven’t posted anything new here in two months. It’s not because I don’t have anything which I’d like to say though. Instead, it has to do with a reluctance brought about by a funny thing that happened to me recently. Simply put, last month I was outed to my family as asexual. (It was a simple matter of an indiscretion of mine being caught by a relation online. The details aren’t important here.) That’s not really such a funny thing of course. Outing people, in this case finding that they have a secret which they’re keeping for some unknown reason and then deciding that whatever the reason might be it cannot possibly be important enough not to make their secret common knowledge, is hardly proper. I would have thought that such a thing should go without saying, but apparently in so thinking I was neglecting to think about reality.
Of course, I did realize that such a thing could happen to me. After all, I’ve been giving workshops and interviews on asexuality recently, using my legal name to boot. I haven’t really been hiding it so much as simply not talking about it when I go back home to visit, that is, if there’s really such a difference. Nonetheless, knowing that anything I say here might effectively be said to everyone back home, I decided not to say anything for the time being, until I’d have a chance to talk about it all when I’d be over for the holiday.
However, for the entire three weeks of my stay, neither I nor my parents raised the matter. Perhaps they’re no more keen to talk about it than I am. Perhaps they simply respect my choice not to talk about it and won’t bring it up themselves. I obviously don’t really know the reason, seeing as how we haven’t spoken about it. However, it was kind of awkward because I know not only that they know but also that they know that I know they know. It’s sort of like I’m in the ‘glass closet’, but only that here other people don’t just see me in the closet but they can also see me looking out at them and carrying on as though I weren’t in a closet at all while clearly knowing otherwise. Fun.
It’s really quite silly. I’ll probably raise the issue sooner rather than later, but for the same basic reasons which held me back from talking about it earlier. “In case of emergency, break glass”, as they say, and so δοίη τις ἀνδροκμῆτα πέλεκυν ὡς τάχος. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to carry on here as usual.
This month I’ll be hosting the Carnival of Aces! As Sciatrix says in the masterpost:
This blog carnival is an effort to encourage a variety of different voices to speak about asexuality from their own perspectives. Anyone can participate, but the responses should deal with asexuality or the asexual spectrum (grey-As, demisexuals) in some way. They should also relate in some way to the theme of each round of the carnival, which will change from month to month and will be chosen by the person hosting the carnival for that month.
The scope of this project is general–any post dealing with both asexuality and the theme of the carnival is welcome. Alternate forms of media are also welcome as long as they deal with the prompt! If you’re not sure whether your piece is okay, submit it anyway and we’ll figure it out.
This month, our theme is going to be re/presentation.
Feel free to interpret this theme as broadly as you’d like. Here are a just a few ideas.
- How do you think that those of us who are asexual should present ourselves to others as a group, if we should do so at all, and why? Do you think that current asexual visibility efforts are working?
- Are you ‘out’ as an asexual, and if so, how do you present your asexual identity to others? How do they respond?
- Have you ever presented asexuality and/or represented asexuals to others? How did it go? This needn’t only involve such deliberate things as giving presentations, being interviewed, and the like. For instance, perhaps you are the only asexual known to your family or friends. Do such people ever view you as though a representative of all asexuals, even if you intend nothing of the sort?
The deadline for submissions will be January 31st and I should have the roundup posted within a few days after the deadline. You can leave a link to your submission in a comment here, or by emailing it to me. (I have a gmail account with the handle heorrenda.) If you don’t have a blog and would like to make a guest post here, then you can also contact me by either of those methods for us to work that out.