Outing and the Glass Closet

(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.

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October Carnival of Aces: Addendum

In my last post on asexuality and family I actually left out a rather important detail.  Now that I’ve checked with someone to make sure that they don’t mind me talking about them here, I’d like to make up for that deficiency.

Strictly speaking, I’ve actually come out to very few people as asexual.  The first were people in the local AVEN meetup group: that doesn’t really count as coming out since I was talking to other asexuals, asexuals who were also complete strangers to me at the time.  That was almost a year ago.  I now have a number of friends who know that I’m asexual too, but none of them actually found out about it first from me.  For instance, one of them found out because she happened to read the program of the asexuality workshop which a friend and I gave at Pervers/Cité a few months back: she simply recognized our names and knew, and I afterwards confirmed for her what she already knew.  (She is, by the way, an awesome person, and has also since helped us with organizing a number of other local visibility events.)

There is actually only one person to whom I have ever gone out of my way to tell about my being asexual, and that is my sister.  This happened nearly a year ago.  I’d gone home to visit my family and, since my sister is someone I know I can trust with this sort of thing, I figured that I’d tell her I was asexual.  After all, I wanted someone to know.  Of course, I didn’t feel like just blurting it out at random either.  I waited for an appropriate opportunity to arise.  One came when we were talking about a course I’d taken a few years earlier on matters of sex and gender in Ancient Greece, since it led to the discussion of the concept of sexual orientation in general and also the LGBT movement.  Realizing that a suitable occasion had made its appearance, I prepared myself to discuss my own asexuality, which is something I’d never done with a non-asexual before at that point.  It turns out that I wasn’t going to then either, because my sister began to discuss her own asexuality!  Like me, I can safely say that she did not expect her interlocutor to be so familiar with the idea, nor did she expect that person to say, “Me too.”  It was a pleasant surprise, but since it caught us both unawares we didn’t talk much more about it until the next time I visited, once we realized that what had happened really had happened.  It was rather surprising to learn that there had been another asexual so close all along.  (It also raises interesting questions about the aetiology of asexuality, although it sure doesn’t do much to answer them!)

I’m glad to be able to end that post on family on a more genuinely happy note than I did previously.