Happy National Coming Out Day!

I never know what to say on National Coming Out Day. On the one hand, I am incredibly privileged. My mother is the most supportive and incredible human being I could ever imagine. My friends, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, are accepting of me as asexual and homo-romantic. I pass as White, I’m cis, I live in a liberal city.

But I have yet to officially come out on Facebook. My Aunt as well as one of my Uncles are my facebook friends and I’m not ready for them to know I’m queer. My Aunt might tell my grandfather and I definitely don’t want him knowing I’m queer, especially because I’ll be home for the first time in months for Thanksgiving and I don’t want my sexuality to be the conversation of choice.

I joke sometimes that I think my grandfather suspects I’m not straight (i.e. a lesbian) because he’s made hints that it’s okay if I don’t get married. He knows I’ve never shown an interest in men. But when I come out to the rest of my family, I want to be honest. I won’t come out as a lesbian because I’m not a lesbian.

I’m asexual and I’m homo-romantic and I won’t compromise on that to make my identity simpler to understand.

Again, I’m privileged. It I were to come out to the rest of my family I’m sure I would still be loved. I would still have a place to live, I would still have employment, and I would still have people in my life like my mother who would stand with me.

On National Coming Out Day, I celebrate these brave individuals who take these steps though their lives might not be so certain on the other side. I celebrate those who are out and proud every day, showing that queer life can be normal life and that we are everywhere. Thank you to the queer community for all your bravery today.

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Hide Your Gays

I never thought I would fall into the Hide Your Gays trope. Yet I’m writing interactive children’s books for a public broadcasting station and when I wanted to create a lesbian school teacher I felt I had to ask permission in my character notes.

Can we have a queer relationship? PLEASE??

My boss is openly gay and the other woman I work for is hugely liberal and they responded to my note saying, yes, but the company would never allow it. Children’s books + Public Broadcasting does not equal queer characters. We compromised that the teacher would be in a queer relationship but that we would never see her partner and it would be our little Easter egg.

I am ashamed that I felt the need to ask if creating a queer character was okay. These books are small and over half the information I draw up for these character will never see the light of one my stories. I would never think to ask if it’ okay to have her be vegetarian or that she has 2 brothers. But the moment we breach the topic of sexuality, the rules change. Hurdles spring up. I need to justify my decisions and get permission.

pride

So long as queer characters are hidden in the recesses of authors’ minds we won’t see changes to queer stereotypes in the media or in real life. Queer children won’t have queer role models and the heteronormative culture we live in will continue to prosper as the culture. It’s a step that I created this queer character, but it’s not a step in the right direction because queerness is still considered subversive and unsuitable for children.

Coming Out Part II

Theoretically there should have been a “coming out part I” but this blog was one of my ways of coming out as asexual. Now, I’m coming out as homo-romantic and it feels like I’m stepping out of the closet all over again.

Ever since I’ve defined myself as asexual I have also defined myself as aromantic because I had never fallen in love.

I knew asexuality (like all sexuality) is a spectrum, but I was scared that having vehemently denied being sexually and romantically attracted to anyone that if I were to reveal romantic feelings toward any gender I would be immediately thrown under the bus as “not a true ace”.  I feared  all the comments I would receive along the lines of “So, you are a lesbian after all! Why didn’t you just say so?”

But I told my mother about being homo-romantic and how one day I might come home with a girlfriend. She listened and didn’t question me. She took it in stride as just another aspect of me as a whole person who is more than her sexuality. Her only comments were to tell me as we drank tea and coffee in NYC a few days later:

Whoever you decide to spend your time with had better treat you right or else they’ll have to answer to your Bronx mother.

The next morning she told me she had a dream where I had brought my partner home and we announced we were getting married. My mother said that in the dream she embraced both of us and told us how proud and overjoyed she was. To celebrate she suggested we all make bread.

My mother is the most amazing woman I could ever ask to grace my life. She is a rock of support and I cannot be thankful enough for the love and understanding she brings to each day she graces. I know not everyone is lucky enough to have such a support system, but finding even one person in your life who you can trust can make all the difference in coming out. When you have such people in your life, coming out feels a lot more like stepping between rooms of your childhood home: you don’t even think about it.

 

Asexual Visibility

I was looking up literary magazines to send my creative writing to and came across Glitterwolf. This UK based lit mag opens up submissions from LGBT writers and artists from around the world. This is a fantastic idea: celebrating the creativity of the queer community, but my issue arose with the use of the category LGBT.

Not everyone is comfortable, or agrees with, the umbrella term queer and I understand that, but LGBT is limiting. As an asexual, I didn’t know if I was allowed to submit because I’m not technically on the LGBT spectrum. As a Gender or Sexual Minority (GSM) however, I thought to ask.

I emailed the magazine and later that same day someone responded! Mr. Matt Cresswell told me:

I’ve never even considered this question before–I think I’d like to err on the side of welcoming though, so go ahead and send us a submission and we’d be happy to read it!

Even just these simple words of encouragement are enough to remind me that every part of the queer community can be visible. We don’t need to specifically identify as LGBT in order to be queer and I’m so excited that there are people who are open to this premise.

This little victory gives me assurance that the queer community can be inclusive. We’re not there yet, but we’re heading in the right direction.

Identity is Fluid

Before I knew asexuality was a possible sexuality, I used to think I was straight because I didn’t like women. For the longest time I only knew the gay-straight binary.

Once, I thought I was attracted to a male friend of mine, and I felt so normal to be able to tell my mom at age 14 that I had a crush. It felt like I was finally being a teenage girl. I told my two best friends about my crush and we giggled because this reminded us of television shows where glossy teenagers spill their secrets to their friends.

I didn’t have the courage to ask my male friend out on a date in person, so I called him up on the phone and eventually said “I really like you and I was wondering if you like me in the same way?” He said no plain and simple. Our conversation was only slightly more awkward than before.

I wasn’t hurt or devastated by the rejection. I was embarrassed that I had asked.

A few years later I was at a friend’s sleepover party and once again we were sharing secrets. I was asked if I had ever had a crush on anyone before and I pretended to think it over. My friend called me out on bull shitting because she had been one of the friends I had told about my crush. Somehow, lying to her was even more mortifying than telling my male friend I liked him.

That sleepover party was four years ago, when I had just begun to identify myself as asexual. I didn’t know how to explain my crush and wasn’t comfortable trying to explain my sexuality.

I’m still friends with this girl-still great friends, really-but I haven’t come out to her. I’m concerned that she will draw on our past experiences and say “You can’t be asexual; you had a crush.” Maybe this is me being paranoid, but people remember how you used to identify yourself and are unwilling to accept changes. There is a strange belief that we are not meant to change.

I had a conversation with a person who used to identify as a lesbian and now identifies as transgender. He explained how difficult it is to tell his friends from high school and his home community because their experience with him is  that he has always been a she.

It’s difficult to come out to friends and family who believe identity is a rigid marker. I just want to let people know that it’s okay to change how you define yourself. It’s your body. It’s your gender. It’s your identity.

I still don’t know how to define the crush I had, but I now know that asexuality, like all sexualities, is a scale. It does not make me any less asexual for having a crush. Just as it wouldn’t make someone less straight or less gay for going through a period of questioning. We are meant to change and re-evaluate ourselves.