National Coming Out Day and My Ever Growing Marvelous Queer Playlist

Here in the U.S., it is National Coming Out Day (and speaking of special days, yesterday was World Mental Health Day, not Mental Health Awareness Day – I hope the people of the internet can forgive my faux pas (it took me three tries to correctly spell that word)) – and I just realized I have no idea how to use parenthesis within parenthesis, but moving on to National Coming Out Day. You never owe someone an explanation as to your orientation(s), romantic or sexual, but if you chose to come out today, more power to you! And if someone came out to you today and you offered them support, you are a beautiful human being, and the person who came out to you is feeling on top of the world right now. I came out to my 65 year old, conservative, evangelical Christian father as asexual and homoromantic via a letter, and despite the fact that I have midterms approaching and a hectic work week next week, what he is doing at this very moment keeps creeping into my mind, and coming out in some way shape or form seems to be all I can think about today. Over the past week whilst writing, revising, and generally agonizing over my tell-all letter, I found myself listening to the same group of songs to calm down; this morning I compiled them into a Marvelous Queer Playlist – yes, that is actually what I named said playlist. Some of these songs have little to nothing to do with being queer, but I personally find them calming/empowering.

  1. “Girls/Girls/Boys” by Panic at the Disco

ggb

While I do not label myself as bisexual/romantic, this is still a delightful song with a danceable beat and dangerously catchy lyrics. Namely, the line, “Love is not a choice,” helps to ground me.

2. “Hey Jesus” by Trey Pearson

 

trey pearson

This one may come across as surprising. Trey Pearson was signed to a Christian rock label and he was married to a women for many years until he came out. His coming out essentially made it impossible for him to stay in Christian music, and he likely knew this was going to happen. Though he knew coming out was going to change his life, not entirely in good ways, he went ahead and did it. Whenever anyone in the public eye comes out, I am filled with inspiration, but someone working in the Christian music industry having the insane courage to come out fills me with awe. The song is a bit somber, but I, as a proud Christian and a proud homoromantic, find myself heavily relating. The song was released on Trey’s first solo album, and though I find don’t find myself listening to it as much, an incredibly catchy, considerably more upbeat song of his is “Love is Love”.

3. “Elastic Heart” by Sia

elastic heart

This is another slightly somber one, but it’s still encouraging. For me, it’s a reminder that even if not everyone is so agreeable about my queerness, I will be okay, even if it hurts for a time. “You won’t see me fall apart . . . ’cause I’ve got an elastic heart.

4. “Black Sheep” by Gin Wigmore

black sheep

Though this in no way directly relates to being queer, honestly listening to it just makes me feel like a badass. Gin Wigmore is severely underrated.

5. “Anything’s Possible” by Lea Michelle

anything's possible

I feel like the lyrics in the picture above are pretty self explanatory, but some more I love are, “It’s time to leave it all behind/ It’s time to pick up the pieces of my scattered mind/ And after all my petals fall / I can finally find beauty beneath once and for all/ I’ve spent way too long judging myself/ Running from truth into someone else’s arms/ But I’m done, the battle’s begun, the battle’s begun/ There’s fire in me, deep down in my veins/ These clouds in my head, they’re not gonna rain/ There’s fight in my heart, there’s hope in my eyes/ There’s hope in my eyes.” Those lines are pretty much perfect for my life right now. I am trying hard too move out of my passivity and fear and actively stand up for the marginalized while being proud of parts of myself that everyone seems to think can’t be reconciled – namely, my faith, the fact that I want a romantic relationship with a woman, and the fact that I do not experience sexual attraction.

6. “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music and Amanda Cook

brave

“You make me brave/ you call me out from the shore into the waves . . . ./ no fear can hinder now the promises you’ve made”. It has taken a lot of praying to discern if I should have come out to my parents, and this song is a great reminder that though I feel God is leading me into a dangerous ocean, he will give me the courage I need to get through.

7. “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga

LGBT Gaga

This is a fun, feel good song that specifically mentions Lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender. While I am a bit sad a way couldn’t be found to mention queer people – or, in a perfect world, asexuals and pansexuals – without interrupting the beat, I still found myself listening to this habitually to help my coming out anxiety and remind me of why I have to do what I have to do.

8. “Be Still” by Hillsong Worship

Be still

Psalm 46:10 is my favorite Bible verse, and its not surprise that I would love a song based off it. In this crazy, anxious world, the reminder to be still and trust that my God is in control is incredibly soothing. The live version of this song gives me goose bumps, and was perhaps the most calming song to me this past week.

9. “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves

KM

Hearing an LGBT supportive country song is so incredibly refreshing, and not only is this song queer friendly, but it points a finger at societal hypocrisy with lyrics such as, “If you save your yourself for marriage you’re a bore/ If you don’t save yourself for marriage you’re a whore-able person” and encourages freedom of choice in just about every area of life; all this, not to mention it’s chill beat, make it a gem of a song.

10. “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel Music, Jonathan David, and Melissa Helser

no longer a slave

Same may think it odd that a Christian song has become my coming out anthem of sorts. The above artistically rendered lyric connects with me on a personal level; I will no longer hide my sexual and romantic orientations from those I care about to avoid conflict, and I am as much a child of God as any straight person. I remember the morning before I came out to my mother as homoromantic, when I was shaking with fear and doubting my decision to follow through, this song came to mind, and I was soon sobbing while choking out the lyrics, “You split the sea so I can walk right through it/ My fears are drowned in perfect love/ You rescued me so I can stand and sing/ I am a child of God”. It was so, so therapeutic, and restored my resolve. No more shame, no more hiding, no more fear. I am not meant to live a life ruled by fear.

11. “She Keeps Me Warm” by Mary Lambert

ML

Known as the “Queer Anthem of 2013”, this song combines reconciliation of spirituality and orientation – “I’m Not Cryin’ on Sundays” and a breathtaking chorus of, “Love Is patient, love is kind” – with pride in ones orientation, “I can’t change, even if I tried/ Even if I wanted to” and is just generally a beautiful work of art. Not to mention the music video is adorable – and yes, the featured image is a shot from the video.

 

Well, that’s the musical encouragement I have been receiving this week. Hope everyone can find at least one song they enjoy in the list. Feel free to mention in the comments what songs you find encouraging, or any songs you know that specifically reference any/all things LGBTQIA+. Just because National Coming Out Day is coming to and end doesn’t mean you can’t still come out to someone you’ve been meaning/ wanting to. Timing is everything, and if the timing wasn’t right today, don’t beat yourself up. Again, if you offered someone who was making a big jump today a soft place to land, thank you.

 

Until next time,

Keep oooon Aceing It!

 

 

 

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Mental Health Awareness Day: 7 Things I Wish I Had Known 7 Years Ago About Mental Health

October 10 is Mental Health Awareness Day, a cause that is close to my heart. Mental Health is so, so often written off, and though mental health is slowly coming to be recognized as a serious thing, those suffering from invisible diseases are still being told to “snap out of it”. With the hectic pace and isolation of modern life, it seems that diseases of the mind are becoming more and more common. My mental helath drastically worsened 7 years ago, around the time I was fourteen, and I want to share 7 things my own struggles have taught me.

  1. When you are a young person experiencing health problems of any kind, particularly invisible ones, you must fight to be taken seriously. People over forty seem to, for the most part, have an incredibly romanticized view of what the teenage years and early twenties are like. 2017 tied with 2012 for the most difficult year of my life, and I was reminded yet again of the fact that the struggles of young people are all too often covered by a gossamer netting. I was dog sitting for an 75 year old acquaintance of mine, and before she was going to leave, we met up and talked for a bit. It was typical small talk, how’s school, to you have any plans for the summer, etc. The semester had just ended and my twentieth birthday was in about a week, I told her. “Oh, these are the best years of your life!” she exclaimed. My father had just been diagnosed with cancer, all of my friends had moved away for college, my social anxiety was worsening by the day, and sometimes I felt like my loneliness was going to suffocate me. Unbeknownst to me, my circumstances were only going to get worse that year. I almost literally had to bite my tongue to keep, “If these are the best years of my life, someone please shoot me now,” from spilling out.  Depression in teenagers is so, soooo often just written off as typical moodiness, and this is incredibly dangerous. It pains me to think of how many teens are suffering because authority figures refuse to take them seriously. For me, it took revealing that I was cutting myself to even be able to get access to therapy. For the love of everything good in this world, if you see a sad, moody teenager, do not ignore them, and do not simply tell them, “Oh, it won’t always be this way.” We all know adulthood just makes things harder. Sit down with the suffering young people in your life parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and truly listen to them and find them effective coping mechanisms.
  2. Depression isn’t Just Sadness  Perhaps the most profound form of depression is the inability to feel anything at all, and though numbness is preferable to crippling sadness, walking through life like a zombie is no way to live. Numbness is sometimes due to a build of emotions, and if you can’t find the motivation to journal, simply talking to a camera about what’s going on in your life currently – or about thing’s that have happened in the past that you’d rather not think about – can break the dam keeping you emotionally constipated. If you can’t find the root of your numbness or your mind simply refuses to form coherent thoughts, so for a walk, surround yourself with nature, go to a new restaurant, do something that reminds you of the beauty in the world. Yet another symptom of depression often written off in young people which can make the aforementioned tricks for numbness impossible is lack of motivation, and having no energy can make the black hold of depression seem that much deeper, which leads to point three that I wish I had known seven years ago.
  3. Going to Therapy Does Not Make You Certifiably Insane! It Only Makes You Crazy Smart and Crazy Brave! It is an incredibly good idea to talk to someone about your feelings or lack thereof, but family isn’t always the best choice. They may be supportive to a point, but there are simply certain things that are best dealt with by professionals. Family, parents in particular, are going to take your depression personally. Am I doing something to make them feel this way? I am a great provider to my child, a great friend. They’re just being ungrateful. Comments like these are born of fear and self-centeredness, and are clear signs that you need to talk to an outsider. This is not weakness, but strength. You are going to a stranger and essentially saying that you are stranded in a dark forest full of wolves are being eaten alive, yet all you are asking for is a stick to ward them off with. This will to fight is the definition of bravery, and once someone else is there fighting off the wolves with you, you have double the chance of making it out alive. And for heaven’s sake, make the most of therapy by not hiding problems from your therapist. Never leave a session early. Negative emotions are incredibly healthy, they are alerting you to something that is wrong; do not push them down, talk about them when they are annoying flies, not when they are hawks trying to maim you.
  4. There is a big difference between mere shyness and social anxiety. Shyness is apprehension, social anxiety is people induced terror that you can’t just “shake off” or “power through”, and it can’t be cured by making yourself socialize more. If you isolate yourself from the outside world completely, of course it will worsen, and you can’t let it keep you from doing things you truly enjoy, but it is unrealistic to expect that exposure will make it disappear, which connects to number 5.
  5. It is okay to take medication. Some people’s brains are wired differently, and in order to life the best possible life,  a little assistance is needed. Like going to therapy, this does not make you weak. It is you asking for another stick when your brain is assisting the wolves in devouring you alive. Getting help at a biological level is wise, but do your research as to what medications are incredibly addictive, take the lowest effective dosage, and don’t expect your life to magically be perfect.
  6. Take Care of Your Body. We hear it so often we automatically tune out, “Exercise and eat your vegetables!” Seriously, though. A body in motion helps a burdened mind, and sacrificing fast food can only be beneficial. It is so, so easy convince yourself that you’re too busy, but even ten minutes of yoga, five minutes of mediation, can do a world of good. Give yourself permission to make your well being a priority; self care is more than bubble baths and Netflix. Astonishingly, you’ll be able to be twice as productive if you are in a good state of mind. I am going to shameless rip of Nike: Just do it! Value and take care of yourself, dammit!
  7. Talk to your peers. My fourteen year old self – and fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen year old self – was incredibly afraid of judgement from my peers because of my mental health problems, and so for the most part, my high school friends had no idea I was suffering until years after the worst of it ended. A close friend of mine was experiencing problems incredibly similar to mine, and we were both lost in our lonely miseries because we were too afraid of judgement. I still haven’t told my best friend that I engaged in self harm because a paranoid part of me is terrified she’ll be judgmental, which is not at all conducive to her personality.  We have been friends for fourteen years, and I am still terrified to tell her. The worst thing about the stigma surrounding mental health is that it makes people suffer in silence, and so we remain unaware of how connected our pain makes us. Talk to your friends, you have no idea how much they may be able to relate, how you may be helping them by sharing your pain.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope a couple of these things I wish I had known long, long ago were helpful, or at the very least thought provoking/ entertaining.

Until next time!

Asexuality before AVEN part 2: 2nd Wave Feminism and Asexuality

My initial impression of 2nd wave feminism was that it was harmful to asexuality because it was a movement that coincided with the sexual revolution which, while important and beneficial in its own ways, I feel was harmful to the idea of a person happily existing with no desire for sex. After doing some research, I discovered that the relationship between 2nd wave feminism and sexual expression wasn’t quite so cut-and-dry. What is commonly referred to as the feminist sex wars – also known as the lesbian sex wars, sex wars, and porn wars – took place in the late 70s and early 80s, and it created a huge rift between 2nd wave feminists. The main subject of debate had to do with pornography, but sadomasochism and public intercourse were also subjects of debate. Popular labels of the two sides were anti-porn feminists and sex-positive feminists. Unsurprisingly, anti-porn feminists were against porn, sadomasochism, and public sex on the ground that these things were degrading to women. While I believe that in certain situations these things could certainly be degrading, to say every single instance would be a stretch. My understanding of BDSM is that women aren’t subs one hundred percent of the time, and in order for something to be deemed degrading to women, the women in question must feel degraded. I don’t have any experience watching pornography, but again, from snippets I’ve read here and there, it seems there are discrepancies with how female actors are treated. I can’t recall the source where I read this, but Porn Hub statistics said that “teen porn” was the most searched for theme on the site. Logically, young actors would be needed, perhaps actual teens. In her book, Pornography, Men Possessing Woman , Andrea Dworkin argued that the theme of pornography is male dominance, and as a result it is harmful to a women’s mental well being. Obviously, this is a generalization, and every single pornographic film can’t be about male dominance. Ellen Willis, 1979 feminist journalist criticized anti-porn feminists for being “sexual purists, moral authoritarians, and a threat to free speech.” While is seems anti-porn feminists were fond of generalizations, the above statement seems a bit harsh to me.  Pro-sex feminists clearly promoted the right to choose at a glance, but I haven’t come to a definite conclusion of if this support of sexual freedom promoted the idea that everyone wants to/ should partake in sexual activities. While this research was interesting, my opinion is more muddled than ever on if 2nd wave feminism was helpful or harmful for asexuality. I’d love to hear opinions in the comments!

This post’s unrelated but adorable picture, a bucket of baby sloths 😀

bucket of baby sloths

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Keep ooooon Aceing It!

Asexuality Before AVEN

This is my contribution to the September Carnival of Aces, hosted this month by Ace Film Reviews. 

The title of this post makes me cringe. It is difficult enough, isolating enough, to be asexual in the twenty first century with the online community that aces have. I once read somewhere that asexuality was the first orientation to be “born online”. Obviously, the orientation existed before there was a proper label put to it, there are just so few asexuals that meeting another in one’s everyday life, particularly someone who experiences asexuality the exact same way, is a rare thing for many people. I believe that asexual aromantics in the twentieth century – the first half of the twentieth century in particular – would have registered that there was something different about them. With the veiled, almost secretive attitudes that surrounded sexuality before the sexual revolution, I believe heteroromantic aces would have just assumed that they were straight. Homo/biromantics most likely would have adopted the labels of bi/homosexual, and, while still finding something of a community, the fit would have been mismatched and alienation would have persisted.

Dan Savage says in the documentary (a)sexual that asexuality is taking a step backward from the sexual revolution, and that aces are simply people who are afraid of intimacy. How someone who founded a nonprofit dedicated to helping queer people could be so ignorant is beyond me, but that is a topic for another post. If I am not mistaken, the sexual revolution was about freedom of sexual expression, and logically, that would extend to the choice to not engage in sex at all. Sadly, I do not feel that is the case. In my view, the sexual revolution switched society – American society in particular – from being nearly fearful of sex to being obsessed with it. The world is slowly becoming a safer place for others under the queer umbrella term, yet the assumption that everyone wants to/should have sex makes things substantially more difficult for ace people.

An example of an asexual person from the twentieth century completely oblivious to their identity is my grandmother. According to my mother, she never enjoyed intercourse and viewed it as something necessary for childbearing and pleasing her husband. She adored my grandfather and appreciates romance, but dirty jokes go right over her head. If we are watching a film together and things get sexual, she is the first to push fast forward. I can’t help but wonder how having the term “asexual” exist in her younger years would have affected her. She adores her family and definitely would have still married and had her two children, that much I know. She thinks that being gay is a choice, and I’m immensely curious if knowing that her non-sexual idiosyncrasies are actually an orientation all their own, knowing she could never change what sets her apart, would change her views.

I believe that modern day feminism assists asexuality, as if focuses on the idea that a woman can do/not do what ever she wants with her body and acknowledges that men are as affected by toxic masculinity as women are, yet I feel that the sex positive feminist of the late 1970s and early 1980s were incredibly harmful to the idea of a person – in particular, a woman – happy without sex. I want to keep this post compact, I will do a part 2 about the sexual revolution and feminism in regards to asexuality in the future.

Being asexual can be incredibly alienating – many of us don’t know anyone who we regularly, physically  interact with in our everyday lives who is also ace, and the ignorant, at times hostile attitude that many zedsexuals have toward asexuality can make coming out nearly impossible in most situations, but 21st century aces have it infinitely better than earlier generations. David Jay, you are my hero. Thank you for calling out into the void of the internet and bringing us together.

 

Insert random picture here:

duck

This human and this duck have nothing what-so-ever to do with asexuality or queer issues, but it was too cute/ whimsical not to share. May we all find someone, romantic or platonic, who gets along with us as well as these interspecies pals get along.

Until next time,

Keep oooooon Aceing It!

 

Being Openly Asexual, Openly Gay, and Equally Proud

So, this is my submission for the August Carnival of Aces, hosted by Demi and Proud, the subject for this month having to do with the Cass Identity Model. If you would like more information concerning the model, here is a link:  http://dustinkmacdonald.com/cass-identity-model/.   

As for my asexuality, I jumped from stage one of the Cass model, Identity Confusion, to stage five, identity pride, in a period of less than two months. To be fair, I had been in stage one for about a year. Once I finally had the time/energy to investigate my orientation in depth, accepting that I wasn’t straight came as a bit of a shock, but the shock was quickly replaced by all consuming joy. I finally had an accurate label to describe my sexuality. In this sex crazed, heteronormative world I live in, I finally had a niche where I fit, even if the only aces I knew were online. I felt this lightness of spirit, and the sudden urge for everyone to know that I was ace. Looking back, I both pity and admire the gung-ho eighteen-year-old who wanted to educate the world on asexuality. However, my enthusiasm was quickly dulled.

The first person I told was a friend of mine that I had known was years and years. We were lounging at a nearby lake, and I took advantage of a moment of silence to just blurt it out. She reacted with innocent confusion, oddly enough assuming that I was telling her I was no longer a virgin. I quickly clarified, saying that I didn’t experience “physical attraction”. She just nodded and changed the subject. It hadn’t gone terrifically, but it wasn’t terrible either. My best friend didn’t voice any of her confusion – though undoubtedly she must have had some – she simply nodded. It had gone even better with her than it had my other friend, and so I went forward with telling my mother.

It wasn’t at all planned, as I recall. I had felt as if I’d been hiding something from her for weeks, and it simply slipped out when I was helping her put away groceries. I had no idea what I had expected her to say, but I hadn’t expected an angry, “No you’re not! Asexual means you don’t have a gender!” I was flabbergasted at her aggression, but I did the best I could to “prove” my orientation. I was met with a wide variety of eye roll worthy remarks, such as the quintessential, “You just haven’t met the right person yet”. I had come into this situation utterly unprepared for opposition, and the argument certainly make me hesitate to come out to people who were substantially older than me. I’ve written in depth about the struggles with my mother’s lack of acceptance in my post “Heartbreak” : https://aceingit.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/heartbreak/. The struggle with my mother continued, slowly chipping away at my enthusiasm to educate the world on asexuality. Unsurprisingly, Coming out to my therapist was initially met with the assumption that I had been sexually assaulted. I assured her that this was not the case, and though she politely listened whenever I brought up my orientation, her facial expression always conveyed that she was skeptical, though she never questioned me.     In my post “Coming Out is Hard to Do” I mentioned my mother thanking me for not coming out to my grandparents, and this was yet another chip in my ever shrinking block of gleeful ace energy. In an aggressive moment of pride, I posted the following picture on Facebook:

coming out cat

I did not let people “have fun”, however, I clarified that I was asexual. The post went largely uncommented upon, but received two likes from cousins of mine, one of whom is a year older than me, the other twenty three years older. The cousin closer to my age was silently supportive, and the older cousin was as well, but only to my face. Talking to my mom, she reassured that I was asexual right now, but might eventually find the mystical “right person” that would turn me straight. At this point, I was simply exasperated. My older cousin had many gay and lesbian friends and was fiercely supportive of them. If she of all people couldn’t find it in herself to be supportive, then I was just wasting my energy. So, I started a blog where I could talk freely about being asexual, and cynically accepted that allosexuals were just narrow minded and apathetic toward anything that didn’t involve shagging. Even if I had essentially given up on coming out to my extended family, I had reached stage 6. my asexuality had long since synthesized into my identity, just one of many important details. It was around this time that I finally realized my homoromanticism.

I progressed through the stages much more slowly when it came to being homoromantic. The first month or so after coming home from (rather ironically) the church mission trip that opened my eyes to this new aspect of myself was spent flip flopping between stages between stages 1,2, and 3. Toward the end of the trip, after realizing the feelings I had for the girl I was friends with weren’t going to go away, I began obsessively Googeling biromanticism and comparing my feelings to others. What I felt for her was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and it was simply impossible for me to deny that there was something there, that this meant something. Arriving home, I aggressively flipflopped between Identity Confusion, Comparison, and Tolerance. I talked off my best friend’s ear about what I had experienced, and she gave me nothing but patience and support. Eventually, I realized that only I could truly decide what this meant for me. I tentatively adopted the label gray- biromantic, and felt more confidant in this when I realized I had a massive crush an adorable barista at my favorite café. The second month that I was home marked my moving solidly into stage 3 and tentatively into stage 4, acceptance. My exhaustion with explaining asexuality lifted ever so slightly, and for my essay writing class, I chose the topic of lesser known identities on the LGBTQIA spectrum for my semester topic. I was a tad astonished at how much enthusiasm my topic was met with, particularly from my professor.  I continued processing my feelings and enthusiastically working on my paper, and by the end of May, just over four months after arriving home, I had moved  tentatively into stage 5, Pride. My professor told me that my paper was one of the best she had read in her teaching career, and commented that she had learned a lot from it. A classmate who read the final draft actually thanked me for letting her read it. She had a friend who identified as asexual, and she’d had no clue how difficult it was to be ace. I left the semester with a ninety nine percent in the class, restored faith in educating people about asexuality, and pride in a newly realized aspect of myself.

Soon, as often happens when one feels on top of the world, life kicked me in the teeth and I fell into a depressive hole. My father was diagnosed with Leukemia, my grandfather had a stroke, and it took Herculean effort to get out of bed each day. My social anxiety grew to become the perfect companion for my depression, and just ordering coffee caused me enough stress that the thought of coming out to extended family and educating them asexuality was enough to give me a small panic attack. I remained quietly, confidently proud of these two aspects of myself, and somewhere around eight months after arriving home, I entered stage 6, identity synthesis, where my homoromanticism was concerned.

In the following year, I experienced numerous crushes – most of them on girls, one on a gender fluid individual – flip-flopped between the labels gray-biromantic, gray-panromantic, and homoromantic, realized just how deeply my desire for a relationship with a woman goes, and settled on the label homoromantic, or ‘gay’ when I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to use big words.

Last week, it was my first time coming out as gay to someone who wasn’t a close friend or a family member. She’s a family friend’s daughter, and my parents and I were at a birthday party for another friend. Naturally, she wanted to hear about my trip to Germany, and on the walk back to my parent’s house, we started talking about everything. Inevitably, the question, “Did you meet any guys in Germany?” came up. I internally groaned and said I’d made a few male friends. Determined to stick to the subject, she asked if I liked dark haired boys or light haired boys, and I said I didn’t know. Her response was, “Oh, that’s so cute! She doesn’t know yet!” I gritted my teeth and resisted the urge to scream. My mom had caught up with us by this point, and quietly urged, “You can tell her, she’s cool with these things.”   I was astonished, but I gathered my courage and muttered, “I like girls.” She didn’t hear me and I repeated myself, louder this time. I was astonished I had actually done it, and a light, free feeling settled over me as Angela said, “That’s okay too.” She went on to say that she was from the bay area, she had bi friends, gay friends, lesbian friends, and that I was safe with her. She gently asked me if there was anyone special, and I honestly replied that there had been crushes, but nothing had stuck. I felt so light, so free, and I couldn’t stop smiling until I got back to my parents’ house.

Once the walk back was complete, my mother had surprised me by saying that she had expected me to tell Angela about being asexual, and asked me if I truly was attracted to girls. I came out to her back in March, after several mini panic attacks and much prayer, and I thought we’d been over this. Oddly, it had taken telling her about my crush on a girl I’d met during a mission trip to get her onboard with me being asexual, and   evidently, she had interpreted my coming out as me saying that I might like girls, not that I definitely did. I essentially came out as homoromantic a second time that night and she hugged me, said that she was afraid for me but that she loved me no matter what.          The next day, the thought that Angela had probably never met an openly ace person hit me. It had been the perfect opportunity, and she would have been the perfect person to talk to about asexuality and the difference between sexual and romantic attraction. I talked about the situation with my mom a couple days later, and she echoed my feelings exactly. Since coming out to her in March about being homoromantic, she has become a huge cheerleader for ace people, and asked me give her any and all books I had on the subject. I asked to read The Invisible Orientation by Julie Sandra Decker, expecting her to just skim it and return it to me a few days later. She took it far more seriously than I anticipated. It took her six weeks to read it, and she shared with me that she laughed, cried, and at times just had to close the book and think through things.

“Why did you ask me to read that book if you’re just going to tell people you’re gay? You’re really doing a disservice for asexual people.” The question was sharp, but it needed to be voiced. As usual, as much as I hate to admit it, my mom was right, and I knew it. She was bluntly telling me what I already knew. Honesty isn’t honesty if it’s only half of the truth. It is far, far easier to tell inquisitive (nosey) people that my lack of attraction to men is because I’m gay, but that isn’t the whole truth. The incident with Angela and the blunt conversation with my mom got me thinking back to my early days of fully embracing my asexuality, when I was utterly unafraid and just wanted to show the world my complete self. Somewhere along the way to where I am now, I became a tad cowardly. I’m in no way trying to put anyone down, if you don’t feel the need to come out as asexual and/or find it too difficult, don’t feel badly. My feelings only apply to myself, and what I feel I need to do – or rather stop doing. It is time for me to stop being afraid of difficult conversations, time for me to stop avoiding talk of relationships at all costs, time for me to stop taking my gayness as an easy route to avoid talking about my aceness. All or nothing. Either I am ashamed of my queerness, or I am proud of it. All of it, my asexuality and my homoromanticism. I am equally asexual and gay, and it is time to be equally proud.

I apologize for the mini novel, I was not planning on this post being so long. Thanks a bunch if you read the whole thing! As usual, I started a Carnival of Aces post late on the last day of the month in question and haven’t finished it until the early hours of the next morning. :/ We’ll see I can actually do a Carnival of Aces post on time next month.

Until next time, here is a delightful, dangerously catchy song concerning ace pride:

 

Be proud of yourself, all of you, and keep ooooooon Aceing It!

 

 

Being A-spec and Christian

I have been putting off writing this post essentially the entire time this blog has been in existence, as this is a topic very close to my heart and I have so, so much to say, more than can be properly conveyed in a single post. The Carnival of Aces for June was hosted by Dating While Ace and dealt with the spectrum of asexuality. One prompt was religious beliefs and experiences as a gray or demi person. Generally speaking, I don’t feel the need to specifically address my place on the asexual spectrum. When first coming to terms with my asexuality, finding a specific place on the spectrum and gluing myself there felt overwhelming, and so I decided not to do it and simply go with saying that I am asexual, which is true – I do not experience direction sexual attraction to anyone, ever. However, I do have a libido and experience arousal that is typically weak, but at times I imagine it is almost on par with what allosexuals experience. Having been raised in a relatively strict Christian household, it was hammered into the my head at home and at church that sex was only something for a man and a woman in the context of marriage, and that it was wrong to even *think* about the act if had to do with anyone but your spouse, and that even included between fictional characters. This type of restriction has caused me a lot of shame, and I’ve thought at many times that unless I kept my frustrating libido on a short, short leash (meaning, deny its existence) I was unworthy of God. When I was fifteen, I was tormented with the desire to fit in, namely to fit into the heterosexual box that society had stuffed me into. I had the incredibly messed up thought that if only I had a boyfriend I was madly attracted to, the depression I had been experiencing for the past two years would be magically cured and I would finally find myself acceptable. So, I read all the erotica I could get my hands on, dabbled in writing it – major clue that I was ace, after a certain point I found it boring and gross – and watched all the movies rated R for sexual content that the internet had to offer for free – yet another clue that I was ace, I never watched pornography in the midst of this because watching real people have real sex was always just too repulsive a thought to me. I was spiritually dead at this point in my life, though I went to church every Sunday with my parents and would tell anyone who asked that I was a Christian. The truth was, I was suppressing some major anger at God over how out of control my life felt, and self harm and attempting to make myself heterosexual were how I was dealing with it. At the back of my head, there was always a bit of guilt and more than a little shame. Looking back, I find it very interesting how closely linked self harm and trying to force heterosexuality on myself were. I identified as straight up until I was eighteen, and I began questioning between the ages of sixteen and seventeen, but even before, I think I knew deep down that there was something different about me, and just as I cut and verbally abused myself every time I was alone in my room and felt like crying – which was much of the time – trying to mold and exaggerate my tiny piece of sexuality became a form of self flagellation. Thank fully, I finally went to therapy and unlearned many of my self destructive behaviors, as well as self soothing techniques that I think will be helpful to me for the rest of my life. While self harm was a big topic in my sessions, I never brought up my feelings of inadequacy in regards to my sexuality, and the things I had done to try and change that. I think I was sixteen the first time I realized that, truly, I didn’t care all that much about sex. I wasn’t repulsed, but I personally had absolutely no desire to engage in it. It was when I was seventeen that I started to think I might be ace, but the imagine of an asexual in my head was a person repulsed by sex who had no desire for anything but strictly platonic relationships with people. To prove my straightness to myself, one night I decided I was going to fantasize about a real person for once. I chose an incredibly charismatic, aesthetically appealing guy from my drama class who 98% of the girls in the class had a crush on – the only girls who weren’t enthralled with him were only interested in other girls. As soon as I imagined the two of us naked and about to go at it, my mind recoiled. It was then that I became one huge ball of confusion in regards to my orientation. Questioning my straightness was what brought me back to God, after so many years of religion and shame. I remember when I was young, I listened to my pastor say that religion was manmade, a set of rules and regulations that served as an exhausting treadmill to run away from sin and toward God, but that when Jesus died on the cross he erased the need for it – that he was the bridge to a relationship with God, and that the way to live a righteous life was to walk with eyes turned upward and ears open. A relationship with God through Jesus was the way to eternal life, and the way to make life on earth worth while. That way of thinking made more sense to me as I got older, and I learned what it truly was to have a relationship with God – to thank Him for beautiful sunsets, to ask Him to be my joy in the midst of dark days, to ask Him to go before me into each day and fill me with His peace that surpasses understanding. My exploring my sexuality helped me find a relationship with Him, in the end. I remember sitting on my seldom used trampoline under the stars, my mind whirling with questions and all the information I had scoured the internet for an asexuality and silently asking my God if I was asexual. Everything inside me was silent for a moment, and then I was flooded with peace, surety, and quite voice saying that I was made this way, and it was nothing to stress over. I asked prayed the same prayer and continued receiving the same answer, and so I began rejoicing. I felt free, everything suddenly made sense. I still felt shame over the bizarre, unattached arousal I experienced, and continued to for quite some time, until one day I prayed a prayer of repentance and was met with not an angry deity ready to smite me, but a loving parent welcoming me into loving arms, saying this was a part of who I am, and that as long as I walk with Him and don’t let my thoughts consume me, I will be perfectly fine. I will admit, this God given part of me is an incredibly annoying, confusing part as nine out of ten times I am romantically attracted to woman and nine out of ten times my pesky libido is awakened by something having to do with a straight couple – though this may just have to do with the ratio of representation that same sex couples receive in media.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t ashamed of the more complex aspects of my sexuality, but where religion shames and shackles, my Jesus, my God, set me free. Sadly, the same church that taught me the difference between God and religion has slowly shifted into a place that is piling on religion to justify prejudices, and I no longer feel welcome there. It is one of the most painful things I have ever experienced, but I am slowly in the process of leaving the church I have attended since I was seven years old. Where man brings judgment and exclusion, my God brings healing and acceptance. As long as He holds my hand, I need nothing else.

I suppose the term that best describes my irritating assurances of disconnected arousal is aegosexuality, which is synonymous with autochorissexuality. The below link will provide more info if you’re interested:

https://sexualdisorientation.wordpress.com/tag/autochorissexuality/ v

Well, that was therapeutic and much, much longer than I thought it would be. This was a difficult topic to wirte about, but I’m extremely happy I did, though I know the vulnerability hangout will kick in as soon as I click publish. Oh well, if it provides comfort to one person who has gone or is going through something similar, it’s worth it.
Thanks for reading, until next time,

Keep on Aceing It!

I Found the Queer Headquarters! And it Got Me Thinking . . .

My search for the queer headquarters began when I dropped my rainbow ring in the bathroom at language school. I got it for $8 off Amazon about a year ago, and I am honestly surprised it lasted this long. Still, I was saddened. We were in the middle of a unit on family vocabulary, and, unsurprisingly, all the examples used in class to help us learn were incredibly hetero normative. My ace ring and my rainbow rings were small, subtle ways for me to say that I was different, outward displays that I could glance at and think, “I’m proud of myself, and I don’t need to change.” My damaged ring got me thinking about seeking out pride events and patronizing booths with pride merchandise. While I have been enjoying language school and meeting so many people from so many different cultures, many of the cultures these people come from aren’t the most open minded, and the higher-ups at the school heavily cater to traditional ideas – gender roles and traditional family dynamics, namely – most likely in order to avoid offending anyone. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but I suppose I do understand it. Being in this kind of environment five days a week for four hours a day, finding a space where I could be openly myself and meet others who think in similar ways sounded marvelous. After consulting Google, I discovered that there was going to be a pride parade on the 23rd and 24th. While the linguistic gymnastics required to register to walk in it were just too exhausting to consider, I definitely wanted to watch from the sidelines and be a friendly face. I looked at the CSD Freiburg site, and with my limited German I picked out that the parade would begin at two in the afternoon and that Innenstadt would be part of the route. So, I supposed if I walked down Innenstadt after two I would eventually encounter the parade. I ended up not leaving my apartment until three, but as soon as I got into down town I saw a guy with a partially covered rainbow sticker on his shirt and I assumed I was going in the right direction. The fact that this guy felt the need to cover a rainbow sticker outside of a pride even stuck out in my; later, when I saw another rainbow sticker on a street light, I realized the reason he might have been covering it.

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(I apologize, I tried to insert a picture, I don’t know if it will should up, said picture is of a sticker on a street light with a rainbow background and it says ❤ Pen**)
I proceeded down Innenstadt and continued to see a plethora of Christopher Street Day posters and felt reassured that I was going in the right direction. I passed by a Turkish restaurant that I had visited during my first week in Freiburg and quickly realized that I was starving. The first time I visited said Turkish restaurant I utterly butchered the name of the dish I was trying to order, and when I was asked what number it was on the menu, I suddenly forgot how to say 79 in German (it's insanely easy – neunundsiebzig, which literally means nine and seventy in English) so, I said some gibberish word that I can't recall at the moment, the cashier gave a confused look and asked, "Neunundsiebzig?" It took everything in me not facepalm and run out of the restaurant I was so embarrassed. So, I stopped there again and was able to order in German without any problems, which was extremely satisfying, and while I was eating a two girls came into the restaurant, one of whom was wearing a rainbow shirt. At this point, after seeing the guy with the rainbow sticker, a plethora of posters and stickers on lampposts, and now the girl in the pride merch, I was getting to the point where I wanted to cry out, "Someone, lead me to the quuuueeeeeerrrrr!!!!" Alas, while I am wild in my head, I am boring and socially anxious in my behavior. I just smiled at the pride merch wearer and thought I was getting closer. I walked for twenty minutes more, and at this point I was beginning to think that Innenstadt was only part of the route, that the parade must have taken a turn somewhere – where, exactly, I had no clue. I saw a poster advertising the "official" pride party, and thought that at least I could go to that. I stopped at Starbucks on the way there and encountered a group of college age girls wearing copious amounts of highlighter and assumed they were going to a college party – Freiburg is a college town, after all, and there was bound to be numerous parties bigger than the pride party, I thought. I had gone to Mensa – the University of Freiburg owned restaurant where the party was being hosted – before and found it again easily, but I was not anticipated the entire three floors of the building to be full of inebriated people. I saw that judging on noise level and the obviously intoxicated people running around outside the building. I had pictured a smallish, outdoor gathering in my head and I was sadly mistaken. It was really surprising to me how big of a thing Pride seems to be in Germany, and I was simultaneously pleased and disappointed. A friend of mine who lives in San Francisco and has gone to Pride events once told me that it's essentially become just an excuse for people to party and get drunk. While the LGBTQIA community desperately needs allies, it seems like Pride has become just another party, just another source of entertainment for many straight, cis-gendered people. I am in NO WAY trying to put anyone down, if you are a straight, cis-gendered individual and attend Pride events from a place of genuine support, thank you, this is just a behavior pattern that I and some people close to me have noticed. Well, in the end, I found the "queer headquarters" of sorts, and I saw what I believe was the tail end of the parade, a bicycle draped with a pink feather boa with a rainbow flag taped to the back. Having seen the possible tail end of the parade and having found the queer headquarters, I didn't feel like the day had entirely been wasted. Honestly, just seeing the people in Pride gear and seeing all the posters, knowing that there was a place in the city where differences were being celebrated lifted my spirits after a difficult week. Going into a raging party full of intoxicated Germans who I couldn't properly communicate with didn't sound appealing, and walking back to my apartment, I noticed something about the posters that I hadn't before, the line at the top that said, "The first (gay)pride was a riot." That really struck a cord with me. Fifty years ago, queer people had to riot in the streets in order for their voices to be heard. In many western cultures, support of the LGBTQIA community is not unanimous, and hate crimes, particularly for the transgender community, are still a problem, but there are laws that recognize sexual and gender minorities and give them voices, however small. There is still a long way to go, particularly for the QIA part of the community, and that needs to be remembered, as well as the fact that people many people around the world are still intensely suffering due to innate parts of their being. Gay relationships are still criminalized in 72 countries around the world, eight of which have the death penalty as punishment. Even in countries where gay marriages are recognized, queer youth are being kicked out of their homes after coming out to their parents, and lesser known minorities are erased and ridiculed due to ignorance and lack of proper education. It is heart breaking how many stories I've encountered online of asexuals being sexually assaulted or "correctively raped" in the hope that it will change them. Yes, allies should definitely come to Pride events, and it is important to not make assumptions about perceived "straight couples" at Pride events, as the people in question could be trans, heteroromantic aces, etc. I recently watched a very entertaining YouTube video, "Who is Welcome at Pride", below is a link if anyone is interested.

Yes, everyone is welcome, and yes, Pride should be a time of celebration, but it should also be a time to remember all the people who have suffered so we could get to this point, remember that, for some, it is only in these types of spaces that they feel safe being their 100% unfiltered selves, remember all the people who are still suffering at home and around the world.