Bi Visibility Day

Happy bi visibility day!

In the past year I have discovered that two people I care deeply about are bisexual, and it’s opened my eyes to just how much still needs to be done for bisexual/biromantic visibility. It blows my mind that in this day and age, so many people still cling the idea that there are only two options for sexual orientation: heterosexual or homosexual.

I can recall distinctly recall one such incidence from highschool. I was in a youth group bible study and, as usual, the conversation topic had drifted from the Bible to school drama. The topic of the night was Connor Dean, an overfriendly boy who I knew from drama and who my church friend, Rachel, knew from biology. I don’t remember how the conversation about him began, but Rachel brought up at some point that she was sure he was gay because he was constantly exchanging flirty pictures with guys via snapchat in class. I shared, a tad confused, that he had smacked my butt at the beginning of the year, so I was pretty sure he was attracted to girls (true story, and in the moment I was too shocked to do anything). Rachel commented that it sounded like he was confused, and several girls muttered in agreement.                                                            

I shared a class with him the next semester and witnessed him attempted to work his charms on some boys in class and at one point heard him describe himself as being gay, but “really hot girls made him straight.” Looking back at the whole situation, I am facepalming. There’s a word for that, Connor. It’s called being bisexual; no, one does not need to experience perfect fifty fifty attraction between the traditional binary genders in order to be bi. I am all for choosing the label that best resonates with you. For me personally, I go with homoromantic despite the fact that I have experienced weak romantic attraction for a handful of men. Only you can label yourself, but when your label puts people down or makes a community look bad, perhaps it is time to reconsider. To shed some clarity on the previous comment, I’ve come across YouTube rants from lesbians complaining about self labeled lesbians who seek out relationships with men as well as women, claiming that it makes the community look bad and sends the message to certain men that a women saying she’s gay still means he has a shot with her; perhaps in this situations “bisexual” really would be the best label.      

I had told my mother about the butt smacking situation shortly after it happened, and her first response had been to tell me to go to my teacher and tell him what happend. Her second response was to say, “Well, if I was a teenage boy, I probably would do the same thing”,  and her third response was “aww, your first time being touched that way” (can you smell the rape culture poisoning wafting off of her?) Anyway, back to the topic of biphobia. I told her about Connor’s flirting with boys in class, and how I supposed he was gay after all and had been using me as some kind of disgusting way to explore -this was far before I knew I was queer and I knew next to nothing about the LGBTQIA community. I threw in that I was a bit confused because of the straight for a select number of girls comment, and my mother’s input was, “Some people just want attention.”

I am in no way trying to demonize bisexual/romantic people with story above. Yes, I realize Connor is a rather unsympathetic character, but I couldn’t think of any better story to illustrate the widespread and at times internal nature of biphobia. Bisexual people make up roughly fifty percent of the LGBTQIA community (yes, 50 percent) and yet there is still such silence around bisexuality. In the media, there are a plethora of characters displaying attraction for men and for women, but I’ve noticed the word bisexual is seldom used.

                                                                               I recently found myself getting roped into the show “Roswell, New Mexico”, and was pleased to discover that one of the alien characters was gay, and that there was absolutely no tip toeing around his relationship with a man – their love scene was represented with as much intensity as any of the straight characters’. Near the end of the season, aforementioned “gay” alien has a fling with a woman. His brother of sorts finds out and is rather confused and initially responses with something along the lines of, “Wait, I thought you were gay.” Michael smirks and answers, “We’re aliens, and you’re trying to impose an outdated sexual binary on me? I’m bisexual.” Not gonna lie, this scene made me sequel with joy. Damn right, the binary views of sexuality and gender are outdated. Words are powerful, as is representation, and I hope small steps like this will lead to big acceptance of all parts of the LGBTQIA community, and that someday everyone will be able to see their identity reflected back to them. To all the bi people out there (including biromantics, of course!) you are valid, you are beautiful as you are, and those who are too ignorant and small minded to understand you will one day catch up – or we’ll one day be able to successfully time travel and send them back to the Stone Age – I’m joking. Sort of.

 

Until next time,

Keep on aceing it!

The Complete Guide to Queer Pride Flags

The Complete Guide to Queer Pride Flags
— Read on www.pride.com/pride/2018/6/13/complete-guide-queer-pride-flags-0

A bit late for Pride Month, but I recently found this excellent guide to some lesser known pride flags, such as gender fluid, genderqueer, non-binary, and various BDSM related flags.

Hope it’s helpful/ interesting. 😊🏳️‍🌈

Keep on Aceing It!

I Honestly Don’t Have a Non Cheesy Title for this Post

Pride (noun)- 1. the quality or state of being proud 2. a reasonable or justifiable self-respect 3. ostentatious display 4. a showy or impressive group

To close out Pride Month, I just wanted to write a bit about Stonewall and the power of pride. I’ve run across accounts online of LGBTQIA people saying they don’t feel the need to be proud of their sexual orientation because it’s not an accomplishment, not something they can control. I’ve heard that message mirrored in my daily life and online adventures by straight people stating it is obnoxious to be proud or even open about one’s sexuality. If you personally are a minority and  don’t feel the need for pride surrounding your sexuality/gender, that it perfectly okay. But for those who do, it is an incredibly powerful thing. You are taking an aspect of yourself that in the past people would have been diagnosed as mentally ill for (and still may be), standing against the most hateful of people, against deeply engrained societal norms, norms so enmeshed in cultural conscious that we may not even realize just how deeply they run and saying, “I value myself.”

I just finished reading “Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights” by Ann Bausum.  The following is a quote that I found absolutely beautiful, supposedly written by Leo Skir, a poet and gay activist advising a closeted friend in 1970: “You can cure yourself, in a day, in a minute, a second, with three words, with six. I’m-not-sick – three words. Three words more: I-love-myself.”

It’s insane to think that until 2003, just 16 years ago, there were still sodomy laws in the United States. Just sixteen years ago, it was illegal for a significant part of the population to express themselves in the privacy of their own homes. Country wide marriage equality has only existed for four years, which I find a bit mind blowing. I remember finding out the news coming home from a camping trip, and I was elated that civilization had shifted whilst I lacked internet access. I had come out to myself as asexual about two weeks previously, and I had no idea how such a ruling would come to mean so much to me personally. An outrageous amount of progress has been made in a relatively short amount of time, but there is still a long way to go for the LGBTQIA community. I did some brief research on how attitudes toward the LGBTQ community have shifted in recent years and found (of course) statistics mainly on gay men and lesbians, but it’s still rather encouraging. From 1984 to 2012, the general public has periodically been asked by the American National Election Studies their feelings toward gay men and lesbians, how “cold or hot ” they viewed them, based on a scale of 1 to 100. In 1984, the average response was 29, and in 2012 it was 55. (https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/POP-natl-trends-nov-2014.pdf)

Every identity in the LGBTQIA community faces unique challenges, but I am hopeful that hate, intolerance, and pure ignorance will disappear with time.

To end on a cheerful note, here are ten fun facts I learned from Bausum’s book:

  1. The Stonewall was one of few gay bars that not only had music, but allowed dancing between people of the same sex.
  2. Many 60s gay bars were run by the mafia. Police raids reinforced a system of payoffs by mafia owners to corrupt officers.
  3. The reason the Stonewall was raided on June 27, 1969 was, in short, because of blackmail. The establishment had been in business for just over two years when Inspector Seymour Pine received order to shut it down. International authorities had alerted New York’s Police Department about sales in Europe of negotiable bonds that could be traced back to the United States.
  4. In the 1960s, “homophile” was used by the gay community as an alternative to “homosexual”.
  5.  The Stonewall grossed $8,000 ($35,000 today’s money) each weekend and allotted $1,200 a month for payoffs ($8,000 today’s money).
  6.  Stonewall was on Christopher Street, and ironically not far from Christopher Street was Gay Street, named after a man who led an anti-slavery riot in 1834.
  7.  The bars female patrons were more likely to be arrested than the male patrons. The cross dressing laws of the time dictated that one must wear three items of “gender appropriate clothing”, including underwear. Some women had chosen to eliminate bras, and so they easily could have found themselves in trouble.
  8.  Supposedly, what turned the tides of the evening, turned the street onlookers into a mob, was a lesbian in man’s clothing who was struggling against the police. According to Bausum, she was said to have turned to the crowd and yelled, “Why don’t you guys do something?!” “The tension of that night and countless previous nights and hundreds of lifetimes of abuse burst the dams of person after person. The crowd became a mob, and the mob began to riot. People began screaming obscenities at the police. They started throwing copper pennies at them as a sign of disrespect: Copper coins for the cops” (Bausum, page 42).
  9. Parking meters were uprooted and turned into battering rams by “an unlikely team of effeminate and muscular gays”.
  10. Hilarious quote that I couldn’t leave out: “The TPF had never seen anything like it. Nothing in tis training or experience had prepared the officers for such a response. They knew how to stay in formation when confronting a wall of anti-war passive resistance, advancing toward the immobile crowd and penetrating the grid of resistance. They knew how to stay in formation when confronting walls of violence, advancing step by step even as bottles and rocks bounced off their shields and helmets. But a broadway kickline? Never!”

 

Happy Pride month! I hope it has been one of celebration and self care. Remember all year that you are valid and you are worthy of respect. 💙✊

Until next time,

Keep on Aceing It!

 

 

 

Comfort in Umbrellas

Happy Pride Month! If you happen to be familiar with the Try Guys, you are probably aware that their sole non-white, non-straight member, Eugene Lee Yang, recently came out as gay in a stunningly beautiful, dance centric video that he choreographed, directed, and helped to produce. The video is linked below if you’d like to check it out:

 

My intial response to the video was, “Yeah Eugene, we already know you’re gay. Beautiful video, but a bit unnecessary.” It wasn’t until watching the follow up video where Eugene talks about why he came out that I realized he had said he was queer and part of the LGBTQ+ community before, but never that he was specifically gay. I admire his candor in admitting why, saying that there is so much stigma around the word “gay”, whereas “queer” or “LBGT+” don’t mean anything to a lot of people.

I can certainly relate. Being asexual and homoromantic, I often say I’m gay in regards to romance and ace in regards to sexuality. A couple months ago, two classmates and I were talking about the YouTube channel Jubilee and their video featuring LGBT people and Christians talking about their views on relationships. I had come out to classmate number 1 as asexual and homoromantic minutes before classmate number two joined us to chat – side note,  I was positively terrified to come out to classmate number 1, but she actually thanked me for trusting her and as it would turn out, she has a friend who is biromantic and ace. When classmate number 1 mentioned Jubilee and their LGBT and Christians video, I commented that I would be interested to see it, as I belong to both communities. Simply saying I was LGBT+ was infinitely more comfortable than coming out with specific terms. Classmate number 2 was openly a lesbian and theoretically I shouldn’t have been uncomfortable saying I was gay in front of her – yet I was, never mind bringing up asexuality. With my mother, I’ve noticed that I’m more comfortable referring to myself as “not straight” – she’s far from a spring chicken and using the alphabet soup acronym LGBTQIA/LGBT+ would likely set her head reeling, and she’s of the era when “queer” was used as a slur – rather than saying homoromantic/gay or even asexual.  Not only are umbrella terms like “LGBT+” and “queer” often more comfortable for those using them as self descriptors, but for those outside the community who hear them. It strikes me as odd that essentially saying, “I’m not the norm when it comes to gender/ and/or sexuality/romanticism” is more comfortable to hear for some than having a term that specifically describes an unusual aspect of identity. In the follow up video, Eugene mentions some people he knows could be homophobic, and that claiming the label “gay” could result in him being disowned. He points out that “gay” is a toxic word to some people, and I definitely agree.

I recently purchased a cross inlaid with rainbow stones; I hoped it would go unnoticed by my mother and I would be able to avoid a potentially emotional and in depth discuss, but that was not the case. The talk was, however, briefer and less emotional than I anticipated. It went something along the lines of: pretty necklace, is it new?

Me: Yep.

Mother: (moves in for a closer look)

Me: (stating the obvious) It’s a rainbow cross.

Mom: (awkard silence, proceeds with light, cheerful tone) It’s a gay cross.

The talk then got a tad emotional with me saying that I was proud my God and how he made me, and I wanted the world to know that you can be Christian and gay. She looked at me affectionately and a bit sadly, muttered, “I’m so confused”, hugged me, forced a smile and said, “Okay.” Back when I first came out to her as homoromantic, the number one challenge was explaining to her the concept of sexuality and romanticism being separate things, explaining how some people experience romantic love without the sexual component. In her mind, I couldn’t claim the labels of “asexual” and “gay” at the same time, and, frustratingly, she still seems to think that “gay” eclipses my asexual identity.

A couple months back, an old friend of mine aggressively tried to set me up with a guy. I was incredibly uneasy about coming out to her in any way shape or form, not knowing how open she was to the LGBTQIA community. I simply said I was too busy for romance, but she kept at it for a week and I would always steer her away from the subject, by patience wearing thinner by the second. One evening, she messaged me, “Can I ask you something?” For some reason, in the back of my head I thought she was going to ask me if I was still a virgin, and if that was the case, I promised myself I would come out as asexual. Her question went a completely different direction, however, and it was the perfect opportunity to come out as gay. “Is the reason you don’t want to meet Stephan because you actually like girls? Ha ha ha.” I answered her joking query with a simple, “Honestly, yes.” She was confused, as in her view I was straight in high school and now I was suddenly gay, but she was kind and accepting. Just claiming the fact that I was romantically interested I females was infinitely more comfortable than labeling myself in anyway, and while I am a bit disappointed in myself for not having the guts to bring up the topic of asexuality, I keep reminding myself that baby steps are okay.

I told my mom with a wry smile that Victoria ( know as my adorably quirky friend who i met in elementary school) was trying to set me up with a guy, just as she attempted to do for senior ball – sidenote, she failed and I took a plushie of an anime character as my date. Photo below: IMG_0753

A couple weeks later while visiting my parents for the weekend, my mom asked if Victoria was still at it. I had come out to her and she had dropped the subject, but I did my best to dance around that little detail, as my mother is incredibly sensitive about me revealing my attraction to women. She could tell I was omitting information, and eventually I told her what Victoria had messaged me, and how I basically couldn’t not own up without, in my mind, being a complete and total self-hating coward. This led to a lengthy conversation about how my mother sees me as being, “More ace than gay”, and me doing my absolute best to explain to her how I am equally both, what the terms mean to me (“gay” being an abbreviation of homoromantic), and how one does not negate the other. Judging by her initial, “I’m so confused”, when discussing my gay Christian pride, the message didn’t sink in. It seems that, in some people’s minds, claiming the “gay” identity wipes out all other aspects of identity. It recently occurred to me that when people think of a gay identifying person, they think of a person who is sexually promiscuous with the same sex, and that claiming the term to describe attraction that isn’t sexual is so difficult for some to grasp because the term has become so sexualized. I recently watched a TED talk titled, “Homosexuality: It’s about Survival, not Sex” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Khn_z9FPmU) and the presenters mentions toward the end that a popular view is that, “Straight people fall in love while gay people have sex”.

Apart from simply the term “gay”, once a specific term is claimed such as asexual, bi, pan, etc. it is easy for it to become an all encompassing identity, for others (particularly those hostile toward anyone not hetero and/or cis gender) to think of you first as your sexuality/ gender, and secondly as anything else. My theory is that umbrella terms are more comfortable for some because they make it more difficult to be specifically targeted. To a certain extend, “asexuality” is an umbrella term, as it covers sexuality that is not strictly zed/allosexual. If you’re seeking more info on the ace spectrum, here is a great article: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/asexual-spectrum_n_3428710?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAACnqc7QIaDSRDkKfu8dwFdMlaAyWVfuc32t5oZf8zRcvheEvUxtRxQauPGV0Sx6WWox46JkPMlj0Owb0pf-44nK3hmNiap5e2rbUqrkDwsmhntLvr4-oXP_Ck2G-CVyR5HG6xT3BRS-1FYUh1OfI6hSy3VG4RN9SPRHB_yJ4Xh-8.

I have never verbally identified myself as aegeosexual, though that would be the most accurate term to describe my sexuality; this is solely because I feel asexual is an accurate enough description, and the term just “clicks” with me better. So, besides not wanting to specifically name and identity that could be controversial, I think umbrella terms are more comfortable for some because they simply resonate more with the self-identifier.

I would love  to hear your thoughts and the label(s) you feel most comfortable using to describe yourself. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Happy Pride, until next time,

Keep on Aceing It!

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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.