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!

Heartbreak Part 2: A Letter to My Father

I feel like the title of this post is pretty self explanatory. Forgive me for the break in (semi) regular programming of LBGTQIA+ topics, my brain is absorbed by family drama at the moment.

Forgiveness does not mean allowing toxic people to continually complicate your life. I forgave you for years of absenteeism in my life and for your addition driving my mother and I away from our home, but the fact remains – my depression and anxiety undoubtedly stem from that, from your mistakes. Every friend I made at that horrible school I was dropped in when we moved ended up stabbing me in the back, and just when I’d met someone good, someone I could have a lasting friendship with, it was time to go home. I was forced to build a new life just to have it torn away. It took me years to learn how to be truly happy again. You have never, ever made me feel safe. Sometimes I wonder if you quit meth when we left because you wanted us back, or because your parents wouldn’t include you in their will if you didn’t. It has always disgusted me how you shameless depend on my grandparents for income. I let go off all this anger long ago, but when you treat my mother this poorly and spit in both of our faces by bringing up divorce, long healed wounds are ripped wide open and you leave me a furious, bloody mess. It would be so, so easy to hate you. I didn’t learn how to ride a bike because you didn’t have time to teach me and my codependent mother insisted it was a father’s job to teach his daughter how to ride a bike. People would have thought my mother was single if she hadn’t worn her farcical wedding ring because you never went anywhere with her – you were either sweating to feed your habit, getting high in the garage, or sitting on your ass in front of the t.v. after a day off nonstop meth earning. You were high when I was born. You were high at my christening. You were high when you spoke at my grandfather’s funeral. We almost lost the house because of your screw ups. You almost missed my eighth grade graduation because you were playing tennis. My mother had zero tolerance for anything but perfection in my behavior as a small child because she felt she had to do the job of two parents. When you would try to quit and camp out in front of the trustee idiot box while riding out with drawl symptoms, she was even more short tempered than usual – and that is to say, if I moved wrong, I got screamed at. To this day, every time you drink you pick a fight with my mother. There is so, so much more, but I don’t want to dwell in this place of fury. It would be all too easy to hate you, but I can’t find it in me to do that. You may be the most selfish, insensitive person I know, but you still feed the cat goat kefir and rub her belly whilst she lounges by the heater. When the fluffy beast delivers us birds, you always try to save them. You adore every small child you come into contact with, and they automatically adore you. My earliest memory is of you with a giant, curved cushion on your back pretending to be a turtle and giving me rides on your back. One of the only reasons I started playing softball was because I knew it would catch your interest, and the first time in my life that I felt like I had your full attention was when you were teaching me to pitch. Practicing at the park with you and H. on an overcast spring Saturday is one of my fondest memories. I love that you love my passion for books and the Russian language;  that you’ve never refused to take me to a bookstore. I love that you are constantly making random chicken noises and comically remixing songs. I love that you admire me for being a vegetarian and have never interrogated me about dating or argued with me about not wanting children. You soothed a deep, dark fear in me when I finally came out to you as asexual and homoromantic. I told you I thought I had been a coward for avoiding coming out to you for so long, you said you didn’t think I was cowardly at all – on the contrary, you told me that you had absolutely nothing negative to say about me. When I caught my cousins gossiping about me, saying I was doing nothing with my life and that my parents should be ashamed of me, you sent a letter defending me and telling them that you could never, ever be ashamed. I asked you to wait until I had sent text messages confronting them, and you were so amped up you could hardly restrain yourself. You taught me that rubbing the stomach of a Blue Belly lizard puts it to sleep, that documentaries are entirely underrated, and that pancakes are best cooked in a pan. As hard as I try not to need you, I do. I have always needed you, and you’ve never been able to give me enough. I don’t know if it’s because your first wife destroyed you or if it’s because your own father was away traveling for much of your childhood, but I don’t think you’re capable of the love that parenthood requires. I know you’re not capable of the love that a healthy marriage requires – and even as I type this, I remember the moments scattered across years that you were, and hope that I’m lying. Your good is heaven, and your bad is hell. I can’t handle the whiplash anymore, and I don’t even want to imagine how my mother feels – my mother, who, for all her faults, loves more deeply than anyone I know. My mother who, for reasons beyond me, is still hopelessly in love with you. If I know one single thing for certain, it is that you do not deserve her.                                                              You haven’t used meth in ten years – true. You are not an addict – false. The facts or the facts, and addict is not a dirty word, simply a description – in your case, a description of someone for whom reality is determined by their needs. If you are tired, then the world must be quite so you can sleep – if there is the slightest noise, the world is out of balance. Never mind that you sleep in the living room every night, and there are other people in the house who need to eat in the morning. If it’s eleven in the morning and you’re still tired, it’s abominable of my mother to make breakfast because you’re sleeping. When you’re watching a football game and the dog needs to be taken out, you ask your daughter – who is in the middle of doing her math homework – to do it for you. Perfectly logically. And if she has a bit of an attitude while she does it, she is being completely unfair, because you were watching a game! And when sports are on t.v. , nothing else in the world matters. You start the day by drinking two energy drinks, don’t eat lunch, go play tennis, and then expect everyone in the house to wait on you when you return home because you’re exhausted, yet you refuse to eat better, and you love the caffeine rush too much to avoid the crash. That’s just it. The drugs are out, but nothing’s really changed. Meth has been replaced by energy drinks and wine on the weekends, the house hold activities still revolve around you, my mother still brings you dinner in your chair nearly every night, and you still blow a gasket whenever someone says something you don’t like or when you have to do something you don’t want to, such as paying bills or being put on hold on the phone. Sure, you rearrange the pillows on the couch when you get up everyday, but you seldom show my mother any affection, and you only hug me when you’re drunk. I remember telling a counselor about a fight you and mom had years ago and the subsequent fit you threw – the details are muddy now, but she responded with a disbelieving, “Wow. That is such addict behavior.” I think that was the first time I realized it – you aren’t using, but you’re still and addict. You quit on your own, which in and of itself is a bit impressive, but programs exist to break the patterns and mindset that addiction leaves people with, and you should have swallowed your pride and enrolled in one.                                                                                                                                        I love you, and think I’m always going to, as much as it would be easier just to rip you out of my heart and forget you. But I can’t stay on this rollercoaster. My God calls me to forgive, but he does not call me to embrace toxicity – and you are a toxic person, especially when you are behaving as cruelly and childishly as you have been this past week. I remember telling my counselor years ago that I was finally realizing you weren’t capable of change – that the dad I had was the dad I was stuck with. Change is what I want. You make yourself capable if you truly love me. You treat my mother with respect, act like an adult, and go to marriage counseling with her, swallow your pride, and admit that you are an addict. Admit that you put her through twelve years of hell when you were using, that you continue to torment her with your selfishness, and you work  at seeing the world beyond yourself and your needs. If your incapable of doing that, I’m done. I can only take so much. My heart did not heal simply for you to rip it, still beating, out of my chest. My wounds did not heal for you to leave deeper scars. The tragic thing is, I know I’m lying. The pain you’ve stirred up in me these past few days is going to take months to subside. I should face the future with absolutely no fear because nothing – absolutely nothing – can hurt like loving you has.

 

I apologize for the lack luster post, I was sobbing as I was writing this, and while it was rather therapeutic, it is far from my best writing. I am sure I’ll be in a better place soon, and I am determined to raise the bar for the next post.

That being said, I hope this mediocre letter that I will never have the guts to send makes someone feel less alone.

 

Ace app 

Howdy! A page that I follow on Facebook posted the following, and I just thought that I’d repost this here. Something I’m interested in, refreshing to see it’s not only for dating, but a safe place to make ace friends as well. 

Hope you enjoy, until next time! Keep on aceing it. 😊♠️

Danielle 

Edit: not yet in existence, coming to App Store June 2017 

Surviving the Holidays

This time of year is paradoxical. You have children filled with excitement, adults filled with equal parts stress and sentimental feelings, and some are simply sad or anxious. Besides being a time of joy and giving, the holidays can be a time of grieving for lost loved ones, or even relationships with family. That has been the case for me personally. My mother has been, by far, the least accepting person out of the seven people I’ve come out to. She spent roughly the first eight months after I came out to her telling me I hadn’t found the right person yet, saying I couldn’t be asexual because I expressed aesthetic appreciation of a select few guys, even going as far as to insinuate that I had chosen to be asexual. It was only in the past year that she had finally decided to take me at my word about my orientation, but she still refused to adress it by its name. Perhaps one of the most hurtful things she has ever said to me regarding my orientation occurred after we had eaten lunch with my grandparents and the topic of gay marriage had popped up. Surprisingly, my eighty seven year old, extremely Catholic grandfather didn’t oppose it. I’m getting a bit off topic, forgive me. Anyway, as my mom and I were leaving their home, she thanked me for not coming out to my grandparents, as if my orientation , this significant fraction of who I am, was something embarrassing or shameful. I love my mother, I honestly do, but I will admit that her behavior regarding my asexual has deeply hurt me, and Ivdon’t feel as safe around her as I used to. Family is great, but gathering together this time of year can be difficult, particularly if you aren’t straight. So, here is an artical that I hope will be helpful, whatever your situation is.  https://www.queertheology.com/8-queer-holiday-tips-coping-surviving/ 

Until next time! Merry Christmas, happy holidays, keep on aceing it! 

Danielle

First Post! How Exciting!

Greetings! Just thought I would take this first post to give a description of what I’d like this blog to be. I want this blog to be a safe place for anyone on the ace (asexual) spectrum to talk about their difficulties, joys, etc. as well as a safe place for aces and allos alike to ask questions in a respectful manner and get in-depth answers. I’m not pretending that I know everything about sexual and romantic orientations, but I will do my absolute best to answer questions. If readers have answers to questions that I don’t,  please, PLEASE bring them to the table. The same goes for technical aspects. This is my first blog (bear with me, it will get better) and if anyone as any tips, content wise or technically, I’d be happy to hear them. 🙂 Most importantly, I want this to be a safe place for aces on any part of the spectrum, a place where we can feel like a part of a community. Being asexual can feel incredibly isolating, but please know that you’re not alone. 🙂 Also, a heads up, I will most likely post the occasional rant. My family is not exactly accepting of my asexuality, as I know is the case for quite a number of people. I will do my absolute best to keep these rants short and the writing good quality. I’ll include an in depth story of my road to discovering my asexuality in my next post, was going to inlcude it in this one, but it was getting longer and longer and honestly I’m a bit impatient to publish my first post. I promise I’ll get better at blogging! I honestly don’t expect much traffic, but for the few people who read this, thank you! Stay with me, it will get better!

Until next time! Keep on Aceing It!

Danielle