Asexuals on Coming Out: Advice

[This post is the result of the Asexuality Questionnaire project.  The quotations used within are gathered from anonymous responses to questions asked as part of that project.]

One of the questions on the Coming Out questionnaire was “What advice would you have for someone choosing to come out?”  I had so many excellent responses to that question, that I had to split my post about coming out into two parts so I could fit all of them.

Should you choose to come out, hopefully you will find this useful.

The following is advice on coming out from other asexuals.

“If you don’t feel safe or comfortable coming out and you can avoid doing so, then that may be the best until things changes. Realize that it isn’t a simple binary between being out and being closeted. You can be honest about something, or give a true indication by your behavior, without advertising it. Not everybody wants to or has the right personality to be really open or to advertise their sexual orientation a lot, even in ideal circumstances. Each person should decide based on their situation and their personality what the best place on this spectrum is for them.”

“If you want to come out as asexual, make sure that’s what you want, and that you’re ready. Consider, if possible, taking a friend who already knows with you. If that’s not possible, I strongly recommend having some sort of support system where you can access it quickly if necessary. If things go badly, I always want a hug and a willing ear to hear me rant and cry. Personally, I tend to emotionally distance myself from the conversation, because I’ve learned that the people who are closest to me are the most likely to blurt out something accidentally hurtful, and that pretty much anyone will ask you anything. Try to equip yourself with as much patience and words as you can; you’ll possibly need plenty of both. Good luck.”

“Have tough skin. Especially if the person you’re telling isn’t very well versed in issues such as these. If you’re generally young, like me (18) you’ll probably find telling your friends a smoother process than telling your older family members, therefore tell your friends first.”

“Be prepared to get a negative reaction, because there’s a good chance you’ll be met with doubt, incredulity, or (depending on how old you are) condescension.”

“If someone gives you flack or sees you as a freak, don’t ever believe that. You are who you are and, no matter what happens, you are the pilot of your life. Don’t let words discourage you in any way.”

“Generally, if you don’t make a big fuss about it, other people won’t either.”

“It’s not as bad as it might seem. People will say what they say. The ones that truly love you won’t give a damn, they’ll love you no matter what.”

“Start with the easy ones and work up to the difficult or important people.”

“Never come out as an expression of guilt. Many people are in circumstances where coming out isn’t necessary and would only add undue confusion/strain on their relationships. Really think about it and weigh things out before doing it. If you’re in a religious community that is disapproving (like I am), make sure you have a support system in place should shit hit the fan, because it’s likely that it will.”

“Everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s situation is different. No one should take one person’s experience as evidence of what it will be like for them. But I would say that you want to tailor your approach to the person you’re talking to. If it’s someone who loves you but who might not respond well to the idea of asexuality, it might be a good idea to try coming out to them *first* and *then* educating them. If you do it the other way around and they react badly to the education, you might end up feeling really hurt and not telling them — but if it’s someone who loves you, they might have been much more open and accepting if they had known from the start that you were telling them about *yourself*.”

“I would probably recommend sending letters or emails if a face-to-face talk seems too daunting. This will give you an opportunity to explain everything without interruption, and give links to resources where questions can be answered correctly.”

“Only do it when you want to. But when it’s forced, bite that bullet and get it out. There will be people who slander and completely disbelieve you, and they may dismiss you, but you won’t be lying to yourself. I tried to kid myself for years that I was just denying that I was gay, but it just wasn’t working. Actually telling somebody helped cement it in my own mind that this is me.”

“I think it’s best to only come out to people you trust, initially. Especially when you’re “new” to identifying as on the ace spectrum. Talk to them in a calm and collected manner and try not to yell – make them see you are serious about what you are saying and that they will not change your mind. You are telling this so they know who you are. I found it’s helpful to read other aces’ coming-out stories and read up on witty responses and explanations so you don’t go into a possible battle unarmed. And it’s probably best not to choose a moment when they’re stressed, angry or otherwise in a mad mood.”

“You should be proud of who you are and know that there are people who will support you, especially if you have lgbt-friendly people in your life. There may be people who call you names, pressure you to have sex, or pretend to be supportive while actually being ignorant bigoted assholes. Some people may get irritated or angry when you come out, because they think you’re just trying to be different. Some lgbt people and their allies may even be bigoted towards you. Defend yourself and draw positivity from your support system. If you don’t have a support system, then it may be time to get new friends.”

“Know your feelings inside out and be able to articulate them easily. It’s hard to convince someone that your orientation is legit if you can’t explain yourself properly. If you have access and time, reading some of the scientific articles or one of the academic books (like Understanding Asexuality, which is a great read) is also a great help. That way if anyone says that asexuality doesn’t exist, or you’re broken/have a hormone imbalance/inhuman/repressed/traumatised from sexual assault, you can throw the science at them. Most people change their minds pretty quickly once there’s proof that their ideas are incorrect. The people who are stubborn and still don’t believe or accept you, they’re not worth your time. Browse the AVEN forums or the tumblr asexual tags too, there’s always some good coming out stories on there.”

“First, it’s never as bad as you think it will be, your mind exaggerates to incredible degrees. Second, test the waters first, see how that person reacts to statements typical of the group you find yourself a part of (ex: oh, hey, those homo-/bi-/asexuals, those transgenders, those transsexuals, etc.) Really, it’s not so bad as you think it will be. If people you like react poorly to it, those are not people you want to be around and it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.”

“Coming out is personal, moreso as an asexual in how it is regarded by the public at large. Whether the outcome is a positive or negative experience, always stay true to yourself and your feelings. If your friends discuss engaging in sexual behaviors with people and characters, but you’d rather not, don’t try to pretend that you would to fit in. If you test out sexual acts with other partners and you do not enjoy them, that is entirely okay. If your family or friends make fun of asexuality in ways that make you uncomfortable, attempt to use neutral “I feel” statements to broach the subject. Most of all never project negative labels onto yourself such as “frigid” or “broken” and more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how you feel.”

“Relax. People will probably be understanding. If they know you well, they’re probably at least somewhat aware of the fact that you’re asexual; they just may or may not have a name for that. And if you’re unsure about how people will react, start by talking about the asexuality of other people. When I came out to my friends, it started with a conversation about the sexuality of Abed in the show Community, and that helped me figure out how much explaining I’d have to do and how understanding they’d be. I also like gauging reactions by telling people about Tim Gunn being asexual.”

“Tell those that you trust first. They can be there for support while you come out to people who you are not as comfortable with.”

“Take it slow. And only tell one person at a time. People listen better one on one, and if it’s a group one person who doesn’t believe you, or who has negative views or bad information on asexuality might sway others who individually may have been more receptive.”

“Have resources on hand, bear up for rejection but always hope for the best.”

“Choose who you come out to, make sure your comfortable with them knowing, be ready to explain, explain, explain, and have some facts and links as well. Also, be prepared for some rather intrusive questions and possibly revealing more about your intimate life than most people would ever feel comfortable with doing. Also be prepared for some insensitive comments as well.”

“Be prepared to answer questions. There might be misinformation to correct. For the most part, people tend to be accepting, if not somewhat confused. Don’t feel pressured to come out if you don’t want to. Don’t feel pressured to “fit” the label. The only person who can decide your sexuality is you; it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”

“Bring along lots of sources to back you up. Also, patience is key. Asexuality is a strange concept to sexuals.”

“Time and place is key. Think of the questions they might ask and be prepared with the answers. Trust that your judgement of the person is sound and that they’ll at least listen to you. Put your courage to the sticking place and just do it.”

“The best advice I was ever given came from the asexual vlogger Swankivy, who pointed out that coming out doesn’t have to be one conversation: numerous hints over time can culminate in an eventual coming out.”

“Be confident. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are, or tell you it’s just a phase. Most people are just unaware of what asexuality really is.”

“Choose who you come out. You can do it little by little. You don´t need to go on national television or anything.”

“Don’t submit your orientation for approval. Bring up asexuality in advance, just to see how people react to it. If they react badly, perhaps rethink your plan to come out. Don’t come out unless you feel comfortable coming out. Being out is not worth compromising your safety or well-being. Don’t do Asexuality 101 unless you want to. It’s not your job to educate everyone in the world; people can respect your privacy and use basic search engines. That said, be polite about turning down questions, and direct people to other (good) resources. Expect people to bring the topic up again. Some people won’t ask questions when you first come out, but will instead do some basic research before asking you questions. You’re still not obligated to answer anything you don’t want to. Be aware that if you come out, people may assume that you are out to everyone, and may out you without your permission. If this is a problem, pull them aside and politely ask them not to do so. Most people are pretty good about respecting your privacy.”

“You don’t have to come out to everyone at once – it’s a process. Pick a time and place where you feel comfortable to have the conversation. If there’s a chance the other person will actually be violent, pick a public place, maybe a coffee shop. Otherwise, maybe somewhere more private, with a hot drink, and lots of comfort food available? Be prepared for lots of awkward questions.”

“The most important thing is to not come out to someone that you think will respond in a negative way that could hurt you. Probably the second thing to watch out for is people who might put you in a dangerous situation by outing you. If you’re nervous, email, instant messaging and texting work great to give you time to think about the conversation and your responses, as well as giving you the opportunity to easily walk away if you need to get out. It might also help to have a friend with you who can provide support. mediate, or step in and help explain if you’re having trouble.”

“Make sure you can explain the terms you choose to use.”

“Tell them as simply as you can. Address confusion or objections as they’re made clear. Pre-emptive defence is likely to make things messy. People have the right to be unhappy about your sexuality, but not to blame you for it. Don’t take objections to the concept of asexuality personally. If people have made assumptions about your sexuality, then any false conclusions they may have come to are not your fault. If you have unintentionally misled people about your sexuality, then that’s also not your fault. If you’ve intentionally misled people about your sexuality, then before you talk to them, think about that, about your reasoning for doing so and about the degree (if any) to which you owed them honesty in this area.”

“Do your research before you come out. When your friends/family come to you with questions you should know the answers and be ready to defend them. You should already know the things that people might say so they are prepared.”

“Being out is better.”

“Come prepared with background knowledge, know the bingo and don’t try to do too much at once. That means, leaving stuff like non-binary trans* people to another conversation, if you’re not trans*.”

“Prepare. Get a definition and some links, be ready to educate people, even though ideally you shouldn’t have to. I realize a lot of people have had worse experiences than I have, so maybe you should be emotionally prepared for some real issues; definitely be prepared for people not to know what you’re talking about and possibly not even to believe you.”

“Stay strong. Hold on, and find a good metaphor. A good metaphor/analogy goes a very, very long way. People will tell you it’s not a real sexuality, that’s you’re just pretending, but hold strong. People are there for you, and they love you for you. Find your LGBT community, they are usually great people who will embrace you for who you are. ”

“You need to decide how much of your life, sexual or otherwise, is anyone else’s business. Let that guide you in how much, or not, you want to come out.”

“Think about why you want to come out, and if the reasons are good, for you, then do it!”

“Be prepared for questions you don’t want to hear. You will hear them.”

“Ideally to have scouted the waters first to see what they said when asexuality came up as a topic or possibility. Other than that, just go for it and be firm that no, you really know yourself best and whatever they think is not relevant. At all. Once you’re out it’s really nice not to feel you have to hide to fit in.”

“Explain as well as you can and answer sensible questions or comments. If they start asking silly questions or making offensive comments, just walk away – they’re not worth your time.”

“Don’t let anyone tell you that what your feeling is wrong or that you are too young to know how you feel! Only you can decide how you feel, not anyone else. Also be prepared to answer questions that people might have or if you don’t want to do that, direct them to some helpful resources!”

“Before you do it, think about how much information you’re willing to share with this person, what questions you’re comfortable answering and what you want to be off-limits. You’re going to end up answering questions, and you don’t want to go into it unprepared. Have an idea of how you’re going to explain asexuality if they just don’t get it. You don’t want to feel like you’re scrambling for an explanation, or like you’re on the defensive. And be proud of yourself, because it’s not an easy thing to do.”

“I think the most important thing is to live honestly with yourself and to be honest to others. Sometimes being honest to others may require explicitly “coming out” to them. Sometimes you can just live your life how you choose and they can think of that what they want to. Don’t feel that you need to come out or to do so in a specific way if that isn’t the right thing for you and your circumstances.”

“From my experience, you don’t necessarily need to come out as asexual in order to be accepted as one.”

And I think this one says it best:

“Don’t be afraid.”

 

(Also take a look at the companion post about the experience of coming out as asexual.)

One thought on “Asexuals on Coming Out: Advice

  1. Pingback: 5 Myths About...Asexuals | Persephone's Bedroom

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