Archive for June, 2008

Rainbow Brite vs. The (not-so) Religious Right.

June 22, 2008

Walking in San Jose this evening, my uncle, aunt, mom, and I ran across a handful of people protesting.  It barely occurred to me to blink an extra time when I heard the main mouthpiece of their effort repeatedly remind passers-by that Jesus had cured the lepers, or when he urged everyone in the surrounding square to repent.  I may not put much stock, personally, in the concept of “sin,” but I have enough close Christian friends to not find public reminders of our (relative) freedoms of religion and speech too irksome.  Only when we passed behind the protest and I caught sight of the back of the speaker’s sign, which clearly read “Homo Sex is a Sin” did something in me start to swell with anger.  My uncle, who has been in a poor mood these past few months, commented that he was grateful the restaurant we were heading to wouldn’t force us to directly view these “assholes” during dinner, and then – because he apparently has not yet recognized that my personal speech habits would quite often cause sailors to blush – he apologized to me for his language.  I pointed to the quote on the back of the picket sign and said plainly that, if he wanted to call these particular people assholes in my presence, I would not take offense.

I don’t know why exactly homophobia bothers me more at certain points than others.  To be honest, it still angers me far more often than it doesn’t; I have yet to cultivate the level of cynicism that would lead me to expect it or the level of Zen acceptance that would lead me to dismiss it without sudden budding negativity.  (I’m not suggesting this is entirely a bad thing.  As a rule, cynicism is not something I attempt to cultivate, and generally speaking, I consider it a sign of conscience that prejudice pisses me off.)  I think, however, that part of my sudden wish for a megaphone in that moment (either to recite the spoken-word piece I’m currently working on, which is based on my need to tell off a – thankfully adjunct – social policy professor who once told my class she “could not support” gay and lesbian foster parenting … or simply to beat the shit out of these people with any available blunt object) stemmed from where we were: a California arts district.  I wonder to what extent my anger today reflects the fact that I do, on occasion, like to pretend that I live not in Actual California, where the Terminator can be elected Governor and a fifteen-year-old can be brutally assasinated in a computer lab by a homophobic/ transphobic classmate, but rather the Hypothetical California I learned to believe in growing up in the Midwest.  Hypothetical California, I imagine, exists only over the rainbow; it’s a place where progressive politics are not only the majority but the standard starting point.  It’s a politically active queer utopia, accepting without exception and absolutely diverse (minus, of course, the conservative end of the spectrum).  As someone only spending her second summer in the area, I can – curled up in the comfort of my own social circles – occasionally pretend this is the actuality of California.  …Until I take a walk with family down a public sidewalk and am slapped with a reminder that, even an hour south of San Francisco the weekend before Pride, homophobia is an unavoidable reality.  Perhaps not the only reality, but a reality neverthetheless.

Obviously, I’m not unacquainted with homophobia.  Although I have the good fortune of coming from an unexceptionally liberal nuclear family that basically responded to the Big Announcement of my lesbianism with an overall chorus of, “right, but what was the Something Major you wanted to talk about?” and – as a campus activist – repeatedly benefit from the (otherwise annoying) fact that my generation, minus their budding support of Obama, appears to be the most apathetic bunch of people on the planet, I haven’t exactly managed to avoid the reality that homophobia still runs rampant in society and that it often disguises itself as religion.  (I did, somewhat accidentally, attend a Catholic university.  I do have an extended family that considers “love the sinner, hate the sin” the hallmark of tolerance and prays every Sunday for my speedy recovery from, you know, loving people with the wrong chromosomal pair.)  Still, every time I encounter homophobia, I respond like it’s some new beast, or rather an old one I thoroughly expected would be extinct by now, and after the fury cools (or starts transforming itself into material for the next short story/ slam/ et cetera), I’m left confounded by the fact that people are still holding onto this.

I’m left, also, to wonder if this constitutes perhaps the slightest fraction of my resistance to adopting “asexual” as a self-identifier.  I spent a lot of time, as I considered coming out, wondering why exactly I wanted to, and realizing that – in a few, specific cases – I very much did not  wish to inform people of my asexuality.  I knew, in those cases, that it would lead that person to assume celibacy on my part, and while that’s not an inaccurate assumption, it was not a card I wanted them to hold.  I’ve been told on occasion – though not directly by these aunts and uncles – that I would be allowed to bring a girlfriend to the homes of certain relatives only on the condition that we played ourselves off as platonic.  I have attended more than one (otherwise blissful) family gathering (on the other side of my particular genetic tree) where multiple relatives talked lovingly of my cousin’s close “friend” (and, you know, decades-long partner and co-parent of two beautiful hounds.)  I know that in that world – where people pray at least a rosary a day, regularly attend pro-life marches on Washington, and declare Hurricane Katrina a necessary attempt by God to purge Louisiana of the wrong kind (read: shade) of people – the knowledge that I have yet to sleep with and may never sleep with a woman, despite the fact that I will proudly and repeatedly declare myself a lesbian, would be taken as a significant victory.  Perhaps I can still be saved.  Perhaps, I will never fully commit to a straight lifetyle, but at the very least, I will not act upon the sin of my orientation.  (What’s that theological bullshit about it being okay to be gay as long as you repress it entirely?  You remember, surely.)  In the face of that kind of prejudice, it’s all I can do to keep from creating a thoroughly promiscuous alter-ego, who makes it her mission to seduce the sweet, straight Christian girls who attend her college in order to “lie with” them every Sunday evening when she should be at mass repenting. 

Lie, indeed.  Because it is a lie, obviously.  I am, in actuality, much closer to the kind of lesbian my extended family and the rest of the homophobic population can pretend to accept.  And in actuality, I’m compelled to be this person openly, to not pretend a different kind of lesbianism in order to drive home a point.  I don’t want my life to be their teaching tool; I simply want my story as my truth – and yet… I refuse to be accepted because I have seemingly sacrificed the sexual aspect of my orientation for the sake of their acceptance in this life and “God’s” in the next.  So for the moment, I keep the reality of what I (don’t) do in bed private, and allow the hypersexualization so typical to that perspective to force them toward accepting something I technically am not.  I allow them to misunderstand my sexuality because it forces them to encounter my politics, and if I only get to have one sentence on the subject I prefer to replace “I’ve never f*cked a woman” with “homo sex is not a sin.”

ETA: These beautiful pictures from protest-protesters. 

Envying the Soup Cans Their Labels.

June 19, 2008

I find it interesting (and a little sad) how much weight I apparently believe labels carry.  Given the  circumstances under which I (for the moment at least) decided to shelve the asexual label – as a self-identifier – (specifically the level of choice involved and the fact that I didn’t feel the term was somehow “taken” from me by someone else) I only really felt sad at the loss of community.  If I don’t identify this way, how can I continue to be on the same page with people whom I relate to so strongly?  I still don’t know the answer to that, exactly, but on top of it, I’m finding myself confounded by other questions, including, how do I wrap my head around the fact that I have more in common with people who call themselves asexual, which I’m choosing not to do, than people who call themselves sexual, which – although I’m not exactly *calling* myself, I’m “defaulting” to – given the current social assumptions – by not stating I am asexual…?  I think I somehow expected myself to become more sexual by relinquishing the asexual label.  I mean, if others are going to see me as sexual now, shouldn’t I actually *be* sexual?  But of course, no major transformations have occurred in the past few days.  I haven’t suddenly taking an interest in jumping into bed with anyone.  I still find sex all kinds of strange.  I am, in all honesty, the exact same person who couldn’t think of a better self-descriptor than “asexual” … and felt unbelievably relieved to discover that term.   Which leaves me at kind of a loss.  After all, one of the things that keeps me from believing labels are truly only good for soup cans is their ability to connect people.  I’ve met some of my best friends over the years through the help of shared labels – gay, writer… It matters less what the label is, and more that it’s shared.  I think in some ways it weirds me out to just be myself – even though obviously “myself” is the label I most need to accept – because it’s such a lonely one to claim.  Obviously, everyone is unique, even if they carry an asexual or a sexual banner, but if I just stand here and say, “well, I’m not really willing to say either because while I feel more asexual, I don’t consider myself asexual, I’d like to believe sexuality is expansive enough to include me, but while I’d like to believe in a sexuality that expansive, I can’t wrap my head around it well enough to actually consider myself sexual” I end up in a pretty lonely camp.  And even if I can, at some point, wrap my head around a definition of sexuality so platonic that I’d feel comfortable claiming it, there’s something strange about knowing that other people who feel as you do choose a different (and antithetical) term.  Why am I striving to carve myself a niche in a group with whom I feel I have less in common, when there’s a perfectly lovely group of people with whom I have quite a bit in common, that I could simply associate myself with and be done?

Maybe it’s as simple as that sense of “having less in common” with sexuals, and not wanting to let them stand.  It is extremely important to me, as an “ally” of the asexual community (which I suppose is where I stand now) to continue respecting and working to understand why individuals choose to identify that way, and at the same time, I recognize that part of the reason I choose not to is because the dichotomoy of sexuality/ asexuality really bothers me.  For me, self-describing as asexual means buying into that sexy/ asexy binary, and I’ve never really met a binary I didn’t feel the need to dismantle.  That said, I’ve clung to the term “gray-a” since I first found it; I never thought of asexuality as something strictly separate from sexuality, so I don’t know how well that holds as an explanation of my feelings here.  Maybe I just worry that other people will see it asexuality and sexuality as mutually exclusive.  Because as much as I want a term that I’m comfortable with, a term that describes me well, I also don’t want to feed into any more social division.  Us-and-them so easily becomes us-versus-them, you know?  That dark side of diversity has crawled under my skin of late, I think.

In other news, wish me luck in convincing the people in my life that really, it is necessary that we attend Pride next weekend.  (My second summer in the San Fran area, and for the second summer, people are flaking.)  Last year, my not going was practically headline news when I returned to the Midwest (“Lesbian Spends Summer in San Francisco and Does Not Attend Pride”), and could easily have led to my impeachment in the GSA over which I preside on-campus.   Ok, in truth, that’s a slight exaggeration.  Maybe “I want to go, damnit” is substantial?  I’m leaning hard on people, so cross your fingers for me, if you would.

Be propelled by passion, not invest in outcomes.

June 13, 2008

This entry overwhelms me a little; it’s difficult to write.  This is the entry where I take on my own subtitle, where I rethink the labels entirely, and wonder who exactly will still be compelled to read when the perspective offered is not that of a potentially-asexual-lesbian, but rather… simply… mine.

Changing the presentation of a blog several entries into writing it, just as I’m growing comfortable, starting to make friends, and starting to draw readers frankly puts me a little on edge.  And helping to push me over said edge is my uncertainty that I’ll be able to properly explain why I feel compelled to do this, why – to flat out say it – I don’t particularly consider myself asexual now, after what feels like eons of agonizing over the possibilities (sexual, asexual, sexual, asexual).  It doesn’t help that Elephant, my dear and lovely Elephant, is at the center of it, and that miscommunication on my part might unfairly implicate him, might make it seem as if he talked me out of a viewpoint that was helping me feel more comfortable in myself, more secure, more like I knew where I was coming from, and less like a lone freak in the sexual mainstream.  The last thing I want to do is mislead even my most distant reader about someone so close to my heart, especially when the truth – although a bit more complicated than this – is that Elephant flat-out encouraged me to explore the possibility of asexuality, suggested that I dress myself up in whatever labels or identities felt worth trying, and understand that such exploration is healthy and normal and all that other stuff I strive to be.  (Ok, so I don’t entirely strive to be normal, but I do make an effort toward avoiding clinically abnormal, at least when the DSM definitions aren’t thoroughly pissing me off.)  He was, however, concerned – as he initially thought I was telling him I didn’t consider myself relational at all, which – given that connection and relationship are basically the most important things to me – thoroughly freaked out the both of us.  I can see it irritating asexuals to hear that this sexual friend of mine immediately connected disinterest in sex with disinterest in relationships, period, but honestly, I don’t think he intended offense.  I think, from what he wrote to me, that he simply has a very broad definition of sexuality, one that starts with the fluttery excitement of crushes, spans the spectrum all the way into cuddling, kissing, and sex, on the timeline of the individual and… if said individual doesn’t progress all the way across the continuum – (“progress” is a poorly chosen verb, as it implies that sex is somehow superior to crushing and cuddling and so forth, which – as someone who three days ago was leaning toward an “asexual” identification – I’m certainly not going to argue; cuddling all the way!)  – that’s their experience.  Let’s take a walk through Alanis Morissette’s utopia and exist sans judgment, shall we?

I know that, as asexuals, certain people will not want to have their nonsexual relational experiences framed as sexual, and I totally understand that because, more often than not, I wouldn’t either.  Still, something about the broadness of Elephant’s definition clicked for me.  I liked the lack of dichotomy involved, the total grayness so in keeping with the spectrum I see sexuality existing on, and I liked having him articulate my position on that spectrum as fluid, because I (personally) feel it to be so as well.  This was somehow different than being told I will grow out of where I’m at, that it’s “just” a phase (what isn’t, seriously?), and so forth.  It was basically him suggesting that I’m not as different as I think I am, regardless of how I identify, and that I can use whatever terms I want to describe myself, as long as I’m not using them to be self-critical.  (If he sounds bossy, he only sort of is.  He’s straight-forward and super-opinionated, but for years now, he has consistently proven himself to have no other agenda than to see me thoroughly myself and happy, and so, while I don’t always adopt his opinions, I do tend to weigh them pretty heavily.)

I’ve never considered my (potential) “asexuality” self-criticizing.  In fact, I’ve felt freed from self-criticism (and social criticism) by adopting the term.  It was a word I could offer to explain why I was not “how I was supposed to be” in sexual terms – why I didn’t have the proper desires, respond to sexual jokes in the proper fashion, or engage in the proper sexual acts.  It was an alternative to the post-traumatic pathology I had feared for years was the (only available) explanation.  It really has been a blessing to me for discover this.  And yet, I realize now that it may be time for me to adopt a different identification – if only temporarily, again – because although the term itself was not something I flagellated myself over, it was – largely – in response to such flagellations, both from myself and from others.  If I hadn’t so often received the message that there was something wrong with my method of connecting with people, with what I felt and didn’t feel, wanted and didn’t want, I don’t think I would have felt the need to seek out an identifier like “asexy.”  I don’t think I would have felt the need to explain myself.  The root of this descriptor, then – if only technically – is the criticism.  It’s the brother who tells me, (as a joke that unintentionally grazes a sore spot), that I’m a “bad lesbian” because I respond to the swimsuit calendar as an outraged feminist instead of as an aroused lesbian.  It’s the gay-straight alliance meetings that devolve into still more pressure to go to the lesbian bars my friends themselves refer to as “meatmarkets” with the implication that it is past time I jump on the sexual bandwagon.  And at this point, at least, I need – for my own sake – to refuse the outside insistence that I’m not who I’m supposed to be (and my own internalization of these messages) and just go back to being myself.  Myself, the dorky queen of crushes, the girl who aspires toward cuddling, who is slowly growing comfortable enough around the discussion of sex to find it fascinating (if not so much worth trying), and who is free from the binding expectations of others – sexual, asexual, or otherwise.  I don’t like this idea of sexuals and asexuals.  These are not nouns in my world; they are adjectives.  A sexual person, an asexual person, and sometimes the same person skating back and forth between definitions, as I have been these past oh-so-many months, as I will probably tend to continue doing in the future.  So, while I’m hoping to be able to continue writing about asexuality and sexuality, to continue exploring something that fascinates me, I’m not setting out now to do so as an asexual, a sexual, a gray-a, a demisexual, or any other such thing. 

For the moment (at least), I’m just going to call myself me and let that be enough.  Here’s hoping some people are still along for the ride.

Asexual Authorship.

June 11, 2008

So, if there was any question that I’m the Venus of Willendork, specifically, (which for me at least, there wasn’t), I suspect the short story I’m currently working on puts it to rest.  I also suspect it’s a short story only an asexual would write, which intrigues me.  I know I’m not one to include multiple, drawn-out sex scenes in my fiction (and certainly, there’s no call for them in my non-fiction), but I feel like the asexuality of this particular story is evident in something beyond the absence of sex, something that has more to do with the lack of celibacy as a problem and the willingness to sacrifice a sex life for the sake of maintaining a nonsexual relationship.  The plot, which begins with a lesbian proposing to her gayboi roommate using a Ring Pop, – (did I mention it was dorky?) – and unfolds after the roommate accepts, strikes me as silly and fun and interesting, but it doesn’t strike me as illogical.  At the same time, a specific creative writing professor of mine, who constantly perches on my shoulder and who – in certain situations, including every time I write a spoken-word poem – I often tell to shut up and let me write my work, would insist that there’s a rather large elephant in this room that neither of the main characters seems willing to discuss.  I can just imagine the increasingly uncomfortable shift in atmosphere, as he pushes me in one of our workshops to explain why on earth these people do not care about sex.  This is the man who told me last semester, after reading another “relationship” story – (when, when, when did I start writing things so frightfully romance-oriented?  especially given that the closest I’ve ever come to reading such nonsense is the classics – Jane Eyre, Jane Austen, etc?) – that I needed to further “eroticize” the piece, a direct quote mind you.  That was the first time I flat-out rejected one of his suggestions to his face.  I may struggle at times to know what my voice is, but I know “erotic” isn’t it.

The irritating thing is that, when writing something vaguely realistic, most people expect sex.  This is probably further exaggerated by the fact that sex is the story told over and over again in the popular and mainstream genres, one of the many reasons I prefer indie music, indie movies, and basically indie everything.  Trying to convince someone that a person – asexual or otherwise – would willingly prioritize other things over sex, would “sacrifice” sex – to whatever extent – for the sake of something they find more important, feels like a losing battle to me, which just seems sad.  Given, for instance, the way I fall asleep smiling like a blasted schoolgirl after hearing from Elephant, it seems perfectly logical to me that two people like these characters would want to become each other’s legal family, even if they aren’t planning on having sex, and yet I know, folks like  my professor would insist that the characters are either bisexual, repressed/ insane, or simply poorly drawn.  Presuming they’d be willing to give up sex strikes that kind of person as presuming they would be willing to give up food, a comparison that irritates me beyond words.  I have no desire to take up sex, but speaking as someone who did attempt to give up food once (nearly seven years’ recovery from bulimia and anorexia, thank you very much), that ends with a hospital if you’re lucky and a coffin if you’re not.  So, please… explain to me how it’s the same?

I recognize that these characters are more celibate than asexual, but I love them nevertheless, just for being so thoroughly dorky (ring pop?  seriously?) – and queer.  I think starting to identify as asexual has intensifed the extent to which I identify as queer (as in, not the norm), which is interesting as people in the LGBT community seem so much more willing to adopt that term than many (straight) asexuals.   Whatever it is, I’m having fun writing stories like this one, and hopefully, they’ll mean that eventually people won’t have to scour bookshelves looking for characters who maybe, possibly, from one perspective could be interpreted as asexual.  (One of my fantasies, which will probably never come to fruition, as this is – in several ways – not the type of writing I do, is to concoct a piece of “fluff” fiction, similar to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, in which the norm is to be gay.  I’ve been thinking lately that it would be fun to throw asexuality into the mix as well, but like I said, barring an advance from Scholastic, I’ll probably stick to the projects more suitably my style.  I just like that I’m seeing that style evolve into something noticeably queer, and that the asexuality, gray as it might be, is a part of that.)

Oh, and given that I’ve just written nearly an entire post on a lesbian who loves a gayboi, let me update you with the following news:  As far as I can tell, Elephant isn’t going anywhere; he still appears to love me, thankfully.  I heard back from him, and his response was largely focused on how my mom’s response could have been at all negative, given how liberal he knows my mom to be.  I don’t think it occurred to him that he had the option of being negative himself.  Lovely man, that “Elephant.”  So, yes.  I think I’ll rest a little easier from now on, knowing that.

We Only Come Out In E-mail.

June 3, 2008

Eep! 

So, this will be quick because I have to leave in all of five minutes, but… I just mentioned in an e-mail (to someone whose opinion basically means everything to me) that the meetup I’m trying to gather courage enough to attend this weekend is not, technically, a “queer” meetup but rather a (specifically) asexual one.  This is pretty much the person who, if he doesn’t give a shit, will make it possible for me to (easily) deal with however my family responds.  His good opinion would be great ammunition against my own insecurity.  I have no idea what he’s going to say. 

It’s times like this I wish I were a nail-biter.  It would give me something to do.

Put Up Pictures of Your Art.

June 1, 2008

On a lighter, less complicated note than my usual offerings, allow me to link a song I stumbled across yesterday by an artist who does not yet realize she has successfully sold me her CD.  It’s not – I’ll admit – obviously related to asexuality, but I think there’s a stretch one can make that gets there.  Something along the lines of “asexuals have the opportunity for rare insight into the hypersexualization of our culture and the way that folks internalize that, and therefore, they may get a kick out of hearing it critiqued.” 

And besides, this way asexy beast doesn’t have to find all the fun asexy songs herself.  Kindergarten – (or having four siblings, or something) – taught me to share.

Without further ado, then, I present to you: Keyke’s Myspace Improv About Boobs.

The Days Are Much Too Bright: Thoughts on Coming Out.

June 1, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about coming out.  (Not about actually doing it, mind you… just intellectually considering the subject of coming out.)  Having successfully outed myself as a lesbian (over and over and over again), the “questioning” and “coming out” stages are not things I anticipated experiencing ever again.  Now, as a “potential asexual,” I find myself returned to them, and while I don’t believe I’m enduring the same hell I suffered trying, years ago, to sort out my orientation, I’m hardly enjoying myself.  I’m hardly enjoying the fact that, in this particular journal, I probably come across as not-all-that-together, as an understandable result of the fact that this is one facet of my life in which I am pretty consistently a mess.  What irritates me, – or at least, part of what irritates me – is that I’m actually relatively well-adjusted at this point.  I’m just using this particular space to sort out an area of my life that I have nowhere near accepted or integrated into my identity, a part of my life that I have pretty consistently – for good and not-so-good reasons – needed to keep in the closet.

I keep thinking about myself at 18, as I was struggling to sort through my confusion about my orientation, and myself at 19, as I was taking the plunge to tell my family.  I clearly remember the night (not surprising, it wasn’t that long ago) when I first told my mom I was questioning.  I was curled up on the living room couch in the apartment she and I used to share, and she was asking me – every so often – variations on the theme of what she could do for me and what was wrong.  Part of me really wanted to answer her, but of course, part of me really wanted to do anything but answer her, and so I was living inside of myself, trying desperately to push the words out of a mouth that no longer felt like my own.  I remember at one point it occurred to me to write it down and pass her a note, ala grade school, but I was afraid that if I couldn’t actually say the words, I must not be ready for her to hear them, and as a result, I waited until I could literally tell her.  When I did, in the vaguest “I’ve been talking with people” – (my therapist, mainly, because, having entered therapy for a thousand other reasons, I had lucked into the perfect confidante for my much healthier confusions around sexuality and orientation) – “about the possibility that I might be… gay” kind of way, she was predictably receptive, comforting me with words I almost could have scripted beforehand, had I been able to subtract my (largely irrational) fear from the equation. 

With my lesbian-coming-out story (even in this earliest stage, when I was only coming out as a “potential lesbian,” so to speak), I never had to worry about how my family would respond.  Of course, I am a prime worrier – it’s one of my best skills – and so I worried anyway, but I knew, deep down, that my fears had no rational basis.  I was not the first-generation classmate of mine, who (I later learned) was told by her Chinese mother that she must choose between her girlfriend and her family.  (A situation since resolved somewhat, thankfully.)  I was not the kid who was going to be kicked out on the street by her parents or sent into some terrifying “rehabilitation” program straight out of But I’m a Cheerleader.  I was, in actuality, the kid whose mom would watch But I’m a Cheerleader with her, all the time pretending that she didn’t know damn well why we were watching so many movies (and why I was reading so many books) about lesbians.  By a grace I can hardly imagine, I lucked into an exceedingly liberal, exceedingly open family where I knew my orientation would not be an issue.  At least, I knew that when the orientation was simply “lesbian.”

But now, as I start to articulate the complication that lesbianism, is – strictly speaking – a sexual orientation, and I have never (to my own knowledge) been a sexual person, I find myself wondering if that support will still hold when/ if I come out a second time.  I know my family.  I know they will love me to infinity and beyond (to quote my beloved Pixar), because that is one pretty kickass piece of luck I can lay claim to, regardless of the rest of my life.  I do not, however, know that they will understand.  I do not know that they will accept what I tell them as the truth.  I do not, to be perfectly honest, know that I want to tell them at all… which is why I haven’t.  Closets, for all they have going against them – (a lot, mind you) – are at the very least, places of privacy, and that’s a privacy I’m not yet willing – or ready – to sacrifice.

I’m thinking a lot about my mom.  (Another time, we can discuss my brother, and the various reasons he thinks I’m a “bad lesbian” and the various reasons I suspect that my asexuality, while helping to understand why I don’t fit his idea of lesbianism, might contribute to my “failure” in his estimation.  But for now: My Mom.)  I’m thinking about my mom mainly because I am once again living with her, if only until school resumes in the fall, and I’m once again playing the games of telling her only so much, twisting certain pieces of information so that I don’t have to hide everything, and pretending that – even if I talk about asexuality more and more, she won’t eventually put 2 and 2 together.  At times, I wonder why I am doing this.  After all, my mom has loved me through much messier and much more painful realities than this one.  My mom has always accepted who I am and she’s always stood behind what makes me happy.  On top of that, she loves to learn.  The vast amount of education she (like most people) would require, were I to tell her that I am asexual, would probably fascinate her.  It’s a win from every angle… isn’t it?

I mentioned, I think, that I’m a prime worrier, that this is one of my best skills, (and I am not – entirely – without other talents, in case that had occured to you).  So, of course, I have come up with reasons for worrying.  My main fear, in terms of my mom, is that she is so liberal and such a feminist, it makes me worry that her positivity around sex – (healthy, consensual sex, obviously) – will keep her from realizing that this is not a pathology.  (Perhaps obviously, this is further complicated by my own inability to recongize, consistently, that my asexuality is not pathological.)  I’m afraid that she’ll feel she failed me somehow, that she’ll blame herself for my disinterest in (having) sex or my unwillingness to partake in it.  I don’t feel like my asexuality is something she (or anyone else) is responsible for, (although I am a firm social constructionist, in this and other regards), and I don’t think that it’s anything wrong with me.  And why feel guilty if there’s nothing that is wrong?  It’s just how I am, and I want her to be good with it, the way that I want to be good with it, but I worry she’ll think it’s a failing.  I didn’t have that concern with the homosexuality because I know she doesn’t look at it as anything but healthy, but asexuality is so under-understood, and therefore so misunderstood; I worry that she (and other people) will assume it’s yet another problem.

Yes, I have problems.  But this – beyond my anxiety about it, beyond my struggle to accept it – this in its pure, inherent form – just isn’t one of them.  I hope my family will know that.

But for now at least, I don’t want to take the risk.  I know that in time, I’ll sort this out and my family will sort out a response that suits us.  We’re good at that, and they have practice, honestly.  It’s more that – in one very important regard – coming out as an asexual is very, very different than coming out as a lesbian.  Put plainly, when I came out as a lesbian, no one had to ask me what that meant.  There was no clarifying, there was no intense delving into my relational history (or what I wanted out of my future relationships).  Maybe, with people whose families are less comfortable with the concept, these kinds of questions get asked, but there certainly isn’t the basic need for a vocabulary lesson that comes with opening up about one’s asexuality.  And I think that, to some extent, it’s the lack of education on the part of the people I’d be coming out to  that keeps me from coming out.  I don’t want to have to explain myself to other people before I understand myself.  I don’t want to have to be Exhibit A.  (Oh god, the unintended pun.  Apologies.)  I don’t want all of the idiotic questions, and the non-idiotic questions, when I still have questions of my own.  So even if I know myself well enough to trust that I will evetually open my mouth, that the extent to which I’m being honest about who I am here is a sign of that, as is the openness I am cultivating with certain friends about the possibility that I’m an asexual lesbian… for now, I want the chance to ask (and answer) my own questions, without having to field them from my family.

I wonder if this is what it was like to tell people you were gay before gay was a term.  If it is, well… those poor, poor gay people back in the day.  And – (I suppose) – those lucky, lucky asexuals of future generations.  Here’s to being part of the education that may ease things for the kids to come…