I've been coming out as asexual for a few years now, and one thing I've noticed is that people tend to forget that I've come out to them...or at least, it seems that way sometimes. It's hard to know if someone really forgot or if they just didn't process the information. Either way, I can't help but think: Asexuality is so unusual, why wouldn't it stick in someone's mind? And if I mentioned being gay or bi, would it seem to be so easily forgotten? (I doubt it.)
Thinking on this further, it occurs to me that maybe it just seems like people forget because no one really knows "what to do with" an asexual. People make all sorts of different attempts, and some come a lot further to how I'd like to be treated than others. My ideal is a middle ground between acting like I've never said I'm not heterosexual on the one hand and making a huge deal out of my orientation on the other. When someone in my life makes occasional references to asexuality in a neutral or positive way, that means a lot to me. As does making any effort to inform others about asexuality--It really warms my heart when people do that.
At a friend's house recently, I was reading this Miss Manners book. It occurred to me that one reason coming out is so scary is that there is no known etiquette attached to it. While I think the proper response is something along the lines of "I'm glad you told me" (to be followed by research on the orientation in question), this is in no way codified in our culture. Thinking about etiquette (which seems to have a lot to do with avoiding the discomfort of others) made me realize that the person you tell about asexuality might feel as awkward as you do. I think one major reason why people who are usually open-minded can be so dismissive of asexuality is that the existence of a whole sexual orientation they don't know about makes them self-conscious about their lack of knowledge. If asexuality doesn't exist, then they can still think they know everything. Few people let go of their assumptions easily.
That's just one reason why I remain such a proponent of "passive" coming-out methods--the letter, e-mail, or blog post, for example. In America, being a straight-shooter is often what we aim for. But it was comforting to read Miss Manners and see that sometimes being a bit evasive is exactly what "should" be done to maintain civility. I think we definitely need a guide about what to say, and what not to say (and why) when someone comes out as asexual. I wrote a little about it here, but I'm talking about an actual document. It could include ways to make it easier for the asexuals in a person's life to be open about their orientation, which I think is a big component in "how we'd like to be treated" after the coming-out is over. Obviously that will vary, but I think it would be great to be able to hand a pamphlet on those topics to our friends and family. What do you think would be in it?