Monday, October 11, 2010

A Little Coming-Out Brainstorm

So, have I talked about coming out enough yet? I know Coming Out Day might be almost over (or over, depending on your time zone), but I have just one more thought about coming least in the near future. I've already tried to establish that most people don't have a clue how to react when an asexual comes out to them. That's one reason folks can get so rude and hostile. So why don't we tell people how we want them to react, when we come out? Is this crazy enough to work? I mean something like, "I'm asexual. And by the way, the appropriate response is 'Thanks for telling me'". Maybe it's slightly passive-aggressive and even annoying. But it's better than getting into a conflict about asexuality. Depending on the person, they could be quite relieved.

To me, the main reason coming out as asexual is so scary is because you have no idea how anyone will react. Liberal, conservative, radical, straight, queer, can never know how anyone stands. So I'm all about reducing the element of chance as much as possible. When you come out, you're already educating them about your sexuality. Educating them a little further about how to be come out to won't hurt them...much.

Such a tactic might also lend itself well to the written word. In the AVEN thread about Coming Out Day, a large number of people mentioned coming out on Facebook. You pretty much have a captive audience, and you can say whatever you want. So if you're already doing it, why not mention the response you want?

But related to that...The problem with coming out on Facebook is that you have no idea who actually read and/or understood the message. I already need a spreadsheet to keep track of the people I'm out to. So, to mention it there or not? Sadly, I'm just sitting here, trying to figure that out.


Mage said...

I think your idea to tack on the appropriate response makes sense. It may even remind people, especially queers of other stripes, of reactions they've gotten to coming out with any identity (whether orientation, religion, or something else).

Also, maybe part of the appeal for some about Facebook is that you won't know who read your status or what everyone's thoughts are. The mystery of not knowing but having planted a seed in someone's mind is kind of an interesting one. Of course, they could just talk about you behind your back. But then they'd also inadvertently be increasing asexual awareness (though probably not in a positive way initially). The potential for unwanted gossip is definitely there, though.

Ah, Facebook.

Sciatrix said...

I was actually thinking of writing a Guide To Having an Asexual Come Out To You for National Coming Out Day, but I ran out of time before I managed to get started on it. I feel like a Googleable post of things not to say might be really useful to have written.

I think the other risk of Facebook is that it really isn't good for very long pieces of writing, so you really can't include much. I did use it this year--although I specifically excluded certain people from seeing it--and I would have felt weird writing much more than the two sentences and link that I did include.

Quenelle said...

Telling someone how to react is risky, and it would be really imnportant to choose your words carefully. Saying something blunt like "the appropriate response is..." will come off as hostile. People don't like to be directly told what to think.

I think most of the negative reactions simply come from a lack of understanding of what asexuality is. So maybe a better approach would be to respond to the common misconceptions before the person has a chance to say anything. For example "I'm asexual, which just means I'm not sexually attracted to other people. It doesn't mean I'm blind and can't tell if other people are good looking. It doesn't mean my genitals don't function properly. It doesn't mean I just haven't found the right person yet. I hope you'll understand and accept me."

Ily said...

Mage, your comment makes me think of the idea that maybe when we come out...people don't know what we're actually trying to do. They probably don't know asexuality is a sexual orientation, so they may not see what we're doing as "coming out" unless we make it more clear. I agree that to other queer people, that could make a difference in their reaction.

Sciatrix, I thought it would be cool to write some kind of post like, "So an asexual came out to what?" that people could link to. Great minds think alike? I think such a post would still be valuable. I don't think I'm going to write it so it's all you ;-)

Ily said...

Quenelle, yeah. You'd have to read the situation, to some extent. I think your response would work excellently in a written communication of some kind. In a conversation it might be hard to say all that without interruption...or maybe people just interrupt me a lot :-/

writingfromfactorx said...

I might still do that, then, if you don't want to. If nothing else, a 101-friendly guide to sexual people about What Not To Say can't hurt to have on the Internet. And it's certainly a lot easier to write that kind of thing now, when I don't have anyone in particular in mind, then it is to respond that way in the heat of the moment.

Ily said...

Dooo it! ;-)