How many posts have I read from asexuals seeking advice? Probably not a million, but definitely more than a thousand. A lot of answers to these advice-seekers repeat themselves, understandably. The most common might be, "We can't tell you if you're asexual or not". But I also frequently hear, "That person is not your friend". You know, the friend who keeps saying you're not really asexual and then tries to get you to have sex with them. There are plenty of others where friends are just rude about asexuality, not listening, and not appearing to care about that fact.
Are these people really terrible friends? I don't know...even in a friendship that's good overall, people can make some pretty big mistakes. But I'm guessing that with some of these asexuals, their interactions follow a pattern that I've identified in some of my own interactions. Someone says something hurtful about asexuality. You, the asexual, tell them how it ain't so. The person doesn't apologize or seem to understand why they were wrong. You feel bad. Yes...YOU feel bad. Because maybe it was your own fault for bringing asexuality up in the first place. Maybe you didn't express yourself well, or do a good enough job at educating. Maybe it's understandable that they wouldn't believe you, seeing as you've had sex, or were assaulted, or you write erotic stories.
I don't think this is just a self-esteem issue, but internalized asexohating. We have no official word for this, but I think it's one of the bigger issues that asexuals face. Even if we feel positive about our asexuality, the onus is always on the asexual to prove ourselves. It sort of reminds me of my experience being bullied in school. Although I wasn't directly blamed, the onus was always entirely on me to resolve the bullying. That I was incapable of doing this only made me feel worse, and more like I deserved the abuse I was getting. People tell us our orientation is too confusing or unusual to bother with understanding. It's not hard to start believing that they may be right, and that there is some inherent problem with the "difficulty" of asexuality and therefore, with us. I maintain that even if you can't prove yourself, that's no reason to beat yourself up.
The thing is, most of us have been receiving negative messages about asexuality our entire lives. I still receive them daily from our culture...and this is on top of all the other negative messages I receive for other "undesirable" aspects of my identity. I don't think that neutral statements, like the fact that we exist, can overcome the barrage of negative statements that we face. But, a lot of asexuals feel vaguely embarrassed and awkward about pride. Why should we be proud of something we can't control? As a group, we're terrified as appearing "superior". But if someone truly understood asexuality, could they honestly say that asexuals feel superior to the rest of the population? Without understanding, "you think you're so superior!" becomes a meaningless insult, like "repressed" or "frigid". And with understanding, I don't think anyone could make that claim. (This is basically what happened with the "demisexuals are slut-shamers!" thing. Most of the people saying that seemed to have little understanding of either demisexuality or slut-shaming.)
In writing this post, I read a bunch of information about internalized homophobia. As a means of coping with it, I heard two pieces of advice repeated: Acknowledge that internalized homophobia exists, and be as out as possible. The gay community is well aware that coming out can be fraught with danger, but still encourages its members to be out. They also seem to talk much more about the benefits of coming out, especially the benefits to the individual. On the other hand, in the asexual community, I get the feeling that there's no pressure to be out...it's something that's seen as a completely personal choice. I don't know if this is good or bad, since there seem to be benefits and drawbacks to each way of thinking. But it's interesting.