halfthoughts

A gender journey

Month: June, 2016

Hitting Bottom and Reaching Out

This post was written for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around the topic “Resiliency”   

 [CW suicidal thoughts, depression]

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Accepting My Asexuality

I’m learning that my asexual identity is really important to me. It seems to be the one part of my identity that is hardest for me to accept and I spend a large majority of my time on tumblr following ace blogs in an attempt to understand it.

It’s also the one I have the hardest time coming out about. It’s a lot easier for me to come out as gay or queer or genderqueer then it is to talk about my asexuality. I think this has to do with the fact that there isn’t as much visibility about asexuality, so I’m worried about coming out about it because I’m afraid people won’t know what it is. Also since I have yet to meet another ace person face to face, it’s as if I don’t have real world proof that it really exists, so I still doubt myself about the validity of it. Also I’ve had a really bad coming-out-as-ace experience that has scarred me.

A part of me is still mad at myself for not realizing I was gay sooner, and blames my asexuality for it. I feel like a big part of the reason I never realized I was romantically and sensually attracted to girls earlier in life, was because of the fact that I was asexual, and wasn’t sexually attracted to anyone.

There was a post on the tumblr recently by @dontkillbirds that super resonated with me:

YES. For me, realizing I was ace definitely helped me to come to terms with the fact that I love women. Now if only the reverse could apply. I’m becoming much more accepting of the fact that I love women, but I’m still struggling with accepting the fact that I’m asexual.

How do you identify?

I was in a queer space this weekend and someone asked me how I identify for the first time ever.

My insides were super happy to be asked and feel safe enough to tell them. I think it was the first time I’ve “come out” as asexual verbally to someone I didn’t already know. And their reaction was super positive and they even asked me to explain a little bit about asexuality, so they could fully understand it.

I had some bad dreams the week before pride where I came out as asexual in lesbian spaces, and was mocked and laughed at. It was super unsettling to have those dreams. I think they reveal that I have a real fear that my asexuality won’t be accepted as valid.

I think this positive experience is helping me to have a little bit more confidence in my identity and ease my insecurities about it.

I also told them I was homoromantic and non-binary and they immediately asked if I preferred they/them pronouns. So that was super validating as well.

 

Gender Neutral Pronouns in Other Languages?

I’m grateful that my native language is English and it’s already got gender neutral pronouns. I’m curious about how genderqueer/ non-binary identifying people navigate their identity in other languages. Specifically Korean. I currently live in Korea and am not out about my preferred pronouns to any of my Korean friends or family. I don’t even know how I would ask them to refer to me in Korean.

In Korean, they don’t use pronouns a lot, so that’s pretty easy to avoid in everyday conversation. But language referencing family relationships is pretty gendered. For example if I have an older brother. The word I use for “older brother” is different depending on if I am a boy or a girl. What if you’re neither?

I’m not connected to the genderqueer community in Korea, although I know they exist because I ran into their booth at Seoul pride last week. I wonder how they have been dealing with this conundrum in their community.

Anyway, this just something I’ve been curious about lately. As a linguistics person, I’m always intrigued by languages and how they adapt to society. I’m sure every language has it’s own growing pains and snags related their respective genderqueer communities.

If you are someone who identifies as non-binary/ genderqueer and are immersed in a non-English community, in what ways have you been able to adapt your language to your identity?

So have you dated much?

Person: “Have you dated much since you’ve been here.”
Me: *Shakes head*
Person: Why not? Is it just because you didn’t want to?
Me: *nods*


I hate that when people ask me about dating or why I haven’t dated much I get super awkward and can barely even utter a verbal response. How do I explain that, no I haven’t “dated” but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been in relationships. And that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my heart broken.

I hate that there is not language to describe the importance of intimate relationships that aren’t romantic or sexual. When you have a friendship or family tie for years that suddenly ends, the pain can be unbearable. More shattering than any break up after a few casual dates.

I’ve dated before. I’ve had a long term “romantic” relationship.  I’ve broken up.  I’ve been ghosted. I’ve been dumped. I’ve avoided people. And none of those previous endings have been as confusing, miserable, and life shattering as being best friend-dumped.

It’s one thing when friendships naturally drift apart due to time or distance. It’s another when someone you trusted, loved, and spent a significant amount of your time with suddenly stops talking to you. And then on top of that you still have to deal with the fear of running into them on a daily basis.

I remember telling a close friend that I’d lost a friend. She tried to comfort me by saying,

“It’s like you got dumped, but you didn’t even get to make out.”

Those words cut through me like a knife. As if making out was directly correlated with how much you love someone. As if because we didn’t make out, our relationship was less significant and my pain was less valid.

I spent months blaming myself for not getting over this friendship faster. For not moving on. Blaming myself for not being able to talk about it. It’s not my fault.

It’s not my fault that I’m still traumatized by being cut off. It’s not my fault that I still have panic attacks when I think about this person I used to love. It’s not my fault that they decided to leave me. And it’s not my fault that we never even “dated,” but I’m still devastated.

 

May 2016 Carnival Of Aces Roundup

Here is the roundup of posts for the May 2016 Carnival of Aces, on the topic of Questioning Your Faith. I received a lot of great submissions and I loved reading about everyone’s various faith journeys. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories!

June’s Carnival of Aces is hosted by Rock Of Aces.

Being a Muslim Ace | Nuri

Nuri writes about their experiences as a Pakistani Muslim ace and differences between religion and culture.

My Islam is Queer | Laura (ace-muslim)

Laura writes about her experience converting to Islam and how it is intricately intertwined with her asexuality and queerness.

Asexuality and Paganism | Only Fragments

Elyssa discusses her journey to accept and embrace her own asexuality as a follower of Bast, and how to navigate relationships with traditionally sexualized deities

Asexuality, Spirituality, and Queerness | Only Fragments

Elyssa writes about how her asexuality and spirituality intersect with her queerness, as someone who identifies as a queer asexual.

Parallels Between Being Pagan and Being Ace | A Heart Full of Love

Libris writes about the parallels of being pagan and being ace, and her process of denial rather than questioning that led to converting to Celtic paganism and discovering her asexual identity.

Rational ideals | Free Thought Blogs

Siggy discusses his experience leaving straightness as an atheist, and how for him, leaving straighteness was a more emotional process than leaving religion.

I am asexual, and I’m an atheist | girls-youvegotanotherone

@girls-youvegotanotherone  writes about her experience in Christianity as an asexual atheist.

Questioning Faith | A³

A³ discusses the experience of losing faith in literature after identifying as asexual.

Episode One: My Ace Ring | la pamplemouse

La Pamplemouse discusses buying an ace ring and how it’s a symbol of faith and asexuality.

3 Things to Remember When Questioning Your Identity |Flying While Falling Down

Sara writes about what to remember when questioning your orientation and how to find faith that who you decide you are is who you’re meant to be.

Don’t Panic! It’s just a crisis of faith! | This Too Shall Eventually Pass

Mara Jane writes about her experiences discovering her asexual and aromantic identity and how questioning her sexuality has led her to question her faith in other things such as her life plan.

Faith and Asexuality | Erkenfresh

Erkenfresh discusses growing up Catholic and how religion may mask asexuality behind chastity.

Questioning as a Process | (Purr)ple (L)ace

Laura writes about the parallels between gradually discovering her asexuality and gradually questioning her faith, changing from Catholicism to Buddhism.

Questioning My Faith| Rock of Aces

Roxa writes about their perspective on faith as a nonbinary, aro ace, Christian and how they are constantly questioning their faith, but always find faith in their own story.

Questioning My Religion: A Journey of Faith and Asexuality | Where the Cherry Blossoms Dance

Saki writes about her journey of faith and asexuality from a Christian perspective, specifically discussing experiences with Catholicism and being a non denominational Christian.

What Asexuality Taught Me About Faith | Halfthoughts

Halfthoughts writes about how questioning their asexual/queer identity led them to question their faith, specifically  in the Catholic, Christian, and Yoga traditions,  and what they have learned about faith from being asexual.

Jesus, now we’ve got bad blood | Aros and Aces

Roses, an ex-Catholic, discusses their relationship with asexuality and lack of faith (in a religious sense) and how for them, deconversion and asexuality are very directly linked.

What Asexuality Taught Me About Faith

This is a late post for the May Carnival of Aces on Questioning Your Faith hosted by me.


I have a lot of feels on this topic. I probably won’t be able to get them all into one post, so I may expand later. For today’s post I want to talk about how being asexual has not only led me to question and change my faith, but also taught me about what faith really is.

On Questioning

My faith has radically transformed since I first discovered my asexual/ queer identity a little over a year ago. I’ve quit two “religions” in the last year and how I would self-identify my faith affiliation is still constantly shifting. It’s hard to say if it was being asexual, specifically, that motivated me to change faith traditions. Regardless, it was questioning my identity which allowed me to even think about questioning my faith.

I never would have questioned my faith had I not started questioning my asexual/queer identity. Ultimately, it was being immersed in queer discourse that really strengthened my faith in questioning my own faith.

For a little background, I grew up Catholic and was actively practicing for 28 years of my life. I spent my middle and high school years immersed in a presbyterian youth group community, and have spent time amongst protestant and non-denominational Christian circles for much of my college and post college life. I’ve spent 7 years actively practicing and training to be a yoga teacher, although I recently ended that immersion experience. I’ve spent 8 years practicing meditation in various forms; currently I actively practice mindfulness meditation in the Zen Buddhist tradition, although I wouldn’t say I’m a Buddhist. As I write this I realize I’ve been mixing and matching my faiths longer than I realized. I just never really gave myself permission to actually admit it before.

I like that queer circles re-enforce the idea that not only is it OK to question your identity, but it’s also OK to change your mind later. If one label doesn’t work for you after all, and you decide to change it later, there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I even worry that maybe I’m not really ace after all. Maybe I’m demisexual. Or maybe I’m just a repressed lesbian. It’s hard to tell. But the thing is it doesn’t matter. Today I identify as asexual and that is enough. If I change how I chose to label my identity at a later time, that doesn’t invalidate my identity as I perceive it to be now.

The same can be applied to my faith. Today I might identify as Buddhist, and 2 months ago I might have identified as a Yogi, and a year ago I might have identified as Catholic. The fact that I don’t identify with those faith traditions now doesn’t invalidate the fact that I identified with them then. And if I chose to reclaim any of those labels at a future date, I’m totally allowed to do that, too.

On Faith

Being asexual has taught me more about faith than anything I ever learned in a religious text, church, or temple.

Like faith, asexuality is invisible and a lot of people don’t believe it exists, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is there. I often question myself trying to figure out if I really am asexual or not. It’s hard to have complete trust in something that’s not there and that I can’t see. I have days where I’m 100% positive it’s legit. And other days where I doubt myself.

Also I’ve learned to be more tolerant of other people’s faiths. Another person’s identity doesn’t invalidate my own ace identity, just as my own ace identity doesn’t invalidate another’s identity that is different than mine. We can co-exist with different identities and trust each other that both our experiences are valid. So if someone has a different faith than me I’m learning how to co-exist with them as well.

Let’s look at one of the definitions of faith: strong belief or trust in someone or something. The idea that people should just accept whatever identity you identify with solely because you said so, is rooted in the idea of faith. That idea is like saying, let’s all have faith in each other- that we are what we say we are.

It requires a blind trust in people. I say blind, because no one can experience what another person is experiencing. So we have to blindly trust that what they say is true about themselves, is indeed true.

On Validation

The biggest thing I’ve learned from the queer community is the importance of validation. There are so many posts on tumblr on youtube, online that reiterate the message over and over that You are Valid. You are loved. Your identity is valid. Only you have the right to choose how to identify. And most importantly, you also have the right to change your mind.

These messages can be applied to so many things. They can be applied to my sexuality, my gender identity, my mental health, my faith journey. I am allowed to question. I’m allowed to identify as one way one day and then another way the next day. There are no gatekeepers to my identity. And I am allowed to change my mind.

I’m allowed to change from being Catholic, to being a yogi, to being a buddhist, to being whatever. Whatever spiritual practice I try is valid because it’s right for me. And if one doesn’t work for me, my higher power doesn’t love me any less.

I used to feel like I wasn’t a good enough Catholic because I did yoga and I like to chant in sanskrit. I used to feel like I wasn’t a good enough Christian because I didn’t really believe in the Jesus as Savior story. I used to feel like I wasn’t a good enough yogi because I couldn’t stand on my head.

There’s no such thing as being good enough. I’m Catholic if I chose to be. I’m Christian if I chose to be. I’m a yogi if I choose to be. Priests, pastors, and yoga teachers do not get to gatekeep my religious identity in the same way that members of the LGBTQ+ community do not get to gatekeep my ace identity, my queer identity, or my gender identity.

I remember having a half-thought a while back that the queer community has become my church in a way. It’s a place where I’m constantly shown unconditional love by complete strangers. It’s a place where I’m validated, supported, encouraged, and loved. As it should be.

I know there are a lot of posts these days reiterating to aces that they are valid, no matter where they fall on the spectrum. I appreciate these posts a lot.  When you are someone at the bottom of your rope and you literally feel like you are not valid- to hear someone say that you are, is so incredibly life giving. Imagine if every bible-thumping, ex-gay camp leader and church goer were to replace their toxic messages towards the queer community with, “You are valid.” THAT is real faith. THAT is real unconditional love.

I know that being queer has completely reshaped the lens through which I view and understand theology. Even though these days I don’t affiliate with a specific “religion,” I know that my Higher Power sees me, loves me, and believes that I am enough exactly as I am. Even if what I think I am changes from day to day.

Update

I have received a lot of great submissions for the May Carnival of Aces on Questioning Your Faith. Thanks for all your awesome posts! I’m taking some mental health days, so I won’t be able to publish the round-up right away. But it’s coming! Just wanted to give an update.