halfthoughts

A gender journey

Coming Out….

I went to this Lesbian meetup this weekend and all that I could think about was all the “other” things that I needed to come out about, just by being there.

Before I went, I was skyping my friend who said, “At least when you go there they will already know you’re gay.” Which is totally true. And I was super grateful about that part being a given.

But then I realized there’s more to being queer than just liking girls. And being queer isn’t always the only thing you have to come out about.

So here’s a long list of the things I always feel like I have to reveal about when I meet someone, even in spaces where they already know I’m queer. Of course I don’t always come out about all of the things on this list, and I know I’m not obligated to. But these items float thru my mind regardless.

#1 There’s the fact that I don’t drink at all. And these types of events are usually at bars or clubs which include lots of beer ordering and drink buying. I’m grateful that I’m becoming way more comfortable about being upfront about the fact I don’t drink. Which helps me to feel comfortable going to these events in the first place. I know I can always order a water or a soda if I need to.

#2 There’s the fact that I’m glutten free and can’t eat anything at the restaurant or  for a late night snack after clubbing because of the flour. Usually I just solve this by eating before hand.

#3 There’s the fact that I’m asexual and I get really awkward when people hit on me. I hate flirting, especially via texting so I tend to completely avoid messaging apps in general.  I don’t know how to respond when people ask for my number and they immediately start messaging me in a flirting way, not in a hey nice to meet you kind of way.

#4 There’s the fact that I’m an introvert. So I am super awkward about approaching anyone for a conversation or asking for their number. This is made worse by  #3

#5 There’s my gender identity and my pronouns. To be fair, I haven’t gone to many, but of the handful of LGBT meetups I’ve attended throughout the last few months, only one person has asked me about my pronouns. And that was after I asked theirs first.  I guess after all my tumblr binging I was just secretly hoping people would just start asking about them or giving their’s when I meet them. But it hasn’t happened. And I’m too nervous to supply them myself, as part of my introduction along with my name.

#6 There’s the fact that I’m still half  closeted. I’m barely openly out to myself, let alone others. Which probably explains why I have trouble being open about everything else on this list.

#7 There’s the fact I’m in the depth of my depression. Mental illness has it’s own category of stigma which I’m working on being more open about these days.

#8 There’s the fact that I’m not interested in dating at all right now. It’s just not on my radar. Mostly due to #7 and #3. And the fact that I’m leaving the country in a few months. I’m always afraid to be too friendly because I don’t want to give off I’m interested in dating vibes.  But I want friends. And I desperately need queer community- see #7 and #6.

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That Time I Cut My Hair

A few months ago I got a hair cut.

I was inspired by LGBT YouTuber Ashley Mardell who had recently cut her hair. I remember watching her video about hair and following her kickstarter campaign in which one of the perks was she would be cutting her hair. Anyway, the way she talked about hair disphoria super resonated with me.

When I saw the first instagram she posted of her new do. I remember looking at the photo and feeling that positive tingly sense of euphoria filling my chest. I looked at the photo and my mind said, “Yes! I want to do that too.”

So I saved a screen shot of the photo on my phone and set a day two weeks out to cut it. On February 3, I went to the barber, showed him that photo, and got my hair cut.

It was the first time I’d ever cut my hair that short. And it was the first time I ever loved my hair cut right off the bat.

 

I didn’t know you were gay

The first person I ever came out to besides my therapist completely stopped talking to me.

To be fair, there were other parts of the conversation that explain why she was upset. But that doesn’t change the fact that it felt like I was being friend dumped because I was gay.

After some clarifying emails and declarations that she could no longer be the same friend to me and had moved on, I learned that she didn’t even realize I was gay from that initial conversation.

Apparently she heard “asexual and biromantic” and didn’t realize that was my “coming out.” Apparently she didn’t realize that meant I was “gay.”

Um— this is why labels are important and why awareness about other ways to identify are essential. I didn’t come out as “gay” because I didn’t identify with that specific descriptor at the time. But because my friend didn’t hear that magic word. She had no context for the significance of what was being shared.

I felt blamed for not coming out clearly enough. Almost as if it was my fault for not spelling out more clearly that I was capital  G-A-Y. And maybe if I had there wouldn’t have been as big of a misunderstanding and she could have sympathized more.

I know people always say it’s better to not have someone in your life that can’t completely accept you for who you are. But that doesn’t change the fact that it hurts to have someone you used to love reject you.

I guess the bright side is now I can finally move past the bargaining stage of grief onto anger.

Ace Halfthoughts #4

Sometimes I’m afraid that I’m not really asexual after all. I try to analyze the tingly feelings in my body and wonder is this sexual attraction? Am I feeling it now? How about now? Or do I just really need to pee?

Ace Halfthoughts #3

It’s clear that I experience attraction. It’s unclear which kind. Sometimes I wonder if all my past crushes were really squishes and if maybe some of my squishes were really crushes.

Ace Halfthoughts #2

Sometimes I wonder if some of my past mistaken crushes were actually just a result of aesthetic attraction to the clothes they were wearing. And I wonder if it was not so much that I was attracted to being with them, but that somehow the genderqueer part of me was attracted to their gender expression because of an unrealized desire to dress like them.

Ace Halfthoughts #1

I really don’t know what to do when people hit on me. My instinct is usually to be friendly. But sometimes I worry if my friendly/polite engaging in small talk gets mistaken for flirting.

Guest Post for the May Carnival Of Aces: Questioning Your Faith

This guest post was written by Nuri for the May Carnival of Aces on the theme Questioning Your Faith.


 

Being a Muslim ace is like, “Well, it might be okay, but at the same time, it could ruin my life.” Some people in your community will accept you because they’re beautiful human beings, and others won’t because they’ve been brought up in a culture which they’re taught is synonymous with their religion, when it actually isn’t.

Do you know what the purpose of a Pakistani Muslim woman is? It’s to get married and cook and clean for your husband, who is obviously too high above you to do anything to help. I am so lucky that my parents don’t expect that of me. As an aroace nonbinary lazy ass who doesn’t want to do chores, I would disappoint them in so very many respects.

But religion is not the same as culture. And while many Muslim aces probably live in padlocked closets like me because of a toxic culture, religion, at its core, is about your relationship with God. That’s why I think that no matter what your gender or sexuality, it’s easy to have faith in God not despite it, but because of it. It’s a Muslim belief that life is a test, and being ace is just a part of that for me.

Having faith in other people is what’s really difficult. Coming out isn’t ideal for me right now, because I only just got my parents off my back about how I want to be a writer instead of a doctor and study English instead of medicine (any Asian kids can probably relate). Now I have to convince them that not getting married and/or not having sex does not equate to total unhappiness without accidentally coming out.

For me, religion never needed to be a weapon to exclude people, because it is for everyone. I wish that other people could see the merits of that way of thinking. But if there’s a message to this, it’s that you shouldn’t let other people tell you whether you can have faith in God or not. Those people are disgusting gatekeepers. And nearly all of us aces know how damaging gatekeeping is, don’t we…

So being a Muslim ace is a bit like being an ace of any other religion or non-religion, actually. It might be okay, but at the same time, it could ruin your life. I hope that all my ace siblings have a good day and don’t lose faith, okay?

-Nuri

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! MAY 2016 CARNIVAL OF ACES: QUESTIONING YOUR FAITH

Hi! I’m your host for this month’s Carnival of Aces.

The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival run by  The Asexual Agenda. For more information check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

Last month’s Carnival was hosted by A³, on the topic Be Yourself (But Stretch). Check out April’s roundup here.

For this month, I’ve chosen the theme Questioning Your Faith. Previously there was a Carnival of Aces on the topic of religion (or atheism) and asexuality. I’m interested in hearing more perspectives on the interplay between questioning one’s asexuality and questioning one’s faith.

In LGBTQA+ discourse there is a lot of validation of questioning your identity. Often questioning one aspect of your identity leads to questioning another. Exploration and experimentation is encouraged. I’m curious about how often that questioning carries over to questioning one’s faith and how that plays out, especially among the ace community.

Here are some dictionary definitions of  faith:
: strong belief or trust in someone or something
: belief in the existence of God
: strong religious feelings or beliefs
: a system of religious beliefs

For the purposes of this topic, the definition of faith is quite open.  For example,  in addition to religious faith, one could have faith in an ideology, a political movement, or a person. Feel free to interpret faith however you want when writing your response.

Below are some possible ideas to get you started. Of course, feel free to write about anything else that comes to mind when thinking about this topic.

  • What does faith mean to you and how has your ace spectrum identity influenced your faith life?
  • How has  asexuality shaped your understanding of your own faith?
  • How has your faith tradition been affirming or unaffirming of your ace identity?
  • Did your faith tradition negatively or positively affect your self-discovery process  as it relates to your ace spectrum identity?
  • Did your faith tradition influence your choice to come out or not?
  • Has questioning your asexuality played a role in questioning your faith? How has it played a role in strengthening or weakening your faith? How has it played a role in reshaping your faith, theology, or world view?
  • Has questioning and discovering your ace spectrum identity led you to change faiths or give up your faith? If you changed faiths, why? What was that process like?
  • How has your faith changed, grown, or developed after discovering your ace identity?
  • How has your ace spectrum identity taught you to have faith in yourself or others?
  • In what ways does accepting  and validating ace identities and experiences require a leap of faith?
  • Anything else you can think of!

Submissions in any form are welcome (written, drawn, audio, video, etc.). To submit you can comment below with a link or email me at myhalfthoughts@gmail.com.

Guest posts are also welcome! If you would like to post anonymously, let me know and I will copy and paste text from an email into a guest post on my blog.

I look forward to reading your thoughts!

Be Yourself (But Stretch): Why I Tell People I’m Not Getting Married

This post was written for the April 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around the topic “Be yourself (but stretch).”

Since I’m not originally from Korea, I want to preface that all the observations of Korean society commented on in this post are seen through the outsider’s lens of a hapa, Korean-American.


Living in Korea for the last several years has made me super aware of the graduate-get-a-job-get-a-partner-get-married-have-kids-track that many people live.

A handful of friends back in the states are getting married too, but their path is a bit more meandering, so it doesn’t feel quite so in my face as it does in Korea.

Perhaps, it is just my particular friend group, coupled with the fact that when working in a company, I’m surrounded mostly by people who are more likely than me or my friends to be at the age for getting married. Although, that assumes the existence of an ideal “target age” for marriage, in the first place.

Or perhaps, in a company, I’m just surrounded by people who are in a stable place in their lives who feel ready to settle down, and have the desire to do so. I currently lack both the stability and the desire to get married. Although those aren’t necessarily correlated feelings. I also have friends who do have a high desire for marriage, even if they currently lack the stability for it.

Regardless, observing this track to marriage and kids feels like watching a conveyer belt in a factory, kind of like the scene with the chocolates in I Love Lucy. The chocolates are just going by so fast I can’t keep up anymore. Plus, the problem is- I don’t even want to eat the chocolate in the first place. I wish I could just opt out of participating in the assembly line entirely.

I haven’t come out to many people about my asexuality. Some close friends and family know, but it’s not something I’ve announced to the world, especially not strangers or my former Korean co-workers.

There are several reasons for this. One being- it’s still new to me, so I’m not yet ready to share. Another being- it’s not necessarily a commonly known term even among native English speakers, so explaining it to someone whose first language is not English would require lots of effort that just feels daunting.

For me, telling people that I’m not planning to get married is my way of coming out publicly as asexual without actually coming out. It’s my way of owning my asexual and wtfromantic orientation by taking control of the narrative I live by.

For women in Korea, even if they don’t join the marriage fast track, they are constantly bombarded with the expectation to get married eventually. Family members pester them with questionnaires to fill out for prospective blind dates. As they get older, all their siblings, cousins, and friends start falling off the singlehood-wagon around them. Aunts, grandparents, and parents then focus all their attention on the singletons in the family, doubling their efforts at matchmaking, and increasing the frequency of inquires into not-yet-married statuses.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” and  “When are  you going to get married?” are very common small talk questions in Korea.

I have just begun saying, “I’m not.”

And the next response is usually, “Oh, don’t worry you’ll meet someone some day” or “You’ll change your mind when you meet the right person.”

I get this same response even from fellow single women who haven’t yet been matched up.  I just smile politely because they don’t realize I’m not even looking for the right person. And besides, their version of the right person definitely does not match mine.

When I was first coming to terms with my own asexuality, I began to question everything. I was confused about how to understand my romantic orientation, attractions, and gender identity and how those experiences all intersected with my asexuality.

I decided the first step in taking ownership over my own story, was to start actively rejecting the cisnormative/ heteronormative narrative that I’ve been mindlessly digesting all my life.

The one that says someday my prince charming will come, sweep me off my feet, and we will live happily ever after. The one that says my prince is of course going to be male, and that the living-happily-ever-after will include a romantic/sexual relationship, marriage, and kids.

What if I want my prince to be a princess? What if I don’t want to be saved but I want to save myself? What if I want my happily-ever-after to be a friendship or a QPR or two separate castle condos side by side so we can be neighbors rather than have a bed that we share?

I don’t know yet what my happily-ever-after is going to be. I am aware that I can’t predict the future, so it could be that I change my mind and decide to get married someday. Or even if I don’t get married, I might chose to enter a committed relationship of some other form. (Although, if I do follow through with either of those things, it will likely be with someone female or non-binary).

“I’m not going to get married” is simply my subversive way to say- I’m certainly not going to get married to who you think, and on top of that, I have no interest in what marriage traditionally represents.