halfthoughts

A gender journey

Tag: lgbt

Micro Affirmations

In the last few months, I moved back to the states from abroad and started grad school. Moving is always emotional, so it’s been a whirlwind, but there have been so many awesome micro affirmations since I’ve landed in the states. Here are a few:

-Friends playing with my new short hair and saying how awesome it looks (I love when people play with my hair.)

-Shopping for men’s shoes and having the retail people treat me like just another customer.

-Coming out to friends I haven’t seen in awhile about my pronouns and having them be supportive right away and say things like, “I won’t be offended if you correct me.”

-Coming out to my professors about my pronouns in class and having them say, “Keep on me about them” and having my classmates just nod their heads and not even seem confused at all.

-Hearing one of the faculty members (who I didn’t tell directly, but heard through the grapevine) use my pronouns super casually and look at me for eye confirmation that she got them right.

-Telling someone I was single, and not having them follow up with awkward questions about when I was planning to get married, and why I didn’t have a boyfriend yet.

-Having my cousin-in-law give me a few of his bowties.

-Having a classmate show me a link to this queer meetup event and ask, “Do you want to go with me to this?”

I’m sure there have been others, but those are definitely some of the ones that stick out. Overall, happy to be back. And excited for this new chapter of my life.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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 #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.

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