halfthoughts

A gender journey

Tag: queer

Sometimes I barely even notice

I’ve been telling people about my preferred pronouns a lot in the last few weeks. Sometimes, when people actually use them, I barely even notice.

A house mate used they to refer to me while talking to another housmate  and it almost didn’t register that it was me. It was me!

A counselor used they to refer to me while chatting on the phone to the scheduling person, and it almost didn’t click.

But I think the fact that I don’t notice is a good sign. Because the opposite effect happens when I’m misgendered. Whenever someone uses she or her pronouns to refer to me, I definitely notice. There’s a pulse in my chest and then I  get panicky and anxious, because I have to weigh whether I want to come out to them in that moment or not. Usually I don’t. Especially if I don’t know them very well.

Today, for the first time I corrected someone who used her pronouns while talking about me. It was a person who I felt comfortable with enough to actually correct, probably because he already knew my pronouns, and he was also queer.

Now I just need to work up to correcting other people who don’t know yet. We’ll get there eventually.

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.

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.

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!