I don’t get why asexual people have to come out to their parents about their sexuality. How do they even expect this to go down? They’re like: “Mum … Dad … I am asexual.” And then the mother breaks down crying and the father starts yelling: “NO THIS IS NOT HOW WE RAISED YOU HOW WILL WE EVER HAVE A PREGNANT TEENAGE DAUGHTER NOW WHERE DID WE GO WRONG JUST THINK ABOUT ALL THE STDS YOU WON’T CATCH AND HOW WE HAVE PUT ALL OUR HOPES INTO YOU BECOMING A MAJOR SLUT BUT NOW IT’S ALL LOST WE ARE SO DISAPPOINTED!” … or what?!
I came out to mine because they thought I was straight. Why would I want to keep pretending that for years and years?
The word “phase” was thrown around, even though I was in my twenties by that point, and had been in LTRs with men as a “straight” woman. Funny, no one ever told me that was a phase, or that I was too young to know.
I don’t share this often because it’s horrifying and probably embarrassing for the person it involves, but I’ll tell it here because I am really damn sick of people suggesting it’s ABSURD for us to come out or ABSURD for us to suggest anyone would ever attack us over our identity.
Trigger warning for pretty horrible anti-asexual statements and language.
One night on New Year’s Eve I brought up asexuality with a family member and suddenly the lighthearted discussion of a television show was hijacked by a stream of unprecedented (from this person) angry accusations toward me. Suddenly I was being told I was only asexual because I was afraid of intimacy, but that I get off on male attention.
I was a bit stunned by this and said it wasn’t even close to true, and that’s when this person began yelling across the room at me saying “You’re nothing but a cocktease. Just a cocktease. You bend over and let men look down your shirt and wear pretty clothes to get them excited, and then you push them away because this ‘asexual’ thing is just an excuse. You’re NOTHING but A COCKTEASE.”
When I tried to somehow reply to this I got more shouting about how like “everything else in my life” my asexuality is “actually just fear-based” because I clearly can’t handle intimacy, and then a rant about another person in our family (who was gay) came pouring out, about how he was “actually” just afraid of women. (This came as a huge shock to me because this person had always before—and, actually, ever since—seemed very supportive of gay rights.) This person then compared me to the gay family member again, reiterated that it’s a dead giveaway that I like being a tease because I wear clothes that look nice on me, and just started repeating like a mantra “You’re a cocktease, nothing but a cocktease, COCKTEASE.”
It was New Year’s Eve in the middle of the night so I couldn’t go anywhere. (I also don’t drive.) I had nothing to say to this and ended up lying down on the floor and crying until I fell asleep.
In the morning the person pretended it hadn’t happened.
Even though the person being sort of drunk probably facilitated this rant coming out, I now know of course that this is a belief they have always and probably will always hold about me—that this is not a real experience, that I am actually manipulating and teasing men with my body and LOVING it, and that being something other than heterosexual is a lie. This also was not said by some random distant relative. It was someone who helped raise me and who is still in my life regularly as an adult woman.
I was already firmly established as an adult and an asexuality awareness activist, had been through many interviews and plenty of abuse on the Internet, and yet when someone close to me went after me like this in such a gross way, I couldn’t even speak and was reduced to a horrible helpless ball of tears. It’s definitely the worst reaction I’ve ever had and I didn’t expect it in a million years. If that’s how it affected ME, I shudder to think what less prepared, less confident, younger people go through if their parents are even less sympathetic about non-heterosexual identities.
And let’s not kid ourselves, dammit; you can claim all you want that NOOO IT’S ONLY GAYNESS THAT MAKES PEOPLE MAD but if you’re saying that, you haven’t been us. You don’t get to say how horrifying something has to be, laughing at our subjective experiences and objectively categorizing them as “nothing,” before you will acknowledge that it damn well is something that can scar a person for life and ruin relationships.
I may delete this later because I don’t even want to see it on my blog, so read it while you can.
Gonna tack my story on here.
Now to be fair, my mom is emotionally abusive and probably would have responded less-than-awesomely no matter what my orientation was or how I expressed it. But still, when I told her, there was a long scream/pleadfest in which she called me stupid and selfish, accused me of lying, told me I was sick, demanded I get a blood test to see what was wrong with my hormones, moaned about where she went wrong with her own relationships and how that must have scared me off, and insisted I must actually be a lesbian. She did actually make me get the blood test, which came back normal, and even then she tried for weeks after to get me prescribed birth control pills to “fix my hormones”. (Doctors didn’t go along with it.) Ever since then it’s come up in arguments (which tend to be one-sided since I freeze up verbally and physically when she yells). Probably the most memorable instance of this was when she was screaming at the top of her lungs about the depth of a mother’s love for her child and what it will lead that mother to do to protect the child, when she suddenly stopped, got very quiet, glared and said “but you’ll never understand that, will you? You’ll never be a mother.”
As for my dad… I was getting a ride to an animal sanctuary from him, to drop off a baby bird which was very underweight and had worrying sores on its wings, and on the way back he declared that we were “taking the scenic route”. What followed was a three hour long lecture in which the only escape would have been to literally throw myself from the moving vehicle, about how he thought maybe I should stop pursuing a degree in the sciences because I was “losing touch with my spiritual side”, said he was worried about me and so was a family friend, waxed poetic about the beauty of sex and what an essential core part of being human it was, said he couldn’t understand how someone “so feminine” could be asexual and specifically brought up that I wear sundresses as if this were irrefutable proof of… something, and didn’t let me out (we passed by both his house and my mom’s without stopping) until I promised him I would “keep an open mind”. Even then I had to keep repeating “I want to go home now, I want to go home now, I want to go home now” until he gave up on getting anything more from me.
Since then my dad has settled for “confused but okay”. I’m not really sure what’s up with my mom; she goes back and forth between “I see the light now and support all aces!” and aforementioned behaviors, but regardless she’s harmful in other ways and I’ve cut contact with her. My mom’s long term partner/my other mom is also in the confused but okay camp, with the added benefit of not having originally gone off the deep end.
Not saying my experience is typical, or that coming out as ace is anything LIKE as dangerous and difficult as coming out as gay/lesbian, bi/pan, trans, or genderqueer can be. But this is in fact an issue.