Coming Out as Asexual to Family
No two coming out stories are exactly the same. In this episode, Royce shares their reasons for not having a coming out conversation with family and Courtney shares a story of getting her Grandma a little tipsy before coming out as asexual.
Courtney: Hey, everyone! My name is Courtney. I’m here with Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple. And today, we are going to talk about coming out. Coming out is obviously a topic that is very commonly heard about in Queer communities… traditionally though the conversation about coming out is normally about coming out as Gay. Luckily there’s a lot more traction talking about coming out as Trans. But there is just not a whole, heck of a lot of discourse about coming out as Asexual. And that is why we want to talk about it here today. And considering the fact that the holidays are upon us, and many of us are going to be seeing family. Some of us are going to be seeing family for the first time in a year or two, given the pandemic we’ve been in.
Courtney: So, I want the focus of today’s conversation about coming out to revolve around coming out to family, because contrary to some popular belief, coming out, being– being out of the closet, being in the closet… is not just a black and white situation. You aren’t closeted to everyone one day and then you have come out to absolutely everyone in your life. For some people it is a tiered situation, you do it in steps, you do it situationally. And there are some people in your life who maybe you will personally choose to never formally come out to. And we fully believe that everybody has a different family situation, so there is not going to be a one size fits all when it comes to advice about coming out. So I don’t want this to be ‘Royce and Courtney tell you the best ways to come out as Asexual!’ Because everybody’s is going to be different. But we hope that by talking a little bit about our personal experiences… perhaps between the two of us there will be something that resonates with you, our dear listener.
Courtney: So considering the fact that, Royce, you and I are famously an Asexual married couple, you and I are both Ace. We have been married for over seven years. We have obviously by this point met all of each other’s sides of the family, at least the ones who are still in the picture. So I think with that in mind, it might surprise some of our listeners to know that you aren’t technically out to your family…? or at least there hasn’t been a conversation, there hasn’t been a formal moment. So do you want to just talk about that a little bit for our listeners out there who also are not out to their family?
Royce: Sure, and I think this is coming from a few different factors. One, I’ve lived a few hours away from my family for the past… more than 10 years, 12 with a gap of an extra three where I was pretty far away for a while. I’ve also just never had a very personable talkative relationship with them and I’m that way with a lot of friends, in general. I was about to say ‘casual friends’, but I don’t think I make the distinction most of the time. Generally like, partners that I’ve had I get into very in-depth conversations, but friends, I’m usually– friends and family both, I’m usually just around, certain points in time. And so the conversation tends to just focus on what’s going on around us or what’s new and that sort of thing. And so figuring out in my mid-20s, early to mid-20s the fact that I was Asexual was kind of a slow process, and I never really felt the need to go back around to everyone and say, “Dey, I figured this out!” Because it just didn’t really seem to be important, because we didn’t talk about those sorts of things.
Courtney: Well, considering the fact that you didn’t talk, they very probably didn’t know that you were even questioning or exploring.
Royce: Oh absolutely. There were– there would have been no context for that. And then, who knows? I may have had to explain. “Well, it’s like this!” And they would have been like, “Okay, that’s– that’s interesting.”
Courtney: [laughs] That’s really funny because that’s kind of their reaction when we told them that we were married. [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, then we were– that we were married through common law and that we weren’t planning on having a wedding.
Courtney: where… Sometime very soon we’re just going to have an episode about our unconventional marriage, because we didn’t come out to our families as Asexual, once we got together, but we kind of had to come out as married. It wasn’t quite a traditional elopement, but it was non-conventional for sure.
Royce: So yeah, when it comes to coming out, like, this is a conversation that I have had with a couple of partners or people who I was… there was a couple– there have been a couple of rare friends of mine where we did often talk about more personable things. It was generally more because said friend was curious and would ask questions and would talk about their life. I don’t tend to just start conversations about those sort of things for whatever reason. It just doesn’t come up for me. I have noticed, this has happened once and I think it’s going to happen more in the near future, is that there’s going to be this conversation that comes up that’s like “Oh, so what have you been doing lately?” And I’ll say something like, “Well, I’ve been kind of busy. We actually started a podcast!” And they’ll say “What’s it about?” “Well… let’s– let’s take a few steps back… First of all…”
Courtney: That was really, really interesting. [laughs] We’ll talk about that on our upcoming ‘coming out to Friends’ episode, because I do want to keep this to family, otherwise I think we could just talk forever talking about all of the different coming out stories in one episode, it would get to be a lot. But it is definitely worth noting that your dynamic with your family is drastically different than mine, is… because your family is larger and not as personally close. Whereas my family, by the time we got married I only had two real close family members. It was my mother and it was my grandmother. And those were the two family members that I grew up with. And the two family members I was raised by. So, considering it was sort of the three of us in our little unit in the town I grew up in, we were very close and did share a lot of things. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that… that makes coming out super easy either.
Courtney: So before I share my story of coming out to a family member, what has been your thought process about… Hey, we have a podcast now where we talk about being an Asexual couple, what if someone on your side of the family sees this on social media and listens and figures it out on their own. Has that been a factor for you? Something you’ve been thinking about or how you’d address if it came up in conversation?
Royce: I mean, the thought occurred to me but it’s not really… hasn’t really had an impact one way or another. In one way, it’s kind of like, well that saves me the awkward conversation prompt, the potentially awkward conversation prompt. There’s no telling that it would be awkward, but if someone– someone learning something on their own means that I don’t have to do anything, that’s kind of nice.
Courtney: So, what you’re saying is it’s easier to talk…
Royce: …to the void?
Courtney: … talk to the void for a podcast that is going to get hundreds of listeners, potentially someday more. It’s easier to do that than to have a close intimate conversation with somebody…?
Royce: Is it easier to talk into a machine in the privacy of my own home than to a person? Yes.
Courtney: [laughs] Fair enough! And yeah, there are absolutely people in every corner of the Queer community who decide to come out via social media. And I suppose that’s not too many steps away because it’s sort of a mass public declaration
Royce: Which makes sense, to try to do one coming out instead of a bunch. But still, I would imagine that the people that do the social media coming-outs probably have a few close friends that are aware beforehand. That’s just the coming out to the world kind of thing.
Courtney: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Many people do and that’s what it all comes down to. It’s your personal relationships and what feels right and feels comfortable for you. Now, I on the other hand, I had discovered labels that fit for me– or at least the first big overarching, important label of Asexual, I discovered a little earlier than you did because I was still in my teens when that word came into my consciousness and resonated with me. But I, for a while, just did not feel like it was necessary. Like it was something that I was going to need to, or want to do. In hindsight that thought process was probably heavily influenced by the fact that I had never seen representation of someone coming out as Asexual in a positive light. Just never. At that time in my life, that representation did not exist in a place I had access to.
Courtney: And with my family, it wasn’t so much the fear of rejection or fear of acephobia or any kind of hatred or ill-will, because my family does skew, you know, progressive, especially for social issues, especially for LGBT rights. Even my grandmother who was from what, what many would say, a different generation, like, she was the grandma who watched Ellen DeGeneres every single day and loved that woman. And this was– this was when people still liked Ellen, I understand Ellen’s gotten increasingly more questionable over the years, but this was still very much in the heyday of Ellen being America’s, you know, lesbian sweetheart, and even pre-Ellen my grandmother did have one story that she shared with me at quite a young age of having a friend, who was a lesbian, who came out to her, in her words “before people did that.” And, and I mean, the way she tells that story you… you would think that that would be, you know, the first lesbian to ever live in the state of South Dakota. Which we just know that, that’s– that can’t be accurate. But…
Royce: Well there aren’t too many people in South Dakota and it’s pretty conservative.
Courtney: Well, there aren’t too– [laughs] Yeah, it’s– it was– it was really silly. My, my grandma was– was so funny and very endearing. Like even when she’d say something that to our generation was questionable, it was very much from a place of love. [laughs] However, my grandmother was a very sexually liberated woman and as, potentially, as feminist and badass as that could be. To be, you know, an elderly woman with this personality, for a teenager who is discovering that she is Asexual and has no such representation of that, anywhere to look up to, it was downright mortifying when she started to share just little, little hints and little drops of this side of her with me. Because I grew up a dancer and I taught dance lessons for many years, if my body was more cooperative and less disabled, perhaps in another world, I would have become a professional dancer. But at the time when I was still dancing and still learning and still teaching, I did try to see large dance performances whenever I was able to do so.
Courtney: So when I would go to the ballet, for example, my grandma would often come along with me. And it was around the time I maybe started hitting age, like, for 14… where she’d start saying things like, “Look at that guy’s butt!” [laughs] And she– she loved the ballerinos in their tights, seeing all of their rippling leg muscles and their… butts you could bounce a quarter off of… So when we’d go to the ballet, I would expect these comments, but it would be like a whisper during the performance so I could kind of hide under the shield of like, we’re not supposed to make a lot of sound during the performance, so she just, like, say something about a guy’s butt whispering to me in the theater and I’d just like, quietly nod. But it was so much harder when we just be, like, out in public. Just, you know, going to the little hole-in-the-wall enchilada place and a guy with a– an allegedly cute butt would walk by… [laughs] And she’d be like, “Look at that guy’s butt! Doesn’t he have a cute butt?” And, oh my gosh, my early teenage years, like 13/14, the amount of time I spent trying to deduce what makes a man’s butt cute…? [laughs] It’s absurd! Because I had– I could not see it. I had no concept of what a cute butt in fact was. But when she’d ask, like, “Isn’t his butt cute?” Like, then I’m on the spot! What am I supposed to say? “Why no, grandma, that man’s butt is not cute at all!”
Royce: That environment’s kind of amusing because the sort of objectifying comments are just like dudebro culture everywhere. So like if you were– if you were a guy around a group of guys, the– the comments are rhetorical, a response is not really warranted. So the… The question aspect of that is a bit different, but I can definitely relate to someone making a comment and just sort of nodding to get the conversation moving along to a different topic.
Courtney: Yeah, because I– when people make comments like that, whether they’re a dudebro, or my grandma, they kind of say those things with the assumption that you are seeing and feeling…
Royce: …the same thing.
Courtney: …exactly what they are!
Royce: The… the other aspect of this that I think is particularly funny, that I did not experience, was that the person making these comments to you also had notable hearing loss and sometimes made comments too loud!
Courtney: [bursts out laughing] That’s also just kind of my family. We kind of just have this, like, genetically loud voice. Like, we just project when we’re talking. And if I don’t want the entire room to hear what I’m saying, I have to consciously think about it and quiet myself. Little of behind-the-scenes, pull of the curtain over here at The Ace Couple headquarters… every time when we’re about to set up for this, the question is, you know, where do we put the microphone, because Courtney’s voice is so much louder than Royce’s is.
Royce: We’re also using a new microphone today, so there is a bit of figuring out. But yes, it is slightly closer to me. Hopefully that helps.
Courtney: Hopefully it’s a good microphone and we sound nice, nice and silky satiny voices for you all. We haven’t quite made it there yet. We’re experimenting. Please, please… bear with us! But so at, at any rate, going back to my grandmother. She always tried her very hardest to be open to new Queer identities, even when it’s something she hasn’t been presented with before. I do, for example, remember having to explain to her that a friend of mine, that she met, was a Transgender man, because she started to ask some questions. And it’s like “Grandma, you can’t be asking those questions when anybody else is around. Let me, let me give you the lowdown because I know you’re going to be cool about this.” And she was, she was like, “Wow, I had no idea! Neat!” But she also did the whole like, “I’ve never met a Trans person before!” It’s like, “Haven’t you…? Not that, you know, not that you have needed to know.”
Courtney: But the way in which my grandmother talked– talked about sexy people and being sexy and all of that, made coming out as Asexual, potentially, the hardest thing to come out to this particular woman as. And I know there are some some people who throw a lot of shade in different parts of the Queer community, who are like, “It’s no big deal to come out as Asexual.” And it’s the people who say that, first of all have no idea what kinds of discrimination that Ace people can, in fact, face. Those are also probably the people who still, in their heart of hearts, think that being Asexual just means having a low libido or a very low sex drive. So those people are not only wrong, but those people have also never met my grandma. I 100% told you, Royce, and a few of my closest friends who… I was out as Ace to pretty much all of my friends at this point, all of my friends I was close with at that point in time at least. I distinctly remember telling everyone, you know, it would be so much easier to come out as Gay to my grandma. Because I know she knows what that means and I know she’s cool with it. And if I said, you know, “I’m a Lesbian.” She’d be like, “Great! Can’t wait to meet your new girlfriend!” I’m sure she’d also probably like, in her misguided yet supportive way, would– would maybe start pointing out cute girl butts to me. I very much believe that would have been a possibility. [laughs]
Courtney: So I just knew that even if she’s going to be cool with this, there’s gonna be a learning curve and I wasn’t sure that I was ready to go there. And then of course, you know, I met and fell in love with Royce and at that point in time, as far as either of our families were concerned, we were both straight… cishet… allo people, because they just didn’t know any better at that time. Which is clearly not the case, but from the outside, you know, optics… It’s like, you know, maybe I don’t even need to have this conversation. But then my grandma met you and she loved you, more than I think anyone had ever brought home to her. In fact, Royce, do you remember the very first thing she ever said to you, the very first day she met you?
Royce: Maybe but I might also be mixing up your mom and your grandma. What was it?
Courtney: They both said almost identical things.
Royce: Which is– is really funny because it is universally understood that daughters do not want to be reminded that they’re like their mothers.
Courtney: Yeah that, universally nobody wants to hear that. But grandma’s was more immediate. Because you– you like, walked up to her house, she came out, she was expecting us, she immediately hugged you. And then like, grabbed your shoulders and pushed you just like, arm’s length away and looked into your face and just said, “God, your eyes are pretty!” And they are, don’t get me wrong. But, you know, with your– with your really pretty eyes and your magnificent bone structure, and your long luxurious hair like… I would– [laughs] Stop sticking your tongue out at me Royce! I started to get, like, ‘the look’ and– and ‘the eyebrows’ and the– the sort of like the ‘winks and the nudges’. And I feel like a lot of newly married couples… I mean, she did– she didn’t know for a while, like, like anyone else in our family, she did not know when we actually got married. But I think a lot of newlywed couples start getting that same– that ‘wink wink, nudge nudge’... Like “Oh, you guys are going back to the hotel room?” Like… People try to argue with Aces online that there isn’t such a thing as allosexual culture. But my God, there is… there absolutely is! And I was so uncomfortable with all of it. I was horribly uncomfortable with it.
Courtney: So it got to a point where it’s like, [strained] “Someone’s gotta tell her.” So, I got it in my head, you know, it’s– it’s time. I must come out formerly to my– my two family members, because you know in addition to all of the uncomfortable winks and nudges, there’s also just the thing that couples start to get where if you aren’t married yet they do the whole, like “So when are you getting married?” And not long after that there is also the, like, “When you having kids?” And I– I started sensing those things. They were, they were approaching rapidly. So I was like, let’s– let’s nip this in the bud right here. Let’s– let’s do this and there was a… some kind of occasion that I had to go back, travel up to South Dakota, and… and visit my grandma. I think there were probably other things I was doing, but I don’t remember what the occasion… I only remember that this time you did not come with me. I made the trip alone. And because of that, I thought this is the perfect opportunity. Because I can have this conversation one-on-one with Grandma. Royce doesn’t even need to be here, and it’ll be great. But I was still just very, very nervous. I also didn’t get her ‘good bed’ because you weren’t with me. She only gave us the good bed [laughs] when it was the two of us. She’s like, “Yeah, you’re cool on the couch, right? If not, I can pull out the futon in the spare room.” Where when Royce is with me, she’s like, “Oh no, you two must sleep in my bed.”
Royce: That just makes me think of all the times as a kid, where people like, like other friends would be like, “My– my parents are only cool when friends are over, like, I need to have friends over, so my parents won’t yell.”
Courtney: [laughs] I mean, it’s got the same energy, but it’s a little more wholesome because it’s not as though grandma was bad to me when I was alone. It’s just like you don’t get the bells and whistles. “We need to make sure Royce is comfortable because. ’Cause I– I like Royce, and I need Royce to like me.” I think, I think was the mindset of my family. Man, that was one thing that was great in the early days of our relationship, was just like everyone I knew was just trying to put their best foot forward because everyone wanted you to like them. But at any rate, so from– from the couch that first night, I was like, “All right. I’m going to have this conversation with her tomorrow. What is my plan of attack?”
Courtney: My grandmother really liked to drink, she definitely, like… I did not drink as a teenager, but she definitely snuck me into bars when I was a teenager so that I could hang out with all of her friends. It was great. But there was a time when I was much younger, still child, preteen, where we’d go to our favorite little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It was called Mama’s Ladas Enchiladas and she would get– she’d get sangria. But as a child, she would feed me the fruit that was soaking in her sangrias. So I thought “That’s where we’re gonna go. I’m going to get Grandma drunk on Sangrias. I’m gonna get her a little tipsy. I’m gonna get her giggly feeling good. Then we’re gonna come out.” And that is exactly what I did. I remember texting you, like, while we were waiting for our Sangrias to come and while we were placing our orders and everything, I was like, “All right, we’re getting our first sangria in us. It’s gonna happen.” Just getting, like, Good Luck text from you. So we ate dinner, I made sure to buy her like a couple extra Sangrias and then it was time! I just tried to say it as, you know, straightforwardly as I could…? I actually think she’s– she gave me another kind of a hint of a wink and a nudge at one point, after we got all of these Sangria’s in us.
Royce: You were like, “Hey, listen”
Courtney: Actually yeah! “Hey listen,” I was like “Well about that Grandma, actually, you know, Royce and I are actually both Asexual. Do you know what that means?” And she’s like “No? What?” And so I explained to, you know, “Royce and I don’t experience sexual attraction to any gender…” And she was so quiet, after that first definition, that I was like, “Oh no. It’s coming.” It’s like, “I– Did I break grandma? Can’t she just– doesn’t compute?”
Royce: “Did I break Grandma?”
Courtney: But the first thing she said was just “WOW! I didn’t know there was such a thing!” I was like, “Yep. A lot of people don’t know that that’s a thing, but we are.” And then she just had a million questions like the floodgates were open, and I was– I was prepared for this. I knew the questions were going to come. So this wasn’t horribly upsetting. But even though now there are better representations of Asexuality out there, I think it’s a little more in the public consciousness than it was at the time… You still kind of have to be your own dictionary and educator… and you almost have to assume going into this conversation with someone for the first time that you’re going to be defining and explaining a lot of things.
Royce: Out of curiosity, I haven’t– I haven’t thought to ask this question before, what was the worst question asked?
Courtney: Oh, let me see if I can think. I don’t think there was a worst question, but there were a couple of misguided comments that we’ll definitely cover here, because they were like, really cute and endearing coming from my very sexually liberated, like, lesbian-ally grandmother… But from anyone else, I would be really frustrated. Because I’ve heard it multiple times and I’m sure many Aces have, but, I mean, the question she started with were like, “Did you both know when you met? Did you know this?” And I was like, “Yeah, we did actually and that’s probably the biggest reason why we even started talking in the first place.” And it definitely helps that she loved the hell out of you, and she just had it in her head, before coming out as Asexual even, that we were just the coolest couple that has ever existed. She was like, “The way the two of them interact with one another... Being in the same room as them… and just, you know, seeing the way they communicate and how comfortable they are around each other…” She just– she just thought we were the epitome of functional. [laughs] Which is kind of funny coming from a woman who had three divorces, but– and was perpetually single for the second half of her life.
Courtney: But she definitely had a couple of questions about, like, my former relationships. Because being my grandma, she was there and she saw all of them. And so she said she had some questions. I mean, my second kind-of-serious boyfriend that I had was initially introduced to her as my Gay friend… So she definitely had some questions about that when that happened. And she… just like, being a very sexually minded grandmother and mother, definitely gave me some comments at one point when I was maybe around, you know, 17 years old, 18 years old. I must have been 17. I was, I was still officially a minor for sure. But, you know, hanging out at her house with a boyfriend of mine, we definitely got some comments of, like “Keep the door open.” Like we got things along those lines, which is, you know, really upsetting I think for anyone, I– I’m sure straight people are upset by the same comments, right? Like no one, no one loves hearing that from a parental figure of any kind.
Royce: I would assume so.
Courtney: So like she was definitely like, you know, “Were are you Asexual with… with your other…? You know, your last boyfriend?” And it’s like, “I– yes, I have been Asexual the whole time, not all of my past partners have been, and yes, there have been complications as a result of that.” So I– in like the most vague possible of terms, I explained those things to her. But then she just kept, you know, she’s still a little tipsy too, so she just kept going “Wow… Wow!” And here was the kicker, after a few Wow’s and just like silent pondering, she was like, “I still don’t really get it because, like, I get Gay people,” she’s like, “I get Gay people. I’m not Gay. I’m attracted to the opposite sex, but I know Gay people are just attracted to the same sex and like I get that because they’re still attracted to someone.” [laguhs] And I was like, “Honestly grandma, that’s exactly how I thought you’d be, based on the way you’ve talked.” And that’s one thing that’s like only endearing from a grandparent who you just came out to and received that news like relatively well. Like from anyone else in any other situation…
Royce: and is kind of drunk…
Courtney: And is kind of drunk… like any other situation from anyone else that would not have been cool. But from Grandma was like, “Yeah, you’re– you’re trying Grandma.” So that was one of those comments. The other one was also “That must be why you’re the best couple ever!” Because she already thought this but she was just, I mean, between her own life, you know, a lot of her friends… I mean, she lived a good, healthy life and knew a lot of people. So she’s seen a lot of dysfunctional straight relationships. She convinced herself in that moment, you know still, you know, tipsy on Sangria... She’s like “That’s the key to having a great relationship! Is to be Asexual. That’s– that’s the missing link! That’s what I’ve been missing this whole time…” So she very quickly switched from “I don’t get it” to like, “Oh, everything makes sense now!” Which… neither extreme was correct…? Because I do think we have a very cool relationship, and I do think we’re probably the healthiest, most functional relationship my grandmother has ever observed. I didn’t think that…
Royce: But that is a… the underlying factor there is communication.
Courtney: Absolutely. Like I think if we were, like, allo cishet and still were able to communicate in exactly the same way we do… I think probably, probably we’d still have just as functional as a relationship. Probably. I guess…
Courtney: I’ve never been straight. I don’t understand how the straights operate. [laughs]
Royce: … if we can go on a media representation tangent, for a moment.
Royce: There’s– there’s the whole concept that, I don’t know how commonly this actually happens in allo couples, but there’s the media representation of people having angry sex.
Courtney: Oh yeah…
Royce: … where they start to fight and then, instead of actually talking through that fight so it doesn’t happen again, they just have sex. And then not deal with…
Courtney: Yeah! Baffles me every time.
Royce: Well, choose to not deal with it later. It’s like they’re just kicking the can down the road.
Courtney: And the can just leads to further angry sex.
Royce: Well, it’s a– it’s a lack of communication. It’s a deferment of problems. I– I don’t know how much media is distorting reality in that case.
Courtney: That’s a good question. We should explore that deeper in a future episode. I mean we could go off about like, just straight couples in media all day long. Because so many of the, you know, ‘aspirational’ straight relationships that we grew up on.... I hope they’re doing better these days,
Royce: Probably not.
Courtney: I hope they’re here... Yeah,
Royce: there are– there probably aren’t many Aces in writing positions.
Courtney: That’s true. But there are just so many aspirational straight couples on media that everyone’s like, “Oh, I want to be, you know, the ‘Ross and Rachel’ or the ‘Jim and Pam’... and like…
Royce: Or the fact that The Notebook was actually a hit and not a disaster…?
Courtney: All of those, like, there are so many that… You know, you and I watch these shows and movies and say, like “This relationship is terrible, actually! Why do people aspire to this?” [jokingly] Straight people need good representation too! There’s not enough of a voice for the– the straight people!
Royce: They need healthy representation.
Courtney: They need good healthy relationship [laughs] representation. But yeah, so… she went from like zero to 60 of, like, “I don’t get it” to also like “that’s why… that’s the secret sauce that’s making this so good.”
Royce: That was the point where the sangria kicked in.
Courtney: [laughs] I think it’s sunk in on the first [exaggerated] ‘Wow’. But then she yeah, I mean she all but confirmed all of my suspicions where she’s like, “I think I would understand better if you told me you liked women, because… I mean, at least that means you like someone.” So that was– that was quite interesting.
Royce: That Grandma accent you keep dropping into.
Courtney: I don’t know why. That’s not what she even sounded like, I’m going like really lightly Southern and that’s not what she sounds like.
Royce: It has vague hints of Grandma in it though.
Courtney: It’s just the universal Grandma sound?
Courtney: It is universally recognized as a grandma voice. [giggles] But then she said the third and final thing that is cute coming from drunk Grandma, it ain’t cute coming from anyone else ever. She said, “I wish I was Asexual… maybe my relationships would have been better if I was Asexual.” [laughs] Again, woman with the three divorces. Technically, I think one of those three was technically, legally an annulment, but three marriages that did not pan out. And she’s here saying, “I don’t get it. Okay. Maybe this is why your– your relationship is so strong.” And then “I wish I was Asexual.” And then she started ruminating like, “You know… Relationships have to be so much less complicated, if you take out the sex thing, because you know, sex makes things so complicated. If you just take that out… I wish I was Asexual!” Grandma… [laughs] Do you know how much I agonized over telling you this? And you’re here just being like, “I wish I was Asexual.” So, that’s another thing, we’re like, “yeah, cute grandma” that makes a good story. But if you’re not a cute little drunk Grandma saying that, and anyone ever comes out to you as Asexual and you respond by, “I wish I was Ace”. That’s… that’s– that’s not how you respond to that. Because that’s also, anyone who says that is also… again, someone who does not realize that Aces can and do actually face real discriminations. Because they just think, “Oh, if you take out the sex that makes it easier. And that’s the only component to your race identity, there’s nothing else complicating your life or your orientation but that.” And…
Royce: particularly considering, given the numbers, a lot of Ace people end up with relationships with allo people.
Courtney: Mm-hmm yeah, absolutely. Like “Grandma, you’re saying you wish you were Ace, but were any of your three ex-husbands Ace? Probably not! And you know, you– Grandma, you knew the first lesbian in the state of South Dakota… So I guess I must be the first Asexual in the state of South Dakota.” [laughs] Huh, but we jest.
Royce: That’s why you’re considered an Elder Ace.
Courtney: [surprised] That’s why!! [laughs] Royce, get out!
Royce: [holding laughter] This is my house.
Courtney: [laughs] Get out. It’s my house, too. [continues laughing] Is, is that so? Am I an elder Ace because I’m the first Ace in South Dakota??
Courtney: Okay. [laughs] Which technically, of all of the true blue actual elder Aces that I know, none of them are from South Dakota.
Courtney: Facts. I know, you know, an elder Ace in New York. I know one in Ohio… You know, I got some spread out all over the place but none who are from South Dakota. So I’ll own that title until proven otherwise. [laughs] But yeah, so, if it was interesting to see, all three of those reactions sort of happen in the span of, like, 10 minutes. And honestly, you know, could have gotten… could have gone worse. It was totally fine. I think the Sangrias were absolutely the right touch. And this was, I mean… And I’ve said earlier that if you are coming out to someone who you know for a fact doesn’t know much about Asexuality, or you just don’t know, you suspect maybe they don’t… it does help to be prepared to define things and explain, because a lot of questions do happen. So that’s at least a recommendation that I would have. But, I would never, ever, ever, ever…
Courtney: Ever advocate for coming out as any identity to anyone who you do not trust, would be someone safe to come out to. Whether that be Asexual, whether that be your gender identity or any other place on the spectrum. If you do not feel comfortable coming out to that person do– just– you don’t have to. You should never feel like you have to come out to everyone in your life to be whole and complete.
Royce: Particularly if you’re in a dependent environment.
Courtney: Oh, yeah! Especially, like, if you are a minor… like– like, don’t risk getting kicked out of your house if you do not have to. Especially if you don’t have a contingency plan.
Royce: The same thing could apply with unsafe work environments.
Courtney: Oh, absolutely.
Royce: If you– you need to pay the bills and you don’t have something else potentially lined up.
Courtney: Mmm. Yeah. That’s another really hard one. To just– throwing it back to you just for– just for a moment. You might not have any idea and just not– not having conversations on the same level that I do with my small family... You mentioned thinking like, “Okay, it’s fine and well and good, it may be easier if my family finds this out by happenstance.” Do you think it is more complicated that they know you’re Asexual or more complicated that you are Agender?
Royce: I… don’t… know... And I think going back to the– I wasn’t sure where you were going to go with that question… But going back to the gender comment, Asexuality is something that I feel like… confident isn’t the right word, but I feel like I can definitively say “Yes, Asexuality fits.” As mentioned in the episode that we did on gender, I kind of threw the entire gender thing out. So I identify with the term Asexual more than with the term Agender, although I think that both are accurate.
Courtney: Yeah, so is it kind of like…?
Royce: I also think that if a conversation came up, even though Asexual would be somewhat difficult to explain potentially, because much like what happened with your grandmother, I would assume that there would be some gaps to bridge.
Courtney: Questions… yeah.
Royce: Agender is– seems even more difficult to me. Because I kind of have to go back to the ‘none of this makes sense to me’ sort of thing.
Courtney: Mhm. Yeah, I guess just more hard and fast vocabulary for Asexuality, that can be conveyed to someone.
Royce: That’s true. I think that the concept of Asexuality resonates with me more. And I think that I could explain it more thoroughly, even knowing that, like, that conversation may get involved, depending on who it’s with.
Courtney: Which yeah, as also, you know, been a conversation that we’ve need to– needed to have also. Which is good to keep in mind, if you are in any kind of Queer relationship with somebody else, regardless of if you have the same identities or different ones, it will behoove you to have a conversation about who you are all out to, and who you might be open to coming out to, to who we don’t touch that topic with. Because even though, like you’ve never told me, like, “There’s no one I don’t want to know about this.” I’ve still always asked. Like..
Royce: Yeah .
Courtney: Before these conversations happen, is this something we can talk about?
Royce: And you also had no idea what to do when we were talking with a friend of mine, not too long ago and the podcast came up.
Courtney: Oh! Because that was the one we hadn’t discussed yet, because… I mean over the last several years, before we started our own podcast, I’ve been interviewed on other podcasts about Asexuality and sometimes the fact that we were a married Ace couple was a selling point, and the reason why someone wanted to talk to me, because they’d never heard of a married Ace before. So let’s– let’s get this woman on to talk about it. And so, it’s like, well, you’re the other half of this marriage. How– how much can I share on this podcast when you’re not in the room?
Courtney: So we talked about like, yeah, the Asexuality part of it. But also, you know, the– the gender identity is part of it. And with– with your family, we were like, you know, we don’t even know if we’re going to be able to see them this year because I am incredibly immunocompromised, and we’ve been hard quarantined for almost two years now. It’s gonna be two years in March, and so… it’s like but, you know, we do have a podcast. Now, we have 10 episodes in. We’ve charted in eight countries. We’re killing it in Luxembourg! I don’t think you have any family in Luxembourg, but we are sky high on the charts over there somehow. Thank you Luxembourg! If you’re listening, we love you! But you know, just like if your family brings it up… Do– do we– do we go there? Do– do we have this conversation?
Royce: Sure, it’s so much easier for me to have a conversation if someone else brings it up.
Royce: I don’t know what kind of anxiety thing that is, but it’s probably one that I have in my collection, my bag of anxieties.
Courtney: I think the most anxious I have ever visibly seen you, in my life, is right before you were about to tell your family, at a holiday, that we got married without telling anyone.
Royce: Yeah, checks out.
Royce: Probably I was going through how to say the thing in my head and not really knowing what the response is going to be. The response was fine. So like, logically…
Courtney: Albait confused.
Royce: A little– It depended, it depended. Some more confused than others, but it was fine! And it’s just, it’s hard to start.
Courtney: Yeah, but yeah, I mean, and there are some situations too where, since your family is much larger than mine, we get to… I mean pre-covid, we’ve been at some family gatherings for your side of the family where, you know, you and I might be split up across the room because there are just so many different people to talk to. And I definitely do have more of a rapport with some of your family over others, and it’s like I could theoretically see you, maybe I’m alone in a corner and one of your family members who follows me on social medias sees that this happens and brings it up and like if you’re across the room, do I– do I just go there? I guess, I will if I have your permission but it’s harder when it’s, you know, someone else’s identity. Because I’m kind of an open book and if someone wants to talk about something, I will talk about it. Which is also very opposite of you, because you mentioned right at the top of this that some of your friends you’ve had more in-depth conversations with, but a lot of your friendships have been a little more, like, casual, surface level.
Courtney: With me, most of my friends are very, very close. And I think that’s just kind of the way I talk to people, in the way I meet people, like, if we’re out in a social situation and I’m really clicking with someone… Like, if you’re willing to, like, trade stories of childhood trauma, like, we will go there within the first 15 minutes of this conversation! And if you don’t slink away, awkwardly and horrified by the things I have to say, then we can– we can hang. [snickers] So yes, we do operate very differently. So it helps to be on the same page as your partner about what is and is not allowed in public situations, because I was taken off guard when we were with just a group of… a group of friends who we had not had the Ace conversation with, who are like, “Oh, what’s– what have you been up to lately?” Because this was also right around the time we were going to be speaking at the Asexuality Asia conference.
Royce: Yeah! So the Asexuality Asia conference happened on India’s time, right in between a rehearsal and a wedding where I was a groomsman. So we managed to make a… I believe it was 3:30 a.m. our time…?
Royce: … hour-long interview, before I had a day that was pushing 12 hours where I was at a wedding venue site.
Courtney: Yeah. It was a long day. But yeah, I mean at the rehearsal dinner the night before, I was there as well and, you know, some of these people… we have seen none of these people since the pandemic started! Because of how quarantined we’ve been. So all the familiar faces were like, “Oh yeah, Courtney! Royce! What are you up to?” And at one point we just mentioned, like, “Yeah, we’re going to be tired tomorrow because we’ve got a conference to speak at 3:30.” And they’re like, “Oh, really?” And you know, since I do historian work with Victorian hair art, someone knew this and was like, “Oh is that conference for your Victorian hair art?” And I was like, “Uh… Not… this… time.” [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, you just kind of froze up. Like, kept looking back and forth between the person and me, and that I had to speak up, with the ‘Well, so about that.’
Courtney: [sing-songy] So about that. I just–
Royce: First of all!
Courtney: I just wanted to make sure that, you know, you and I were on the same page.
Royce: The thing is, your physical reaction to needing to make sure that we are on the same page gave no out.
Royce: Your reaction was odd enough that there had to be an explanation.
Courtney: But see, I’m a little chaotic in the sense that if you were like, “Don’t worry about it.” I’d be totally cool with leaving those people wondering, because I think it’s hilarious the things they’ll come up with on their own.
Royce: I thought you were gonna say, like, just start role-playing, just start making something up. I’ll go with it.
Courtney: I would, if you’d let me! [laughs] I worry you’re too socially anxious for me to be that chaotic!
Royce: [sarcastic] We have a really important 3 a.m. D&D session to plan for.
Courtney: [laughs] Very important D&D… You have no idea the stakes!
Royce: Well, we’re all playing as drow and so we have to play this game during the nighttime.
Courtney: Oh we’re method roleplayers?? [bursts out laughing]
Royce: If the sun comes out, we can’t roll the dice as well.
Courtney: [continues laughing] Okay. This is… we’re just getting silly now. Off the wall.
Royce: [laughs] We are very off topic.
Courtney: We’ve taken a couple of hard left’s, but…
Royce: If we make enough of them, we’re back on track.
Courtney: It’s true. Three lefts make a right. But yeah, I think for the most part, we’ve said the majority of what there is to say about coming out to family. Obviously, you and I have very different experiences and relationships with our family. And even though we are… we are married and we’re both Asexual, we still have vastly different life experiences. But I suppose the last little… the last little bit to talk about. I don’t think any of these questions came up in my initial coming out to any family members, but… but they eventually did come back around. Which was still along the lines of the questions of kids, which, I… get it… I get where the question is coming from, but it would be a lot less frustrating if it wasn’t such a cishet social norm.
Royce: I think the kids question is universally annoying to anyone of any orientation who doesn’t want to have kids yet.
Royce: It’s a lot of– I think it’s a lot of past culture of imposing your values on your children.
Courtney: Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I mean there definitely even was a time where it’s like, you get married in order to have children now. Like that was the progression of things, and it was universally assumed that from your wedding night onword you were going to try to conceive. So, that was definitely like… I got a couple of questions kind of skirting the kids question… and I didn’t want to say, “Yes, we’re going to have kids” or “No. We’re not going to have kids” because we weren’t as solidly on either side of things at that point in time. But I knew the question was biological in nature. I don’t think they were asking “Are you going to adopt kids?” I think the crux of the question is like “Are you going to have sex in order to conceive a child and, and birth it?” Like that– That’s just the vibe of that question when you get it. I think even for straight couples, I think that’s the vibe. And I definitely did have to have a conversation. I wish I didn’t have to have, but the way I described it was: if we decide to have kids biologically… then the process of conceiving… is just going to be another household chore like doing the dishes. And that kind of– that kind of appeased the people asking the questions…
Royce: That’s kind of funny because I generally do the dishes and I never get any enjoyment out of doing the dishes.
Courtney: [laughs] It’s exactly like doing the dishes I tell you! [continues laughing] So yeah, because I didn’t want to say, you know [exaggerated] “We’re Asexual! We’re not going to have kids biologically!” Because that discounts all of the Ace people out there who do, you know, conceive and have children. And there even, theoretically, was a point in my life where I thought, maybe I also would someday do the household chore necessary to conceive a child. But I think more than anything that was because I very much grew up feeling like I had to aspire to be a mother…? Which I’m glad that people are getting more and more away from with each passing year.
Courtney: But, you know, now we know with my disabilities, with my genetic disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in particular, that can really, really mess up your body even worse if you get pregnant. In fact, my grandma met– met a woman with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I also think she happened to be Gay, but that’s a total coincidence. And– and she befriended her, she was– she was about my age, maybe just a couple years older, and she did not even know that she had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome until she got pregnant. But the pregnancy, you know, really, really aggravated her symptoms to the point where post-pregnancy she started needing to walk with a cane. And me… pre any kind of giving birth, already was needing to walk with a cane or other various mobility aids. So after, I kind of had the conversation with Grandma of like “Yeah, you know, we could have biological kids if we wanted, it won’t be a fun thing, but it’s possible.” Like that, that was enough to get her to understand, but later on she was like, “Oh, okay. Now, I understand that you– you should not become, you know, you should not become pregnant or give birth on your own.”
Courtney: So now I kind of do have the two different reasons why I personally am never planning on becoming pregnant. And I do, kind of feel like, to ignore one of the reasons is doing an injustice to the other, because I think they’re both very valid reasons to not get pregnant and give birth to a child. Which, you know, is maybe not a question I need to ask [sic] If I married another woman. [jokingly] So at the end of the day, all I’m saying is that it would be so much easier if I was just a Lesbian. No, I’m not gonna do that. I’m, [laughs] I’m not actually gonna play the game of, you know, who has it worse? Who’s more complicated? Because that’s a ridiculous game and anyone who engages in it is a– doing it in bad faith. But hopefully, that can at least illustrate lightly that, you know, Aces do have our own complicated conversations to have when it comes to family and our orientations in our relationships.
Courtney: Well on that note everyone I think we’ve said most of what we needed to say about our experiences about coming out or not coming out to family, as being Asexual. We have approached many topics, which I think are going to make great future episodes such as coming out to friends, being differently out to different people in your life, and heavily criticizing aspirational straight relationships. I think all of these could be great podcast episodes. So make sure whatever you are listening on that you subscribe, give us a good rating if you would be so kind. And we’ll talk at you all next time!