Have You Come Out To Family? The Asexual Community Responds
What percentage of Asexual folks have actually come out to their family? Most large-scale surveys on coming out focus only on the LGBT experiences and neglect the rest of the acronym, so we turned to Twitter to ask our followers. The poll results and comments elaborating reflect important components of the Ace experience.
- Coming out as Asexual to family - Twitter poll final results
- Pew Research Center - A SURVEY OF LGBT AMERICANS Chapter 3: The Coming Out Experience
Courtney: Hello, my name is Courtney. I am here with Royce, and together we are The Ace Couple! We are an Asexual married couple who, last week– if you are a regular follower of our podcast, you may already be aware that we talked about our personal relationship with coming out to family members, specifically. Excluding the experience of coming out to friends or coworkers and the like… And originally we thought we were going to move on from that point to branch out into different types of coming out, just like those. However, I want to do a follow-up episode to coming out to family, because the most fascinating thing happened. We actually put out a Twitter poll. We are on Twitter @The_Ace_Couple, and I was quite frankly blown away with how many people responded to our survey. The question being: “Have you come out as Asexual to your family?” And we offered three options. Number one: “Yes, the whole family.” Two: “Only some members.” Or three: “No, not at all.” Now, we are quite new to Twitter. We only set up our account when we started this podcast, just a couple of short months ago. So we actually got more respondents than we have followers, as of the time of recording this episode here.
Courtney: The poll is sitting at 1197 votes. And at first, this– this poll was mostly just for curiosity’s sake… for what our followers’ experiences were. But with numbers over 1000, we have a relatively decent sample size to these answers. So, I want to unpack that a little bit. And we got a large number of people just responding to elaborate on their own personal experiences, which I think is quite interesting. Because, especially to our allo listeners out there, our… people who are not Asexual, this is an experience that does not get talked about with these numbers, if at all. Because typically speaking, if you think about the– the large polls that come out, the… think pure research center, the names that you’d recognize that do large surveys… The ones I’ve seen either focus strictly on the gay experience, or they limit it to the first four letters in the acronym, the LGBT, Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans individuals. So, even if they’re doing a more broader reach of the Queer community, Asexuality is not normally in the equation. So, obviously, we have but a podcast and a small Twitter account, this is not scientifically based, but it is very, very fascinating. So, do listen to the stories we’re about to share and we hope it will give everyone a broader understanding of this aspect of the Ace experience.
Courtney: So first, let’s just talk numbers. The people who responded “Yes, I have come out to my whole family.” 10%...10.9 to be specific. By far the lowest of the three categories. Now, I am someone who has come out to everyone on my side of the family who hasn’t long since been disowned. All the family members I am in contact with know my sexuality. Whereas Royce, as we talked about last episode, you have not formally come out to any family members at all. So, does it surprise you at all, that it’s only ten point nine percent of respondents here who have come out to their whole family?
Royce: Not really. And we’ll get into some of the other numbers here in a bit. But you did mention that you are in the minority here. Your family that you keep in contact with, I think, is also smaller than most.
Courtney: It is very, very small. If we’re excluding all chosen family at this point, it’s really just my mom who has been in my immediate family. I’ve done a bit of reconnecting with, you know, cousins, and uncle, and aunt here and there, after my grandmother’s passing. Which is great and I’m happy to have them in my life. But– but I also didn’t have to come out to them because my grandma did that for me. [laughs]
Royce: So you had the conversation with two family members.
Courtney: Yes, and those were the only family members I was in regular contact with. So that made it easy and they both… even though Asexuality wasn’t necessarily something they were privy to… I knew they were allies for different branches of the LGBT spectrum. So that very much made that easier on me. So, I can kind of see how… how I’m in the minority on this one. Now, if I were to take this very, very literally, I do have some family members who have been disowned, who I have never had this conversation with nor will I ever.
Royce: Or… a conversation with.
Courtney: Or any conversation with! So that’s all well and good. But, But I mean, yeah, I guess that was something I didn’t quite mention last week when I was talking about coming out to my grandma. I mean, after… after I got her a little tipsy and we had the conversation and she went through the stages of not understanding it to being really wowed and impressed by it to thinking that– that must be why we have such a strong relationship. Like, after going through all of these stages, she definitely, like, had phone calls with other relatives to be like, “Can you believe? How– how cool this is!” So I definitely didn’t have to have those conversations.
Royce: So for the remaining eighty nine point one percent.
Courtney: Well, the largest is very much “Only some members,” which I think really checks out. We have– 51 percent have said that they have only come out to some members of their family. Which I think is very par for the course for a myriad of queer experiences. I know I’ve seen polls that have suggested that people, you know, specifically looking at the LGBT first four letters in there, I know I’ve seen polls that have seen that way more Queer people have come out to their mothers but not their fathers, for example. It’s definitely a poll I’ve seen on a couple of different occasions. And, you know, some of the people who actually gave us responses to– to tell us a little bit of their story, elaborated on who they did, or did not come out to you and why. So, we’ll get into that a little bit. But it’s the 38% of people who have not come out to any family members at all. That seemed high… I kind of expected that “Only some family members” was going to be the highest, so that one didn’t surprise me at all. But a full 38% have not come out to any of their family. I mean, I guess you’re in that category, so…
Royce: I think as we start going through some comments the numbers will make a bit more sense. Because in the “Not coming out to family at all” they could be in the same category I’m in, where I just don’t tend to talk about personal things with my family and just never really have. There could also be the… a different experience from, like you mentioned the gay community, where if you just happen to be a Aroace, it’s not like you’re bringing home a partner and having your family meet them to prompt the conversation.
Courtney: Oh, absolutely.
Royce: You could just avoid it.
Courtney: Which depending on the person could– could be a good or a bad thing. Some people just don’t feel the need to come out to certain people and that’s totally fine. Some people feel like coming out is very important to them, because this is a large component of who they are and they want their family and friends to know about it. So, everyone has a different relationship to coming out. But with that said, let’s go through some of these comments. On the very first day I put this pull up, I read the first few comments that came in and I was sort of keeping track of numbers, but then we started getting a lot of different things coming in and I figured we would save it to go over it on mic, and see what interesting things we can learn. Now, I’m going to preface this portion of the podcast with: I am so sorry if I’m breaking any Twitter podcast etiquette. I don’t know what the proper protocol is here for, I guess, giving people credit for their responses… We haven’t expressly asked permission from anybody to specifically shout out their handles, and I see some of these people do have, you know, private accounts. That said, Twitter is a public platform, you can see most if not all of these if you were to go to our Twitter account. So, I think we’re just going to not call out the handles individually…
Royce: I think that makes sense because then the handles are recorded, if the user wants to delete their comment, then they– it’s not… like the content is persisting in audio form, but the reference to their online identity is not.
Courtney: That’s kind of what I was thinking, especially something like this. I’m sure there are some people who… this is perhaps an account that’s more on the anonymous side. So this isn’t necessarily going to be outing someone, but I think just: be safe than sorry. We’re not going to call out handles, if anyone’s really upset for that cuz they wanted credit for their comment, I’m so sorry, we’ve only had Twitter and a podcast for a couple of months. Please tweet at us, very politely, if there’s some internet etiquette we aren’t privy to that we’re breaking. But with that caveat out of the way, let’s go through some of these.
Courtney: So, this first response here is someone in the 10.9% who says: [reading] “I did, it never comes up anymore, but when I was a kid, they told me ‘I just needed to find the right one.’ My mom doesn’t even joke about getting grandkids from me anymore. So I think she’s just accepted it. With that added caveat at the end of I’m not implying Aces can’t have kids.” There are kind of three things I want to touch on in that one comment.
Royce: If I can go first, because I have less to say. I think that we’ll be seeing more things along these lines of “I came out out of frustration because I kept getting the ‘wink, wink, nudge nudge’ of ‘Go get in a relationship. Go have kids’” but…
Courtney: Oh the good ol’ ‘wink wink, nudge nudge.’ Yeah. I’m sure we probably will see some things like that because I think– I think that’s a relatively common Ace experience. But so is this, just being told you need to find the right one… That is not only such a common acephobic remark, but in the same in other contexts, it can be arophobic, and it also discounts the validity of Polyamory. There’s a lot wrong with telling someone they just need to find the right one. I wish everyone would take that out of their vocabulary, just in perpetuity. But this also, I mean, it’s a short comment, it’s Twitter, you only have so many characters, but just “My mom doesn’t even joke about getting grandkids anymore.” Really, really paints a picture of someone who has gotten, you know, the ‘wink wink, nudge nudge’ about grandkids. So that’s– that’s definitely very relatable just in that.
Courtney: But they also end with this thing, that is so… so ever-present in online Ace discourse, where this Ace is telling their own story. And this is to us, who are also Aces on an account that is followed by a lot of Asexual people just by nature of who we are and what our podcast is about. And I really hope that this person was adding that last “I’m not implying Aces can’t have kids” by really desiring to be proactive and inclusive and not from fear of backlash. I say that because I have had to add caveats like that because I have received a lot of backlash. Specifically on anything that is sex-related pertaining to Asexuals. If I imply that Asexuality is one of the reasons I don’t want kids, it’s almost certain that if I leave it there someone online is going to come after me and say “But Aces can have kids!” And it’s like, I know that. I know that, that’s true, but I’m speaking my own experience right now. And I think we do need a diverversity of experiences. I would never want our account or our podcast to be the only Ace content that someone ever consumes.
Royce: Just their favorite one. Right?
Courtney: Just their favorite one! We have gotten a couple of lovely, lovely comments from people who have said that we’re their favorite podcast. And my gosh! That just means so much. We are so new to this and given… given past backlash I have gotten from the Ace Community, I had no idea how we were going to be received. I was like, maybe we’ll pack this up in a few weeks if people just loathe us. So that’s just the one thing that regardless of this one person’s comment in isolation, I wish Aces felt more comfortable talking about their own experiences online and in public. Because the fact of the matter is Asexuality is such a little-known and little understood orientation, that everyone is just so on guard all the time. And many times if anyone, so much as, perceives the fact that you’re talking about only one experience, and not all of them, or all the possible experiences… you can get attacked! And they aren’t always very kind like “Yes and”’s. They aren’t always like “Oh, thank you for sharing your experience. Here is mine and how it differs…” It’s– it’s sometimes quite aggressive. And so when you talk about these things, you kind of start to sense after a while that you have to add caveats to everything you say.
Courtney: But at any rate, moving on to our next comment: [reading] “My parents did not even like when I changed my name some years ago, and they still use my dead name. So, coming out to them as an Asexual could be a huge mistake.” That hurts. Oh, that hurts… followed by [reading] “My brothers kind of know. They follow me on social media where I talk about my Aceness, but I haven’t told them directly.” Yeah, another thing that I just don’t think people who don’t live this experience understand, is that we see and take in so many different things throughout our lives and we see the way people react to this thing or that, whether it’s our own experience or others. We take it in. We know if family members might not be safe to come out to. Because we see how they handle other situations. And dead naming someone after they change their name is vile. And that really, really hurts to come from your own parents. So my heart felt solidarity to this commenter. I do think the addition of, you know, “I have brothers who kind of know because they follow me on social media” is interesting. Because we’ve kind of mentioned that there very well may be some people in your family who do know, just because of things that have been said on social media, but in your eyes that’s preferable to actually having a conversation about it though.
Royce: Yes, that’s a lot easier.
Courtney: And moving on, we have one that is quite a bit happier. I’m glad to have a happy story in here because I imagine there are a lot of not so happy ones. But our next commenter says, [reading] “I came out to my two sisters and their response was ‘Oh that makes sense!’ And we all laughed. It felt good since we are really close. And like, me coming out, didn’t make them think I’m a different person. They just knew who I am, so it wasn’t a deal breaker for them to know that I’m aroace.” Here’s one that sounds a little bit like you, Royce: [reading] “I’ve been putting Aspec related stuff on my social media for a while. But my mom and littlest bro are the only ones who have said anything about it. So I don’t actually know, dot-dot-dot question mark darned social anxiety won’t let me say anything to anyone directly.”
Courtney: And then we have a commenter who says [reading] “Not officially. I made my mom read Loveless and dropped hints, like how I’ve never had a crush and how I felt left out in a sexuality course and other things. But either she doesn’t acknowledge I’m Aroace or she still hasn’t realized.” So this one’s it’s tough to comment on because I personally haven’t read Loveless yet, it’s been on my list for a really long time. In fact, to the first fiction book I ever read that had an Asexual character in it… Well, an Asexual main character... There were some questionable side-characters… But it was from the same author as this book. Alice Oseman, I believe, and that was Radio Silence. So I’m familiar with the author. I’m familiar with the title Loveless, but I haven’t read that yet. But I do know that it is very frequently talked about in examples of Ace media. And specifically Ace books. So I’m honestly, pretty excited to read it myself. I’ll get around to it someday. I’ve got a million books on my to read list and Anne Rice just passed away and there’s maybe things to talk about there... We probably won’t do it any time soon. We don’t want to gain listeners based off of the media coming off of a woman’s death because that does not seem cool. But I heard that they’re doing an Interview With The Vampire series, like a television series next year. And so we kind of already talked about– maybe around the time that comes out would be good to talk about The Vampire Chronicles, because…
Royce: You also need to give yourself time to do a reread of the entire series.
Courtney: I wouldn’t say entire series… first three, maybe four. That’s I think that’s my capacity for rereading Anne Rice. There– There is a lot of queerness to her vampires, and as a young Asexual who read the books, there was a lot of aceness that resonated with me…? And yet, vampires are such a sexualized creature… that even though Anne Rice’s vampires canonicly don’t have genital sex, there are still people who managed to make it a sexual thing and see it as sexual. So, I think there’s potentially some conversation to be had there.
Courtney: And then next we have: [reading] “I told my brother. Or really he suspected it after I posted too many Ace memes on Facebook and I confirmed it. No one else in the house.” Hey, memes are a great way to come out quite honestly, I do think coming out is such a hard thing to do. Even if you think your family is going to be totally cool and accepting of it. It’s just very hard to find the right words and the right flow of conversation, which can further be amplified by things like social anxiety… but memeing your way to coming out on social media is very much a sign of the times, and I’m here for it. Sounds a lot easier than having a sit-down conversation.
Courtney: We also have a commenter here who says, [reading] “They didn’t really know what it meant and at age 43, we’re pretty okay with me being single with cats by this point, it was a much bigger deal for me, because it was me figuring out who I was.” Which is also a great thing to acknowledge. Some people see coming out as their own journey to self-discovery. Also being single with cats in– in this context. [laughs] I know that this is not a bad thing, but I can just picture an allo scrolling past here and being like, “Oh, so sad. Sad being in your 40s with cats and no– no husband or wife or life partner…” Like the concept of an old cat lady, I think is such an allo concept, allo– not only allosexual, but alloromantic. Just allo all across the board. But power be to the cat people!
Courtney: Our next commenter is also quite a happy story. I love the Ace joy, we don’t get enough Ace joy. We need to understand the challenges, but we also need to celebrate the positive experiences. This commenter says, [reading] “I’ve come out to my parents and cousins, haven’t come out to my brother yet. Some of my birthday gifts I got from my parents today are Ace themed, they are wonderful about it.” Yeah, we had someone who is more in your camp. This is someone who’s more in my camp. This commenter says: [reading] “I have come out as Asexual to all that I speak to, which isn’t many, as I am fully open about my sexuality in all aspects of my life.” And we have someone who says: [reading] “Only to close relatives. And it went well!” We love to hear it went well. We also have people who say: [reading] “I did. It took my mom forever to understand what Asexuality meant though, and she didn’t get it until years later.” I feel like I’ve also heard that from a lot of people. I think that’s pretty normal. And that’s really why we just need more Ace representation in general, not for… Not only for the Aces who are seeking to understand themselves better, but also for all of their family and friends, so that we don’t have to start from the ground up and educate them on what this thing is, and also I am that.
Royce: Yeah, so instead of trying to start an awkward conversation, you can just point at a person on TV, or a movie poster, and be like “That me.”
Courtney: “That me!”. That’s why there’s more Ace memes. Then there are Ace characters on TV. One commenter says, [reading] “Nope, my mom would never understand. One brother might just ignore that part because as long as the contrary isn’t obvious he can pretend I’m allocishet. The other brother might say that I’m making shit up to be special.” That’s such a shame. I mean, honestly, to all of the allos and the gatekeepers in the broader LGBT community, like, I read comments like this and I just say this is the Queer experience, and how dare anyone say that Aces aren’t Queer enough, we don’t belong in this community?
Courtney: Our next comment says, [reading] “I came out to my immediate family and a few of my extended family members found out. The extended family were, quote, accepting but they clearly didn’t understand that one doesn’t become Ace. After I broke contact with them I came out as Aromantic and Agender to my immediate family.” Yeah, that “becoming ace”... There are so many reasons why people will claim that you became Ace, because you became Disabled or you were sexually assaulted or you have childhood trauma. There– There are just so many things that people will hurl at you or… thin– or conflate with low libido. I mean, so many people, especially older people will say, like, “Oh, yeah. Well you– different medical reasons or age etc. can all cause fluctuations in libido.” Uh… it’s not the same thing. But comments like that can, oftentimes, feel very invalidating to someone, especially when they’re coming out. It’s a very sensitive time.
Courtney: Yeah! Power to the memes! Here we have it again: [reading] “I didn’t so much come out, as just started flooding them with constant Asexuality facts and memes the moment I realized I was Ace.” Love that! Here we have someone who actually has other Ace family members, which is great. They say, [reading] “My uncle was Ace and my great-aunt. No one except my brothers when they were young ever bugged me about dating or marriage or having children. Once I realized I was Aroace I felt no need to tell everyone. I have told a few friends and that’s it.” We have [reading] “Yes, and they don’t even care.” That’s another sad one, but I mean, judging by all of these numbers, the 38% of people who have never come out to family… There’s a large percentage of the ones who did, who are saying, it didn’t go well
Royce: It could be interesting to put together another poll that asks something along the lines of “Did you come out to your family? Yes, and it went well. Yes, and it went poorly. Or no, but I plan to. And no and I don’t plan to.
Courtney: Yeah, because truthfully, I mean, this was one little poll, but it– It just gives a little snapshot, it by no means tells the full story. And had I known that we were going to be pulling over, you know, over a thousand respondents, 1197… I might have made it a little more specific. I was going to do a follow-up poll, but I don’t know if we’re going to get these numbers again on a subsequent attempt. But that’s why we need more research on the Ace experience, or at least to be included in broader LGBT studies. Because if I actually sort of search for polls that talk about coming out, one of the top ones I find is a survey of LGBT Americans by the Pew Research Center. And obviously these polls have multiple questions to try to analyze different aspects of this experience. Let’s see how many people they studied... Oh my God! You’ll never guess! [in disbelief] 1197 LGBT adults! How does that happen?! I kid you not! That is exactly the number our poll is sitting at right now. Oh my goodness, that’s wild!
Courtney: So yeah, they ask things in more detail because they’re able to ask more questions. For example, “Have you told your parents?” Isn’t just one question, they break it out to mother and father. Mother gets 56% of respondents saying yes, whereas father only 39 say yes. So that right off the bat, at the same number of people as our poll, definitely demonstrates that not telling all of your family members is probably the most common experience amongst the entire LGBT umbrella. And yeah, just to back up my further point, this specific poll is 36% Gay men, 40% Bisexuals, 19% Lesbians 5% Transgender. Yeah, and it’s studies like these where I just really wish that there was some Asexual representation in there too, because this is not… I mean, there are a lot of different ways they could make this more comprehensive because this is not the full scope of experiences. But seeing the numbers is so interesting and being able to compare them to one another.
Courtney: For example, they go on to talk about the coming out experience and also try to find the median age of coming out across the three groups, Gay men, Lesbians, and Bisexuals, and they’re all quite young! Gay men youngest at 18, Lesbians 21, bisexuals 20. I’d love to see what it is for Ace. I feel like we might be a little more of an outlier than those, because those are all very close to each other. And I think the sheer lack of representation, depending on the samples that they got to respond, I think might actually skew a bit older. Maybe not as much now with more internet conversation… I know a lot of younger Aces are discovering asexuality on Tumblr, for instance. But especially if you would have taken this survey ten years ago, I’m almost certain it would have been higher. As long as I had an appropriate sample size anyway, because if it’s the same number we have at 1197, if they did try to cram Asexuals into that same number of people it would be a very small sample. And this– this poll does have some opportunity for people to add more nuance to their answers. Just like these comments were getting on Twitter.
Courtney: The next one we have is: [reading] “Absolutely no way that’s going to happen. They can only barely understand gayness, anything more nuanced than either-or is going to be met with hostility. Only place I’m out is online, and even then I’ve dialed back talking about it, because all it does is make you a target.” That is also true. There– There are a lot of folks out there who will just target, harass, Ace people. And that’s really upsetting. It does seem to me, like, some of the more coordinated efforts have luckily dwindled over the last few years. But definitely like, four years ago… I’m thinking 4/5 years ago... There were just targeted hate groups on Twitter, who would add asexual people to groups that sounded very inviting and welcoming like “Asexual support group”, things of that nature. And once an Ace person was added, they would just get bombarded with hate, and death threats, and slurs. And that was a really dangerous time to be an Asexual online. That nonsense was common. And while I personally haven’t seen anything that group-oriented where people were doing it en masse… There are still– still the acephobes all over the place, doing it on– on smaller scales.
Courtney: And speaking of acephobes, the next comment: [reading] “I have not because there is a very high chance that they will be aphobes. Also, I want to cut ties with all of them soon. So it doesn’t make much sense to tell them and peace out later.” Aha! the– the staggered method of disownership… Just stop telling them things about yourself, and then never tell them anything ever again! As someone who has disowned many family members, solidarity to you my friend.
Courtney: Aha! We have a married Ace: [reading] “Came out to my husband: positive very supportive response. Came out to my mom and was told I was just depressed…” Oh, no, “...and not to tell other relatives…” Double oh no! “... Later she said not to label myself despite me saying it helped me understand myself.” Just depressed and don’t tell anyone else... That’s… Some of these make me sad. Although, that depression is another thing that people will absolutely use against Asexuals, because people get it in their heads, that, you know, a loss of libido is one of the possible millions of side effects of depression. So that’s– that’s very quickly something they’ll latch onto. Which, Asexual people can be depressed, but that also doesn’t necessarily mean that one causes the other. And I think in any situation, it’s just good practice not to try to armchair-psychoanalyze anyone at any point. Especially if they’re sharing a vulnerable moment and coming out. Like, don’t don’t psychoanalyze them. Just… just don’t. If you have that thought in your head, don’t let it escape out of your mouth. Because it will help no one, ever.
Courtney: Moving on, we have, [reading] “I haven’t discussed it with them, but I don’t think they would understand the concept, even though I feel reasonably confident that at least some of them is too LOL. I mean, my brother dated one person once when he was 16, and he’s in his 30s. And I didn’t get into a relationship until 29, and if my parents think that’s weird they’ve never said anything, lol.” I mean, that’s great! At least y’all aren’t getting that ‘wink wink, nudge nudge’ all the time. See Royce, now I am thinking your theory of “Do you plan to” versus “Do you not plan to” is very interesting to add. And I wish we’d done, in the first place, because the next comment is [reading] “God. I wish! Then they’d stop assuming I’m not into women yet because I don’t make comments about wanting to do stuff every time I’m around.” That’s such a weird, like, cultural thing too. Because I feel like everyone thinks that parents just aren’t supposed to talk about, or care about, the sex lives of their children as adults… but that’s very much not the case. There are so many parents who will make comments once you’re old enough or in a relationship… Very weird to me, the Ace woman.
Courtney: We have someone who says [reading] “Even though I did out myself, my family still has no clue! They are always flabbergasted when I say something obviously Ace.” I’m flabbergasted when anyone says anything obviously allo, so I guess I can relate to them on that level. [laughs] [reading] “Told my brothers, because I knew they’d be cool with it. Only told my mom because she ‘accidentally’ saw my transactions for therapist I was seeing, and wondered who the hell they were, and since Asexuality and the therapists were related I felt I had no choice but to tell her.” And we have, [reading] “I came out as Aroace to my sister, and she said ‘is that really your final decision? Just because you don’t want to learn to compromise?’ Anyway, she is the most tolerant and accepting person of the family. So… I have not attempted any more coming out after that.” ‘Is that your final decision’ is so interesting because that sounds very like game show host, ‘is that your final answer?’ Survey says… but also ‘don’t want to learn to compromise’ is mmm. [reading] “I told my sister but I can’t make myself tell my parents. Haven’t found the right way to do so yet.” Well, if you’re taking advice from this thread of responses, apparently the answer is memes or just start posting about it on social media and hope they get the hint. This is not real advice. [laughs] Do what feels right to you.
Courtney: We have someone say [reading] “I posted on Facebook and said nothing and they said nothing, so I don’t know if they saw it exists. LMAO.” Followed by someone responding to that saying, [reading] “Ah! This is what I did. Now I have no idea if they don’t care or if they just don’t see it.” Aw… I guess the number of people saying things along those lines… Advice to family members: if someone comes out online and you see it, maybe acknowledge it.
Royce: Get them an Ace cake for their birthday.
Courtney: Get them an Ace cake for their birthday! That’s a brilliant idea. We have another couple of people commenting and responding, sharing a similar experience. I love seeing that too, because those Aces we’re so few and far between in– in like, the real life day to day, that the internet kind of seems like the only place where we can all share solidarity and compare notes… But our first commenter here says [reading] “Just my sister and it was disappointing because she ignored, I mean, she never talks to me about being Aroace, not even when I start the subject. The rest of the family is a big No, my mental health can’t handle.” And the response was [reading] “Same with my brother. He just pretended it isn’t real. And any time I try to talk about it he insistently changes the subject. I’ve had more success with the rest of my family who are largely supportive. Being open about being panromantic though…? Only with my cousins.” Especially when you are using a sort of a split attraction model where you’re separating out your sexuality and your romantic orientation… there kind of can be a need to come out multiple times. Because there are so many different components to one sexuality, that even if someone understands that you might be Asexual, that might only be part of the story. Same thing, of course, with Trans individuals. When I was reading through the Pew research study, the fact that they didn’t specify who the Trans individuals were… It’s like, are they straight Trans people? Are they gay Trans people? Are they bi? No, they’re just, they’re just Trans. That’s their only– only experience. Only part of their identity.
Courtney: [reading] “Results were not encouraging. Nobody has been terrible, but only one person has been supportive.” Yeah, I feel like family and friends and allies kind of need a guide for, like, how to be supportive, because a lot of them seem to just be bad at it. And I don’t think they realize that you don’t have to be horribly and horrible and, like, blatantly hateful to still cause harm. Kind of with all these people who say like, “yeah, I don’t even know if they know because I’ve posted about it, but no one said anything.” Like there– there’s also a lot of brushing off, like, “Oh, it doesn’t matter if you are this...” Some people think that’s actually a good thing to say, like, it doesn’t matter I will love you either way. It’s like, that’s still not great because if someone’s sharing with you a part of themselves, that’s usually important.
Courtney: We have [reading] “Immediate family, yes. Extended family, I don’t see often enough for it to ever come up, but I’m not actively hiding it.” Someone commented and said, [reading] “Same for me, the people I’m with every day, no. The others don’t.” That is super duper fair. “I came out as Aro to my close family…” I’ve said Aro a couple of times, just in case anyone out there is not in the Aspec Arospec Community, Aro is short for Aromantic. So, we have Ace for Asexual, Aro for Aromantic. So, [reading] “I came out as Aro to my close family and then started referring to myself as Aro and Ace without further explanation. I just let them figure it out because I don’t feel ready to have such an intimate conversation about my Asexuality knowing the questions that come out of being– that come out as– come…” Oh my goodness… There is a lot of ‘come’ in this sentence… “Knowing the questions that come from coming out as Ace.” There we go. But then they go on to further elaborate not like they care anyway, [reading] “there hasn’t been terrible responses outside from the horrible arophobic stuff they said when I came out, but it’s more of a ‘ignoring this fact about her until she forgets about it and never makes us uncomfortable with it again’ situation. So…” Yeah, not– not great. But that’s another thing, knowing the questions that come from coming out… you get a lot of those and they can be really uncomfortable. Sometimes you just want people to know your identity, but you don’t really want to take questions... And so that’s very understandable.
Courtney: [reading] “I’ve come out to all of my family that I interact with on a regular basis. So the whole family in that sense, but there are relations, cousins, uncles, etc, that I haven’t because I just don’t see them enough and I wouldn’t expect some of them to understand anyway. Just put the Ace flag as my header, refused to elaborate, and they never asked anything.” So, I love that! See that’s– you don’t want the questions that come from it, so just boom! Ace Flag. I will be taking no further questions. [sing-songy] So many ways to come out! [reading] “I’ve told my mom, she doesn’t get it. No matter how hard I tried to explain. I don’t feel like my dad and brother really need to know anyway, and they probably won’t get it either. Though my brother might know if he’s keeping any track of my social media.” There’s something so amusing about how many people who are like, “I might have family who know, we just don’t talk about it.” Because this– this next person, same thing, “dot dot dot, I don’t know? Question mark, in that I’ve not told them directly or specifically, but I have posted about my sexuality, changed my social media icons to the Ace Flag, and explained it and release podcast episodes about asexuality that I know they heard as my mother commented, but not about the Ace parts.” That’s another interesting thing, like, “I’m almost certain they know, they just didn’t say anything about it.” There might be an awkward back and forth, like “Oh, if they want to talk about it, they’ll say it first” versus, you know, the person who has come out in a public fashion in this way just being like, “Man. I wonder if my family is gonna pay any attention to the fact that I said this.” Could just be a big ol’ circle of social anxiety… Who knows…
Courtney: [reading] “Only my partner and friends.” Also fair. I do think coming out to friends is often different than coming out to family. That’s why I wanted coming out to friends to be its own future episode down the line. And then we have someone say [reading] “Yeah, it’s much easier when you’re older and no longer vulnerable as a minor.” Yes, that is very true. They continued, “I definitely talked about how I felt about things earlier, but didn’t have words for some of it. Anything that didn’t fit a cis and hetero typical experience was dismissed in one way or another. In some ways, I don’t have the pressure other people do though. I’m no longer in contact with the unapologetic abusers in my bio family, no real pressure remains. I’m flying a little less overtly at work, but I definitely talk about Ace Agender things publicly.” See that? That vocabulary is something that a lot of Ace people will say, especially the ones who did come out a little bit later in life, compared to the rest of the LGBT community on average. A lot of people will cite the fact that they just didn’t have the language for it. And that goes back to representation. And that’s another reason why I suspect that the median age of coming out for Asexuality probably skews a little higher than the rest of the spectrum.
Courtney: Here’s someone who says [reading] “Both yes, and no. I haven’t said I’m Ace, but they do know that I’m not interested in getting a partner or having casual sex. My chosen family, however, they all know it. My best friend, who is like a brother to me, literally just said ‘that makes sense!’ And I think he knew before I did. Besides, when I fell in love with the girl as a teen and came out to my family as quote bisexual, as I didn’t know better back then, I didn’t get a very good response. So… not going to go further both[sic] the bio family than saying ‘I’m not interested in that shit.’” “Further with the bio family.” I love that. There have been several comments at this point that have had someone on the other end of coming out say “That makes sense!”
Courtney: [reading] “My immediate family have been told, but most of the time they seem to forget it’s a thing or have no idea what it is. Despite the times I’ve explained it.” This is so frustrating to see in repetition because I can understand it potentially being difficult to get your head around, if it’s the very first time you’ve ever been presented with this concept. But at a certain point, if someone in your family is coming out and has repeatedly explained it… at a certain point the ignorance is just not forgivable. [reading] “My mom is convinced that whenever I hang out with a fellow queer friends that we are doing the [exaggerated] Devil’s Tango… in secret. Frankly, I’m just flattered she thinks I’m getting laid on the daily.” [laughs] That’s a good one. [reading] “What option do I pick for? I came out to my only then-living blood relative I was still in contact with, because I was kind of outed by a friend by accident. And some of my in-laws follow me on social media. So they know because I don’t hide it. But I’ve never explicitly told them?” Yeah. Fair fair. One singular question on Twitter is never going to hold all of the nuance that needs to be examined. Which is why I’m so appreciative that so many people chimed in with elaborating on their experiences here. But also don’t out people! Whether it’s a friend or family member, anyone… just don’t out people! Because no one should be put in a situation where they have to explain anything about themselves that they aren’t ready to do.
Courtney: Moving on, we have, [reading] “Yeah, I really wasn’t worried about anything other than completely confusing some of the older relatives and it became more of a situation of wanting to do it on my terms. So I officially told my parents last New Year’s Eve and then came out publicly for Ace Day.” Love that! I’m going to assume that they’re referring to International Asexuality Day, IAD for short. Which is actually separate from Ace Week, which we just passed not too long ago, right? At the end of October. International Asexuality Day is actually April 6th. Put it on your calendars! If you’re Ace have some cake and or garlic bread. Or whatever you like to munch on. If you’re not Ace, but you love an Ace who’s in your life, buy them cake and or garlic bread.
Royce: Do you think anyone’s ever tried to make a garlic bread cake?
Courtney: I’m most confident that someone has… Do we need to make a garlic bread cake? I feel like this can be arranged.
Royce: I don’t know if I want to take responsibility for that.
Royce: How long do you think a garlic bread cake needs to be in the oven?
Courtney: Well, I guess that’s going to depend on the assembly. Like, are we making a big loaf of garlic bread? Like, like the sponge of a cake or are we taking several individually, like, sliced strips of garlic bread already and just layering them on top of each other… like– like– like a tiramisu? We need to do a science about this.
Royce: I think the second one is cheating. I think it’s just a big pile of garlic bread at that point.
Courtney: So we have to make a garlic bread cake. That is not just…
Royce: a garlic bread cake is one giant garlic bread, but made with more cake-like ingredients.
Courtney: Oh, oh. Well now we’re getting– we’re getting into complicated baking nuances now.
Royce: That’s why this is a challenge for the internet. Not for our kitchen…
Courtney: For the internet, and not for us. Well, internet, if you’re taking our challenge, I’d appreciate it if you keep it vegan. If not, maybe we– maybe we can figure out an alternative. But yeah, April 6th be nice to your Ace friends. On that day and every day. We’ve got a few more comments. The next one is [reading] “My immediate family, yeah. Dad spent a while trying to figure out how to tell his daughter to go get fucked. It was kind of funny watching the prejudices fight, but uh… don’t talk to him anymore. Mom and sister are fairly chill.” See, that’s another weird like… parents simultaneously don’t want to think that their children are having sex, but also want to make sure that their children are having sex. It’s like Schrodinger’s sex. [laughs] Good one, Courtney. How many more more nuggets of gold are gonna come out of reading Twitter comments? Got garlic bread cake. We’ve got Schrodinger’s sex...
Courtney: [reading] “There should be yes, the whole family, but it’s completely ignored and you’re told you’ll find a good man someday.” Yeah, that’s exactly the thing. I mean, with one question you can say, “Yes, I’ve come out to my own whole family.” That doesn’t mean that was a positive experience, unfortunately. [reading] “I’ve basically said it to my mom and siblings, but without using the word Asexual. I did use it with my siblings, but then got scared and backtracked. They do basically get it. Unfortunately, they don’t really acknowledge it though and still feel pressured to be in a relationship.” No one should ever feel pressured to be in a relationship… Even a cishet person who just doesn’t feel like having a relationship at that particular span in time… Like, nobody should ever feel pressured to be in a relationship.
Courtney: [reading] “I tried it. It was clear they weren’t going to understand, so I just decided not to worry about it. I know who I am, whether or not they get it, won’t change that.” Well said. [reading] “I’ve come out about five times to various family members and they never remember. So, I’ve basically given up.” The number of people here who are like, “they either perpetually do not get it, no matter how many times I explain” or “They keep forgetting” or “They change the subject every time I bring it up.” Like there’s some real prejudices at work here… and that just makes me even more upset to read so many of these comments and know that there are people out there, in this world who say, you know, “Aces aren’t Queer,” or “They aren’t queer enough” or “They’re basically straight.” Especially the people… specifically I’ve seen this more often personally from white gay men who will frequently use the like, “Oh, well, Aces aren’t discriminated against in the same way that we are.” Sometimes– Sometimes yes, in exactly the same way you are! Or if not in the same way, a different way, but it’s still there! And when did this become the Discrimination Olympics? Why does whoever suffers the most become the most Queer? I– like– I really don’t get it.
Courtney: This next person has come out [reading] “to both of my sister’s. The youngest one said it was cool, and then came out to me as well! My twin sister kept asking questions, like, ‘but do you not want to get married then?’ and stuff like that. Then she said there should be a scientific reason for it. And another time she said that I should just get over it and try having sex once, because ‘I don’t know what I’m missing.’ She’s right that I don’t know what I’m missing, but I don’t miss it. And I don’t care. It’s just not appealing to me.” I have I’ve gotten that before, on more than one occasion, like “you should just get over it and have sex.” Just, just get over my not wanting? To have sex? Like the– what are you telling me to get over exactly? My sexuality? Oh my gosh, imagine someone in this year 2021 saying that to a gay person… like [sarcastic] “Just get over it and have sex with the woman!” My goodness…
Courtney: Yeah, someone commented on that and said, [reading] “I know what you’re missing. It’s a lot of unfortunate sounds and smells followed by a short time of ‘hey, that’s pretty okay’ and ending with a lot more awkwardness and an intense drive to take a shower after.” With a Randy gift saying, “Yeah, that’s gonna be a no for me, dog.” My Grandma loved Randy… back in the old school American Idol days. [reading] “Well, I came out to them, but it didn’t really take. They just did the whole ‘pitying me while telling me I just haven’t met the right person’ thing. My sister accepted me though, I think… unsure.” Hmm. [reading] “What is this family you speak of?” Boy, I feel that one. [laughs] I mean, I’ve still got my mom, but boy, I feel that one. [reading] “It’s been mentioned in passing, but it doesn’t really come up much. There’s no pressure to get married or have kids in my family. So it doesn’t seem like a big deal. My friends are more ‘concerned’ than family.” Hmm. “I told my mom nonchalantly once she was like, ‘Oh, okay’.”
Courtney: Someone said “... or it’s more like they don’t really care. I came out to my mom, step dad and little sister as the rest of the family I don’t talk to. They are all happy I’m happy and I couldn’t be happier!” So much happiness! That’s what– that’s what we like to hear! [reading] “I’ve told my sister. Honestly, I don’t think my family would even care anyway. Either they just shrugged it off or ignored me.” [sighs] “I kind of low-key mentioned it to two sisters, but one gave me the ‘you probably just haven’t met the right one’ spiel, the other lives far away, so I just have avoided it. Just looking for someone that gets it to spend a lifetime with now.” The fact that every Ace knows what the ‘you haven’t met the right one’ spiel is… like I know exactly what that spiel is!
Courtney: [reading] “I’m out to some members of my family. Others don’t get to know for a reason.” That is right. Some people do not deserve to know all of you. And boundaries like that can be integral to one’s mental health. [reading] “I’ve told a couple friends but no family. My cousin is LGBT+ too, and I don’t know if she actually came out to anyone other than her immediate family, but I don’t know the reaction I’d get. If everyone would be like, ‘okay’, or what I expect, ‘you don’t know’ or ‘just need to get checked out by a doctor’.” Yeah, the doctor one… Too many people just think Asexuality is an illness, or a symptom of an illness. This person says, [reading] “Yep. Got ’it’s just a phase’d.” I know what that is too...
Courtney: [reading] “I’m only out to my younger sister and my best friend. I don’t think the rest of my family deserves to know more about me.” Exactly right! If they don’t deserve to know, do not tell them. And that’s just about it. We’ve got a couple of people commenting on quote retweets, someone saying parents and older sibling, someone saying [reading] “I’m out to my siblings. I tried coming out to my mom and she tried those usual sayings: ‘You’re turning the boys off,’ ‘We’ll go see a doctor.’ ‘You’re just as normal as the rest of us’.” Mmm-hmm. Check, check and check. Almost every out Ace has heard all of those things before. [reading] “I did. Some accepted, others thought it was a phase. Think it’s a phase.” Yep. [reading] “Well, my sister follows me on Twitter. So coming out via social media posts.” We are living in the future. [laughs]
Royce: Just wait until electronics are so integrated into everything that we have screens in our clothing or everyone seeing augmented reality and then you can just walk outside your door and be a meme.
Courtney: You can– Oh.. imagine being a meme.
Royce: Just Ace memes happening all around you as you’re walking around.
Courtney: Well, it sounds like an Ace Wonderland! If you could just walk out of your house and be a meme…?
Royce: Why would you want to be anything else?
Courtney: Why you– why would you want to be anything else! When turning yourself into an Ace meme, like… would that make Pride Flags antiquated? Because you don’t have to fly the flag anymore… Or display it.
Royce: You could be the flag.
Courtney: You could be the flag! What kind of nonsense thought experiment is this? [laughs] I don’t think the Ace flag is going anywhere. It is, it has purple in it and it’s pretty. We just got two more, so we’re almost there. Someone says, [reading] “Nope, I would not be received well.” Yeah, if you sense that just it’s not always worth it, I hear that man. Last, certainly not least. [reading] “I don’t think it’s important to mention in my family, it doesn’t impact them, so shrug… I haven’t told my partner, but he definitely knows. I don’t enjoy it.” I assume that ‘it’ being fornication. [reading] “Obviously, some people will feel the need to tell their family and that’s fine. My family don’t care about whether or not I decide to have kids in the future. So there’s no pressure to mention it to them.”
Courtney: And so this– this poll’s going to be up for… for another day. This podcast is definitely going to come out after the poll is wrapped. So we’ll go ahead and make sure to retweet this poll, so you can find it easily if you care to look at the absolute final results. Although the percentages have been rather stable for, like at least the last 500 responses. So they kind of evened out at a certain point, so I suspect they won’t be too drastically different by the time this is all said and done. But if you are looking for more asexual accounts to fellow perhaps you can start with some of those responses. See who have public account, see who are regularly posting Ace content. Because as I said earlier, even just between the two of us, we are a married couple, but our own personal experiences sometimes differ from one another and no two Aces are going to be exactly alike. And if you are really seeking to understand the Ace experience, you need a diversity of Aces. I would especially encourage you to seek out Disabled Aces, Aces of Color, Trans Aces, Non-binary Aces… Aces who live in a country that you do not. Just really think of the intersections and try to take stock of the people you follow, and think, “who’s– who’s missing? Who should I actively seek out?”
Courtney: And if you haven’t yet, if you are a Twitter user head on over and follow us, because after this response we might just be doing more polls in the future, because I thought this was fascinating. And since starting to read these comments, we have gotten two more responses. So, we officially have more people responding than the Pew Research poll on coming out. So anyway, I hope you found this interesting. Thank you for taking a little time to educate yourself a little more about the Asexual experience. So with that being said, we will talk at you guys next time.