#PrideGame and the need for explicit statements of acceptance

St. Kilda (Saints) got THUMPED on the weekend 😡😡😡😡. It was by the Sydney Swans, so I guess it’s OK. Swans aren’t too bad. Hey Swans fans 😀.

So, apart from being ANOTHER humiliating defeat for the Saints *sigh*, it was a special round – a Pride Round – an effort by the AFL to proclaim that everyone – including LGBTQ+ fans are welcome to play and watch the game.

This was a long time coming. In 2012, Jason Ball – a former footballer of the Yarra Valley and now Greens candidate – came out as gay. This revelation has sparked discussion on whether LGBTQ+ athletes in general, and AFL players and fans in particular were able to be included in the game and be out about who they are.

The AFL hasn’t escaped controversy when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion. In2010 ex – Brisbane Lions and former Western Bulldogs player, Jason Akermanis caused outrage when he said that the AFL “wasn’t ready” for an out gay footbalker and that they should remain in the closet and that other players may feel “uncomfortable” if they knew one of their players were gay. Because of that and other controversies, I can understand why the AFL has different rounds, such as “Pride Round” and “Indigenous Rounds”. I do think it’s a good idea for major sports codes and other significant cultural events to explicitly state that discrimination in ANY form will not be tolerated. I think it’s good for companies, sports codes, etc, to explicitly state whether for not members of the LGBTQ+ community are welcome. The reason why I say that is because a lack of discussion can automatically be interpreted as members of the LGBTQ+ not welcome or, they should shut up about it. And it is often only a matter of time when the truth comes out (no pun intended), or people essentially live a lie and have that eat at them. For younger people who are struggling with their sexuality, silence can exacerbate feelings of shame and the idea that if, heaven forbid, they are found out about, they will lose much of what they hold dear – family, friends, career, etc.

 

I’ll provide a rather personal example. Before the SCOTUS ruling on same – sex marriage across all 50 States last year,  I admit, I was very, very careful about what I posted here in fear of backlash. Seeing a number of my friends add the rainbow flag filter on their profile picture, it was confirmation for me that whatever I posted here, the likelihood of personal ramifications was minimal. After the Orlando shooting, memes assuring that straight people stand besidectge LGBTQ+ community was also comforting.

I NEED to be TOLD that I’m welcome for who I am. I need to be assured thatmy world won’t collapse if I came out to someone. I need to know that there are people I can be myself around. I daresay that LGBTQ+ athletes need the same from their codes. That’s why the Pride Round I believe, was and is needed.

 

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Carnival of Aces: Staying in the Closet

Warning: brief mention of LGBTQ+ discrimination and violence. If this affects you, please proceed with caution. 

I want to make another attempt in writing a post for the “Carnival of Aces December – Staying in the Closet”. It’s still going on the premise of the pros and cons for both; with more emphasis on “coming out”. Hopefully, I better explain myself than what I did in the last post.

I want to start with a question: should asexuals (or anyone else) stay in the closet or come out? I think there are pros and cons for both. Before I get into that, I want to talk more in depth about the argument that it’s nobody’s business”.

Fair comment. It ISN’T anyone’s business who you sleep/ not sleep with. Or at least it shouldn’t be. It’s no surprise that many LGBTQ+ around the world  cop a lot of garbage because of who they are. It’s obvious that, in lots of these cases, it’d be safer for LGBTQ+ people to stay in the closet.

Here’s my point. I don’t believe that “coming out” means telling someone “I have sex with X” or, in the case of asexuals “I don’t have sex”. It goes deeper than that, if you want to come out. When you come out, I believe what you’re saying is “this is who I am. This is who I’m attracted to. Living a “married – with-children-and-house-with-white-picket-fence is most likely not going to happen”. I’m going to extend this point later in the post.

 

For people, especially young people, rejection can be a big factor in determining whether or not someone comes out. For asexuals, this can come as an “accusation” of being gay, which can be, to be quite honest, scary because of the possible implications that may have. To be quite honest, this fear affected me for a long time. To avoid this, I make sure if I do talk about asexuality, I’ve made it a habit to make sure I know that the other person knows what I’m talking about. I’m optimistic that this need for an explanation will become a thing of the past. Most young people I’ve talked to who are in their early 20’s know what I’m talking about when I mention asexuality. It’s often been in the context of this blog.

 

Back to the “married – with – children – with – kids – and -house-with-white-picket-fence”. Coming out as asexual (at least for me), has ended the assumption that I’m going to find a boyfriend and marry and so on and so forth. I know many asexual people do, but, for me personally, when the I knew I was asexual, that image of that life went out the window. So in my opinion, this is the biggest “pro” of coming out; to put to rest the assumption that you’re going to go down the common “married – with – children” path. That’s great for me. Finally, I don’t have to pretend that that’s going to happen to me, when, frankly, it’s likely not to; at least not in the most common way.

Romantic Orientation

I was only thinking about this yesterday, actually. I’m an avid participant in a few Asexuality groups on Facebook. I check out what’s been said almost every time I log on to the site. For some asexuals, stating your romantic orientation isn’t considered. However, I find it interesting those who state that their homo-romantic or bi – romantic. What I’ve noticed is that most people who come out as homo-romantic or bi – romantic have already identified and often come out as gay or bi before they realise they’re asexual. My question to that is, how do you bring up romantic orientation when it doesn’t match what people initially thought? How do you bring up the fact that you’re homo-romantic (or on the spectrum), when you’ve never come out as gay, bi or had no one close to you strongly suspect you are? What if it’s a late discovery, like you just realised your romantic orientation beyond, say, 21? Or 30? What do you do about same – gender partners when coming in contact with family or friends? It was just something floating through my mind. How do you deal when you love your own gender romantically or have a same – gender partner? How do you explain it to friends or family? Do you? What if you have a romantic/ emotional crush on someone of the same gender? Do you keep quiet about that?

Now, I know I’ve left out aromantics and hetero – romantics out of this post. To be quite honest, I don’t know what it’s like to be hetero – romantic, (especially since identifying as asexual) so that’s why I’ve left it out. Nothing against you guys, I promise.

What are your thoughts?

Coming Out… To Yourself

Another post about ‘coming out’ to probably the most important person… yourself.

“Coming out” is a choice faced by the LGBT+ community; including asexual people. The average age for young people to come out as gay is 17 according to “The Guardian; way younger than pre – Stonewall Riots in 1969.

For asexual people, the main reason for not coming out young is not persecution, necessarily, but just not knowing that asexuality exists for the person’s adolescent and adult life. Internet forums and information platforms, such as Asexuality Visibility and Education Network. (better known as it’s acronym AVEN), have given tech – savvy young people information that may (or most likely), not have been available for older asexual people when they were younger, and hence, they didn’t know about asexuality, and despite probably feeling “different” for most of their lives, they lived traditional “sexual” lives anyway (marriage, etc), probably thinking that there was something “wrong” with them.

Knowing the terminology is one thing. Admitting to yourself that you are asexual, or even your romantic orientation, is another. In the book, asexual vlogger, author and advocate Julie Sondra Decker (also known by her YouTube pseudonym Swanky Ivy), described that while many asexual people are relieved when they find out a term for what they’re feeling, they can also go through a period of sadness and grief as well. As I’ve said before, it can really throw you off. It did to me. All of a sudden, things aren’t certain any more. Coming out as asexual when your in a relationship can seriously change the relationship, or break it up. For a lot of younger people, when they “come out” as asexual, they’re often not believed by family and friends.

There is something that happens way before that, and it’s probably the most important part of the process… coming out to yourself. This can be hard. It can be scary. It can be hard to accept, but it’s the most important part of the process. I truly believe you can only fake something like that for so long before it wrecks you. Even if you decide that there’s no need to come out to friends, family, co – workers, etc, I truly believe that coming to terms with it yourself is really important. Accepting yourself is really important. Not constantly kidding yourself that you’re something that you’re not is, in my view, is crucial. Being authentically yourself, and admitting the truth to yourself can be very liberating and psychologically and emotionally beneficial.

So please, whether you decide that it’s not one’s business and you don’t feel the need to come out to others, give yourself the care to come out and accept yourself. Living a lie is no way to live.

On “Coming Out”

A few days ago, (Monday apparently), it was “Coming Out Day”. It’s a different experience for everybody, I think, even though there probably are somewhat common themes that connect each person, even though they are major differences.

For me personally, I think it’s important to “come out” to yourself first and foremost. And this can be, quite frankly, hard, especially when your self – esteem is low anyway. Of course, with coming out to others, personal safety has to be, unfortunately, a consideration for much of the LGBTQ+ community. Data from both the U.S. and Australia do seem to suggest that LGBT+ youth experience a higher rate of homelessness compared to the general population (some stats I’ve looked at suggest that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT+, even though statistically, they are only about 2 – 10% of the population (5 maybe more accurate).

Talking about safety, it’s not just safety from parents and peers that LGBT people have to think about, but safety from government persecution, even execution. Currently, 79 countries still criminalise homosexuality; apparently, if you add “anti – propaganda” laws, such as in Russia, the number is 79 – 81; eight where gays or people involved in same – sex relations face the risk of execution. Frankly, this issue isn’t talked about enough in the West, (apart from the introduction to Russia’s “anti – propaganda” laws in 2013. Still, even that was brief. My point is, that still, in too many countries and provinces, being LGBT+ runs the risk of political persecution; in some cases that can be quite deadly. Even in countries like Russia where there isn’t a death penalty for gays, there have been reports of gays being tortured.

Another issue that I think is not talked about, even in discussion of LGBT+ issues is coming out later. According to American Psychological Association, most people realise they’re sexual attractions http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf in their teens. However, there are people who do realise they’re sexual attraction later. In this month’s issue of Marie Clare, there was an article (or a small – side column), that featured a woman in her early thirties (33), who didn’t desire the same – sex until she was in her late 20’s, after she’d been married for three years (I think) and had been in a relationship with a man for four more years. How is “coming out” to those people? Is it somehow more complicated? I can sort of answer that (or offer my own perspective). I didn’t suspect I was even different in terms of my sexuality until I was 16, despite the fact that many stats say that 15 is the average age where people realise who they are. It wasn’t until I was nearly 21 when I came to a point where I identified as asexual (and there’s more that have happened after that, but I won’t go on). Now, I’m not one of those people of the LGBT+ community that other people (family, friends, etc), could realise I was “different” and therefore, most likely not straight. As a kid, I played with “girl’s” toys, Until i was about 16 or so, I was very feminine in how I dressed and until 16, just assumed I would fall in love (with a man), get married and have children. When I finally came to the conclusion that I was asexual, quite frankly, it made conversations about marriage, relationships, etc harder when they came up.

There have also been reports of women, who have previously been in relationships/ marriages with men who later find out that they’ve fallen in love with other women. Most of these women that I’m talking about, (from what I’ve heard/ read) do not identify as bisexual and didn’t identify as lesbian before their current relationship/ attractions. I’ve often wondered how coming out is for them. Has anybody had that experience? If you like, you can write about your own experiences in the comments section if you like.

Facebook, Same – Sex Marriage and Coming Out on Social Media

I’ve been more than a bit surprised by how many of my friends have put the rainbow on their profile picture in light of the landmark US Supreme Court decision to make same – sex marriage legal nationwide. I would say that probably about half have changed their photos. Maybe bit less… don’t know. More than what I thought would, anyway. It got me thinking: Will it be easier for LGBT+ people to be open about their identities on social media? Have we come far enough for that to happen?

i won’t talk on behalf of anyone else, I can’t, but speaking for my personal experience, discussing things like your sexuality online can be freaky. When I started this blog, I was encouraged to publish my posts on my Facebook Wall. That genuinely made me a bit anxious. When I revealed who I was to a cousin in a private message, I cried in relief that she was fine with it.

Now, I know that too many LGBT people face much more anxiety and, quite frankly, much more to fear. I’ve got to say, though, that it hasn’t always been easy for me either, even though nothing really bad has happened since I started posting the blog on Facebook.

So, will this SCOTUS decision and the social media response make it easier for LGBT+ people to be honest about who they are without a backlash, either on social media or real life?