Being “Different”

If I’m perfectly honest, for most of my life, I’ve struggled with being different. It’s not easy. Social stigma, fear of being rejected, not able to do certain things, racking my brain to see how things are going to work out in the future it all comes part of the territory.

When I was at a camp, a now – friend of mine told me to see my difference (specifically vision impairment), as a “gift” rather than a burden. I realised I could extend that; not just thinking of my CP and vision impairment as gifts, but also my asexuality. I’m not talking about religious, holier than thou stuff. But I realise now that my differences, including my asexuality, can be used for good.

Anyone who has ever read or glimpsed at this blog know how vocal I am about LGBT+ issues, not in a way to intimidate others with differing views, but I do try to be educational to the wider community of what it’s like to be a GSM (gender, sexuality minority). To a degree, I can relate to the self – hatred that many LGBT+ people constantly face, even though I’m aware of when my empathy ends. I’ve been open recently about my own struggles with accepting who I am (or at least that part of me). It hasn’t been easy, but now, I’m starting to see that I can use those experiences to educate others and raise awareness somewhat to sexual/ gender minorities in general. For the most part, I do use links (whether they work is another matter), and media stories, but I ‘d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any empathy for LGBT+ in general. The recent ‘Gayby Baby’ documentary controversy has hit me harder than what I thought. And I’m very passionate about support and proper education that includes and supports the LGBT+ students, including asexuals.

I get that there would be asexuals who don’t share my experiences or views. I get it. So don’t think I’m not trying to talk for all asexuals. I’m not. I can’t. All I can say is how I feel and why.  If I wasn’t ‘me’, I may not be able to do that.

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When Empathy Is Limited

There has been a Twitter backlash against US Cosmo after holding a ‘Hello Gorgeous/ ‘RIP beauty comparison as one of their features. Problem? The models on the ‘Hello Gorgeous’ side were all Caucasian while models who were African American were featured in the ‘RIP’ side of the feature, sparking accusations of racism, an accusations staff at the women’s magazine vehemently deny.

This got me thinking about how diversity is preached about in the media, but, frankly rarely presented.  In Australis, for example. Most media personalities are: white, able – bodied, cisgender and, frankly, straight. Of course there is nothing wrong with that. I’m not calling for anyone to be sacked because of who they are. What I’m pointing at is that most people, particularly in the media, try to advocate for minorities without having any real idea of what it’s like to be in the situation themselves. I think sometimes that can lead to a misrepresentation of people and, to kind of quote Andrew Bolt, a lot of ‘seeming rather than doing’.

 

I’ll bad perfectly honest, the reason why I’m so vocal about discrimination and prejudices toward the LGBT+ community is because I can partly ( I emphasise partly) because of my own struggles in the past about my own sexuality, the self – hatred and, for a time, a fear of a homophobic backlash from people I cared about (that was more before I identified as asexual). For a brief while in my mid high school years, it did lead to some nastiness from certain peers in my year. That lead to some years on my part of confusion, fear of losing friends (family not so much) and self – hatred. Now I know that what I’ve listed is quite tame than what a lot of  LGBT+ people go through. These are just my experiences that I believe have lead me to believe in certain things the way I do.

Can everybody empathise with a marginalised group? Yes. But I think we all have to be aware of when our genuine understanding of another person’s experiences are limited, or, frankly don’t exist at all. That’s why I find it so refreshing when I hear stories of asexual people actually being able to tell their own stories rather than have someone else telling the story, and frankly, sometimes, I believe, misrepresenting asexual people one way or another.

What are you passionate about? What life events have made you driven to that passion? ( you don’t have to go into detail if you don’t want to)

Empathy Should Go Both Ways

Fact: Most people take sexual feelings/ identity for granted. And they can’t help it, just as we, members of the asexual community can’t help not being able to experience sexual attraction no matter how hard we try or wish it wasn’t so.

Many of us try to gain empathy from non – aces, sometimes with success, sometimes not. But do we understand their viewpoint? if you grow up, for example in an environment where you’re family (brothers/ sisters, parents, family friends, etc), are all straight, then you grow up yourself, starting from purberty, feeling sexual attraction to the opposite sex, you didn’t have to question it, you just were, by nature, you probably lack a level of genuine understanding of what someone who isn’t cisgender and straight go through.

The asexual community has been trying to gain acceptance and understanding from allosexuals, sometimes for a long time. It can be frustrating, I get it. It can be scary, I definitely get that. But like they can’t expect us to know what it’s like to experience sexual attraction (or lack it, at least now), we can’t expect others to immediately empathise with us about our asexuality. Society takes sexuality for granted, largely because people naturally, through no fault of their own, take their sexuality for granted. I’m not saying that we should expect and accept teasing or abuse of any sort, but we should be open – minded and maybe view it from their viewpoint as well.

Think of it this way to; asexual advocacy and visibility has only been very recent. Most of society, education included, hasn’t grappled with it for very long (if it’s started to at all). Yes, some of the ignorance and at times misinformation that the media, for example spouts can be annoying, and even hurtful, frankly. But I want to believe that most people really do have good intentions. Hope that’s not being too naive.

So, I think we should be open to questions, maybe willing to offer sources of information, (e.g. AVEN and other websites), for us bloggers, to keep writing about our experiences and our thoughts, feelings and discoveries, and hopefully, one day, we’ll get to a point where it won’t be necessary any more and we can all just be happy and accept each other and have a huge cuddle party!