Question of the Week: August 8th, 2016

Have you ever been accidentally outed to someone?

Thankfully this has never happened to me, or at least I’ve never had any significant incident.  I’ve had a few friends mention it in front of other people.  I don’t really have a problem with it, but it’s a little bit awkward because how would they know I don’t have a problem with it?  People aren’t always up on their etiquette.

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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10 Responses to Question of the Week: August 8th, 2016

  1. Sennkestra says:

    I’ve had it happen a couple times, but it’s all been trivial incidents – enough that I barely remember any of the details. Most of them have happened in queer spaces, like someone introducing me to someone else at a queer campus event and mentioning that I’m asexual. It’s never been treated as a big deal or caused any kind of reaction, though, so they’ve all been nonevents.

    All the important people in my life (family, employers, close friends) are at least vaguely aware that I’m ace, even if they may not be familiar with all that that implies, so there aren’t really many high stakes situations where I worry about being outed – it mostly just leads to a minute or two of social awkwardness (since thankfully I run in pretty lgbtq+ friendly social circles where I don’t see a high risk of more angry reactions and any exceptions are more likely to be confused than violent).

    I’m also not really bothered by being outed, especially since doing visibility work means I’m used to telling both strangers and friends much more intimate details of my sexuality, but I agree that I’m uncomfortable with people just assuming it’s fine without me having told them first. (So much appreciation for all the folks that do politely ask whether I’m ok with being outed!)

  2. Sennkestra says:

    I guess I’ve also been “outed” to people I don’t know by friends and relatives in cases where they end up in conversations about asexuality, and then mention something like, “oh, my friend/sister/daughter/whatever is ace [too]!”. But since that’s often to people I don’t know yet and may never meet I don’t really know if I think of that as being outed. (And since it’s often in the context of, “hey I met an ace person and they thought it was so cool that I knew another ace!” I consider it a net good anyway)

  3. Tarragon says:

    Not yet / I’m not sure.
    Once I come out to more people as trans, I have no doubt it will happen, since it seems to happen at least once to everyone? Regarding asexuality: I’m not sure. I might have been, haven’t asked really. If so, it was apparently a non-issue. I imagine that if I have been, people either forgot, didn’t know what is was and went “Yeah, sure, right” and never mentioned it, or went “Oh ok” and never mentioned it.

    But as to being ace, I’m not that bothered / am willing to weather whatever (if anything) comes of it. I’m a lot more on top of the trans thing because it just could have much greater consequences for me. I think I’ve also sort of reached limit with the stuff I’m willing to advocate about and fight all the fights over, don’t think I can add more things to the list of stuff I’m going to be very vocal and obvious about.

  4. Sennkestra says:

    Actually, in retrospect, while being out as ace is a complete nonissue for me at this point, I guess being out as kinky (for lack of a better term) is more of an issue for me. While I talk about it online and in ace groups, I pointedly do not talk about in other contexts, since it’s something that is much more likely to cause risky reactions in others (especially employers), and even in safer situations it combines with aceness to bring the social awkwardness level up to 11. Luckily, though, that hasn’t happened yet, though I’ve done the awkward “hi, nice to meet you, friend from that…meetup..thing…” dance when running into people I’ve met at kink-themed coffeeshop mneetups at other unrelated events.

    I give people a pass on outing me as ace, but if someone outed me as someone interested in kink / someone who goes to kink events and does kinky activities, I’d be a lot more pissed. I’d imagine it’s how i’d feel about being outed as queer/ace if I lived or worked in a less queer-friendly area.

  5. Carmilla DeWinter says:

    I believe my mom and best friend both had some trouble with it/were worried when I first came out, therefore best friend’s mom and a couple of my mom’s friends were involved without my consent. But they were relatively cool about it so, yay. Currently, I don’t care much anymore, given how much RL visibility work I do.
    I nearly accidentally outed someone, though. There was a group of people, one person was only out to half of us and did not wish to be out to the other half yet. Given the honest answer to “where did you meet?” would have been “ace meet-up”, I had to actively lie on the spot, which is something I am not really good at. Lesson: Compare and agree on backstories, if possible.

  6. I can’t recall being accidentally outed as ace, but I was once accidentally outed as trans by one friend to another. Tbh it seems like that one is more of an issue just because NOT outing me requires people to keep names and pronouns straight and know what to use when. Fortunately everything was fine with this situation, so it wasn’t a huge deal, it just prompted me to have some conversations that I was going to have eventually anyway.

  7. Sciatrix says:

    Several times, actually. The most upsetting was the time in college that I was dozing on a friend’s couch while several other people chatted, and asexuality came up in the conversation somehow. Friend A went “oh, what is that, I don’t understand it?” and friend B, who had brought the subject up, went “Uh–you know, I don’t even know. Sci’s asexual, you should ask her!”

    It was not a particularly pleasant awakening.

    Aside from that, it happens on a semi-frequent basis, and I actually try to encourage it in certain circumstances when I want people to know but cannot be arsed with the 101 talk. It feels like a lower-octane way of being out, since coming out doesn’t ever actually end, and it’s less emotional work than explicitly outing myself on my own end.

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