Question of the Week: May 9th, 2017.

When someone tells you they’re ace do you assume they’re out/open about it or closeted if they don’t give you any more information? Do you make a point of telling people if being ace is a private part of your identity? 

Over time I’ve learned to be careful about other people’s identities, but I wasn’t always. I used to think identity was very clear cut: if you weren’t out, you shared that when you shared your identity. Now I try to play it safe.

In high school and my undergrad there were a few lgbtq+ people that were just out. I was rarely told by the people themselves about their identities. This was information shared by others as a normal part of conversation. It was never a big deal (or maybe it was, and I just didn’t hear about it). When a close friend told me he was gay, he made sure to also tell me that very few people knew. This made sense to me.

Later in a different space I met lgbtq+ people who assumed that everything was said in confidence. To them everything was obviously private and there was no need to clarify this.

I find the unsaid expectation of being closeted vrs. needing to say if you are closeted interesting and confusing to traverse. Since then I’ve found it safer to just assume people aren’t out, but I wonder what an expectation of silence does to visibility and pride. I like people knowing I’m asexual. It would be unfortunate if someone wanted to share that with a friend, but assumed I was closeted and didn’t. Should I tell people that I’m out? The unsaid expectation is also different from other communities I’m a part of. If you’re nonbinary and use pronouns other than she/her and he/him it’s obvious you’re out in some way. In the vegan community pretty much everyone is out. I’ve known so many people who are quiet about their politics and lifestyle, only to hear from mutual acquaintances that they’re vegan.

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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11 Responses to Question of the Week: May 9th, 2017.

  1. as someone who is part of the lgbtqia community in more than one way, I say it’s always important not to out anyone. They do that themselves. it’s about safety after all, and we are one of the most harassed and abused communities! If you’re uncertain wether to talk about it openly or not, just ask the person, ask for permission, ask if it’s fine to talk about it openly no matter who stands in front of them.
    Otherwise it’s an rule to not out anyone. Nobody really says it nowadays, but that’s because it should be clear how dangerous it can be.
    assumptions should never be made it such cases. Asking is the key! I mean, in my opinion it’s obvious: someone tells you, that they’re ace for example, why don’t you just immediately ask them how open they are about it? Why assuming anything at all?

    Good post though! I’m sure it opens peoples eyes, since a lot of those who’re not at all in the community don’t know this and put us unintentionally in trouble 🙂 thanks for sharing your thoughts, Talia.

    best wishes, Sylveran

  2. Carmilla DeWinter says:

    Interesting – I did cause a couple mishaps because of unspoken assumptions myself, though I try not to assume. However, that is easier said than done, QED. Obviously, I’ll have to ask people what they’re expecting in terms of silence and operate on “not out” until told otherwise. Not the best solution in terms of queer visibility, but certainly a useful safety measure for the not- and semi-out.
    I’m pretty much out to everyone and kind of battle-hardened by now, so I don’t offer instructions and let people do what they will with the knowledge.
    (Also, vegans usually are on a mission, given food is a modern-day ersatz-religion to many, so they don’t really count, in my opinion.)

  3. Arianna says:

    I usually operate on “not out” just because of where I am and my personal situation. I live in the Bible Belt and I’m in high school, so most LGBTQIANP+ kids aren’t really out publicly. I also live in a homophobic household where I cannot come out. So honestly I assume people aren’t out because I know someone sharing that I’m aroace could make major consequences for me. It sucks, but I can’t outing someone especially if they’re in the same situation I and several other friends are.

  4. I assume outness depending of the situation: if it’s a private conversation, i’ll assume they’re now openly out (especially if it’s awkward or kinda shushed); but in non-friend group conversations, if they talk about being queer in some way i’ll probably assume they’re out and about.

    Now, if they’re ace, given how little visibility and open acceptance there’s odf asexuality in my country, i’ll probably always assume they’re not out and telling me/us in confidence.

    Personally, i’m like half out the closet: i’ve told my friends, and i’ll tell people i know are somewhat knowledgeable on gender and sexuality stuff (which are a big part of my social interactions nowadays), if the theme comes out or if they ask me directly, and i’m ok with they telling their social circles. But i’m actively not out to my family, close and extended (which also means: not out in my main Facebook account).

  5. luvtheheaven says:

    I have a bad habit of assuming people don’t care if people know they’re ace, especially if we’re at an ace meetup out in public, but I luckily can’t recall actually outing anyone, I just have had to consciously check my assumptions and re-establish my understanding. I still can’t quite figure out how to navigate not outing my queerplatonic partner to people when I am dying to explain I’m in an ace/ace relationship, lol, but I think I’ve handled it okay overall? Idk. Even if I don’t out him, outing that we’re “Together” and that “I’m asexual” means something about what people start thinking about him, about us, etc, so I have to be wary of what I say when to whom. It’s certainly tricky. I am so out, and other people outing me wouldn’t really bother me, except at the same time it kinda would bother me in a few contexts… lol. Like I told my brother when he asked that he can tell his friends, but not our mutual extended family. And now I don’t know who I’m out to and who I’m not out to, also. For a few reasons. And I kinda wish I knew, but at the same time, the more people who know, the better.

    • Rivers says:

      Yeah. I have personally had trouble with not outing myself with my QPP, especially since we aren’t straight-passing, and I’m closeted to most everyone (I would really like to out and proud, but it isn’t an option with family and people who may tell my family, so I’m just out to friends and random people who can’t out me to anyone I wouldn’t want to).

  6. Hollis says:

    I really don’t assume anything. I’m super out about being trans+queer but could probably count on my fingers the number of people that know I’m ace (people have, historically, reacted very badly to me coming out as ace so I just don’t do that anymore outside of online stuff or ace meetup stuff or MAYBE another queer/specific meetup).

  7. Silvermoon says:

    I tend to assume that everyone is a mixture of out and not, like myself.
    I haven’t told family, and with friends that know my family I’ve asked them not to, but apart from that I have an “eh fuck it” mentality when I out myself to people, so I wouldn’t mind it they told other people.

  8. Rachel says:

    It’s an odd mixture for me. I really don’t care if other people say that I’m aro ace, only so long as it’s with a group that won’t circle back to me.
    I only care to be out to a small number of people, since:
    1. Most of my family is not especially LGBTQ+ friendly
    2. I really don’t see the value of broadcasting to everyone I meet
    3. I don’t consider it to be other people’s business
    4. I don’t savor having to play 20 questions about asexuality and aromanticism to everyone and their mother, something that most others don’t have to deal with

    I tend to assume “not out” unless the other person is being SUPER obvious about it (like, dyed their hair to look like the rainbow flag level of obvious). Also, I can’t really think of a naturalistic way to say “so-and-so is ____” anyway.

  9. DasTenna says:

    I´m very open about my own Asexuality, so it´s not a problem for me if someone tells another person. It´s good for visibility and hey, if there´s another ace who learns about others like them this way, it´s a win-win situation. Plus, I really like the discussions about it because we all learn about different points of view and aspects of sexuality this way. And there will be better understanding.

    Once I accidentily “outed” a lesbian friend in a conversation she participated. I didn´t know that one of us four didn´t know and that my friend didn´t want her to know. To me, every orientation is just so normal that I assumed it was normal for everyone else and that everyone accepted others the way I do. My friend´s reaction indicated that this seems not to be the case. Now I know better and am more careful, unless I know that they are out in public.

  10. Rivers says:

    It is really important to make sure the person who comes out to you is out and proud or just out to you. Outing people on accident can do a lot of unintended damage. Luckily, the few people I’m out to are very good at not letting anything slip with people. Honestly, I am more likely to accidentally out myself than the people I’m out to are, and I have done that (making jokes and puns about not being straight is too easy). The problem I have with the people I am out to is if they say something accidentally acephobic or misinformed in a group conversation with people I am not out to. As a group conversation, this makes it very hard to address the issue without outing myself or looking like I’m blowing up at something completely random, and if you bring it up later, they might not even remember the “throwaway” comment that they didn’t think through.

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