It’s no secret to my friends that I identify as ace – I’ve written about it multiple times, both in plain text and in abstract thought. However, as comfortable as I am with my own identity, I still don’t see myself as part of the queer community as a whole. even as I write this, a part of me wonders if it’s because I don’t want to be attached to the politics that are becoming more and more imbedded in the pursuit of equal rights.
As an ace, I have issues that are very community specific that need to be worked through. For example – asexuality not being taken seriously or seen as legitimate, and dealing with comments like ‘you just haven’t met the right person’ are important in their own right. However, when I hear the news about people forced to undergo conversion therapy or being refused service for living their truth, I can’t help but think that maybe my issues really aren’t that big. This isn’t to say to other aces who are fighting for their rights that what they are doing is in vain. On the contrary, more power to you for being able to do what I am often afraid of doing.
My approach is very much a deep rooted coping mechanism that was born out of being a survivor to multiple traumatic events in my life. It’s my unhealthy way of keeping perspective in my own life, a double edged sword of gratitude I have towards myself when my brain convinces itself that the issues I have as an ace are bad but not as bad as the other struggles the queer community at large face. In order to fight the cognitive dissonance that ace struggles are unique to themselves and are just as worthy fighting for, my mind seeks out confirmation bias to convince myself that I am tough enough to withstand those issues. I should instead, focus on uplifting those who are fighting for a cause bigger than themselves. if I can withstand people making fun of me in the past, why should I not be able to bear it if it happens in the present (just to a different side of myself) ?
Which brings me to my next point. There are some people who’s sexuality is central to who they are and there are some whose sexuality is essentially a footnote in their book of life. I see myself as a tumultuous mix of both – whilst me being ace isn’t the end all be all of who I am, I will certainly demand for others to take it seriously if I come out to them. In this perspective, I see myself having a privilege of sorts – since my sexuality isn’t a defining tenet of my personality, I have a social responsibility to listen to those whose livelihood depends upon their identity.
So whilst I feel like I am in a strange limbo of belonging in the queer community, I must acknowledge the part of me that may not want to be associated because I fear what will happen to me professionally if I do. In other words, respectability politics. In the ideal world, a professional finds out and treats me the same as they used to. But we do not live in that fantasy and the bitter reality is the possibility of my character being questioned, my accomplishments downplayed and my career jeopardized should I choose to wholeheartedly identify as part of the queer community. Until I have the guarantee that won’t happen, I distance myself from it.
Personally, I do not know whether there is a clear answer to this – there is a lot in my train of thought that is problematic and figuring out these nuances is part of the journey in growing as a human being.