So earlier this week, I came out as an aromantic asexual to a new co-worker.
We’re in the kitchen chatting about our hobbies as I show her the proper amount of cheese to put on a 4-topping pizza. Enthusiastically, I mention the various kinds of fighting and sports that I’ve enjoyed over the years. But then, she asks me a question that I’m not quite ready for.
“Are you going to teach your kids about that kind of stuff?”
I freeze. Right then, I have a choice to make. A choice that I have to base off of my own intuition, since I don’t know her well. What could I tell her?
That I wasn’t going to have children because it would be too dangerous for me to carry another child to term? That I had had one child and given him up for adoption? Or that I’m only interested in non-sexual, non-romantic friendships with women and the likelihood of having children is slim to nil? Or do I lie and/or ignore the question altogether?
I went with door number three. With a smile, I say, “Actually, I’m not having kids. I’m queer.”
“Yeah,” I explain, “I’m an aromantic asexual.”
She looks a little confused and a little apprehensive. “What does that mean?”
“Well, it means that I don’t feel sexual or romantic attraction. I only want to form platonic relationships, and those only with women.”
She starts laughing. “Wow,” she says, “talk about being cold and heartless!”
“Actually,” I respond stiffly, “I’m not cold or heartless. I just experience love in a different way.”
She shrugs and gives me a disbelieving look. “If you say so.”
And then, I continue showing her how to make pizza.
I really wish that I had something profound to say about this, and maybe later on I will. Maybe I could talk about the misconceptions that people have about aromantic asexuals. Maybe I could explain how damaging those reactions are and how to react or come out in a healthy way when you’re on either side of that situation. Maybe I could talk about how being a woman in her mid-20’s who doesn’t have any interest in kids, marriage, or sex can be really fucking difficult to navigate sometimes.
But, for now, I think I’ll just leave this conversation here. Because sometimes coming out can really suck.