Monday, 22 March 2010

The 'coming out' game

So I’ve been browsing blogs again, as always, and came up with this random nugget:

The “What are You?” Game (U.S. Edition) Rules and Regulations

Minimum 2 players, no maximum.

Object: You.

Goal: Retain as much dignity as possible while dealing with racial ignorance.

Materials: All you need is yourself – an ethnically-ambiguous human being – and somebody else’s lack of respect.

Be born into this world. Interact with other human beings. Game-play should ensue shortly.

When to Play/Who to Play With: The “What are You?” Game can be played at any time, anywhere. It can be played with friends and family, but is best played with casual acquaintances and outright strangers. Any time another human being asks you the question “What are You?,” the Game has begun, and your humanity can be earned or lost. Again, it is important to stress that this can happen at any time, as ignorance has no concept of appropriate boundaries and/or timing.

Game-play is commenced once another person (“the Asker”) asks you (“the Person”) “What are You?” It is then your turn.

There are things in this article that strike me as ‘OMG, yes, so been there’, and a lot that doesn’t seem much to do with me personally. With ethnically-ambiguous people, there’s not necessarily any answer, with asexuality, there is an answer. But the minute you tell someone the answer, you have basically thrown away your right to steer the conversation onto something else. Once you come out as asexual, you have to stick it through to the end, through however many faux pas and completely bewildered looks they give you, until they’ve grasped the simple facts.

It’s a problem I risk coming across as I make the changes I want to make to who I am, more flamboyant, better-dressed, proudly owning my androphilia and acting generally camp and unmasculine whenever I happen to think it suits me best. It takes no effort for someone to ask what your sexuality is, and it takes a lot of effort to answer, if you’re asexual.

And so you end up with what is best described as game-play. Game-play for your very humanity against awkward silence and the (understandable, but difficult to work around) ignorance of the majority. Like the writer, asexuals are in a weak position made weaker by a world that sees in binary- ‘black/white’, ‘straight/gay’, and in which asking “What are you?”, or, more likely for me, “Are you gay?” doesn’t fixate on your identity but on your ability to conform to the asker’s worldview, an act of erasing who you are, not celebrating it.

For the record, I am pretty much completely out. Except that my dad has never heard me talk about my sexuality, I never tick the ‘other’ box in job applications, and all of my friends but few of my acquaintances know about my sexuality. And the reason for this closetness isn’t a fear of reprisal. It’s because I know coming out takes so much effort. Almost every time.

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