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Holmbo

Should we "come out" more often, to promote visibility?

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When I read here online it seems everyone has different habits about how often they tell other people they are aromantic, and in what way. I personally almost never tell anyone, because I feel like the topic rarely come up. But lately I've been thinking about maybe bringing it up more often in casual conversations. Because it could help introduce people to the concept, and it would also make me more likely to find fellow aros.

Do you ever take aro visibility into account when you decide who to come out to? Do you use the term aromantic? Or do you talk more in general terms about uninterested in romantic relationship.

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When I come out, I use the word "aromantic", because it is the only way it sounds like an orientation. Or maybe say I am not attracted to people. But not "I am not interested" because it sounds too much like what a single allo could say if he is confortable in his situation. And what I said when I thought I just haven't fin the one yet. I don't feel that I am coming out if I don't make it clear that it is an orientation.

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Should we "come out" more often, to promote visibility?

 

Ohh dear. Um... no? Not necessarily for that purpose, no. I don't think coming out should ever be discussed in terms of "should"s. But I also think "visibility" isn't necessarily what any given community should be shooting for, either.

 

I've been working on writing some reflections on the word "visibility" lately, but I've been hesitating a bit because I wasn't sure if dissecting "visibility" would feel relevant enough to anyone -- but maybe, looking at this thread title, maybe it is. If I said "visibility isn't a good goal to have," would anybody be interested in those thoughts? 

 

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I tell very few people anything substantial about myself, mostly because I don't usually like answering people's questions. I find it stressful and very tiring. So... if you have the energy for that, great! I don't, though.

 

I mostly only "come out" online, where it's easy to copy and paste links to people that do all the hard explaining work on my behalf. :)

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I'm out to pretty much everyone at my school, because pretty much everyone there is accepting and I want to promote visibility in any way I can.

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It really depends on the context for me. Like if the person already has some understanding of queer terminology and I have time to explain things like the SAM then I'll use the term aromantic. Otherwise, I just tell people that I don't get crushes. 

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I have come out using the word aromantic. One of my friends was privy to my whole questioning process. But it is a very limited number of people who know.

Otherwise I don't think it is anyone's business, and after learning the things I know about some people I have met, I do wonder about discrimination (though not only orientation discrimination, but some of those people are closet sleazebags and I don't want to give them any information about anything)(....and I guess now I am much more cautious with new acquaintances because of bad experiences)

 

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10 hours ago, Coyote said:

If I said "visibility isn't a good goal to have," would anybody be interested in those thoughts? 

 

I would 🙂

Though I'd rather you write them here as comments

 

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16 hours ago, Holmbo said:

Though I'd rather you write them here as comments

 

I went and put some thoughts together yesterday, but it's probably a bit much for a forum post.

 

Short version: looking back at what's happened to the ace community as it's gotten more visibility should be instructive to the aro community that "more visibility" does not make for a good community goal -- because "visibility" is not the same thing as "acceptance." I think the (in)visibility paradigm is like being prisoners in a shadowy dungeon and deciding, "well, the problem here is that we need to turn on the lights and be seen" instead of "the problem here is that we're behind bars."

 

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As much as I think we need more visibility, I don't think anyone should feel like they have to come out to promote the visibility of their orientation. It wouldn't be a bad reason, but I don't want anyone to feel pressured to come out, for any reason.

That being said, I'm out to most of my friends, and some of my acquaintances and I won't lie, the reason I tend to be so out while at school in particular is in part because I'm an education major and my classmates really need to know this stuff. They rarely know anything about my sexual and romantic orientations especially, and I figure if they're going to be aphobic, they might as well do it to someone like me who can tell them why they need to stop, and not to one of their future students.

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On 4/8/2019 at 4:56 PM, Holmbo said:

Do you ever take aro visibility into account when you decide who to come out to? Do you use the term aromantic?

A bit, yeah, but I'm also not out to a lot of people as aromantic (it's mostly trusted friends). Sometimes I don't wanna say aromantic when I feel that this would receive more doubt that even "I don't want to date" does sometimes. I want to bring visibility to the orientation, but as always it's a choice between being true to yourself, talking to people on the level they're more likely to understand and not wanting to be doubted. 

 

On 4/9/2019 at 11:14 PM, Coyote said:

"more visibility" does not make for a good community goal -- because "visibility" is not the same thing as "acceptance."

This is before I read the link - but it seems impossible for me to gain acceptance without visibility...?? People need to *know* we exist before they can accept us. I think that the end goal is "acceptance", but it can't be done without visibility...?? Or do you mean to say that since "acceptance" is not clearly articulated as the end goal, our only goal is visibility?? (this may get an edit as I read the link) edit: nope, doesn't need an edit, except to add that: is the acceptance from the 5 people in the shadows better than visibility and other people who will find out about the orientation being able to find acceptance in orientation-specific communities...?? to me the second option is better tbh, bc the people who want to hate us will do it anyway. 

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there is always that decision of whether or not to use the word, and it depends on the situation for me, but mostly i do, because that's what you'd do for any other orientation.  like i haven't heard anyone say they're interested in relationships with people of more than one gender; they say they're bi/pan.  for us it will usually involve some more explaining but i am generally happy to do that.  because that's how i found out about aromanticism, right--i read about it, and if someone hadn't put that out there, who knows how long i would have not known and what that could have led to.  so it's good for (questioning) aros as well as allos.  but of course whether and how you come out is a personal decision.

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On 4/9/2019 at 10:14 PM, Coyote said:

I went and put some thoughts together yesterday, but it's probably a bit much for a forum post.

 

Short version: looking back at what's happened to the ace community as it's gotten more visibility should be instructive to the aro community that "more visibility" does not make for a good community goal -- because "visibility" is not the same thing as "acceptance." I think the (in)visibility paradigm is like being prisoners in a shadowy dungeon and deciding, "well, the problem here is that we need to turn on the lights and be seen" instead of "the problem here is that we're behind bars."

 

There's a difference between visability, awareness, acceptance and inclusion.
One complication is that aromanticism does already have some visibility from the ace community.
Leading to the idea that aro is a subset of ace.

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I tend to come out whenever I know the other person is also queer.  I also was a leader in my college's lgbtqa club and in general wanted to create more visibility for aros (and aspecs in general) and educate others about stuff, so I often would come out and educate others as a part of that.  And yeah I always explain with the actual words in these instances.  On the other hand, if talking to straight people, I'd be far more likely to just shrug it off as me not being interested in dating.  Overall, I don't think people should feel they have to come out to increase visibility, but if you're comfortable coming out in a space anyways, it's useful to feel confident in explaining things and it can be rewarding to educate others and increase visibility.

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I do think there is a need for visibility, because how can people accept us if they don't know about us. It is work though dealing with the questions, but again if they don't get answers then they definitely won't understand. It does help in some ways the online presence though. It can give a safer space for people to find out about themselves. Becoming confident with ourselves is always a precursor to any coming out and everyone is in a different situation. For example my church is looking to become an official inclusive church and I feel that as an aro ace person I potentially have a lot to give to that from a double A awareness perspective (who also happens to be in a same sex QPR) and I'd happily work with others and come out for this greater good. But everyone is in a different situation and our situations are changing over time. It would be more important though I think if there was no online presence (say back before the internet in person visibility would have greatly helped others). So in a nutshell I think it's a complicated question with a complicated answer!

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Everyone should be free to come out - or not - on their own terms, depending on whether they feel safe and comfortable in doing so. I don't think individuals should feel pressured to compromise their safety or comfort for broader community goals. 

 

I personally am totally comfortable telling people that romance is not for me. I travel quite a lot for business as well as pleasure, and at my age it's pretty common for people I meet to ask whether I have kids as small talk. I find most people are pretty accepting when I explain that, "I don't do relationships." 

 

And I absolutely believe that the more people realise that disinterest in romantic relationships is a legitimate life experience, the closer we can get to acceptance of that experience. 

 

(I don't tend to immediately use the label "aromantic" with strangers because I find that derails the conversation into semantics - and if I have to prioritise one or the other, I think it's more important that people understand the concept and experience of having no desire for romantic relationships, than that they know the label for it.) 

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I'm actually trying to figure out if I want to come out. And if I do, then how? My friend confessed to me, and I tried to explain how I don't feel those emotions in connection to me. But I think I messed up, because later that day, he wanted to know if I "thought about it". I was like, "yes, I already told you no." 

 

And now I'm worried. I'm worried that he still has hope, and that he's just going to hurt himself. I'm also worried about talking to him, because I don't know what I did to make him think I was interested, so how will I know how to avoid it?

 

I think coming out would be good, but I'm also nervous. I tried talking to my mom, but she told me to wait and "not make any rash decisions". Like, what about that is rash?

 

I am also worried because if I do decide to come out, how? How do I explain to people about what I am, without it seeming like an excuse not to be with this person?

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I think if you're fine about it, coming out is the right thing to do as it might prevent many misunderstandings later. 

As long as you're strong enough in yourself to meet the people who haven't yet heard of it.

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@Coyote I think visibility is important more for aromantics who haven't figured out their identity than anything else. Using your dungeon analogy, being in a dungeon not in solitary confinement is still better than being in a dungeon in solitary confinement, which I think is a good description of what it feels like to be surrounded only by people who feel a desire for this type of relationship you know isn't for you and feeling like the only one who doesn't fit the norm of having those feelings. I felt pretty much like that before I discovered the term "aromantic."

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On 5/28/2019 at 5:49 PM, DavidMS703 said:

I think visibility is important more for aromantics who haven't figured out their identity than anything else. Using your dungeon analogy, being in a dungeon not in solitary confinement is still better than being in a dungeon in solitary confinement, which I think is a good description of what it feels like to be surrounded only by people who feel a desire for this type of relationship you know isn't for you and feeling like the only one who doesn't fit the norm of having those feelings. I felt pretty much like that before I discovered the term "aromantic."

 

I know what you mean about the importance of community connection. It's helped me out of an abusive friendship before, and I can't emphasize enough how much I value those kinds of connections to others-of-similar-difference, if that makes sense.

 

As you expressed via the metaphor, though, being in solitary confinement or not is a separate thing than being in the light or not, so to me that doesn't say anything in particular about visibility per se.

 

For those interested, I expressed some more of my thoughts about this a couple months back in a different post using some diagrams.

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@Coyote What I meant is that there are aromantics who don't realize it in society, and that for some of them, learning that aromanticism is a thing is the only thing that will get them out of feeling like they have something wrong with them and are alone in that way, and visibility is necessary for them to learn about it.

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7 hours ago, DavidMS703 said:

What I meant is that there are aromantics who don't realize it in society,

 

So, presumably, you mean people who might potentially identify as aromantic if introduced to the term. I generally try to stay on the side of not calling people anything different than what they call themselves, when it comes to these identity things. Otherwise risks presuming that there is an essential, concrete "actual" nature that can be known and used to tell other people that they're not actually what they identify as. That's something I leave to people telling their own narratives.

 

7 hours ago, DavidMS703 said:

and that for some of them, learning that aromanticism is a thing is the only thing that will get them out of feeling like they have something wrong with them and are alone in that way,

 

Right, learning that their experience can be reframed as "aromanticism" and that there are people who say there's nothing wrong with that. Those two things have to go together. Just changing which words are used to refer to it is an incomplete recipe, since words just by themselves are meaningless. It's not the combination of sounds/letters inherently itself. It's surrounding it with a positive reframing -- not just "aromanticism exists" but "being aromantic is okay." So "learning that aromanticism is a thing" needs to include that.

 

7 hours ago, DavidMS703 said:

and visibility is necessary for them to learn about it.

 

I'm not sure if you read the other thing I linked to, but put another way: I don't believe in a contentless message. You don't just "see" aromanticism abstractly. You see it with either a positive or a negative framing.

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@Coyote Those are all good points. I did mean people who would identify with the label and aromantic community if they knew about it. We can't determine which individuals that would be, and therefore shouldn't call individuals something they don't call themselves, but I think most aromantic people, once they identify as such, believe that they were aromantic before realizing it. I definitely believe I was. And I agree that knowledge of the concept alone, without the message that it's okay to be aromantic, isn't enough. Just like children can grow up with parents who think homosexuality is morally wrong, and their parents can tell them that but it won't make them feel like it's normal and okay if they start developing same-sex attraction. However, the topic here is about if we should be promoting visibility. I think pretty much everyone on this site, if they were to spread aromantic visibility, would do so in a positive way that sends the message it's okay to identify as aromantic.

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I tell people I'm not into dating or having a girlfriend, which makes them confused cos I'm obviously attracted to women.

 

I also think we should be open about the destructive nature of romantic love, but I don't have the guts to tell that to people who are in relationships.

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In general, I feel like visibility should be more of a goal for the greater community than individuals. Let larger LGBT organizations and activists do that kind of work, rather than relying on individuals. 

I frequently come out as aro, particularly because I'm heavily involved in an organization and for the sake of event planning I like to make sure we bring the aromantic flag along with all the others :) Of course, that is a very easy environment to come out in. Am I running through the sheets shouting that I'm aro and handing out flyers? No. I'm just planting little reminders among people that already know. 

And I agree with Coyote, visibility is not the best goal. Education and acceptance should be the focus, visibility just happens to follow it. 

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