In discussions of typical reactions people receive when coming out as ace, I’ve sometimes seen a good or preferred response contrasted with all the negative responses. And the good response is normally along the lines of, “Cool, thanks for telling me.” This response strikes me as inadequate, though, at least when it comes to the reaction I’d hope to get when revealing to someone that I’m ace.
I’ve only officially come out to one person so far. Initially I just told them I didn’t want to have sex, and didn’t use the word “asexual”, but later I emailed them a link to AVEN’s overview page. And they wrote back, “I read this. Guess there isn’t much to say about it.” And that response really disappointed me, because I felt like they were dismissing my asexuality, which I see as an important part of my identity. Maybe they felt like they didn’t have anything else to say because we’d already had conversations about it, but those had focused specifically on my desire not to have sex, rather than on asexuality as my sexual orientation. I felt like sending them that link was my real, official outing, because beyond just saying I didn’t want sex (which they could respond to with, “Maybe you’ll change your mind”), I was saying, “My sexual orientation is different from yours. This is the way I am, and it’s not going to change.” And I guess I had just expected (and wanted) that to lead to more discussion, instead of basically ending the conversation.
“Guess there isn’t much to say about it” would come across a little differently than “Cool, thanks for telling me,” but I think the latter would still leave me feeling unsatisfied. I lived twenty years not knowing there was a word for the way I was, twenty years of feeling different from everyone else—and thus twenty years of silence about my experience. Now that I know that there’s a term that describes me and that other people feel this way too, I want to talk about it. So in my ideal coming out experience, the person I’m telling would ask me questions. Not rude, invasive questions, of course, but questions like, “How long have you known you were asexual? Was it hard growing up not knowing that term?” “Are you interested in romantic relationships? What would your ideal romantic relationship look like?” “Anything else I should know about asexuality or your experience of it?” etc.
Basically, I’d want to know that the person I’m telling cares, and the way I would feel cared about is if they were interested, and showed their interest by continuing the conversation. I can definitely understand wanting to just be accepted and not have your orientation made a big deal of, but that wouldn’t quite be enough for me. Of course, if I actually came out to more people and getting a ton of questions every time became a regular thing, my opinion might change…