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  • "I’m in my second year of college and I identify as asexual. It seems like every time someone finds out and starts asking questions, they end up insisting that I just need to try it, or find the right person, or build up some confidence. It feels like I can never just say "No," and it makes me really anxious about the possibility of finding myself in a more dangerous situation. How can I respond to this?"

    - Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kara Kratcha as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

    Kara Says:

    Dear inquirer,

    I do think that you do need to build up your confidence, but not in the way these horribly nosey people (herein referred to as GIHs—Google Impaired Humans—because they should be learning about the basics of asexuality themselves before they start asking you invasive questions) mean. The line of thinking here seems to be that your confidence should come from a comfort with your (a)sexuality*, and a comfort with your (a)sexuality means that you have found a way of having sex that makes you happy and actively pursue that happy-making sex act. I do think that it’s important to feel an ease with your (a)sexuality in order to feel confident, but I’m not on board with the wide spread assumption that feeling at ease in your (a)sexuality means having sex and letting everyone know about it.

    I mean come on, this should be obvious: for an asexual person, exhibiting confidence about your (a)sexuality often doesn’t mean letting everyone know about all of the great sex you’re having because—by definition—you don’t experience sexual attraction. That’s the whole point. Thinking that expressing ace sexuality with confidence necessarily involves having sex is absurd, and it shows (along with the GIHs’ insistence that you just need to experiment or find the right person to have sex with) that these people aren’t listening to you when and if you try to educate them (since they have clearly demonstrated that they cannot educate themselves via www.google.com). Dismiss them. You don’t owe them an explanation. Disengage from these conversations and physically walk away if you need to.

    Of course, ignoring the overwhelming cultural narrative that everyone wants sex is more difficult than shutting down individual conversations. Sometimes it’s impossible to do even that. I won’t lie to you and say that your “no” will always be honored. The unfortunate reality is that we live with rape culture, which says that a woman’s “no” means “maybe” or “try harder” and that a man wants sex so much that he can’t help but take it by force. Both of these ideas feed into compulsory sexuality, that overwhelming cultural narrative of “everyone wants the sex” again. I think that your fear that you can never just say no is completely grounded in these toxic narratives.

    You’ve asked me how to respond. I can’t tell you how to avoid being raped (which is how I read your “more dangerous situation”) because rape is always the rapist’s fault and never the victim’s, but I can tell you how I have learned to express my (a)sexuality with confidence.** After my first year of college, I resolved to not do things I don’t want to do. Before I made the active decision to say no, my default answer to just about everything then was “yes,” regardless of how I actually felt. Will you edit my research paper? Yes. Want to go to this sketchy party with me? Yes. Can I have your phone number? Yes. Yes. Yes.

    When I first made this resolution, I was in a long distance relationship. The hundreds of miles between me and my partner did a pretty good job of preventing genital bumping most of the time, so saying no wasn’t even explicitly connected to sexual activity for me. But the thing is, my mindless “yes” to everything was so insidious that saying “no” to the most innocuous requests felt impossible. That I felt unable to say “no” made my “yes” completely meaningless. I didn’t feel like I had a choice, and that disempowerment extended to my ability to say yes or no to sex. I didn’t feel confident in my (a)sexuality because I didn’t feel like I had control over myself.

    So I changed my default answer to “no.” I said no to bad papers and weird parties and unwanted come-ons. I said no whenever I could. I said no over and over until it became automatic. I said no until saying yes took some serious thought, until I had to abide by my actual desires and not the desires I thought I should have. I said no until it was the answer the people around me expected to hear.

    I write that in the past tense, but the truth is that learning to say no is an ongoing process, and it’s still really hard for me. Making people hear “no” takes so much more work than making people hear “yes,” and constantly fighting for your no is exhausting. Saying no takes a lot of confidence and a lot of practice. So here’s what I think you should do: practice saying no everywhere you can. Say no like you think the Google Impaired Humans are really listening to you, even if you know they aren’t. Say no right now, just for fun. Say no to ensure that when you say yes—be it to sex or something other people call sex or a favor for a friend or a big piece of cake—your yes will mean yes.

    Then, when some GIH tries to tell you how to “fix” your (a)sexuality, tell them that you are perfectly confident that you do not experience sexual desire, thank you very much. Exude confidence. Radiate ease. And if the GIH fails to listen to you, offer to teach them how search engines work and flounce away with your fabulous asexual self.

    Much love,

    Kara

    *A note about words: I will be using “asexual” to mean “the sexual orientation of a person who does not experience sexual attraction” and “ace” to mean “any orientation on the asexual spectrum.” I am addressing a person who identifies as asexual, but I think this advice applies to pretty much all aces (and probably everyone) with only a little modification.

    **That said, I can give you resources for asexual survivors of sexual assault, which you can find here.

    ***

    Kara Kratcha studies English literature at a university in New York City. She tells everyone that she wants to go into publishing, but really she’s always wanted to be an advice columnist. (Kara would like to thank Everyone Is Gay for making her dream come true.) If she had to pick a label, she would probably go with “genderfluid polyamorous demiromantic grey-ace,” but usually she just kind of shrugs. Right now (like, probably literally right now) Kara is working on her senior thesis on representations of asexuality and asexual relationships in Sherlock fanfiction.

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  • "How do you trust anyone enough to be in a relationship again after you committed fully to one person and they said they committed fully to you for the rest of their life and then they decide one day that it is over without any notice? How do you ever give someone your heart again after that?"

    - Question submitted by Anonymous

    Dannielle Says: 

    I think for a long time you just DONT, and you recognize that you don’t, and you try to actively work through it. Give yourself time because TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS and allowing yourself that time will help a lot. 

    We get in our heads about this stuff, we sit there and say ‘you need to get it together and jump all in and stop being a pansy’ …and it almost always just makes things worse. Because you’re not really jumping all in - you’re fake jumping all in where you say you are jumping all in but you’re not actually jumping all in and then you’re mad at yourself for not jumping all in and your new relationship isn’t growing or really doing anything because you’re so focused on the jumping all in thing. 

    Take it slow and be honest. When you start seeing someone just say ‘hey, I’m still getting over being burned so I might take things a little slow, but that doesn’t mean I’m not into you, it just means I need some time.” Any human who has lived a life will understand what that feels like and hopefully will not take it personally.

    It’ll take time, and it’ll be hard, but you can do it. When you notice yourself holding back, try to actively put yourself out there. You know that quote “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”? It’s totally true. You got the chance to experience a great love, a love many people may never experience. That is a good thing. You’re hurt, you feel knocked down, you feel incapable of trust and that makes sense. But do remember that it was worth it. That love was completely worth it. And allowing yourself to give in to another love is an incredible thing. 

    Kristin Says:

    This is one of the absolute hardest parts of falling in love. 

    In general, falling in love means that you are taking something that is most precious to you (your heart and your most vulnerable pieces) and sharing them with someone else for care and compassion. The idea is that this person will share their heart with you as well, and you will grow together in a space that is rooted in trust.

    When we fall from that place of trust it hurts more than nearly anything else that we can experience… and it’s hard to imagine how we can ever trust another with those same pieces. I totally, completely understand how you are feeling — and even without someone having broken your trust, it’s flipping TERRIFYING to fall in love and have a relationship because, if we are being honest, we can never predict the future, and we can never know how our paths will entwine with someone else’s.

    But… like Dannielle said, that is all part and parcel of falling in love. You have some broken pieces right now, and that is okay. You are going to be able to take one shaky step forward and then probably fall three paces back. 

    Honesty is the only way of moving forward, and that means honesty with yourself and with others. Maybe in the past you’ve been able to let go completely as soon as you start to fall for someone, and now you can’t find that place so easily… that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you can’t find that place EVER, it just means that you have to take a different route. Think of your heart as a Siri map where she’s offering you a 1 hour and 12 minute route and an alternate 1 hour and 47 minute route. Your 1 hour 12 minute route isn’t accessible right now — but I promise you that 1 hour and 47 minute route will get you to your destination.

    Own up to those feelings of fear. Share them with the people you meet. Move forward slower than you have in the past. Forgive yourself when you stumble, and be honest about those stumblings with whomever you are trying to move forward with. 

    Broken hearts are the worst. However, the things we find in between those broken hearts are often the things that help shape us into being the best versions of ourselves — and that risk of love is what makes love so very powerful.

    One step at a time.

  • "I WAS ON THE EVERYONEISGAY WEBSITE AND ONE OF THOSE ADDS OF AN UNDERWEAR MODEL WEARING "EVERYONE IG GAY" UNDERWEAR WAS AT THE TOP OF THE SCREEN AND MY SISTER WALKED IN THE ROOM AND LOOKED AT THE SCREEN AND THEN AT ME AND THEN SLOWLY BACKED OUT WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING. *internal screaming*"

    - Question submitted by Anonymous

  • "How do I get creative? I just really wanna DO something, but I’m usually pretty clueless. I always end up dreaming about love instead of making myself useful. I’m determined to stop ths behaviour, but I was wondering if you have any concrete tips how to get, like… new ideas!"

    - Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Kai Davis as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

    Kai Says:

    While I can’t tell you or teach you how to create new ideas, I can teach you to recognize them when they happen. I think that most people, including yourself, are under the impression that every kind of creative inspiration must be a gleaming beacon of profundity and wisdom. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming about love. Love permeates through life in ways we cannot even fathom. There is value in exploring its vastness. Anything that makes us aware of ourselves, of others, the world around us, or even the spiritual word is useful and important art. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. Whatever ideas you find yourself thinking about, no matter what it is, can be interpreted as divine signals to explore those ideas through art.

    You must also let go of “newness.” There is no new idea, especially when it comes to art because art is humanity and our collective consciousness allows us to sometimes think and feel with the same hearts and minds. Every idea you have or I have has been thought of and executed before in a million different ways. That alone should be inspiring, not discouraging. Because now you have the opportunity to make us see something familiar in a unique way. And if you find yourself thinking about the same thing over and over, writing the same poem, drawing the same picture, do not feel disheartened. There are some things that I’ve written about many many times, because some things are always relevant. And some things just need to be written or drawn or sung about a thousand times because this is how we have to cleanse. “New” is just a bright shiny word. We should never dwell on it too long.

    If you want some concrete tips, I can tell you what I do to keep the juices flowing:

    1.      Stream of consciousness free writing. Sometimes you have thoughts in your head that are too stiff or quiet. I recommend writing everything and I do mean everything that comes to your mind for a few minutes each day. That means you don’t stop to think about what you’re writing, you don’t stop to process it and you definitely don’t erase, backspace, or scratch out anything. You’ll find thoughts and ideas you’ve been unconsciously ignoring. This exercise is like consciousness yoga.

    2.      Write down funny or interesting things you hear people say in conversation, in songs, on tv, on the radio, etc. We are often inspired in quick bursts and before we can turn that inspiration into art, it leaves are minds. Keeping a log of thought provoking things you hear day to day can be a great resource.

    3.      Just do it. Yeah I know, easier said than done. But honestly, sometimes creating is like ripping off a bandaid. You have to do it with confidence, quickness, and courage or the process is a lot more painful. Whenever I’m writing a collaboration poem with my friends sometimes we find ourselves writing notes and ideas for days for fear of not having a quality poem once we start. But then we always have to remind ourselves, that if we don’t just do it, we will have accomplished nothing.

    I really hope this helps.

    ***

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  • "I can’t stand my sister’s girlfriend! While I consider myself liberal, this new girl is extremely liberal to the point where she is really judgmental of people who don’t agree with her beliefs. She has said some pretty rude things to some of my friends and family, and I feel as though she judged for things like wanting to be a housewife someday. I want to be supportive because I know her girlfriend is making my sister happy, but her arrogance is really annoying and off putting. Any advice?"

    - Question submitted by Aerielview 

    Dannielle Says:

    This is the WORST. Regardless of what someone’s point of view is, when they’re judgmental and rude to people who don’t agree with them… it’s not cool. It also makes everyone else look super bad. 

    It’s frustrating because if she were kind and having conversations, she might actually change minds. INSTEAD she’s trying to make people feel bad for having their own opinion, which in turn makes them think “oh COOL, SO I GUESS I’LL KEEP MY OPINIONS AND NOT DIALOGUE ABOUT THEM BECAUSE I’LL JUST GET YELLED AT BY SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T AGREE” 

    Fighting fire with fire, you guys. It never works. If I were you, I would talk to my sister and be real with her. I’d say “I’m really glad that you’re happy and I love you and support you, however, I do feel like your girl is isolating members of our family by making them feel crappy for not agreeing with her POV, so that’s a little hard for me.” If I were someone else with more guts, I would talk to the GF and say “heyyy, I 100% respect that we have differing opinions, but the way that you handle it is making me NEVER want to hear you out. Aaaaand I actually think it’d be kind of cool to know why you think certain things, so if you’re down to have a respectful conversation, let’s do that.”

    It isn’t fair for her to be judging your family and telling them they’re wrong for their opinions. A constructive conversation is one thing, judging someone for thinking differently is just not cool. 

    Kristin Says:

    I agree one hundred gabillion percent. Being liberal doesn’t mean not hearing other people’s experiences, and I can tell you that NOTHING makes me more furious than a person who cannot hear the thoughts and varying opinions of other human beings.

    Newsflash: Making someone feel shitty about wanting to be a housewife is JUST AS SHITTY as telling a woman she has to be a housewife. Both scenarios say that as a woman you do not have a choice. Both scenarios create a rigid structure of expectation for a ‘woman’ to fulfill. What your sister’s girlfriend is doing is not “liberal”… it is close-minded, and just as ignorant and bigoted as the actions taken by people who cast homophophia, transphobia, and misogyny our way.

    Now, of course, you probably don’t want to go slinging all of those angry words at someone who means a lot to your sister… but I needed you to know how fucking WRONG that shit is, to at least help you to feel better about your own related emotions.

    I agree with Dannielle and I think you should speak with your sister before doing anything else. Go in knowing that you are being open-minded and fair, and that every human being has the right to have their own opinions and desires without being made to feel shitty. Explain to your sister that you’ve been feeling a little uncomfortable and tell her why. If she seems up in arms, remind her that you aren’t suggesting anyone else follow the path you are following in life, but that you think that everyone in your family should have a right to their own opinions, desires, and thoughts.

    As her if there is a way to broach the situation with sensitivity, and explain that you also do not want to make her girlfriend feel out of place or upset. The calmer and more level-headed you can be about the whole thing, the more likely it will be that you and your sister can figure out the best way to make everyone comfortable.

    If your sister has a hard time hearing you — remember that your wants are not misplaced or wrong at all, and that it just may be difficult for her to navigate between two people she loves. Hopefully, even if you have a rocky start, you will be able to work to a place of mutual respect. At the end of the day, that is all you are after… and it is much-deserved.

  • “How should a new trans man deal with all the increase in anxiety after finally being honest with themself?”

    - Question submitted by Anonymous and answered by Liam Lowery as a part of Everyone Is Gay: Second Opinions

    Liam Says:

    You know the expression, “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it”? Here is what I perceived from the way you asked this question:

    I am guessing that there was always a nebulous question mark looming over your head when it came not just to sexuality—but to more basic things, like your name or preferred gender pronouns.

    I am guessing that you eventually decided you needed to answer those questions about yourself.

    I am guessing that inevitably, you saw a plot arc on The L Word, or came across a Tumblr featuring cute trans guys in bow ties, and a chord was struck somewhere deep within you. For the first time, maybe, you felt called towards an answer about yourself.

    But, given societal transphobia, lack of inclusion in some LBGT spaces, and the entire overwhelming process of transitioning (though that means different things for different people), maybe you didn’t want that answer to be “trans.” You thought about the process of telling family and friends, and your heart sank. Could you really take this on?

    Maybe I am just projecting.

    You see, the hardest person to come out to is always yourself. Because when you come out to yourself, it sets you on a path lined with decisions only you can make. When I realized I was trans, I wanted to shove the realization deep into the recesses of my mind and never deal with it again. But I couldn’t, and I’m glad for it now.

    I have news for you, new trans man. Since you’ve come out to yourself, you are not so new after all—in fact, you’ve already done the hardest thing. Congratulations!

    For the anxiety:

    [First, I want to say this: if at any point your anxiety is overwhelming, or makes you think suicidal thoughts, seek the help of a mental health professional immediately. Not to be a downer, but it is important to be aware of since one of the sad legacies of our community is an increased rate of suicide and depression.]

    Early-transition anxiety varies a lot from person to person. Some people may have a hard time talking to their family about their new identity. For others, it might be trying to gain access to trans inclusive healthcare or afford things like new gender affirming clothes. For others, it might be gaining trans-specific legal resources to aid in their transition. For others, especially those who are geographically isolated, it might be establishing a trans support system. All of these problems can be solved using the Internet: PFLAG’s website for families, eBay for cheap clothes, Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Lambda Legal for legal resources, Art of Transliness, Original Plumbing and Bklyn Boihood for community resources, and to meet cool new friends.

    Then there’s the stress, though. The stress of trying to decide what medical steps, if any, your transition will involve, and how to afford them. The stress of convincing your family and friends to respect your identity and, when they do, reflecting how your relationships have changed as a result. The stress of legally changing your name and/or legal gender, if you decide to do so. The stress that even when you do “transition” (whatever that really means), even if you are stealth and passing, you can never un-learn the questions you had to ask to get there: what does gender really mean, and how does gender inequality inform everyone’s lives.

    Deep stuff, right?! When I was newly out, I felt like I was on a long road with no end in sight. It’s scary. I totally understand. As such, the last thing I wanted was more information on how to start a Kickstarter to fund my surgeries, or how to do a testosterone shot. I wanted to know (preferably from someone a few years post-coming out) how to get through the dark days when you feel bad/ugly and your family isn’t talking to you and everyone at school thinks you’re a freak. I didn’t want advice on the beautiful butterfly I would become (I am sure you know that you, too, are a beautiful butterfly), I wanted to hear how to survive as a caterpillar. In case you can’t tell, I am about to get mad real.

    Take a bath.  No, seriously. Take a bath. Make yourself a nice cup of tea, light a candle, get in the tub. Or if you live in a place with only a shower, go get one of those shower steamer things that makes your shower smell extra good.

    Or: eat an ice cream cone. Clean your room. Do a yoga pose. Buy a plant and keep it alive. Wash your clothes with fabric softener. Take a walk. Paint a picture. Nap. Make yourself a dinner like you’d make if company were coming over. Sleep in.

    The goal of this is two-fold: 1. Remind yourself that you are special and deserve to be taken care of. 2. Spend some time with you, in leisure, since you are already spending lots of time working on you. Get to know you, get to like you. You deserve that.

    Then, after your bath/nap/ice cream/walk/laundry, take a minute to be grateful.

    Take a second to say to yourself: I am so lucky to have the clarity to know myself. I am so lucky have already done the hardest part. I am so lucky to have good things in my life.

    Gratitude is a practice, and often throughout any transition (whether you’re moving away from home for the first time, or changing your life to better reflect your gender identity) gratefulness is often the only thing that can ward of anxiety and fear.  It is one of few sure ways to foster happiness in yourself without any external motivator. It is very good for sustaining you through long journeys, like the one you are on.

    And then, always, remind yourself that the hardest part is behind you.  

    ***

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