Ways to Support a Friend Who Recently Came Out As Asexual:
1. Tune In and Allow Them to Express Their Emotions
Aces can feel a range of emotions when they realize that they’re asexual.
Some are relieved or proud to find a word that describes their experience. Some feel thankful to know there are other people like them. Some are disappointed, feeling they’re lacking something vital. Others still are indifferent.
It can be confusing. When someone discovers they’re in the 1% of the population that doesn’t experience sexual attraction, they must learn to navigate a world where sex is considered normal and even mandatory for a happy life.
Depending on how your ace friend feels about their asexuality when they come out to you, it may be an emotional revelation.If they are like me, they may need to be the shoulder they lean on. If they need to cry, let them get it out. If they have a long story to tell you about how they came to the realization, take some time to let them get it off of their chest.
Be sure to let them express themselves before you offer opinions and advice. In the moment of their reveal, it is important that your friend is affirmed.
2. Acknowledge Their Experience as Real
Nearly every “out” ace will have a story about how someone told them their asexuality isn’t possible.
It’s quite presumptuous when people assume to know more about someone’s sexual orientation than the person themselves.
And when invalidating an ace’s experience because it isn’t something you’re used to, you create an oppressive dynamic.
You set up an environment that doesn’t acknowledge your friend’s experience as legitimate. This form of prejudice suggests that only the allosexual experience is real and that something is wrong with people who don’t feel sexual attraction or desire.
Denying a friend’s asexuality creates a space where an ace cannot be fully themselves, which can put a strain on an otherwise successful friendship.
Instead of responding with the typical problematic responses, let your friend know you’ve got their back and that they can confide in you if they need to.
If they’re feeling down, you should reaffirm that it is okay to be asexual. If you’re slightly familiar with asexuality, you can share where you’ve learned about it to remind them that asexuality is a normal experience for many people.
3. Be Aware of What They Actually Need
Friends and family members who reveal their asexuality may need various methods of support, including relationship advice, comfort, an open heart, or help telling another friend or family member.
Aside from asexual people on the Internet, aces may not personally know people who can relate. It helps to have at least one friend who’s aware of what they’re going through. It’s also important to realize that your asexual friend may not need anything from you, including advice or guidance. They might have come out to you because they wish to be open about their sexual orientation.
Finding out what your ace friend actually needs is a better way to be supportive.
Ask your friend how you can support them. Asking gives your friend the agency to let you know what they need, rather than you telling them what you think they need.
4. Offer to Help Them Find an Ace Community, If Desired
If your friend is open to meeting other aces, help them search for an ace community.
You’ll find aces congregate on Internet forums and social media groups.
Start with the Asexual Visibility and Education Network and Tumblr is very useful also. Those two sources provide general information along with forums and blogs for aces of colour.
Asexual groups in larger cities sometimes host get-togethers and will share this information on their websites, Meetup pages, or Facebook groups.Additionally, some LGBTQIA+ groups open their doors to asexual people. If you’re lucky, you might even find a few ace flags waving at your local Pride parade.
5. If It’s a Secret, Keep It That Way
No matter the sexual orientation, it’s not okay to out anyone. If they’re not out, that’s their decision – and it should be respected.
An ace’s sex life, or lack of sex, is no one else’s business.
6. Consult Additional Resources
Don’t assume your asexual friend knows everything there is to know about asexuality.
Asexuality is a complex spectrum, and there’s always more to learn about it.
AVEN provides a robust amount of information on the subject. Aces also host blogs on Tumblr, have groups on Reddit, and use other social media sites to answer questions about asexuality. They provide first-hand accounts of many aces’ experiences.
If you do your research, you may find a few resources to share with your ace friend.
The more you know about asexuality, the better of an ally you can be for your ace friend and aces around the world.
Article and Content by Shae Collins for Everyday Feminism