I’ve been thinking about the closet lately.
I haven’t been “in the closet” for over two decades. I came out as gay when I was 18, and I’ve lived my adult life on the freer side of the closet door. And for most of that time, I’ve preached the gospel of being “out and proud” — what it does for you personally, its importance to other queer people, its value in slowly chipping away at the structural homophobia that’s baked into our culture, our politics, and our policies.
For the last six months, I’ve been sorting out something in myself that’s been a puzzle, a question mark. Something that I’ve always felt and experienced, but something I always ascribed to being a deficiency in me, a fault in my design, a failure. It’s a thing that’s caused me a lot of shame and insecurity. It’s complicated my romantic relationships and, because of the self-destructive ways I sort of “handled” this stuff, it stopped me from building solid friendships, too.
I’ve been in the closet. And the closet is a brutal place. And, thanks to an awesome therapist and a husband who provides me the safest of places to be who I am, I don’t want to be in the closet anymore.
I’m gray-ace. Gray-asexual. It’s an identity on the asexual spectrum. It means different things to different people, but in a nutshell, I identify somewhere between being a sexual person and asexual.
What does that mean for me? It means I only sometimes — not often — experience sexual attraction. It means I only sometimes — not often — want to have sex. I means when I do want to have sex with someone, there’s a limited range of things I’m wanting to do with them. It means sometimes, I enjoy sex. And sometimes, I don’t really feel much of anything when I have sex. I’m perfectly content to not have sex most of the time.
I spent most of my adult life thinking the way I felt about sex meant something was broken in me. Or that I was just lousy at it. I blamed by body for not being attractive enough. I blamed my brain for not being “normal” enough. I overcompensated by having sex with a lot of people I didn’t really want to have sex with, because I thought if I could just appear like a regular red-blooded gay dude, then I’d eventually be one. Fake it til you make it, you know? I tried to be what I thought people expected me to be, what I thought the community expected me to be, and it was sometimes fun, but mostly shameful, mostly anxious, mostly… not me.
I’m gray-ace. That’s me. No more closet.
I’m not sharing this because I want your congratulations. I’m not sharing this for your attention. I’m sharing this because I think there’s great value in letting people know who you are, a net good in allowing the people in your life to see you in totality.
And honestly, I don’t see a lot of asexual representation out there — in the world, on my timelines, in the way y’all talk to me and to each other. That lack of visibility is what built my closet, what made me think I was somehow deficient. So… we’re gonna do something different.
Maybe knock down a closet for someone else.