Sunday, December 18, 2016

Highlighting Rare Identities

This post is to announce a project I'd like to do to increase awareness of some of the rarer types of gender, sexual and romantic minorities.

I'd like to interview people who identify with rare, lesser-understood labels for their gender, sexuality and/or romantic orientation. I'm thinking the kinds of labels that:

  • A Google search finds mostly or only glossary entries with single-sentence definitions for that label, with few or no accounts by people who actually identify with that label
  • Many people wonder why that label is needed or important, or point to that label as a sign that you're a 'special snowflake'
  • Most of the time, 'coming out' requires that you engage in a lengthy explanation of what that label even means, or else leave people confused and wondering 'WTF is that?'
If that sounds like your experience around a label you identify as, I'd like to feature you on this blog.

If you participate in this project, I'll ask you a series of interview questions by email or some other mutually accessible format, and then post your answers in a blog explaining one or more labels you identify with. If possible I'll also put in what my research managed to turn up. If I ask a question you're not comfortable answering publically, feel free to decline to answer that question.

The interview questions will vary by the specific label, but in general, I'll ask you to explain that label and how it describes you in your own words, whether that term has synonyms and why you chose that label over synonymous or overlapping labels, how you first came to identify as that label, what umbrella terms you feel that label falls under (eg grey-asexual, greyromantic, multisexual, genderfluid, nonbinary, etc), and why you personally choose to seek out that specific term rather than simply identify as an umbrella term, and whether and how you've come out and what response you've received. I'll also ask if you're comfortable getting questions from readers of this interview, and if so, how they can get in touch with you.

For romantic and sexual orientations, I'll ask you what your ideal relationship status would be, whether you've had romantic, queerplatonic and/or sexual relationships before and how your orientation impacted those relationships, and what your experience of attraction is.

For genders, I'll ask what your pronouns are, what gender you were assigned at birth, whether you experience gender dysphoria/euphoria, and how you generally conceptualize of gender. However, be aware that as a cisgender person, I don't have as much personal experience to draw upon to understand this area as I do with sexual and romantic minorities.

If applicable, I might ask about a controversy specific to that label (such as "how can autism be a gender?" for autigender or "is it just internalized amatonormativity?" for cupioromantic). I'll also add in things I'm personally curious about. I might also ask you to clarify your answers if I'm confused by anything.

If I wind up with a backlog of submissions (I can always hope!), I'll prioritize the labels that have less information available online, since those labels have the most need for this treatment.

If you have multiple lesser-known labels, we can either do separate interviews for each label or one interview for all of them, whichever will work better. Of course, you can also decide to be interviewed about only one of your labels. If your labels interact in a significant way, then I'll probably want to do a combined interview so I can discuss this interaction.

My goal in doing this is to provide information to help two groups of people. First, the people who are questioning their own identity. I know firsthand how hard it can be to read a single-sentence blurb and ask yourself "is that me?" It's a lot easier if you can read a more detailed and personal account.

Second, these interviews will also be for the skeptics. The people who look at a lesser-known label and wonder "why is this a thing?" "do we really need a label for that?" "why would anyone call themselves that?" I know some people will never listen, but some are willing to learn if they can find the resources to teach them. I've been skeptical about some unusual orientations in the past. I used to question, for example, whether romantic attraction even existed, or whether it was just touch hunger. It's OK to be confused or skeptical about an experience that's out of your frame of reference. It's OK to have questions, as long as you're interested in hearing the answers.

I'll kick this off by interviewing myself about my newest and most unusual label - cupioromantic. Expect to see that interview sometime soon.

[Edit: List of completed interviews:
Cupioromantic - Myself
Anthracite_Impreza - Objectum Asexual/Mecha-Bromantic
Untamed Heart - Lithromantic
I'll add each interview here as it goes public.]


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