“It wasn’t until I was 21 that I discovered the word ‘asexual’.

Before then I’d constantly put off thinking about sex and relationships because whilst I was pretty certain that I was attracted to both men and women, I was attracted to them in different ways and neither of them sexual so my thoughts and feelings were really confused as they didn’t fit into the ‘traditional’ boxes of homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual.

As soon as I found the words to describe myself, I was so frustrated that I’d not come across them sooner, I was instantly keen on coming out, particularly to try and prevent others going through so many years of confusion as I had done.

I first came out online to a friend who was a trans woman who had transitioned during the time I’d known her – very accepting as expected. The second time I came out was in the last pub of a pub crawl (not something I would recommend).

By the age of 21, my friends were certainly starting to suspect that I wasn’t straight. All afternoon they pestered/encouraged me in somewhat subtle ways as we went from pub to pub to be more open with them about my sexuality. During a drinking game in the final pub, I announced it to our whole group, broke down in tears and the rest of that evening is a complete blur!

The next time I came out publicly was in my manifesto campaigning to be a full-time elected student officer at my university. As soon as my campaign went live, I knew that I’d be out to the world and couldn’t control any more who knew or didn’t know as thousands of students, as well as friends and family, would read it. It was exciting but also scary to go so quickly from not even having the words to describe my sexuality to campaigning for better inclusion and awareness of ‘non-traditional’ LGBT+ identities.

During the time I came out, I often heard the phrase ‘there’s no right/wrong way to come out’ but I definitely wouldn’t advise coming out the way I did. I particularly regret not having a 1 on 1 conversation with family members before coming out publicly. Whilst I was concerned that they would dismiss it as a phase, considering I’d only just discovered the language needed to explain and express my thoughts and feelings, I also incorrectly assumed that they would bring my sexuality up in conversation. Instead, it’s become a taboo subject that we have never talked about.

I don’t know whether they are accepting or even how much they understand (I hate when people don’t ask questions!) and so it’s contributed to the reasons we have grown apart. Anything to do with my dating life or relationships is avoided in family conversations, even though it’s a significant part of my life.

It’s now something I’m planning to directly raise with them as something we must talk about next time we’re in the same room so that I don’t feel so neglected.

With everyone else, I’m living my best life and 100% openly and genuinely me but, at the moment, with my family, I feel like I end up being forced back into hiding my real self.” – Matt

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