26 - Liz Jones
Colorado Springs, CO
Full-Time Student. LOVES History. Mentor. Quilter. Gamer.
With the infinite possibilities of gender identity and expression, when did you know?
“Yeah, I would say from fifth or sixth grade, about that time. People were hit with the hormone bug, except me. You know when everybody leaves for the summer and comes back and suddenly they're all like, ‘Boyfriend... girlfriend... Does he like me? Does she like me? Oh, no, my hair and my clothes!’ And I was still standing by going, ‘Hey let's play kickball…’ That was when I noticed there was something... Different. I didn't get it for a number of years, like what were these feelings people were describing. What was this, ‘Oh, you know he or she is the one... Or isn't he handsome … Isn't she beautiful…’ And I would just be standing there like, ‘I like cake, and doggos and kitties.’ I didn't understand what these other emotions are people were talking about. People would approach me saying, ‘Oh I like you. Do you like me?’ And I’d be like, ‘You’re my classmate. Ok, Great, you like me. I like you, too.’ ‘No, I like like you.’ Me: ‘Wait, What?’”
“I prefer she/her. I tried for a while with seeing if I liked being called a different one, and in the end, it's just me. But I'm open to calling anyone by what they like, because I figure that's you, you know you.”
On her coming out experience...
“I have to say it was very cathartic to just come out to myself. I was studying at University. I was taking a gender and women's studies class and we had this screening of a film about Asexuals and Asexuality. By that point, I was kind of confused with myself and depressed because here I was trying for years to follow that mandate of, ‘Well, if you just date somebody... or you just haven't met the right person... or you just need to use this medicine, or try this sexual object and it will make you ‘normal’... you’ll like somebody. And it just wasn't working for me, and I felt like I was this broken human being. Like what was wrong with me?.
And watching that movie and hearing from other people that were describing all these internal doubts with themselves. Like why was everybody kissing and holding hands. I thought we were going to go play kickball. Why is it such a big deal that I now can't talk to male friends that have girlfriends? I don't like them in that way. Why would this girlfriend now accuse me of trying to steal her man? You know, why? There's just so many things that I was like, ‘Wow, this is me!’ and I felt such a cathartic release. I just remember sobbing my eyes out, because I was like, finally there's a thing that I'm part of. Then I thought, logically, that makes sense because just like there's nymphomaniacs, there has to be another spectrum of people who are not that active. Because that's just how science and nature works: there's always a balance of some sort.
So then I finally felt so much better about myself. And I remember calling up my mum because I’m really tight with my mum, and my mum’s always been my support. And I said, ‘Mum, guess what?’ And she said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ And she was like, ‘Of course I'm sitting down. I always sit down when I talk to you.’ And I said, ‘Well, I think I'm Asexual.’ And she was like, ‘Well, what's that?’ So I told her and she goes, ‘Oh, it all makes sense.’ [laughs]
I told her,’“I’m not broken anymore.” And she said, ‘Well, you never were broken. It just wasn't your time to find out.’ I just felt so much better about it. Then she said that she would support me if I wanted to tell anyone else in the family. So then that summer when I went back home, and we're having this big family gathering... And [my family] was like, ‘Look at all these fine gentlemen!’ And I’m like, unh-uh. And then they said, ‘Oh, well maybe she likes women.’ And then they try to introduce me to all these women that they thought I would like. And I was like nope...
I can only think of it as like that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when the main heroine is introducing the guy that she's with, and she's like, he's vegetarian, and her aunt goes, ‘OK I'll make him lamb.’ And she goes, ‘No, he eats vegetables…’ ‘But he can have lamb, right?’
That was the situation I faced as I finally told my family. I was like, ‘No, look, I just don't like anybody. I like people, but I don't like them like that... I don't have that desire. I don't feel that sense that people are supposed to feel.’ And they said, ‘Oh it's just because your hormones are imbalanced... You need to take medicine to fix that, and then boom... You just have a low libido.’ And my mum was like, ‘No, no, it's a real thing.’ And then for some reason that was a great offense to some family members. They were like, ‘What? But I found you the perfect person.’ I was like, ‘Then why don’t you date that person?’ Instead of trying to force me to eat lamb when I'm vegetarian…”
Any fears or concerns with coming out?
“I had more fear of telling other people than I did my mum. For some reason with my mum I was like, ‘I’ve got to tell my mum!’ I’ve always told my mum everything; she's always told me everything. So I just felt when I felt it within myself to say something ‘I need to call Mum and tell her. Mum needs to hear this.’ I didn’t have that fear.
What I had a fear of was to tell my dad, because he’s this big military person and then to tell other family because -- Just a brief thing: Everybody in my family, and I mean everybody, has always served in the military in some way or another. Whether it’s Army, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard. You name it, they've served it. The RAF. Postings in Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia. Except for me, because I decided to be a nerd and just stick to school.
So to come out like that to this very conservative military family was such a huge thing. Because there was a ‘scandal’ in the family, my mum told me, in the 80’s when one of my uncles from the Merchant Marines came out as trans. Everybody was just refusing to call him auntie. They insisted on still calling him uncle. I remember she made me all these fabulous dresses when I was little, so I had no problems... Neither did my mum. And I think it's because my mum was always so chill like that. To her it was no biggie. I still remember her and one of my other aunts gifting me this doll set, where they said this is Drag Queen Ken, and this is Butch Barbie. They went through this whole thing of explaining to me why Barbie was with Diane and why Ken was with Steve-O over here and this and that. But they’re from New York. We were living in Texas at the time I was coming out because we were stationed there. But my mum and my dad, they’re originally from the Northeast and New England area. So my mum was from the Village in New York and so were my aunts (her sisters). So they were pretty chill. But some of my other relatives that were from the old guard, they were just super conservative. It was a lot harder to try to explain being anything outside the box to them. So whenever I talked with them, they would just pretend it never happened. They just think that I'm just being a shy girl, going to school, being a good girl, getting good grades, etc… They hope that when I wake up from my school daze I'll find the Right Man™ and settle down and have a family. So I just ignore it because they’re too old to change their minds. And I just go, ‘Yeah yeah I’m just waiting, twiddling my thumbs.’
Meanwhile, some of my other cousins have since come out. They go, “...it’s because of you standing there saying no, that's not who you are...” That's what later prompted some of them to come out. It was really funny with one of my cousin's because we just knew he was gay from the time he was little. I mean what two-year-old goes to pose for pictures like this [makes a glamour pose]. He just had that pizzazz in him, and he was just too fierce. When he finally came out, he was so dramatic about it, too. He was like, ‘I have to tell you all something.’ His mother’s sitting there, and we’re all like, ‘Yes?’ And he goes, ‘I’m gay.’ And we said, ‘Ok… You said you had something really tremendous you had to tell us…’ It was not as big deal for him as it was for me. We all told him ‘we love you’. But somehow it was a big deal for me, because I'm female and I'm supposed to like, marry somebody and birth more military brats.”
Frustrations within the community?
“The erasure of asexuality. There are some people who know it exists and they're okay with it, but there’s still a lot of people who just treat it like, ‘What? Is that even a thing? How can that be? Why would you…’ So I equate it to how there’s bi/pan erasure, too, where if they date/marry somebody, suddenly they're not bi or pan anymore. I've met some other Aces that did find a partner that they liked, and they got together with this partner. Some [people] have voiced, whether you're single or with someone, there's just this sense of like, ‘Oh, you’re pulling my leg, you can’t be serious that you don't like sex, or you don't have sexual feelings. You got to have tried this at some point or done this other method.’
It's hard because I do try to tell people I am this, and some people treat it like I have this disease. They think asexuality is a disease, so suddenly they don't want to talk or sit next to me. They just go, ‘Oh, hey, you’re that person.’ You know, I’m still me.
Then there are others who treat it like, ‘Oh, does that mean like you don't like me at all?’ They think I'm anti-people. I’m not anti-people. I have friends that I'm close with, that I do care for. I just care more for my dogs than I do for them. My dogs, I express more love and affection for them. I haven’t been able to really do that with anyone else. Aside from my mum. I love my Mum. She's been my BFF. I love my sisters and I love my bratty cousins, and nieces and nephews. But I just haven't felt that love that they describe you’re supposed to feel for ‘that special someone'.
I’ve met some Ace that are Super Ace and they really have zero emotional attachment. Then I've met others who do develop some feelings for others, but on a Jane Austen hand-holding level, not 50 Shades of Grey. Then there are some Ace like me, where we’re just in the middle like, ‘I just like hanging out here.’ I'm sure if I met somebody I feel compatible with, I’d probably settle down with them. But, if not, I'm cool. I just like being me…”
Favorite part about our community?
“I like that it’s so creative, because I'm such a creative person. So I like when I meet up with other people, we're all so creative. We all do all these amazing cool things. Like I quilt, I sew, I make fashion items.
I have my friends who know how to do other creative activities, like bench press a ton of weights. I'm like ‘You are so cool!’ Like Ashley, you should see her. She's a beast! She’s amazingly awesome. That also explains why she was able to move the heavier equipment we we would work a shift together. In contrast, I had the delicate touch of being able to move glass -- without breaking any. So I was often assigned to glass detail. But we all bring our creative differences together and make an awesome team.
I just love how vibrant and creative the [LGBPQTA community can be], and I feel that creativity is what really helps improve the world. Without all this art, all this music, all this vibrant creative energy, it would be a very dull, dull place to live. The uncle I mentioned earlier, used to say -- because she was a hairdresser -- she would say you can always tell when a town has no gay people, because their hair looks like shite. It's just dull and blah and it doesn't have any sparkle…”
What’s one thing you would tell your younger self? Advice to those who feel they can’t come out, or don’t have a community to be a part of?
“Advice to younger me: No, you're not a weird little alien. It's OK that you don’t like that person back. Just because somebody says they like you doesn’t mean you have to go through the motions of -- well, is this what people do? It’s ok to just stay yourself. And no matter how many times people to try to tell you you have to take this medicine, or you have to lose weight... that's not going to really change anything because this is just part of who you are.
For those that live in communities where they can't really come out, I would say just coming out to yourself is the biggest step to make. And you don't have to write it out. If you feel like you have to write it out, make sure you write it out somewhere that is just for you to see. I know that in those kinds of situations there’s always somebody that will try to out you. But eventually, when you feel ready, just find somebody that you know deep down in your bones you can trust to tell. Fortunately for me, that was my mum, that I knew deep down in my heart and my soul I could trust her and she would have my back.
I did have friends and relatives who I did not have such a connection with. But it doesn't have to be your blood relative. It doesn’t have to be somebody in your immediate friends circle. It could just be somebody you trust very much. I found that I was lucky enough that in some of the online gaming places I was involved in to have a circle of friends that I could kind of talk to. It’s really funny, because when I told some of them, they were like, ‘And how does this change anything? You still can't throw an axe right.’
But that I could tell them and have this validation of, ‘Yeah it's cool. Let's keep with this raid and celebrate later. Loser pays the tab.’ and it just made me feel better, that I wasn’t this broken thing that just wasn't functioning like other people. That I wasn't excluded or alienated.”
What’s something you feel you’re really good at?
“I am a quilter. I love quilting... I love sewing... I do embroidery... I do cross-stitching... I sew handbags and scarves... I knit, I crochet... I make and create. That’s just me. I would be very happy in a perfect world if I could run my own little quilt shop with crafts and fabrics, and help teach people how to do all these amazing cool things.”
With the current state of the nation and world, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“Oh, boy. Oh. I wish I could change more than one, because there is just so much going on... There is more than just what’s happening here in America. I guess I would like to erase the hate. If I could just go with a flick of a wand, and have it go where from the very beginning -- when you know, the Founding Fathers were sitting around, dealing with, ‘OK so now what do to do with these 13 colonies..,’, and they're drawing up their plans. If they actually followed the idea from the beginning that women were equal, and people of color, and the Native American communities were given their rights from the beginning... If they didn’t make any concessions to the white, Southern land-owning elites... If they had just stuck to that, stuck to the very principles they wrote down about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and being one's own person. You know, that idea. If I could just do that, and we could fast-forward to now, I think that it would be great.... We would have avoided the whole Civil War problem. We would be a stronger nation to face what Hitler did, and even before that, because Hitler was an outcome of what happened with the Kaiser. So we would be a stronger nation that would be able to face what happened with the Kaiser and before all that, because we wouldn't have had racist people like Woodrow Wilson in office. I mean, I could talk about history for hours. That’s my passion. I'm not just the quilter -- I also love history. Hard core history nerd. I like the mindset that Abraham Lincoln had that we’re this great family in this large house. We should not be fighting like this with each other. We should love one another. I think that message would carry through better and these horrible people wouldn’t have happened as much in our history.
Because these things that are happening now around us have been a long time coming because, you know, if you ignore a wound it's going to fester and it festers to a point where the infection just spreads and you can't ignore it anymore. Everybody's just been ignoring this wound about racism for so long, that rather than just healing it from the beginning --You know, clean and cut out infected areas, redress it -- and it boom, it’s healed. If they had just done that from the beginning, a lot of this ugliness would not have happened…”