Rina Kline is a lovely mother on the Autism Spectrum, her son is a level one autistic teen and Rina’s partner is also a woman on the Autism Apectrum. Rina asked to speak with me under a condition of anonymity due to her concerns about how her community might view her private life. Sadly like most alternative/poly amorous person’s Rina worries that she will likely face negative consequences regarding coming out. I had the pleasure of interviewing her recently.
Sean: “Can you tell me about your experiences negotiating romance as a woman on the spectrum?”
“It’s been an interesting process through my life. On one hand I’ve never really subscribed to any way I’m “supposed to be,” that’s where I find Autism plays a role. I had religious family but from a very young age I would ask probing questions about religion, as to the why about it. So when I became sexually aware I had to do so carefully.
It was really interesting because I was aware of this shame from society and family but I didn’t feel shame about my sexuality when I came out personally.
I originally came out as bi, but both gay people and straight people in the nineties had their own views about it. Gays said that if you were bi that it meant you’re just on the way to gay and straights said if you’re bi you’re in a phase. I came out as Gay even though I hated that label and I hated how society boxed me in on both sides. I mainly decided to say I was a lesbian because I didn’t want my family to have any sort of wiggle room to “convert me” away from being bi. I wanted to be who I was.
In retrospect I realize why second dates didn’t happen for me often. I can be probing and I’m interested in psychology so I’m known for probing people when I am getting to know them. I have always been direct and very blunt and everyone knows this about me. This chased away a lot of people I was dating. My closest friends are gay men because gay culture tends to celebrate this blunt nature.”
This put an interesting spin on dating and when I met my wife and got married it took her a while to get used to me being direct and not having a hidden agenda. My wife has a passive aggressive mother and my wife wasn’t used to someone being direct without a hidden agenda. It took me three or four years to figure out passive aggression so my wife had to get used to me and how I function. Now fifteen years later I know how to respond and its comfortable and easy but I had to learn how to interact with my passive aggressive mother in law. This also happens with people being homophobic and I have had to learn how to detect it.”
Sean: “I had a similar experience with my own wife and her mother in law. (laughing) A lot of people on the spectrum have alternative views regarding romance and sexuality.”
“You know one of the benefits of Autism is that once I have the logical reasons for a decision it’s more likely that I’m totally into it. Once my wife started exploring pan sexuality and polyamory I had to really tackle some past trauma in sexuality. I had a bad experience in college with a man that traumatized me. So I started researching polyamory once my wife was already open to it but at the time had never acted on it. After I had started researching it we had a group play opportunity and it really broadened our horizons. That, coupled with what I’d been learning, really opened my eyes and I was like “this is really great and I really enjoy it” and my wife was like “yes it was.” So from that point we decided to really try this polyamory thing.
I have since explored my pan sexuality and I am open to who I really am now. I am not a lesbian forced into a box. I am pansexual. Most labels aren’t very useful in my opinion but some can be and I really do feel strongly now that I am pansexual and it feels great to know myself this way. Now that I have done my research and had some experiences I am certain of who I am.”
Sean: “Thanks so much Rina, It’s been a pleasure.”
Sean Leal is on a mission to advocate both for mental health awareness and for Autism awareness as well as care. After looking back on the tragedy and abuse he suffered in his childhood he spent eight years in therapy and was diagnosed with level one Autism at the age of thirty-two. After his diagnosis other members of his family were tested for ASD as well. His brother, sister and uncle have been formally diagnosed with ASD as well as several of their children.
After helping his family learn more about the Autism spectrum he is very excited to be given the opportunity to volunteer and write for ASO. It is his hope that the book he has written, an autobiography of his life, will one day be published so that he might pursue his dream career of being a writer and published author. He considers his autistic traits to be a gift, they absolutely are the reason he survived what he did and he is proud to be on the spectrum.