Being asexual in our society is hard. I hesitate to say it’s harder than being gay, but it’s still difficult, just in a different way.
I had my first boyfriend when I was 13, a perfectly normal age. We “dated” for over a year, but aside from a few school dances and a handful of kisses, nothing ever developed. Okay, that seemed like a reasonable experience for a high school freshman. Then there was the boy who took me to his junior prom. He was a friend’s brother and we had a lot in common, but again, no chemistry. Alright, I was 0 for 2 now. Not unusual. After that came the one who accused me of turning him away from women. There’s more to that story, but that will have to wait for another ramble. But looking back, many years later, that’s when I should have known.
So my romance life in high school was nonexistent. Maybe college would be different, I thought. No luck. I went to a big school, a good distance from where I grew up, with new people, and a chance to start over without my past being relevant. And nothing changed.
For a long time, I thought I was broken. That there was something wrong with me. I figured maybe the problem was men. I found women just as aesthetically pleasing; could I be a lesbian… or bisexual? But I wasn’t romantically interested in women. Or in men, for that matter. I was watching everyone I knew have relationships, get married, have children, and I was still alone. Obviously there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t girly enough, I didn’t like to hang out at bars, I was terrible at meeting new people. I was broken.
Last year, all that changed.
I discovered something called asexuality. AVEN (The Asexual Visibility and Education Network) defines asexuality as “someone who does not experience sexual attraction.” And while I didn’t immediately associate myself with it, the more I read, the more I recognised myself. Not every description, of course, but enough to start questioning everything I thought I knew about sexuality.
And while I don’t believe that everything needs, or should have, a label, I came to understand that sometimes labels can give you freedom. The first time I said, “I’m asexual,” it was like a 30 ton weight was gone. The first time I said it to someone else, it was like suddenly being able to breathe freely. And the first time I sat in front of a packed room and told them that I was asexual, I couldn’t stop shaking for what felt like hours. But it gets easier.
My coming out story may not be particularly dramatic or even particularly special. But I think it’s an important story to tell. I think everyone has an important story to tell. I spent the majority of my life thinking something in me was broken. Being gay is hard, but generally people will recognise what it is. They might not approve, but you don’t have to worry about a total lack of sexual attraction. Asexuality is still not a commonly recognised orientation, and many (most?) people won’t understand what it means, even if it pertains to them.
I’m lucky, I suppose. I not only completely accept who and what I am, I have a best friend who gets it too. I’ve been bullied, but not about my sexuality. I’ve primarily been faced with curiosity. People don’t know what being asexual means. And even though it differs for each person, I’m always happy to explain what it means to me.
I’m not broken.
Asexuality means I don’t experience sexual attraction.
It doesn’t mean I can’t choose to have a sexual relationship.
I still find people attractive.
It doesn’t mean I automatically want to have sex with them.
I’m not broken.
I can, and have been, attracted to people of any gender.
I’m generally aromantic.
I still connect emotionally with people.
I want to have relationships, just not ones based on sex and/or romance.
I can feel love; romantic love isn’t the only form of love out there.
I’m not a sociopath or lack a heart.
I don’t want to be alone forever.
I don’t choose to be asexual, it’s the orientation I was born.
I can’t be “cured” with romance or sex.
I don’t need to be “cured.”
Anyone can be asexual, men women, etc.
Don’t assume you know how I feel about sex/romance/relationships/etc.
If you want to know, ASK.
And you know what? I’M NOT BROKEN.
It’s hard to be asexual. It’s painful to grow up knowing that there’s something “wrong” with you. I never had role models or books or even the internet to help me. Even now, it’s rare to find someone to look up to who identifies as asexual. The LGBT community is the closest I’ve come to acceptance, but I don’t quite fit in there either. Saying, “You’re aesthetically pleasing but I’m not sexually attracted to you,” tends to put people off. And while, as I’ve said previously, I encourage curiosity and questions, sometimes it would be nice to not have to explain.
And so ends my ramble on sexuality, or rather the lack thereof. If you, or someone you know, might be asexual, let them know they’re not alone. There’s nothing wrong with them, nothing to “fix.” I’m always happy to talk, if they need an ear or shoulder. I’ve been through the stress and doubts and pain, and it really does get easier. Sometimes knowing there’s another person out there makes all the difference.
Please, if you think this is worth sharing, do it! Twitter, facebook, email, word of mouth.. pass it on. I know there’s more than just me who wants to be accepted and recognised by the rest of the world. And the only way to do that is to make ourselves heard. Talk about asexuality, teach people, and don’t be ashamed of something that makes you special.