Everyone has a story worth sharing. Mine started with a google search, that led me to a single word. Asexual. That one word has broken me, healed me, made me finally gain consciousness. Part of me always knew I was different from others, I just couldn’t describe this absence of sexual interest when everyone else was expressing an abundance of sexual curiosity. Calling myself an asexual for the first time, brought me a sense of pride to belong to such an accepting community. The moment I saw an advertisement searching for asexuals hoping to share their story in recognition of International Asexuality Day, this was my cue to finally stand in solidarity. Writing this article, a million thoughts ran through my head. What would I even write that others in the asexual community could relate to?
Ever since I came out as an asexual, I’ve found myself constantly having personal questions thrown at me by those confused about the orientation. We all know that moment. Every asexual has been asked those questions. Put in the spot light as if we’re aliens walking among humans. Constantly needing to shatter these myths about asexuality. I’m finally addressing those questions and myths no asexual wants to hear.
"Does that mean you’re afraid of sex?"
Asexuality isn’t a fear of sex, it’s a sexual orientation that describes a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction to other individuals. Asexuality is a broad term that is inclusive of all of the different asexual identities. When I identify as asexual, this is the sexual orientation I was born with, it’s not linked to a phobia of sex or social awkwardness, but lack of interest towards sex and a sexual relationship. The moment I discovered the asexuality community, it provided a sense of relief and comfort to know that I wasn’t the only person who had lack of sexual attraction. I honestly thought this was an issue that was limited to me.
"You’re confused and inexperienced."
I’ve heard this phrase so many times over the years. Ever since I first identified as asexual, people have been trying to convince me that sex is this magical experience that will instantly “heal” me. Questioning my sexuality at such a young age, people often looked at me as a confused adolescent who didn’t understand her changing body. It bothers me that people often attempted to speak for me and tried to explain my own body to me, as if I didn’t know myself. Age doesn’t contradict one’s asexuality, yet somehow I found myself almost obligated to explain myself to others. My asexuality isn’t something I needed to confirm by having sex for the first time. I don’t need to appease others to be respected as an asexual. You’d never ask a straight person why they don’t like people of the same sex, or how they could know for sure unless they get experience. Why is acceptable to tell an asexual they need to do something they have no interest in?
"Relax it’s just a phase. You’re a late bloomer."
Being asexual is often written off as some kind of hormonal imbalance, or a disorder that effects my ability to feel sexual attraction. For years, I believed this notion, I thought something was physically wrong with me. These misconceptions consumed me. I questioned my own authenticity and whether I could trust my own judgement, as if I didn’t know my own body. I don’t understand why I was searching for validation from others. This unnecessary fear of social alienation convinced me that I had to pretend to be sexually driven and suppress these feelings of disinterest towards sex.
"What happened to you, that turned you asexual?"
I’m not sure where this misconception originated from, or why people automatically assume there’s some kind of negative sexual experience associated with being asexual. There’s no traumatic event that “changed” me into being an asexual, I was merely born an asexual. Sexual orientation isn’t a switch you can just flip on and off voluntarily. When I explain to others that I’m an asexual, they often confuse asexuality with celibacy or some kind of pledge that I made for religious reasons. Celibacy is a choice, you’re voluntarily refraining from having sex. Asexuality was the sexual orientation that I was born with, it’s a part of who I am as a person. I am proud of my sexual orientation.
"We’ve all been asexual at some point.”
Not wanting sex doesn’t equal asexuality. This isn’t a trend, it’s not a phase, and certainly not a lifestyle choice. This is a valid sexual orientation that individuals around the world identify as. Please don’t use asexuality to describe a temporary break from sex, it invalidates asexuals and fuels the misconception that this is a short-term phase of sexual disruption rather than a recognized sexual orientation.
“If you’ve known for so long, how come you never told anyone?”
Fully coming to the realization that I was an asexual was a terrifying moment. How could I possibly explain asexuality to friends and family when I didn’t even know the existence of the term beforehand. I couldn’t help but fear that my coming out moment wouldn’t go as expected. Part of me knew my parents would love and accept me no matter what, whether I was queer or not, but I couldn’t help but fear that they would refuse to accept me. For the most part, the people in my life have been accepting of my asexuality. My friends were the first people to know about my asexuality, they’ve been my greatest allies and my support system.
I made the decision to come out on my own terms, eventually I reached a point of my life where I just didn’t want to hide anymore. There are closeted asexuals out there who aren’t ready to come out yet. Some asexuals may never reveal themselves, it’s perfectly acceptable and no one should ever feel like they need to be out about their sexuality to be part of this community. If a person ever comes out to you, understand that person trusts you enough for them to share this sensitive information. Be supportive, accept them, in the end that’s all we want from our loved ones. I don’t want special treatment, I want my family and friends to treat me as they did before I came out.
“Never would’ve guessed you were an asexual, you don’t come off as one.”
When I come out as asexual to people, there’s a certain sense of shock, like people expect asexuals to act different. Just because I don’t feel sexual attraction or desire, doesn’t mean I act out of the ordinary. At the end of the day I’m still the same friend, daughter, sister, and co-worker that everyone knows me as. Being asexual doesn’t mean we can’t talk about crushes, say people are attractive, make dirty jokes and laugh at sexual references. There’s no etiquette asexuals need to abide by to be represented. As far as acceptance goes, if a person doesn’t accept my asexuality, that’s their problem.
Whether it’s a person I’m familiar with or just some stranger, their comments will not change me, or shove me back in the closet. When someone says they don’t understand asexuality, it’s not that they have trouble understanding, that individual simply choose not to accept it.
"You say that now, but that’ll change when you meet the right guy.”
Hearing this for the hundredth time is absolutely exhausting, no guy will ever change who I am, nor will I let them alter me. I’ve been told that if I ever want to meet a guy I have to be willing to have sex at some point to appease him, but I shouldn’t be pressured into having sex with anyone. If anyone, regardless of whether they’re asexual or not, doesn’t wish to have sex, nobody, not even your partner should force you to do something you’re not comfortable with. Relationships aren’t one sided, if a person doesn’t respect your sexuality, then you shouldn’t be in a relationship with that person.
“You feel no love at all?”
When people ask me if being asexual means I’m incapable of feeling love, or they make me sound like some emotionless machine, my eyes sink far into the back of my skull. Asexuality doesn’t mean you can’t feel love, nor does sex equal love. Love isn’t limited between two partners, it’s such a broad definition that goes beyond sex and is a deep emotional connection that can come in different forms. Love can be the connection between friends, the bond between a parent and their child, love can be platonic.
I strive to have a family of my own someday. Many often see my sexual orientation as a limitation, an incapability to have children of my own someday, that I’m almost undeserving of having a family. Asexuality should never be used as an excuse to dismantle a person’s dream of being a parent. Asexuals can feel love. Those who identify as part of the asexual spectrum can fall in love, have crushes, get married, have kids, our sexuality doesn’t restrict us. Even though asexuals lack sexual attraction, asexuals can still desire sexual relationships and enjoy sex. Not every asexual is going to be the same, we all are different. However don’t confuse asexuality with aromanticity. Aromanticity means you have little or no romantic attraction towards others. Asexuals can be aromantic, but not all asexuals identify as aromantic.
“Are you just going be alone for the rest of your life?”
Dating can be difficult enough, trying to date as an asexual is needless to say a struggle. For a short time I was on multiple apps in search of the “perfect guy” who would accept my asexuality and check every other requirement on the ideal boyfriend checklist. Even with the word asexual in bold text, over the phone conversations with potential dates wouldn’t last more than ten minutes when I explained the term asexuality to them. Watching everyone in my life couple up and finding their special someone, the pressure I put on myself to find someone became undeniable.
I’m in no rush to find a partner. Even if I don’t ever find a partner, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I’d rather live the remainder of my life single and embracing my sexuality, than pretending to be something I’m not. My choice regarding whether I’m sexually active or not is my own. I’ve found happiness through non-sexual and non-romantic relationships. Relationships such as having my best friends by my side. Being as close as we are means me more to me than having a stranger I’m sexually or romantically involved with.
“If this is real, how come there are no other asexuals?
Although the asexual community may seem like a small one, believe me when I say there are fellow asexuals out there that are within reach. For the longest time, I believed I would never actually come in contact with a fellow asexual. Growing up in a small community, it seemed as though I was the only asexual around. Since I left high school, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet fellow individuals who identify as part of the asexual spectrum. Hearing their stories, relating to their past experiences, and being able to connect with other asexuals has been incredible and part of my personal growth. It’s amazing to see how in a small community, you can find other asexuals.
The lack of representation for the Asexual community makes it as though we don’t exist and makes our attempt to spread awareness even more of a challenge. Asexuals need more visibility. There needs to be characters in movies, shows, and books that Asexuals can relate to.
A message to others
Whether you are a person who identifies as part of the asexual spectrum, a person still figuring out their sexuality, or someone just curious about International Asexuality Day, share your story for others to hear. Be an ally to those who come out to you. If a person comes out to you, understand they want only want acceptance. Respect their decisions regarding who they tell about their sexuality. To any asexuals reading this, always know you’re not alone and you have an entire community of individuals standing alongside you. Don’t go looking for validation, you are enough. You always have been.
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