Before beginning this article, I would like to state that all opinions and experiences expressed within this piece are my own and do not represent the asexual community as a whole.
If you look up asexuality, a quick Google search tells you that it is a sexual orientation whereby a person experiences little to no sexual attraction to anyone, nor the desire for sexual contact. In the words of Brunning and McKeever (2020), it is “the absence of sexual attraction”. In my view, asexuality takes on a genderless form, as I find myself not experiencing sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. I am, however, still romantically attracted to people, and that is the case for a great number of hidden members of the ‘ace-spec’ orientation around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly not aided members of the asexual community, at least in my own experience: Lockdowns worldwide have made it harder for us to be seen and heard with any significant voice or held in any significant regard.
People tend to assume that we don’t have a place in the LGBTQA+ community, despite the letter for asexuality being present in the title. I have personally been told multiple times that, because I’m not gay, I don’t belong within the community, and I have been told that I only identify as ace-spec for attention; that I “just haven’t found the right person yet”. I would argue that anyone who has ‘come out’ or has told someone about being asexual has had this doctrine pressed upon them time and time again and their identity disregarded. I certainly have. That same line has been uttered to me by my own family members, my friends, and I have even experienced potential dates telling me this same spiel in the hope that they are “the one” as they word it. It is safe to say that “the one” certainly has not emerged, least of all from this pool or narrow mindedness.
When I was younger, I felt that I was ‘broken’ because I wasn’t attracted to people the way I should be. I did get crushes on people, but they never lasted long enough to truly consider. The longest relationship I've had was 8 months and I broke it off because my ex would not stop rhyming off the same wish to have children. There is nothing wrong with having children of course nor is there anything wrong with wanting to, I simply do not feel the same way, and to have that opinion pushed upon me did not feel right.
If this article accomplishes one thing and one thing only, I hope it is that people who are asexual or feel they belong to the ace-spec community know they are not alone in the world; that there is a vast number of similar yet diverse people all over the map. I can relate to most things a lot of fellow aces have gone through.
Dating over the past 2 or 3 years has been unsuccessful, and I've come to the conclusion that I don't really mind staying single and focusing on myself. With lock down still in full force in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole, there’s a lot more to worry about than a potential fling hanging around, not to mention the stress of having to tell a potential partner about my asexuality. Something that should be a calm and understanding conversation about identity can quickly become a lecture to some or a debate to others. On top of this, I have had to deal with remarks being made afterwards, such as “you haven’t been with me yet, you'll change your mind” or “you will never be happy in a relationship without sex”. The big one I get asked quite frequently is “are you asexual because of trauma?” The askers of this question all tend to get the same deadpan facial expression and either a snarky answer or simply silence, myself knowing that, yet again, another relationship opportunity has gone up in smoke because people are obsessed with sex and can’t seem to live without it. The sad side of this is that it is not necessarily entirely their own fault for thinking this way, as society has not yet adapted to the idea of sexuality in the same way it has to homosexuality for example. There is still much work to be done in the education of people about asexuality so that members of the ace-spec community can feel comfortable in their own skin and not feel like an outsider in their own homes. Further to this sadness is that asexual people, in my view, are simply people who only crave platonic relationships and affection.
I still haven’t ‘come out’ yet, at least not publicly, and I know many other people, be they asexual or otherwise, that haven’t either, and that’s okay! It’s a personal element of yourself and only you can know when it is the right time, especially in world so filled with hate and anger, but also one filled with diversity and compassion. I just tell anyone who asks and that's good enough for me. I’m happy with myself. A lot of aces are happy with themselves too. The problem isn’t within the ace-spec community; it’s what lies outside it. Many people don’t like the fact that people accept their sexuality outside of the traditional setting, with many thinking that society can change us back to the “way we’re meant to be”. My family still has hopes that I’ll meet a nice person, settle down, get married, and have kids of my own one day. Maybe one day it will happen, and it is true that in some cases it does happen, but I doubt that I’ll be intimately attracted to someone long enough. That's the part that make me feel that dating for aces can seem shallow, unkind, and absurd, or just not worthy of the time and effort we have to put in to justify ourselves and make our voices heard. There are still times where I’m scared or embarrassed to say “Yes, I am asexual” because of the backlash we face.
However, society is ever-changing, and with the recent legalisation of gay marriage in Northern Ireland, it can only be a beacon of hope for people like me. There is still a lot of work to do, but no fight is worth fighting if it isn’t worked for.
Brunning, L. and McKeever, N. (2020) Asexuality. Journal of Applied Philosophy. DOI: 10.1111/japp.12472.
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