About a year ago, after much soul-searching and reflecting, I came to terms with the fact that I am asexual. Ever since then, pieces of my past that never quite added up made sense. Things that would have previously made me feel alone and excluded now have an explanation. I have a community of people- online and otherwise- that experience similar things to me.
I don’t completely have myself figured out. The question of romantic attraction still hangs in the air, and sometimes I’m comfortable with the idea of possibly being aromantic (meaning I experience little to no romantic attraction) and other days it seems likely that I do, have, and will feel romantic attraction to people of varying genders. That part of myself is still a mystery, but I’m okay with that- I don’t have to completely figure myself out at the age of 23. Right now, I’m just thankful that I know my sexuality, and that I’m comfortable and confident with the label “asexual”.
2021 was the first full year that I’ve been out and proud of my sexuality. Being apart of the asexual community brings me so much joy. It’s a much smaller community than others, but it’s proud and fully and adorable and is full of memes.
It’s also full of people who have felt the pain I’ve felt. When I first came to terms with my asexuality, I went through a long period of grief. You grow up hearing about what your life is meant to look like, consuming music and movies and books about how amazing sex and attraction is, and you make plans for yourself- plans that make you normal, plans that look like everyone else around you. When I realized that my life would never look the way I thought I wanted (and trust me, I had tried to make my life look that way), it was like losing a part of myself. I’m happy, now, that I am who I am, but for a while, my depression got worse and I didn’t want to accept myself. I still have moments of sadness sometimes, but the asexual community online reminds me that being asexual is awesome.
I’m also grateful for the growing awareness of asexuality. We are still far from having canon representation in movies and television shows, but ace authors (and allies) are starting to write and introduce asexuality into literature. I recently read “Loveless” by Alice Oseman and it made me feel so seen. I wish I had had this book when I was in high school- it probably would have saved me a lot of anxiety and heartbreak. I’m thankful to have it now, though. It helped me feel valid and understood.
However, being asexual isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We feel attacks from all sides. People who don’t understand are constantly disvaluing our opinions and experiences, and calling our sexuality “fake” and “made up”. Many allos (allosexual refers to all people who experience sexual attraction) are convinced that any experience that differs from their own just isn’t possible- how could someone not be sexually attracted to anyone?
“You just haven’t found the right person yet. How do you know if you’ve never tried it?”
“It’s scientifically not possible. You’re just making it up to feel special.”
“It’s just a phase that everyone goes through when they’re trying to figure themselves out, you’ll grow out of it.”
And it isn’t just straight, homophobic people who say these things. Other members of the LGBTQIA+ community also gatekeep the community from asexual people. They say we don’t belong, that to be queer you have to feel sexual attraction for the opposite gender. I’ve seen comments on TikTok just in the last week saying that they want to “keep these people” out of queer spaces, that they’re embarrassed that we’re “taking over”.
Heterosexual people say that we’re weird, undeveloped, immature, and don’t belong.
Queer people say that we aren’t queer, aren’t real or valid, and don’t belong.
Asexual people belong in queer spaces. We ARE queer. We are the “A” in LGBTQIA, and we are valid. Our experiences are real and they matter. Our struggles are real and they matter. Our joy is real and it matters.
My journey to understanding that I’m not attracted to anyone is just as important as a woman’s journey to understanding that she’s attracted to other women. It’s just as valid as a man’s journey to understanding that he’s attracted to men, women, and non-binary people. Everyone’s journey is different, and just because it has a different conclusion as someone else’s doesn’t make it less valuable.
Asexual people belong in queer spaces. We bring in new perspectives and have strong understandings of different types of love- platonic, family, and self. We have strong self-awareness and can help solidify the importance of different types of attraction- romantic, platonic, aesthetic, sensual, and emotional. We have feelings!! There is a huge assumption surrounding aromantic people that they are unable to experience love, but it isn’t true- aros have the biggest hearts and such a large capability for love (it just isn’t romantic).
Asexual and aromantic people have so much to bring to the table. We have experiences that contribute to conversations about being queer in relation to religion, culture, and other topics. Our journeys are important.
I love being asexual. It feels like a super power sometimes, and a kryptonite others, but it’s a part of my identity that I would never change. It’s part of me, and I’m proud of that. I hope that one day we are as welcome into queer spaces as other identities, because we DO belong.