Warning: Lots of writing, mostly about acephobia, amatonormativity, and over all bigotry. Also I use the q slur once or twice.
I remember the first time I heard the term “asexual” pertaining to humans. I was in middle school, eating lunch with my friends. Somehow, the topic took a weird turn, and everyone was trying to figure out their stripper names (yeah, I don’t know; middle schoolers are strange). One of my friends refused to have a name, so it was decided by another (very educated about the LGBTQ+ community) friend he was the asexual stripper.
About a month later, I came out to my sister and two friends.
I barely put any thought into my identity. It just seemed so obvious to me, and I wanted to be out.
I regretted this decision immediately.
Those three promptly told me I wasn’t asexual. Same thing happened when I came out to the rest of my friends the next day. Apparently, being asexual was impossible. I was lying. I wanted attention. I was trying to hide the fact I had a crush on that kid who just moved (I wanted to be his friend! He liked comic books and anime and wasn’t afraid to admit it!).
A few took it well, though. One said he knew (then why did you just ask me if I wanted to f*ck the new kid!?!), and another asked if I was aromantic. For some reason, I thought I had to be either aromantic or asexual, so I said no (trust me, this will tie in).
At some point, I decided to look up more about being asexual. Admittedly, the things my friends said was getting to me. So I did research. I thought at some point I was greysexual, or demisexual. When I was twelve, I had crushes. I experienced sexual attraction. What if I was lying? Would I be able to face my friends again, knowing they were right?
Eventually, I realised one could be asexual and aromantic (boy, was that a relief). But what about the past attraction? Was I really an aro ace? I then learned that orientation is fluid; just because I had attraction in the past doesn’t make my identity any less valid. I just… changed.
And there was nothing wrong with that.
Slowly, my friends came around to the idea of me not having attraction. I’m not mad at them; we were in middle school, after all.
That being said, I got outed a lot by them.
My friends would tell people who we barely knew about my sexual identity (not my romantic orientation, though; apparently, most people think aromanticism and asexuality are the same thing). I never told them not to tell others, but I never gave them permission. After the reactions I got from them, I was terrified of coming out. I wanted it to be a secret, for my own protection.
I didn’t feel safe with them telling acquaintances about me. I didn’t feel safe when a friend told my mom about me (who the proceeded to tell me I was young and didn’t need to figure out my sexuality yet, and said I would meet someone some day). I didn’t feel safe when my sister told my cousin without my permission, and found out from another cousin that most of them were told.
I was kind of forced to be a “visible asexual”. I didn’t really want to be. I wanted to hide, and be acknowledged by the people I chose to tell. But it was too late; the damage was done; so, I spoke. I told people about my orientation (even that kid I apparently had a crush on). I drew a spade on my face everyday for my first Asexual Awareness Week. I ignored the comments (Why would you want to be that? So… you’re gay? That’s the same thing as being antisexual.). I existed. And everyone had to deal with that.
I wouldn’t join my school’s GSA for a few year, though. Most of my friends are in the LGBTQ+ community. They were the ones who first said I wasn’t valid. I was scared of the reaction I would get. Besides, it’s the Gay Straight Alliance. For people who are gay and straight. Not a nonbinary aromantic asexual.
Also the supervisor hated me; don’t ask, because I don’t know why. I’m a very nice and respectful person.
After two years of being terrified, I realised that was ridiculous. I gathered some friends (who were supportive from the beginning), and went to a meeting.
That might have been one of the best choices I’ve made so far. I wish I did it before. I mean, I was still the only aro ace, but at least people were willing to hear what I had to say. They actually cared. I made new friends who thought my orientation was cool.
Over the years, I have become increasingly (more) open with my orientation, and more accepting of other orientations/genders. I’m still in high school, and am a co-president for the GSA (now the Pride Alliance; I don’t want people to make the same mistake I did). I’ve been finding things in the media with asexual characters (and fighting people when they say something different; Sherlock Holmes is aro ace!). I know I still have a long way to go; queer or cishet, many believe the aromantic spectrum/asexual spectrum doesn’t exist.
But I’m a co-president of the Pride Alliance, and I’m pretty annoying.
I think I can make an impact in my community.
Green Light Petition
But aside from that, I'm super-grateful to have two irl friends who are also aces. Our one straight friend gets it and doesn't question it, which is also great. While we might not be changing the world much, a little education can go a long way.
I'm sorry that your mom doesn't believe you. I probably don't have to say this, but you're valid. Your identity is just as real as anyone else.
My parents still kind of believe it's a choice, and I will meet some one, but they're kind of coming around. I guess it's a harder concept for most people to understand... somehow...
That's awesome! I don't have any ace friends in real life (well, maybe one? I'm not sure if she's asexual or gay). It's always nice to have people in your life with the same orientation/gender. I agree that a little education can go a long way, and it always feels like a victory for me when I get someone who will listen.
It took my mom a LONG time to realize that sexuality isn't a choice. What's weird is while she accepts that most people in the LGBTQ+ spectrum haven't just decided to be that way, she still doesn't believe asexuality is possible in adults, only children. She thinks it's something everyone grows out of eventually.
It really is awesome. When I first learned another of my friends is ace, it was after I came out at a panel at a writer's convention on the topic of sex and gender. She cornered me later and got all excited because she had never met another ace and had no idea I was one. She's been in the closet for years because her family is very traditional and wouldn't handle it well. I think I've been a bigger help for her than she's been for me just because she can't talk about it with very many people. My other ace friend is basically in the same boat as I am, her dad doesn't think it's actually possible in adults and would just tell her she still needs to grow up. We make up a nice support group for each other.
Yeah, that's more or less how my parents are, too. Like I said before, the lack of sexual attraction must be harder for allosexuals to understand. Just like how an acespec finds it hard to understand an allo's weird desires to touch each other. That being said, she did realise sexuality isn't a choice; there is hope that her opinion about asexuality will change. (I'm sorry if that was out of line/ignorant/anything else that would cause offence.)
That's great! I'm glad you got an ace support group (and jealous, too; I'll try not to be horrid ) I am happy for you three (read that sounding really sincere, not like Chandler Bing). It's great to have others like you that give support and love. This might be out of line/weird (and I'm sorry if it is), but I hope your families will understand/accept you some day.
Thanks for the support! I really hope so too, but even if they don't we all have each other. The internet age is a great time to live in because even if we don't have a support group at home or with friends, we can find it online instead. (also that ace llama is amazing. How do you link stuff like that into comments? I have yet to master it )