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.