Asexual. Not Broken.
[Caption] I’m a gender queer asexual.
[Image] A middle-aged woman, sitting in a chair, hand raised dismissively. Another woman wearing glasses and a nurse’s uniform, looking skeptical.
[Caption] When I was young, my sexuality was dismissed.
Woman: Oh you’ll grow out of it.
Nurse: Self-diagnosis of a mental illness is tricky…
[Caption] I was either “confused” or “mentally ill.”
[Image] A car on the road, buildings behind it.
[Caption] No one took me seriously. But then I left my small rural town.
[Image] A block in a big city.
[Image] A female-presenting person with short brown hair waving at two other people. All are smiling.
[Caption] I met other asexuals for the first time.
[Image] The short-haired woman in closeup, smiling.
[Caption] I began to explore my identity more.
[Image] A heart on a black background.
[Caption] …and my romantic life went from non-existent…to scary.
[Image] The short-haired woman, smiling. Behind her, and looking at her, a smiling man wearing glasses.
[Image] The short-haired woman, turning to face the man, still smiling.
[Caption] My best friend told me he liked me.
[Image] The man, his hand extended. A speech bubble indicates a heart.
[Image] Three nondescript people – one woman and two men, over a banner that reads: “Assumptions about Asexuality!
Non descript Woman: You can’t be in a relationship…do you even care?
Man 1: How can you ever love him, you’re not attracted to him!
Man 2: He’s still sexual. You’re not. How is that going to work?
[Image] The short haired woman and the man with glasses, facing each other and smiling.
Short-haired woman: And I’ll never find you attractive! I’ll always have trouble having sex…I’ll get bored when we kiss…And people will doubt your sexuality if they knew.
[Image] The short-haired woman, still facing the man, looking concerned. The man is shrugging.
[Image] The man, smiling, holding is hand out to the short-haired woman, who is smiling.
Man: I like you for you.
[Image] The short-haired woman and the man holding hands.
[Caption] And we’ve had a great relationship. I still have trouble getting over my fears, and my feelings of guilt for not being sexually attracted to him. I still get people saying that this relationship isn’t “real”. Or that we’re lying to each other. Society erases my identity as a valid possibility. But it isn’t hard to understand. Isn’t what I have what everyone wants?
[Image] The short-haired woman, eyes closes and smiling. She and the man are hugging.
[Caption] I’m ridiculously in love, and I don’t have to hide.
[Image] The short-haired woman and the man on a park bench, smiling, legs crossed casually.
[SFX] Ha ha ha ha!
[Caption] I make stupid jokes and he listens.
[Image] The short-haired woman reaching up to touch the man’s face. The man is holding her around the waist. They are looking at each other intently and smiling.
[Caption] I am guarded, but with him I can laugh, cry, and know that he won’t use them against me. He’s never pressured me into doing anything I don’t want to. We love each other for who we are. We’re just a couple in love. Is that so hard to understand?
I’m a gender-queer asexual.
I was 16 when I finally felt comfortable comfortable being asexual. I remember writing an English essay on being different. I was pulled out of class and asked if I wanted to see the school nurse because “Self-diagnosis isn’t always accurate”. My sexuality was treated as a mental illness.
I tried coming out to my mother. She said that I wasn’t that at all and I was just saying that to avoid dating or dealing with my emotions. So I learned to shut up about that. It took me years before I eventually plucked up the courage to tell my dad. I wished I’d had the courage to come out to him sooner.
At 18, I left my small rural town and headed off to university. I went from being one of two people in my school who were out as not straight, to meeting other asexuals for the first time.
And while all this exploration of my identity was happening, my romantic life actually went from non-existent to really scary. In my first week at university my best friend picked up the courage to tell me that he liked me as more than a friend.
I spent ages freaking out about it. I tried to work through all my fears and explained that I would never find him sexually attractive, that I might have trouble with sex and physical intimacy, and that some say that asexual/sexual relationships never work out. His response was along the lines of “Stuff it and go for it”
We started dating and I found myself feeling like I was leading him on – despite him knowing in advance I was asexual. Is it any wonder I feel ridiculously guilty? I’m afraid to be out in front of his friends, in case they doubt his own gender identity and sexuality. I feel like a terrible person when I can’t get in the mood when we’re engaging in sexual behaviour. I feel like I’m failing him by not finding him sexually attractive, by getting bored when we kiss because after a certain amount of time my brain starts saying “This is a stupid social construct”.
Overall everything has been fine and nothing I was really terrified of has ended up happening. It’s just trying to get over the fears and out of feeling guilty that’s difficult.
And at the same time, I get mad. I get mad because people say I can’t be both asexual and in a sexual relationship. They say I can’t love him because I don’t find him hot. I hate the fact that I have to deal with people making assumptions about my sexuality and gender-identity because I just happen to be in love with a straight, cis male. Society erases my identity and as such erases me.
I just so happen to be ridiculously, crazily in love with a cisgender heterosexual man. With him I feel like I don’t have to hide who and what I am*. I can make stupid jokes or explain something that matters to me without worrying about being interrupted. I usually hold my emotions ridiculously close to my chest but with him I can laugh or cry or grin ridiculously and never feel as if he’s going to turn them against me. He has never made me feel pressured into doing anything I wasn’t comfortable with. His identity does not invalidate mine, and likewise, mine does not invalidate his. We are just a couple in love.
How hard is that to understand?
*I identify as a demifemme demiheteroromantic asexual
This week’s illustration is by Julia Naves