This article has been written anonymously.
[Featured Image: A hand wearing two black rings, one on the first finger and another on the second finger. The black ring on the second finger is often worn as a symbol in the ace community.]
I am asexual. And I was afraid to say this out loud for a very long time. I asked myself many questions: Am I ace enough to claim this label? Can I consider myself part of the LGBTQ+ community? Am I just being weird or too afraid?
But let’s circle back: What does being asexual mean? Being asexual (or ace) means to not experience sexual attraction. Basically, it means while most people have the desire to have sex with others, an ace person does not experience this, at least not immediately. Asexuality is a spectrum, and everyone experiences it differently.
What differentiates asexuality from other sexual orientations is that it does not describe who you love, but how you love. This is often a very private matter. It also does not describe something that exists, but rather the lack thereof. Both of these factors can make it hard to figure out an ace identity.
Until I heard the term asexual for the first time in my first year at university, I did not know that others had very similar experiences to me. I thought I was weird, the odd one out, because everyone around me seemed so interested in having sex, which I simply did not understand. And while that feeling sometimes comes back, I realized that my identity is as valid as the identity of an allosexual person, who experiences sexual attraction. It took me a long time to finally identify as ace, even though I could always relate to the experiences described
Going through university is a time to ‘try things out‘, academically, socially and sexually. Being asexual, I was not interested in the last aspect of this. And while many of my friends fulfilled the expectation of ‘making mistakes‘, I was the boring one, without interesting stories to tell. And I could not relate to a lot of things they experienced. The first time I read about asexuality, I could finally relate to something.
Being ace does not mean that you cannot fall in love. Romantic love is desirable for many ace people, and I am one of them. What is missing is the sexual component. In my first relationship this was very hard for me. I felt like I was being unfair to my partner, and making too big a deal out of it. But I felt deeply uncomfortable with the thought of us having sex, which was not caused by our relationship in any way. I remember thinking to ‘just get it over with‘, not because I wanted it but because I thought it was expected of me. We are socialized to think less of ourselves when we are not sexually active. We are made to think that we are not desirable, or not worthy of love and attraction. Admitting to not be sexually active often makes you the ‘naive one’, or the ‘immature one’. But being asexual does not make me any less mature or any less of a woman. It took me a long time to believe in that.
Asexuality often seems invisible. Coming out usually includes a vocabulary lesson and even in queer bookshops there might not be any asexual literature. In one of my books on queer theory the word asexual is mentioned twice. This invisibility of being ace, even in the queer community, sometimes make it hard for me to use that label. But I have come to realize that we deserve to use this label as much as any other letter of the LGBTQIA+ community.
I found comfort in a community, knowing that I am not alone. And I found confidence in an identity, knowing that I am not less worthy. And my black ring reminds me of that every day.
Author’s Note: (A black ring, worn on the middle finger, is a widely used symbol by the ace community).
Image source: reddit.com