It’s hard to believe that given an entire month, I couldn’t find time to make this post, sheesh. Between volunteering for the Special Olympics, finishing up my latest costume commission, and preparing for Anime Expo, I just found myself too swamped to do much of anything else.
But anyway, on to the topic of this post: happy pride month! As some of you may know, and for those of you who may not, I am asexual. I came out last October, so this is the first time I was able to celebrate pride month with all my brothers, sisters, and assorted siblings in the LGBT+ community. And even though yes, pride month is technically over, I see no reason to stop celebrating who I am. Every day, every month can be filled with the same love dor ourselves and each other, no matter whether you’re gay, straight, ace, or whatever you may define yourself as.
When I tell someone I’m asexual, I almost always have to explain to them what that means. It’s sort of like that island from pirates of the Caribbean, the one you can only find if you already know where it is. Largely, unless you know someone who is ace, you’ve probably never even heard the term before. Asexuality is defined as a lack of sexual attraction to anyone of any gender. I’ve seen people describe it using a soda analogy: some people like coke, others like Pepsi, some like both, and some people don’t drink soda at all. Side note: I also happen to not drink soda, ace well as being ace. Fun fact!
For a lot of people, it can be a hard concept to imagine. Ace people get a lot of “oh, you just haven’t found the right soda yet” or “were you traumatized by soda when you were little?” Some aces, yes, come to identify as such after a traumatic event. However, that is not true in all cases, and it is not true in mine. All of us have different stories, and different ways of coming into our identities. I don’t claim to speak for everyone in the community, as I only know about my story and my experiences. But for anyone who wants to know my story, I’m pretty much an open book.
Discovering one is asexual can be really confusing, because it’s literally trying to look for a lack of something. For most of my life, I was looking at it as “okay, I think guys are cute, so I’m straight. I’m just not ready for that yet.” As time went on, I just kept thinking that. I just wasn’t ready. I hadn’t found the right person. I heard about asexuality online, but brushed it off as “someone else’s thing”. I didn’t think it could fit me, because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes; I didn’t want to intrude on someone else’s space. So it wasn’t until a friend brought it up to me later that I really started to wonder “is this me?” And boy let me tell you, it was so hard to get out of the “I like guys, so I must be straight” mentality. I had to reevaluate myself, look back at all the situations I had chalked up to “not ready”, and realize that not ready was really just… Not interested. I’ve had boyfriends before, and I’m all for the mushy romance movies and long walks on the beach. But when it came to sex, I could think of a thousand things I would rather be doing. To me, it’s just… Meh.
When I came to terms with being ace, the next question was how the rest of the world would see me. I took baby steps in coming out to people: first my friends, then some of my family, a few people at a time. Now most of my friends are in the LGBT+ community, so I got nothing but support on that front. Others have been rather mixed. One guy I was potentially interested in seeing, when I told him, asked me “That’s such a shame. Who would you date if you were asexual?” And honestly, if you have to ask that, the short answer is NOT YOU. Another person blatantly told me that asexuality was a fake thing the internet made up. The term, yes, was coined recently, but there were those who said the same thing about gravity, electricity, and every other concept in history. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
The things people said to me when I first started coming out hurt me, but the more time I spent in my self reflection and soul searching, the clearer my orientation became in my mind. I did a lot of research on the topic, and though I wasn’t quite ready to announce myself to the world completely, I bought a ring. For those who don’t know, a black ring worn on the middle finger of one’s right hand is a symbol of asexuality. I’ve been wearing mine since March of 2017. When I first got it, it was mainly a reminder for myself that there are others in the world who feel the way I do, and almost like a mini coming-out without quite as much commitment. I was dipping my toes into the concept, and I was 99% sure I was ace, but if I wasn’t really, really, REALLY sure, I wasn’t completely out. Over the next few months I got more comfortable with calling myself ace, but every time one of my friends mentioned something about my orientation in front of someone who didn’t know or wholeheartedly approve, my stomach flip flopped. There was still that barrier of “Oh no, they can’t find out, AAAHHHHHHHH!!” I had made a deal with myself that by pride month 2017, I would be out. June last year came and went, but I chickened out. I sat quietly and watched everyone else celebrate pride, still hiding in my own little corner of “yes, ace, but not quite ace enough, I don’t know, maybe, aaaaahhhhhhh”.
Frankly, it was exhausting, being out to some people but not to others. So I made a new deal with myself: Asexual Awareness Week, the last week of October. I knew who I was, I just needed to get over thinking of what everyone else was going to think. It didn’t matter to them; support or no support wouldn’t make me any LESS asexual, and I was tired of running circles around my head, being careful not to accidentally let my identity slip. I’m queer, not a superhero: my identity doesn’t have to be some huge secret. So I typed up a big “coming out” post, took some cute selfies to go with it, and by the time I got ready to post it, my hands were shaking. I was nervous, but no way in hell was I going to back down. So I posted my feelings for the world to see, and you know what? It felt pretty damn good. There was no reason for me to hide, and I don’t need to apologize for being who I am. I’m not taking up “someone else’s space” by calling myself ace. My identity has nothing to do with anyone else, and everything to do with myself.
So this year, I got to celebrate my pride along with everyone else. I could loudly proclaim to the world “this is who I am, and I love myself!” Let others think what they want, but I’m secure in getting to know this part of me that I never had a name for before. And I just hope that maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else who needs to feel a little less lost. Because no matter your orientation, you are not broken, and you are not alone. I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud of you, too.