Tag Archives: childhood

Realizing my asexuality

6 May

I’ve identified as asexual for about nine years. Since I’m in my early twenties, this is nearly half of my life, and includes all of my teenage years. I remember some of how I came to identify as ace.

I remember some of the first conversations that I had before I started using the word asexual — my ex-BFF and I were discussing my emotional state, and a lack of emotional reactions to certain things. We were joking that I must be some kind of robot, and that somehow went into a conversation on how I never remarked that people were ‘hot,’ and I said that I must be asexual. And we both laughed.

See, I thought the word asexual was a joke. I’d heard of gay people before, and I assume I’d heard of bisexual people at that point, but I’d never heard of asexual people. But even though I thought it was a joke, it still kind of fit. I must have been oblivious to a lot of the sexual culture around me in middle school, but I don’t think I ever felt particularly pressured by classmates to talk about sex — this is half the particular friends I hung out and probably also half me being oblivious.

I do remember being extremely puzzled at my first introductions to sex in literature: the first three Dragonrider novels (SO NOT how I would ever introduce anyone else to sex), and the Song of the Lioness novels, which were confusing because I didn’t know what Alanna was going through, being attracted to all these guys.

But basically I just meandered along for a couple of years before finding AVEN. At which point I learned that my inside joke about myself wasn’t actually a joke, or didn’t have to be.

Actually, I have an extremely embarrassing journal entry about this, in that my handwriting is pretty awful and I also definitely sound like I’m in high school. It reminded me that I actually found AVEN through searching ‘asexual’ in FictionPress and finding some essay about being asexual. (So if you’re a writer and think your writing about asexuality may not matter, you have no idea how people may come across it, and what it may mean to them.)

Reading this journal is yet another reminder to me that visibility is important. Because when you’re invisible to other people, they may ignore you unintentionally, they may not make space for you, they may make assumptions about people with your behavior sets. And when you’re invisible to yourself, you may make assumptions, too.

If you have no explanation for your feelings, you may think of ways to fix them, or other explanations to ascribe to them, or try to find the failings in yourself that are making you feel this way. You may try to feel another way. You may try to figure out how other people are feeling. Or you may try to ignore how other people are feeling, and how you’re feeling, and blunder through for a while not acknowledging or exploring yourself.

When you keep failing, maybe you think there’s something wrong. Maybe you think you’re wrong. Maybe you hurt yourself. Maybe you think about killing yourself. Maybe you even try.

Below are the most salient quotes from my old journal entry, and I’m glad that I have them, but I hope one day the word asexual is so well-known that people just learn it when they’re young, and don’t have to wait years until someone else shows them or they somehow come up with the word on their own and search it at some website that happens to have a result.

I’m not defective, do you hear that? I’m perfectly normal! … I am normal! … I feel free, I feel liberated.

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An ace childhood: yearbooks

5 Mar

I was thinking about what in my history I can see as manifestations of my gender, and I thought I might do the same with my sexuality, where I’m on surer footing. There are things from my childhood that — in retrospect — I see as “oh, yeah, that’s me. Asexual.” The biggest memory involves yearbooks in elementary school.

For some reason I had it in my head that if anyone ever went through my yearbooks, they would think I was weird because I didn’t have a lot of signatures from boys. I thought that it wasn’t normal that I wasn’t interested in boys. In the event that someone, who would know me and may already be thinking that it was weird that I didn’t talk about boys, started leafing through my yearbooks, I thought it was important to convince them that I did think about boys.

So I went to my grade level in the yearbook, glanced around for what I thought were conventionally attractive boys, and drew hearts next to their pictures. Most of the time I had never even met them, but I thought other people would think they were cute.

This seems really bizarre to me now. I wonder if I had a friend that I’ve forgotten about who was particularly boy-attached, or if someone made some comment to me about not talking about boys I “liked.” Social stuff like that does get to you pretty early. But I didn’t do things like that in middle and high school. I didn’t try to make comments about hot boys.

That’s not something I would ascribe to confidence, though. I know it’s mostly because my friends were not the kind to sit around talking about sex, at least not with me, which is a privilege of mine. I was never forced into an environment where I was expected to date, to act particularly sexual, or to dress in a sexually appealing manner. So I didn’t have to try.

I wish I could remember more about why I felt that way in elementary school. Since I can’t remember anything specific, it was probably all the media I was consuming: princesses getting together with princes, who is the pink Power Ranger dating, etc. Maybe people playing games in the playground, although I mostly remember playing Power Rangers and walking around the track. (Oh, we were fun children. Sometimes we even stopped on the track to use the old wooden work-out stations placed there for our exercising convenience.)

It probably is strange that I felt more pressure in elementary school than other age brackets, but I did identify as asexual shortly into middle school. So maybe that took a lot of the pressure off of me, even though my identification was, for a few years, an inside joke with myself.