I recall the term ‘asexual’ floating around in my past somewhere, a very distant memory, perhaps stumbled upon in a novel, vaguely mentioned by a secondary character.
Or maybe I read the word on Tumblr at some point. I only really paid it mind mid last year, when I was discussing sexuality late at night with a similarly confused friend.
‘I just don’t want to be with anyone,’ I attempted to explain. ‘I’d be happy if I was never in a relationship again. I’d call it asexuality but I’m pretty sure they’re people who fancy themselves?’
The word, however, swam around in my head like a goldfish in a bowl until the next morning, when I took to trusty Google – and what a glorious opener of doors that was for me, because typing that one word into a search bar would change my life forever.
At the touch of a button, I felt my world open up and my mind expand – you know like when Ego touches Star Lord’s brain in Guardians of the Galaxy 2? It felt like that without the sinister motive.
I discovered that not only was I wrong about asexuality, but I related wholeheartedly. Like me, these people felt little to no sexual attraction.
So what I’m trying to illustrate is that some asexuals desire a romantic and even somewhat sexual relationship, but I personally want neither of those things.
And you may be thinking that that sounds incredibly lonely, but in discovering this about myself I’ve never felt less lonely.
With the potential for awkward flirting or romantic advances off the table, I find myself more able to relax into conversation with people. The pressure of putting myself out there is off.
However, as with everything, there are things about my identity that hold me back. For instance I feel like with certain people in my life I can’t talk about this part of myself because I know how they’ll react.
‘Oh, but you just haven’t found the right person yet,’ they’ll say. ‘It’ll change when you’re older.’
I could direct said people to a playlist on my YouTube channel entitled The Ace Episodes, which explores and explains asexuality in depth, but some people are stubborn, set in their ways and convinced they know you better than you know yourself.
I think some people just aren’t convinced that asexuality exists. I’ve heard of people being told they’re using their ‘false sexuality’ as an excuse because they’re ‘too ugly to date.’
That one made me mad. I’d love for people to know that we’re far from false, far from ugly and that we are real and valid.
Shows like Emmerdale have been exploring this topic recently and it brings me hope that maybe we will be granted the recognition we deserve.
Some people are accepting, of course. My sister took my label as fact from the get-go, no questions asked. My friend had a lot of questions but she, too, was immediately accepting of my label.
My mum even admitted that she also identified with a lot of the asexuality traits. I feel blessed in that sense, that I can be completely myself around the people who matter most to me.
That’s really all I want out of life – the comfort in knowing I’m allowed to be myself.
So with these two mindsets often warring inside me, my relationship with my label is complicated. My asexuality is like a spirit, repelled and repressed by some people and flourishing in reaction to others. Sometimes my label and I are best friends, content in security. Other times I try to repress her, craving ‘normality’ – whatever that is – and desperate to be understood.
But it boils down to this:
My label both defines me and does not define me. I am ecstatic in the knowledge that I never have to feel the pressure of a relationship again. My sexuality discovery has inspired a video series that may one day help someone like me, and I’ve formed friendships and bonds with like-minded people.
Sexuality is fluid and I have no idea what my future holds. No one does.
But today I present myself to you: asexual, proud, and happy.
Sam’s YouTube channel can be found here.
Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity — positively or negatively — and what the label means to them.
If you would like to get involved please email [email protected]
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