I am an asexual human being. To be honest, I wish I didn’t even need to say it. I wish I could just be it and live my life. But the reality is that we live in an acephobic world. And until we don’t live in an acephobic world, it will be necessary for the diversity of asexual folks to come out and declare ourselves so that we can be seen as part of the tapestry and broader fabric of humanity. I think this is true for all people under the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Agender and Pansexual [or LGBTQQIAAP+] umbrella. But it is especially true for aces because we have such low and limited visibility. True, visibility does certainly not equal liberation. But it does help to educate the populace and make us feel less isolated.
Even though I have been in the queer community for 25 years now, I have only truly understood myself as ace for under 10 years. This shows that the queer community either actively excludes aces or renders us invisible. Either way, we learn the lesson that ace folk are not welcome in queer spaces and movements. Thus, the two As in the acronym above [for asexual and agender] are not really included. Not all aces identify as queer, but I am someone that certainly does. I see my asexuality as very queer and also see my queer identity as an umbrella term linking me to the gamut of gender and sexual minorities, people who are not-het and not-cis.
Asexual is a term used to refer to people who do not experience sexual attraction. It could also mean people who are not interested in sexual activity, though the level of “sex repulsion” varies across the spectrum of the asexual population. If the definition hinges upon “does not experience” it begs the question: what does the ace person experience? For me, my ace experience is not a void. It is presence. It is impossible to answer my question because nothing is 100% generalizable. However, I can state what I personally experience, which some other aces may experiences but others definitely don’t.
I feel a sense of peace, harmony and calm in my own identity. I feel unpressured to date, have sex or form a long-lasting relationship [Many aces do wish to form relationships. Back to that “this is only me” clause 😉 ] since I am also aromantic or aro. People can invest a lot of time in dating, sex and long-term partnerships. My time is freed up to do other things. It is exciting to ignore cultural dictates and do your own thing. It is exhilarating to discover who you are and live the life you were meant to lead. Being ace/aro comes with its own set of rewards, rewards that others may or may not come by. Most of all as an ace I feel such a sense of relief. For the longest time we are made to feel that we are broken or that there is something physically, psychologically or emotionally “wrong” with us. Claiming an ace identities at long last can interrupt these cultural narratives of ace people as defective. We are not missing out on all the fun; we are actively finding our own fun.
There is much more to say about ace identities, both my own and that of others, and you will likely see my ace-ness seep into some of my other blog entries. But for right now, I would like to state that asexuality needs to be talked about way more. More people who are so called should feel safe to come out as ace, and queer communities need to be more responsive and welcoming to ace community. I hope that this little post spurs you to google “asexual” or check out websites like the Asexual Visibility & Education Network [AVEN] at www.asexuality.org . For allosexuals [people who are not asexual]: help to make ace folks less invisible, less isolated and less stereotyped by speaking up and being an ace ally. You can make a big difference in the lives of people who are on the asexual spectrum and spare us from always having to do the heavy lifting.