Learning about what it means to be asexual

By: Samuel Smith, Columnist

Sexuality has always been something I struggled with. No label ever fit just right. The idea of dating in high school seemed more daunting than it did for all my peers. Dating was scary. For a long time, I felt like something was missing, that I was inherently broken. I shuffled through labels – first straight woman, then bisexual, then pansexual, then Sapphic, then bisexual again, then straight man … None of these fit right! Meanwhile, friends were getting into more and more serious relationships. I saw my peers getting engaged, cousins getting married, 

influencers around my age having babies, but I wasn’t really as interested as everyone else.

I had heard of the term “asexual” before. Asexuality always felt like it fit. I first read about it at around 13 or 14 years old, in a psychology magazine at my counselor’s office. But in middle school, I figured I was too young to identify as ace (short for asexual). Then in high school, I assumed I was a late bloomer or dysphoric, and gender dysphoria was affecting my relationships with others. I figured I just needed to wait to go on testosterone.

Then, around this time last year, I started seeing more about asexuality online. Friends were telling me they were asexual, and their experiences with sexual orientation. Tentatively, I began talking to my therapist about it. I was scared and confused. What did this mean for my relationships? Would anybody ever love me? I talked to my therapist, and early in 2020, I picked up a book at the library called “The Invisible Orientation,” by Julie Sondra Decker. I didn’t finish that book (cursed due dates!), but what I read clicked. I joined Facebook groups for asexual people. Suddenly, I found a community of people like me, and their stories matched my own! I realized at this point I was over one and a half years on Testosterone, I was 20  years old, there was no denying it.

So, what exactly is asexuality? Asexuality is defined by Wikipedia as “Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others…” It’s different from celibacy, in that asexuality isn’t a choice. Just like being gay or straight, asexuality is how a person is wired. Asexual people can still feel love, but we just feel romantic love, without the physical side. Asexuals can be anyone – of any age, gender, race, ability level, anything. Asexuality is also not caused by mental or physical illness. There’s nothing wrong with asexuals, we’re not broken, we’re just different. 

According to Williams College in Massachusetts, current statistics place asexuality at 1% of the population, but experts believe that number may be higher. That’s about the same as the number of redheads globally. You probably know a redhead, so you probably know somebody who’s asexual!

Some people divide their orientation into their romantic and sexual orientations, as asexual people can still feel love outside of sexuality. For example, somebody who loves two or more genders romantically could be biromantic asexual. I identify as gay and asexual.

My biggest fear around coming out as ace was that I wouldn’t find love or acceptance. I was trying to figure out how to tell my family (if to tell my family). I came out to my brothers over ice cream. I don’t remember how it happened, just that it did. I came out on Facebook on the first day of pride month this year. I’m lucky – nobody who knows really cares, they still love me as me. I still want to date and potentially get married. It’ll be trickier navigating coming out and peoples’ reactions, but as more people know about asexuality, I do believe it will become easier.

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