One thing that always confused me about the run up to university was the concept that I’d meet my future husband or wife here; that my charm or intellect would sweep someone off their feet, we’d get married eventually and boom! Happy family ending, and all that jazz. Or the idea that university students are always hooking up with someone or going from relationship to relationship made me feel more like an outsider than I already was.
(I went to the cinema with a friend a year or so ago, and I’m still trying to figure out whether that was date or not.)
I just smile and nod along, not really knowing what my friends are doing when they’re talking about a ‘casual’ Tinder date, or a night over at their partner’s.
Like all sexual and romantic orientations, Asexuality is on a spectrum. There are those who identify under the Ace umbrella who are sex-replused, and then there are those who will develop sexual feelings for a person after getting to know them. Some will masterbate, and some won’t. You can see that celebacy is a choice here, not a requirement for Asexuality, contrary to what people usually believe about being part of the community.
Some people have loving relationships all the same while being openly Ace, while some don’t date at all. Aromanticism is the term for the lack of romantic attraction, and a person can be both Aromantic (abreviated to Aro) and Ace. You can be biromantic and asexual, or heteroromantic and ace. While my romantic oritnetation is still undecided, I am open to dating (I’m just an awkward bean).
Many people also their own reasons or explanations for Asexuality, or how they identify with it; some people like me, realise this when they’re still young (I came to the conclusion when I was fifteen while I was still in high school) and some might only realise when they’re much older. Some people might identify as Aseuxal before realising they fit another label within the LGBTQ+ community, and others might decline to use a label and self-define. Some are vocal about it, like me! Others keep it more low-key.
Now, let me ask you a question: Name an Asexual character.
How many could you name?
Charlie Weasley? Jughead? Dr Sheldon Cooper?
While some of these have been confirmed Asexual – whether by creators or within their source material – some of this representation isn’t what I would call good representation. An early episode of House in 2012 basically definied being Ace as having this medical disease. Todd in Bojack Horseman is a great example of representation, being respectful and just displaying the Ace character as human, first and foremost.
And in this lack of representation, fans create their own ‘headcanons’ for characters they might see as Asexual. When I was coming to terms with Ace, and explaining it to people who were unaware of what it is, the Greek Goddess Artemis was nearly always my go-to example; other headcanons include Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games or even Boromir from Lord of the Rings. It helps, knowing that there’s some representation out there, even if it’s fan-created content. Being able to identify these figures, know that they’re out there, can let someone know what they’re feeling is valid.
2020 marks the 5th year of me being publically ‘out’ as Asexual, but I’ve never really stopped coming out. I’ve told people gradually; some family still didn’t know until I left for University, while a close friend was the first person I told when I was a teen.
And I am incredibly lucky that people I told have taken the time to respect my orientation and learn about it; some people aren’t so lucky. Some people are abused for coming out as Aseuxal, or have to stay in the closet for their own safety. Rape and death threats online may happen; some people don’t want to understand it, and can lead to exclusionism from the LGBTQA community.
And there are days where I feel a little broken; I’ve never had a romantic relationship, and sometimes there are moments when I feel disjointed from the rest of the world, searching for something I’ll seemingly never find. But I love my career; I love writing to inform, and to explain, and to just express myself in a way that differs from vocal speech.
I am more than the one-dimensional thing which is the Asexual stereotype. It makes up only one part of my personality and being, and I wish that people could see beyond the label sometimes.