Illustration by Gabe Hongsdusit/OutWrite
I was maybe seven when my mom told me, “Don’t open your legs.” That was pretty much the extent of any talk around sex or relationships that I ever received from her. Sexuality is shameful.
I was maybe eight when my classmate walked by another classmate and jokingly coughed, “Virgin!” Virgins are pathetic.
I was maybe nine when a family friend first lectured me to not have sex until after marriage. I would receive this lecture along with warnings about boys and The One Thing They Want multiple times following this. Girls are worth nothing more than the purity of their virginity.
I was maybe thirteen and sitting in a bookstore with my friends when I read a magazine that claimed that 1% of the population identifies as asexual. The definition of asexuality offered by the magazine made sense to me and I was surprised that the percentage was as high as 1%. The word still felt very clinical to me. Asexuality exists.
I was eighteen and walking down the street past the free clinic, minding my own asexual business, when someone came up to me to offer information on the services provided by the clinic. The person asked if I was sexually active. I answered no. They looked very taken aback and subsequently took on the air of “For real? Not yet?” but they quickly recovered and informed me of the services available at the clinic. I took the flyer offered and thanked them while trying not to laugh at how much I had thrown them off. There is something wrong with me.
I was twenty and sitting around a jacuzzi with my coworkers and we were playing the game, “Never have I ever.” The game where you find out more than you ever could have asked to know about the people you work with. This was our second time playing it. When it was finally my turn for the hot seat I was like, “ You all know you’re not going to get much out of me, right?” Because the average question encountered in this game is “What’s your favorite position?” or “Where’s the weirdest place you’ve had sex at?” If you don’t have answers to these questions, then there’s no fun to the game. Thus, your life is not fun. Please refer to my autobiography, The Average Tales of the Boring Asexual. It’s also a game that I hoped would push me to come out to them. But when the statement offered is, “Never have I ever kissed a girl” I couldn’t clap and put down a finger, effectively stating, “Sup, I’m queer” because I’m not exactly comfortable kissing anyone of any gender. Who I have crushes on is not congruent with my sexual identity. I am a boring prude.
I was many different ages when I watched movies and television shows that revolved around a heterosexual relationship that very often included a blatant or suggested sex scene that I could not relate to. I am broken.
Many of these occurrences used to make me feel that there really was something wrong with me, that I was the prude my friends would half-jokingly call me. I would wonder if next year would be the year I would have sex. Would I finally have good sex stories to tell then? I would prepare myself mentally and take in all the “tips” from popular media about how to properly be in a heterosexual relationship and add them to my For Future Sex folder stored away in my brain right next to the Don’t Be a Slut folder and the Don’t Be a Teenage Mother folder. The organization of these folders was horrible. For some reason, there seemed to be a cornucopia of contradictions between them all.
I came to identify with asexuality as I learned more about it in the past years. Identifying as asexual has become a form of empowerment for me. I am not a prudish, blushing virgin wiling away the sex-less years of my life. I am not broken; I will not be fixed by meeting the “right” person; this is not a phase that I will grow out of. Own who you are, own your sexuality. It has taken me a lot of psychological work to undo the harmful ways of thinking that kept me from identifying as panromantic and asexual in peace and I know that I still embody different forms of internalized homophobia. But I’m going to keep telling myself that I am right, that all aspects of my identity are valid.
Now, I am almost twenty-one and I would like to say: fuck the hetero-cissexist bullshit that’s spewed from all directions.
And Happy Asexual Awareness Week!