Pride Month & the Anxious Asexual
When I came out to my mom, I did so in a Mexican restaurant. I figured picking a public place to tell my Evangelical Christian mother that I was queer would 1) keep the conversation from getting two heated and 2) prevent her from just leaving the room.
I waited until after we’d ordered, so we’d have a few interruption-free minutes. I started with the biromantic part. I knew she knew what bisexuality was, so she’d understand that I liked more than just guys. She wasn’t thrilled, but at least she got it.
The harder part was explaining my asexuality to her. When I told her that I don’t experience sexual attraction, she asked why I felt the need to come out at all, if I “wasn’t interested in doing anything anyway.”
I explained that not feeling sexual attraction doesn’t necessarily take sex off the table altogether, and that I wasn’t coming out to her to talk about sex, anyway. I was trying to share a truth about myself with her.
We’re almost halfway through Pride Month, and while I love the celebration of Pride, I struggle with knowing my place in it. I’m in a long-term, straight-passing relationship. Like many people with passing privilege, I do wonder about the validity of coming out at all. Does the bi part of me count if my relationship doesn’t look queer? Does the ace part of me count in a celebration of sexual and gender liberation? What does it mean to celebrate the absence of something?
When I first learned about asexuality, I didn’t know what to do with the idea. I was raised to believe that women aren’t really sexual at all. That we trade sex for love and security in relationships. We don’t have it because it’s something we actually want; it’s just part of the transaction.
In high school, while many of my friends were starting to have sexual relationships, I was writing poorly disguised self-insertion fanfics about being the sibling or BFF of my favorite characters, rather than their love interest. This wasn’t because I was wired differently, I told myself, I was just “less tempted” in that area of my life.
But as I got older, moved away from the belief structure I was raised with, and talked more frankly with allosexual women about what sexual attraction is and how they experience it, I began to revisit what I knew about asexuality. I marathoned the Tumblr archives of ace bloggers, read every bit of ace fanfic I could find, and began to test out the idea that I might be ace.
Spoiler alert: I am.
While asexuality doesn’t look different from allosexuality, it can make relationships complicated. Having terms, resources, and a community of fellow aces has helped me navigate the dating world—and the rest of life—effectively, without feeling like I’m alone and am going to die alone.
And isn’t that part of what Pride is about?