Have you ever felt that there’s something wrong with you? Most human beings, except psychopaths, sociopaths, and Janet from Accounts when she refuses to pay your expenses bill for the third month in a row, have experienced that thought at some point in their lives. I especially felt it when I was a teenager, as I was very conscious that I didn’t seem to be developing at the same rate as my peers.
You see, I didn’t experience the desires that everyone else seemed to be experiencing. Hormones made me grumpy, rude to my parents, and allergic to leaving my room, but the hormones that were meant to trigger sexual desire didn’t. I would look at my friends and peers and think, “What the hell am I missing here?”
As it turns out, not very much. Asexuality was never a term I heard growing up; I didn’t realise it was a “thing.” I didn’t know that I could be asexual; there had to be something wrong with me to not want sex. I thought I was gay – I wasn’t sexually attracted to women, so that was right, surely? Then it finally dawned on me that I saw both women and men as attractive, just not in a sexual way. Perhaps I was bisexual with some hidden, repressed issues around sex that I needed to get over. That had to be it, surely?
Nope, not that either.
A few years ago, in the winter of 2011 when I was in my early 30s, I was reading a newspaper, and came across the story of a young woman in her twenties. She was talking about something called asexuality; a light dawned over the persistent fog in my brain and burnt it away. Finally, I knew what I was.
I felt liberated and winded in the same breath; I had spent so much of my life chasing after shadows. I was attracted to people, sure, but never acted on my attractions, because I knew where it could well lead; the one thing I didn’t want. I went on a few dates, but backed off pretty quickly when I realised that expectations were being formed and devised. I would rather be single than forced into a sexual relationship, but could never work out why I felt so against it. Until that newspaper article came into my life.
I was angry – irrationally – that I had never been able to work out who I was, but also utterly relieved that I wasn’t alone. One percent of the world’s population is believed to be asexual, so there’s a lot of us around.
When I came to this crashing realisation, there was another thought coming through very clearly; “Oh shit. I’ve hidden behind excuses, prevarications, and half-truths for so long. How am I going to now clear the air and admit to what I actually am?” Well, I didn’t – not for a long while, anyway. For a couple of years, I kept it hidden, embarrassed by my own ignorance and seemingly-endless reinvention. I quietly mentioned it to a couple of people, but that was it; I was hamstrung by my own conflicting emotions from discussing it more openly.
I was emboldened after going to a sci-fi / fantasy convention in August of 2014 with my publishers, Inspired Quill. I saw some attendees who, I suspected, were like me. I can’t tell you why I thought that – call it an instinct – but I felt a connection, and I was reassured that they seemed fine and well-adjusted. After a conversation with one of my fellow IQ authors, in which he revealed that he had noticed these people as well, I blurted out a semi-confession to him, and he didn’t bat an eyelid. That have me a huge confidence boost, and I came away aglow with positivity; I wasn’t being mocked for who I was, and it was okay to be like this!
It then became a matter of when I would out; it was important to me that I be honest with people at last, for no other reason than I wanted to share this part of my life. I thought carefully about how to do the deed, then outed myself in the only way I knew how; by blogging about it. I inserted it into a longer blog post and half-hoped that nobody would notice. Some didn’t, but some did – and many of those said that they’d already worked it out for themselves. I just wished they’d told me their suspicions – it would have saved me a lot of bother!
Even my parents weren’t overly worried but, to be fair, I’d given them so much else to worry about up to that point that my asexuality was probably the most normal thing about me. They were just glad I was being honest.
Aexuality is a spectrum, and I sit at the point where I can feel romantic love towards someone; there are those who never experience even that. I’d happily live with someone – many wouldn’t – but what would that look like? A friendship? A relationship? Housemates? Who knows.
Let me be clear; being asexual is not a choice. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to be this way. I was born like it. I deserve to be seen as equal to everyone else, irrespective of my orientation, and I will not tolerate anything else. I’m not broken; I’m me.