I can’t remember exactly when I found out what sex is.

I can remember being in third grade and already knowing the shame of speaking of ‘eso’ around any adult and the embarrassment from mentioning it around my peers. Even looking up the word in the dictionary made me feel guilty, as if text itself would leave a visible mark that allowed everyone to know I was too curious for my own good.

What I can remember is the quick developing obsession with anything that involved two beings doing ‘eso’. I’d casually browse through anatomy books and linger on the reproductive system. I’d stay up late and pretend to be asleep so I could watch soft-core porn on cable TV. When sex scenes came on in novelas, I’d feign innocence and disinterest in what my mother would tell me to look away from. Even animal documentaries could pique my interest.

With gained access to the internet (and delete history), my need for knowledge finally began to be quenched. By the time I was eleven I knew more about sex, outside of practice, than what the typical American does by graduation.

Throughout this journey of discovery, I never really stopped to consider my own position in the greater scheme of sex. My imagination was limited to picturing myself as an observer—never a participant. There was no one around that I could talk to about anything regarding sex without receiving a textbook regurgitation or regaño, so I simply made up my mind that I’d eventually grow into wanting to have it myself and develop the capacity to participate.

Years later, I’m still trying to figure out my relationship with sex. I’m fortunate enough to have a handful of people that I know understand and support me boundlessly, but I know it’s not the same for everyone. I’m aware of how difficult it can be to find validation as being “just asexual.” As someone who is also panromantic it’s been less difficult for me to participate in the queer community, but I still find myself having to leave out asexual from my identity in order to feel more welcomed. I don’t mind talking about sex or my few sexual experiences, but I hate it being the center of so many conversations. It’s always been a fascinating phenomenon for me, and I’ll always want to learn more, but I refuse to let it continue restraining my development.


Joanny Leyva is a grey ace Xicana from Southern California. She currently is an Ethnic Studies scholar in the Bay Area and hopes to pursue work in public policy. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, gardening, and going on existential rants.

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