Asexuality and Me
I’m still pretty young, I’ll be 25 in June. I’ve lost touch with most of my friends from high school, but with Facebook and Twitter being a thing, I can still check in on most of them if I want to be nosy or if I’m just bored. It was something that I used to do a lot: check in with old friends and classmates to make sure they’re still okay. In the last couple of years though, I’ve quietly watched as my ex-friends and ex-classmates have done what’s expected of them: growing up, getting married, and/or starting a family. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but sometimes it used to make me feel bad about myself.
I have little to no interest in getting married or starting a family. I love kids. I think they're better than adults. But, I do not want any of my own. I can’t even begin to entertain the idea of marriage. Everything about it seems suffocating. When I express these opinions I'm always given me an odd sort of look. It freaks my mother out and worries my aunts. To them, focusing on my writing and filmmaking career is a dangerous unstable game. They keep asking me, “Well, what if you’re 50 and your career ends and you’re alone?” I always answer, “Then, I’ll be alone.”
To me, there’s nothing wrong with being alone. Because being alone and being lonely are two different things. I am alone a lot, but I’m very rarely lonely. I find comfort in being by myself and having the independence to do the things I want. I’m an only child so, of course, by nature, I’m a loner. When I was a child, the only person I had to play with was myself. I had to be both Barbie characters; had to race both cars; had to play tag with my fifteen-year-older aunts. I quickly got used to being by myself. In school I had friends, but even the two I now deem as my “sisters,” who I was practically raised with, rarely see me. I generally like being alone.
I’ve considered myself asexual for nearly five years, so it’s not something I’ve always been. In my last two years of high school, I got into a relationship that would go on to last halfway through college. It wasn’t a good relationship. He was abusive in many ways. I was young and thought that was how relationships were supposed to be. My naive thinking eventually got me hurt. I let myself become damaged because I thought that this guy and I were destined to be together forever.
I will say that relationship was a major factor in my decision to be ace, but it was not the only one. I’ve never had any real interest in sex. Sure it feels good and sometimes it’s fun, but I could literally be doing other things. Like reading a book, writing a script, or watching a TV show. To me, sex is one of the last things I want to be doing. When I was younger and I told people this, all it got me were strange looks.
I had never heard of the term "asexual" until Tumblr. And while Tumblr is great for discovering new things, most the time, if you want to acquire a wider perspective, Google is better. So, I searched. And, at first, I thought "asexual" didn’t apply to me. Nearly all the definitions for the term, if they weren’t talking about plants, stated that asexuality was having little to no sexual desires or feelings. To them, most asexuals were sex repulsed. And that didn't exactly apply to me.
My asexuality comes from trauma, from a need somewhere deep in myself to find peace. I’m not sex-repulsed, and nevermind a sexual feeling; I haven’t had an actual emotion in a long time. My perspective of asexuality is a little different from others that I’ve come across, which is why I wanted to write about it.
Before I am asexual, I am an African American woman. A black woman living in Denver, Colorado. Our community here isn’t the biggest but still, the middle school, high school, and college I attended were predominantly black. And, in the black community, heterosexuality is the norm. I can remember, even in elementary school, the kids would run around at recess discussing who liked who. Kids had boyfriends and girlfriends as early as third and fourth grade. It was just a way of life. Middle school and high school were as much for social interaction as they were for education. While everyone studied, we also put our heads together at any spare moment to gossip about who was doing what in they momma’s basements. It was constant, but it was so normalized no one even gave it a second thought.
Homosexuality and bisexuality aren’t the norm in the black community, but it’s working towards that goal. Queer black people exist and they deserve the support of the black community. However, there’s still conflicts over these labels. There’s still both young and old that think homosexuality is a sin. It’s accepted but it’s kept quiet or it’s not accepted and kids are disowned. They lose their families and are sometimes even killed because of it. As a community, we still have a long ways to go in terms of acceptance.
Which is what makes talking about asexuality in the black community even harder. It’s something that is both taboo and not quite believed. Nearly every person I’ve told about my asexual identity hasn’t really believed me. At least, not at first. With five years passing and no relationship in sight, it’s only now that it’s taken somewhat serious. On the internet, many of the asexuals I’ve come across have been white. And while I appreciate that they are out there, it’s hard to relate to them. A white asexual person will never understand my struggle as a black asexual person. We may have a few things in common, like possibly not wanting to have sex, but a struggle to me usually isn’t a struggle to them.
Black women are constantly hypersexualized. Almost from the moment we’re born until the moment we die we are looked at first through a sexual gaze. When I was little, I mostly ran around the house in just pants, with my toys tucked under my arms. There was something freeing about not having a shirt on, and there still is honestly. Then, when I turned 6, my mom started making me wear shirts at all times. Even when there was no one home she would always say, “if there were a man in the house....” When I started school, it only got worse. In elementary school, I was teased for having a big butt. I look back on it now and can only shake my head at how 8- to 9-year-old me was being teased about a part of her body that she had no control over. Boys would walk by and slap my butt in the hallway or ask to touch it during recess. Girls would laugh and call me "stuck-up" when I declined the boys. All of this happened before I was even a decade old.
For most of middle school, I dressed like a boy. I made my mom buy pants that were too big and shirts that were even bigger. I hid in those clothes so no one ever gave me a second glance. I cut my hair short, never letting it get past my shoulders. I ached to pretty much disappear.
In high school, it all came to a head. The ultimate goal of high school is to graduate, but the "student goal" is usually to lose your virginity before you walk across that stage. I made it halfway. The summer before junior year, I met a guy: the abusive one I spoke of earlier. I’d spend the next six years of my life in a weird hypersexualized relationship. Even though I got out of it, I’m still trying to escape the hypersexualization that seems to just come with being a black woman.
It’s a strange thing to be asexual, and I don't say that in a bad way. But to be raised under the impression that sex was a must in relationships and that the sexualization of the female body was the norm, it took awhile for me to come to terms with the label. My asexuality developed in stages and came slowly with time. It wasn’t a way that I always had felt, and after searching the internet, my self-acceptance took even longer because of the lack of discussion on asexuality in the form of trauma. It seems there are a lot of roads and bridges left to cross when it comes to asexuality.
There are still many things I have to say about being asexual, this post is just the beginning. I will definitely be posting more about asexuality and trauma as well as asexuality and being a black woman. I just needed a starting point.