The Importance of Not Drowning
The first girl you fell in love with did not physically attract you, and you thought it was because you were too young. The second girl you had a crush on did not attract you either, but that’s because you were two awkward nerds. The third one… oh well. Nothing is wrong with the third one. She is a perfect person with a perfect smile that keeps you awake at night, and you don’t have any valid excuse for not wanting to touch her this time.
Because of your queerness, high school is the very beginning of an exhausting struggle against yourself. In fact, you spend high school struggling with everything. Gender identity, awful mental health, your crushes’ boyfriends, homophobic teens, school. It’s like staying afloat in an ocean – you are holding on to rocks, trying not to drown, and that’s exhausting. One day someone says right in front of you that transgender people are freaks, and no one disagrees. Another day, some random girl asks you in front of everyone if you have already had sex, and when you say no, everyone laughs. Of course, she hasn’t. This could be a very neutral statement, but really, it doesn’t sound neutral. It sounds pathetic. You laugh anyway. You are drowning inside.
You don’t know the term “asexual” yet. And when you learn about it, thanks to social media and fanfictions and other asexual friends, you push this idea away. This is not you. You are gay, right? And you have spent too much energy being ashamed of it, so it is too late to change your label now. You are just not ready for sex, not interested yet. You may be ace for now, but things will change. They always do.
You keep waiting for the ‘right one’ and when she appears right in front of you, nothing happens. It is messy and embarrassing. You are not attracted, but you are not unattracted either. This is not what you were expecting. It has nothing to do with movies and fanfictions and the relationships you see around you. It is just weird. Eventually you realize that if you can’t be attracted to her then you won’t be to anyone, and you push her away.
You ask yourself if you want to touch her, and the answer is yes, so it means that you are not, in fact, asexual. Like, not ‘100% one.’ Somewhere on the so-called spectrum, at the very least, but nothing to care about, nothing to be celebrated at Pride or anything like that. You are more like, very shy and prude and a bit awkward, but you want to be close to her anyway, and that – that means a lot to you.
Plus, ‘non-binary’ and ‘gay’ are already two of your identities, and you don’t need a third one that would make your identity “excessive.” That would be too much. Calling yourself ‘ace’ is like dressing up with a very expensive cashmere jumper – it feels nice, it’s pretty, but it’s way too fancy for you and people around you say it makes you look shallow, and because of that it feels slightly uncomfortable to wear. So you leave it behind.
But deep down inside of you, something remains broken or unanswered. The waves keep coming back and you are tired of fighting them. The water is burning your eyes, blurring your vision. You punch into the void, and you feel lonely.
And then you realize. You asked yourself if, but not how you want to touch her. And it changes everything.
You want to kiss her head and the back of her hand and make her hot chocolate when she has a nightmare. You want to rub her back when she feels sad and mess with her hair. You want this, you really do. You want to feel connected with someone, but not the way you used to imagine.
As a not-consciously-genderqueer-yet kid, you never felt that your body and your mind were connected the way they were supposed to. You had crushes on girls but it seemed like the information didn’t reach your body. Girls and sex have always been two separate things, even though you identify as gay – and yes, it is confusing. In fact, you can’t even imagine being intimate with someone you haven’t already known for years.
It’s difficult to identify as asexual and feel included in the LGB community because there appears to be such a fixation on sex. In every lesbian trope in movies, fanfictions, or books (and heaven knows they are way more unusual than heterosexual tropes to begin with) sometimes it feels like it is all about eating pussy, suffering, and dying – and that’s a really disappointing to-do-list. And sure, gay representation is crucial, and you love all these characters for a bunch of reasons. But really, you have never felt more represented than the day you saw a web series on YouTube with two women cuddling on a couch and watching Game of Thrones.
The idea of yourself laying down on a bed with someone – not touching, not having sex, only sharing a bed, fully clothed – is scary as hell. You are twenty years old and it might have happened three or four times in your entire life, and every time it felt wrong. You always thought it was related to internalized homophobia and all the guilt that used to rot in you for years. How the hell can you feel guilty for something you didn’t feel, though?
The amount of time and energy wasted on repressing the hell out of it – because of this desire for girls, as it is deemed a sin and unnatural and forbidden by society – is ridiculous. You realize that you have hated yourself for years, because you wanted to kiss her forehead and make her hot chocolate late at night. The absurdity of it is crushing you hard.
And all these years of self-loathing and rejection and messed up mental health – you can’t have them back. You can only move on and speak up about LGBTQIA+ subjects on social media when you used to be quiet. Detaching yourself from the allosexual relationship you pictured in your mind for so long is not easy, but it’s the best thing to do. Suddenly everything feels lighter. You no longer feel the urge to be someone you can’t be. You are a non-binary asexual lesbian, and if it makes no sense to some people, it does to you. You are at the very intersection of these identities, like a giant crossroads, and you don’t feel overwhelmed anymore. You don’t feel like fighting anymore.
Somehow, you feel like you can learn how to swim now.