On a Target run with my mother, I immediately ran to the dollar section at the front of the store, looking for things I definitely don’t need but will ultimately guilt trip my mother into buying. The section was filled with Pride products — sandals, mugs, glasses, and more. A rainbow balloon lettering of ‘PRIDE’ caught my eye, and I knew I wanted to leave the store with it. However, my mom doesn’t know I’m asexual and aromantic. Upon putting it in the cart, her reaction was, “Is there something you’re trying to tell me?” I assured it was only because it was dang cute and a dollar. Little does she know…
Between my junior and senior year of high school, I questioned all aspects of myself, as a budding young adult does. Where will I go to college? Will I ever want children? Why the hell am I not attracted to anyone? I never expressed any interest in relationships, despite my friends’ persistence. My friends, who were always in and out of relationships, would tell boys in our classes that I liked them, even when I did not, just to make sure I “at least had a date for prom.” When sex became a hot-topic, I still did not budge. It wasn’t until I liked a boy my junior year that I began to consider I wasn’t straight. He was nice, gave me attention, and brought out my adventurous, rebellious teenage side. When he tried to kiss me, I realized suddenly that I did not want his intimacy. I did not want to kiss him, date him, or anything further. And it wasn’t him specifically, but any man, or woman, I was faced with. That’s when a deep-dive Google search lead me to asexuality and aromanticism.
For the next three years, I put that piece of my identity into a safe, locked it, and threw away the key. I didn’t want to confront the fact that my identity was practically against my evolutionary design. It didn’t help that sex and romance were the number one discussion topics among teenagers and the media. Every once and a while, I would go back to Google and re-read every article, op-ed, and journal on asexuality and reconfirm my feelings. Now entering my third year of college, I’m finally comfortable with my sexuality. There are pieces that still frustrate me: lack of representation, societal pressure, the inability in today’s day and age to have a relationship with these boundaries. I don’t know if I’ll ever find a (queer-platonic) partner that will understand who I am, and not question what is “wrong” with me. For now, I can’t let that stop me from learning to truly accept myself.
The balloons from Target still sit in their package, unopened. I worked up the courage to tell three people I’m ace/aro. I’ve been faking my sexuality for so long, that I’m afraid people won’t believe me. I don’t feel like I deserve to hang the balloons and be proud. Modern society has made progress towards acceptance of LGBTQIA individuals, but asexuality remains under the radar. The ‘A’ in the acronym is more commonly thought of as ally, not asexual, aromantic, or agender. There is a long road ahead of teaching those around me that sex and romance are not inherent truths for every person. The many unknowns in regard to my identity will continue to keep me up at night, but I know this for sure: I am proud to be asexual and aromantic.