Vol. 1, Issue 2
Editor-in-Chief: Michael Paramo
Layout Editor: Michael Paramo
To whom it may concern,
Since the release of Vol. 1, Issue 1, The Asexual has blossomed into a unique space for ace creators. With Issue 2, the journal has continued to expand, receiving more than double the total submissions. I want to thank everyone who submitted their precious creations as well as anyone who has supported this space for ace creators either online or offline. Your support means so much more than you know and has continued to inspire me to take this project to even higher places in the future.
With love and appreciation,
You were born into this world
Not to be a person, but a mother
At least, that is what you were told
But never once thought to believe
As a child, you went to school
Learned biology, anatomy
And found that was all you saw:
Cells and nerves
As opposed to flesh and sweat
You watched your friends partner off
But craved the stars more
Getting lost in strings of lights
While they were stuck moaning on the ground
One day, you found a single spark
Out of place
For it was not caught in the map of your skies
But amidst the throng of human hearts
She warmed you
And at once, you found your fingers charred
Yearning for a foreign heat
That she obligingly burned into your chest
Like liquid fire in your veins
And dripping candle wax on your skin
You'd never once wanted what they had
Never understood the need
But she, and only she,
Set your soul alight
And your body ablaze
And this, you could accept
Dianne is a pseudonym for a 20-year-old demisexual girl who's not quite ready to tell her family she's been in love with a girl for 7 years now. She is an engineering student, and thus is constantly surrounded by hormonal boys, so you should definitely feel bad for her.
So here I am again,
lying on my back staring up at an LED light that changes between fluorescent colors every few minutes.
I feel like I did just a short while ago,
trapped underneath murky water
playing telephone with the world,
trying too desperately to fathom
the muffled sounds,
the obscured sights.
Where do the stars go when I enter the sky,
I heard the sun ask.
And to him the moon replied,
they are afraid of your light.
This is how I have learned to live,
afraid of my own light.
I don’t know whether I am to blame or them, but sooner or later that blame is going to have to be placed somewhere.
I look at you, and I pray it doesn’t fall on me.
you are a fleeting image,
something like piece of art that hangs never to be touched,
only to be seen.
I hate how slippery your hands are, like you can’t hold on to a single thing.
I tried so hard
I shrunk myself so that you wouldn’t have to hold on
so that I would just be there.
But my body has never fit right with anyone.
Maybe you are too afraid of the way I want to love you.
You lose interest.
in movies in
TV shows in me.
You lose all sense of direction you wander off you sweet fickle creature,
I can’t find you I get scared I have no maps I’m afraid of the way you keep
changing colors and I don’t know where to go from here.
I thought I could travel through time, watch your leaves change like a time lapse, I wanted to so badly.
But leaves only change in the fall and I think I was the only one falling.
So, then I thought I could travel backwards,
watch your flowers bloom in slow motion, I took a step back and tried so hard.
But the winter lasted too long, spring came too late time ran out you’re going to blossom and I won’t be there to see it.
Often times I find myself wanting to tell you everything,
explain the things that made me this way so that you understand me,
And how time has never been kind to me.
How I’m always too little too late.
I think maybe,
if you knew this somehow it would help.
But explanations only help if you explain them,
and I don’t know if this is something you want to put back together again.
enigmatic in nature,
hold a universe inside of you and it is ever-changing,
I can’t keep you in place.
Sean Dunne is a 17-year-old asexual senior in high school. She doesn’t know when she’ll get there, but she plans to study psychology in college someday. Her two main hobbies are writing and photography, and when she’s not doing either of those things she’s probably watching Netflix and/or avoiding schoolwork.
Serenity Chase is new to the Asexual scene and identifies as heteromantic. She is a 25-year-old college graduate with many different interests, including writing. She wrote this poem on one of her bad days and this will be her first time ever sharing her work with the public (so she is a little nervous).
“So… do you just see a person you like and suddenly have the urge to have sex with them?”
The entire lunch table around me went quiet, people pausing in their conversations or their homework to look up at me. Lauren, my friend sitting next to me, even looked up from her sketchbook, something she rarely did when she was focused.
Considering the attention it'd garnered, I almost wanted to take my question back.
Instead, I stared at Eric, the boy across from me, whose eyes were wide with surprise. He coughed, then furrowed one brow. “Y-yeah, I mean, not with other guys, but with girls, yeah, I get it all the time.”
“Even if you don't know her?”
“Mm-hmm, makes it even better sometimes, ‘cause then their personalities don't get in the way of fantasy.”
He laughed as his girlfriend sitting next to him elbowed him in the gut. “Hey!” She snapped, “Girls with personality are amazing. Trust me, I know from experience.”
She gave me a smug glare at this, which I blatantly ignored. Instead, I interrupted whatever Eric was going to say next with another question. “And you've always been like this?”
He shrugged. “Yeah, I guess, though it ramped up quite a bit when I went through middle school.”
He then gave me a curious look. “Why do you ask?”
“No reason.” I said, feigning nonchalance as I looked down at my notebook and wrote out another sentence in my story.
Mentally, I was trying to figure things out, put together a puzzle that I didn't really have the pieces for yet. Why hadn't I had the same experiences as him? Was it because I wasn't a male? Was I just a late bloomer?
My downward spiral of thoughts was interrupted by a loud laugh from Eric’s girlfriend. “Wait, so you mean to tell me that you've never thought of or wanted to have sex… ever?”
I kept my eyes glued to my notebook, and she took my silence as a yes. She started cracking up, and Eric joined in.
I felt the familiar twist in my stomach, the sick feeling in my chest. This wasn't supposed to happen. Not again.
Turning to Lauren, I met her gaze before discreetly tapping my temple. She gave me a small nod before beginning to gather up her school things.
That was our signal, to tap the side of our head if we ever wanted out on a situation or to change the topic if we weren't okay talking about something in person. It was kinda stupid, I'll admit, but it was better than our verbal or text signal, which was the word “eggs” hidden in a random sentence.
As we both started to move away, I heard one final comment from the laughing couple. “Oh geez,” Eric coughed again, “that’s why no one want’s to date her! She’s too much of a prude!”
I felt my face burn bright red from shame and unwanted attention as I quickened my walking speed, eventually leaving Lauren behind until I reached the stairs leading up to the high school hallway. “Eliza, are you… okay?” Lauren asked as we started to climb.
I sighed. “To be honest? No, but I guess it’s my fault for askin’ stupid questions…”
“Don’t listen to them, they’re inconsiderate assholes.” She growled, before her tone lightened. “Besides… you’re not alone in how you feel.”
I looked back at her in surprise as we reached the top. “What… do you mean by that?”
“I’m demisexual heteroromantic.” she quickly explained. “I just don’t like using labels, so that’s why I don’t normally tell anyone, but seeing as we’re both on the spectrum, I assume that you’re asexual…?”
“Biromantic, yeah.” I felt the sick feeling in my stomach and chest start to disappear, replaced with something I couldn’t quite place. Words couldn’t define it, at least for now.
Lauren smiled. “You remember Mo, the girl I introduced you to at the beginning of the school year?”
I nodded. Mo went to the local public high school, and had been friends with Lauren in middle school, before Lauren transferred to the charter school. Very cute, as I’d seen from our multiple video chats and the one time I’d gotten to meet her in person.
“Well, she’s pansexual, so I guess you could call the three of us… the queer musketeers.”
We both laughed at this, our mirthful voices carrying down the hallway. As I continued to chat with her, I finally realized what I could define the feeling in my chest as.
For the first time ever, not only had I been able to accept who I really was, but so did my closest friend.
And it was a wonderful feeling.
Ms. Ace is an aspiring asexual biromantic high school writer who has three goals in life: to become a journalist for a literary magazine, to destroy ableism and acephobia, and to live in an apartment with her (future) partner and three sphynx cats… not necessarily in that order. She lives in St. Paul, MN and one day hopes to go to the University of Minnesota and major in Journalism and English.
Titular motifs repeated across the notebook
of love, rebellion and truth
but no word on my desire
When she suckled the breasts
six years old
she could taste the sweetness she said
at the age of eighteen
I passed semen in my underpants
on a chilling October morning
with a dream of her merging into Audrey Hepburn
androgynous, mongoloid, feminine
Celibate meditation on body
dissolved that morning
and I returned the book on Sylvia Plath to the library
She got wet looking at a handsome man
took a man from behind and in the mouth
but couldn't let him enter
She got wet looking at a handsome man
but couldn't let the ugly one enter
she talked of Mills & Boons
and erotic literature
but claimed to be asexual
She got wet looking at a handsome man
kissed and groped a woman
but couldn’t let an object enter
The body moved
Through thin air
And grasped for me
The sensation of touch
Is much like
Replete with memories
And slow burning pain
Of a photo flooding with white
Of invisible lens flares
Of unrecognizable objects disappearing from view
"Take me with you"
He had uttered
Amidst the crowded street
Drunken nights of languish
The street lights dissolved
Any sense of belonging in the city
He clamped himself like a
Woman covering her breasts
"Your dreams don’t mean anything."
"Let the light flood in."
Shunya Ta is a non-binary demi-sexual being who resides in the city of Calcutta on the east coast of India. They spend their time reading, writing, and contemplating about a future world. Recent work has appeared in The Asexual.
I am asexual. Why is that difficult to say? Especially in front of people. Why is it something I almost feel shame in admitting? Why does it feel like I’m telling everyone I’m a freak?
What kind of world do we live in where we are encouraged to feel ashamed for how we feel, ashamed for what we look like, ashamed for who we are? What kind of world leaves us to our own devices to work out what makes us different, instead of reminding us how we’re all the same?
I am asexual. It took me years to get to this point, years to understand what it means and feel comfortable using this word to describe myself – but it describes me. It’s who I am. And that’s what everyone deserves; a word, a phrase, a term that means them. That reminds us that we are all just people, human beings. That we are all normal.
Normal: a word which lost its meaning long ago, a word devoured by those society favours, used to describe only themselves, a word the majority cannot use because we simply do not conform with these narrow expectations.
Get a boyfriend, get a husband: some people don’t want that. Get a girlfriend, get a wife: some people don’t want that. Have sex, start a family: some people don’t want that. I don’t want that.
Because I am asexual. Yet we cling to these old-fashioned definitions – that humans are made to a standard; males one way and females another, and that’s just how it is. And anything that deviates from that is labelled a freak.
But nobody chooses who they are. Nobody creates their character at the start of the game; nobody chooses to be bi or gay or ace or aro or trans. Nobody joins LGBT groups for attention because they’re a “special snowflake”. We’re not secretly straight or repressed or victims of trauma. It’s not because of depression or mental health issues. It’s just who we are. Why should we feel ashamed for telling people who we are? How are we not normal?
The sad truth is some people see words like ‘asexual’ and read ‘freak’. But that’s not what it really means. It means there are other people like us. Other people that are okay, and surviving. And happy. It’s a way for other people to understand us, a way for us to understand ourselves. Which is what we all crave, each and every one of us: to be respected, to be understood, to be normal.
You’re Bisexual? Normal Person. Gay? Normal Person. Pansexual? Normal Person. Transgender? Normal Person. Aromantic? Normal Person. Demisexual? Normal Person. Asexual. Normal Person. You have anxiety? It doesn’t matter. Normal Person. Depression. Normal Person. PTSD… I could go on.
We are all just another dot on the human spectrum, a unique composition of desires and feelings and thoughts. Just because I don’t want to procreate, just because someone’s assigned gender doesn’t sit well with their skin, just because a man likes both Jack and Jill, it doesn’t matter. Just because some of us can’t do something another can, or some of us don’t want to, it doesn’t matter. We’re all different; we’re all unique; and because of that… we’re all the same.
And we are all normal. And it might take some time, but once we can understand what that means and feel comfortable using this word to describe ourselves, then that is what we are. A word everyone deserves; a word, a phrase, a term that means them. That reminds us that we are all just people, human beings, that we are not alone, that we are not broken, we are not freaks, we are not weird. We are just like everyone else.
It’s about time we show the world that we’re not afraid of telling everyone who we are. The day we can all claim our right of feeling normal. And nobody – not even the President or the Prime Minister – can take that away from us, no matter how hard they try.
Because, deep down, we know, and I know. And I won’t stop screaming it until everyone else knows as well: I. AM. ASEXUAL. And that means I’m normal.
Alex Stabler is a 19-year old human being who also happens to be asexual. He is currently studying Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in Bath, England (obviously). His hobbies include conjuring up terrific puns, sleeping, and dreaming of a future world in which he gets paid to scribble words onto a page.
a red plastic bowl
counting minutes in the
post office line.
a loose thread
on my sweatshirt
I should stop pulling at.
the beige waiting
room, sniffling children,
cemented in the kitchen
trapped in the que
the painted tarmac.
folding the fresh
load of laundry.
for next week’s test.
the itch of an
old wool blanket.
on the coffee table.
sweeping pine needles off
watching rain water
off the grass.
room temperature water
in a blue glass.
this fertile womb
that shreds itself apart
month after month with no children
ones are not on
the docket of my life.
No woman or man will change this
I suffer through
this mess of womanhood
year after year with no trial
is flooded on
to me with title wave
expectations, but I’m filled with
and blood are all
that’s going to pour out
of me and that’s fine, I am
that formed me against my
consent, so now I’m making my
a murdered crop
if the weeds were never
seeded and the earth was never
try to shame me.
You have no say in the
use of my garden’s potential
if I still have
to settle for dealing
with sand and debris, I am
Tori Roozekrans is an aromantic asexual poet who is trying to focus on writing poems about asexuality whenever she can escape the combined clutches of college, work, and her cat. More than anything she wants to share her work with her fellow aces in an attempt to inspire others to catch the creative bug and bring the community closer together.
My body, my right
Does it sound right???
No, I don’t need approval no longer
Because I have started believing in myself
This journey started a long ago
How can I let it forgo
Now destiny has unfolded
Made me boldest
In hyper-sexualized society where everyone wants more…
I tell you I am neither spinster nor whore
I am just, me & myself
Not an elf
I might not fit in your narrative
That doesn’t make me less creative & inactive
Don’t tell me my Asexuality needs to be ‘overcome’
Because I have embraced it wholesome
I am not going to shun
It’s not a pun
I will fight to bring a revolution
Till acceptance of it as a valid orientation.
Mehreen Qaisar is a young Pakistani Feminist & Researcher in the government organization; her area of interest is Gender & Human Rights. She is a Body Positive Ace born with Asperger’s Syndrome; she has disdain for any feminist & human rights movement which is not inclusive. Can be reached at Twitter @Mehreen_Qaisar
I came out as asexual in a very unofficial way, which was the best thing to do. No letter, no long Facebook update confession, no exclusive "we need to talk" with relatives or friends. I simply started throwing it into dating conversations whenever it was appropriate to do so. I am today a very out and proud asexual, still questioning my romantic orientation at the moment as I think I'm heteroromantic, yet it seems like I don't get to that level with anyone I have met so far, am I aromantic as well? Life will tell if I'm really hetero, demi, or grey romantic, but sex-repulsed asexual has been there since way before I knew a whole community of asexuals existed out there somewhere.
I feel this story needs to be told because the feeling of relief and liberation the community has given to me is something I did not expect in life, I had already given up on this hypersexualised ableist humanity and I had a lifelong history of suicidal thoughts and 2 attempts before I reached this state of unapologetic pride I lost as a kid. I'm free from the "borrowed confusion" the straight and fully able humans gave to me. How did that happen?
I was born with a congenital visual impairment, my mom got ill while pregnant and it affected my eyes. It’s not genetic, it’s not progressive, it simply messed up with me before I got out of a womb. Since I learned to read, which was quite early for kids in that country, thanks to the stubbornness of my biological mom to make me learn beforehand in order to survive a regular children school as the only school for children with special needs. In that place was all mixed disabilities and it wasn’t really helping those kids to develop their knowledge. This was the first struggle I handled. I was fascinated by books and I was much more into those astronomy and dinosaur books for kids when I started to notice the coupling thing at school yards. Over there it starts early, kids as young as 6-7 are already into crushes and kisses. This memory was my first proof of asexuality. I remember running away from a kid chasing me for kisses and I shouted loud and clear at him how disgusting it was "How old do you think we are, 30?! We're in primary, we don't even have hormones and you are kissing around? How gross!"
Teachers freaked out, kids freaked out, and my back then unapologetic self thought "they are playing soap opera, it's so silly, and disgusting". Mind you that a 6-7-year-old GIRL who knows about hormones before puberty in that country is an equivalent to an extra-terrestrial contacting Earth for the first time. This quirky behaviour of "I rather read books, or try to read struggling with a magnifier than kissing" has given me a whole school history of daily abuse. I will not go into detail, as I have already talked enough about this abusive hypersexualised ableist country which is the most sexualised society I'm aware of til today.
Fast forward to when I moved to Hungary. Still a virgin, not wanting anything with anyone and dismissing my biological mother's silly jokes about not bringing her a "lil Hungarian" before I finished my university studies (again, gross).
A year went by, nothing. The new country felt more like home than any other place I lived in before. I was found attractive by some guys, for all the wrong reasons (exotic girl!) yet to me they looked like any other guy. The price of being biracial, you look like a souvenir to everyone yet to you people are just people. I thought for a while this might be the cause of my repulsion. No. I still did not find anyone attractive. Aesthetically pleasing yes, a few, but never wanting more.
Time went by and I made a few close friends in town, mostly older than me and straight. They try to help, thinking "she has not met the right one yet,” overlapping the fact that I can't play the Romeo and Juliet flirt game from the opposite side of the road with any "attractive guy" that walks nearby. For years I thought this was my case and I kept the straight label while crying along Dido's "White flag" music video, thinking "the right one could have already passed me by a thousand times and I didn't see him.” I read this and I laugh of my days of borrowed confusion. A friend in our random conversations once suggested to try online dating. I understood it as a well-intended attempt to help me connect with someone. And so, I did. Opened up a few dating profiles, avoiding Tinder of course, how can I use an exclusively visual app after all? I went for those where people can write their info, and I put effort into mine, as honest as I always was about everything, except still keeping the straight orientation for my lack of knowledge that my jokes about being asexual were actually very likely to be true. I met some guys online. The usual "hi" messages, the meaningless touristy hook-uppers, the "how can you read if you're blind?" conversation starters, the "yo sexy lady" starters... patience, I told myself.
Until one day, an engineer student messaged me with a longer starter. I thought well, he seems honest, let's reply. We messaged back and forth before we went on a first date. My friend who suggested me to do this online dating thing came along with her husband so I had the safety of eye witnesses in case of whatever. It went alright I guess, but the "love" went more on his side. He was so touchy, all the time, everywhere, in public. I still felt it gross, and my gut feeling was causing me a headache for keep trying that nonsense. Needless to say, he was already showing slight obsessive/possessive signs, which after a short trip to Helsinki, I noticed clearly and decided to break up that mess.
I still kept the dating profile for a few weeks, but I only got more of the same "hi" "sexy lady" "how can you read this?" I stopped.
After almost a year of that dating safari I found AVEN thanks to some asexual activists on YouTube and a lesbian friend of mine who shared a post about asexuality.
It’s not my crappy vision, it is not being biracial, it is not that I haven't found the one yet, I have a very clear and detailed idea of the partner I am looking for, and he's not the usual straight girl standard. It feels like I already know him, his skills and his imperfections, I am a writer in the closet... it’s somewhat like I built up a character that I would love to meet in the real world, with all his good and his crap and I still don't want sex with him. Talking about fan crushes, I've never understood, and I tested myself with my crappy vision to see if I could find a famous actor/athlete/musician/etc., attractive. In fact, all that amount of muscle and Photoshop scares the hell out of me. My "fictional book character" is nothing like that and probably not human, I said to myself.
Once I met the online asexual communities, I saw the light (how cheesy), I noticed the humongous difference between messaging style and I even met a few who are into similar hobbies or interests. The ice has started to melt. I am not broken, my eyes might be, not the rest of me. I'm not ugly, neither a souvenir. I am not picky, I take care of myself as I'm very aware of the vulnerable position I am in, it is the wisest thing to do and it is quite healthy to know what you want. I carry all my "unwanted" labels and I'm a professional weirdo.
I'm unapologetic once again, I recovered what I once lost and I am a proud biracial, legally blind, sex-repulsed asexual, child free by choice, non-religious citizen of the world woman. If I could survive, I know we all can. We exist and we are human.
This is my attempt of retribution for the community which has saved me from my own ice shield, which I got courtesy of an over-normative, square-minded society.
I hope this helps whoever reads this, if anyone at all.
Thank you for existing.
Tara Wills is a 26-year-old psychology student at ELTE University in Budapest, Hungary. She has produced her own EP album in 2012 and is currently taking a break from music while studying, working part time as a pet sitter / dog walker, and running a photography project called “The Blind Photographer – Budapest.” She is a proud Sex-repulsed asexual, biracial, legally blind, non-religious, citizen of the world woman currently searching for ways to take part in asexuality activism.
And not just queer as in a sexual orientation or gender identity that falls outside the heterosexual mainstream or gender binary,
Not even simply queer as in strange or odd from a conventional standpoint-
I mean queer as in of a questionable nature or character.
Queer as in
Out of the Big Three of sexuality,
I never felt that any one fit me, but like
an uncomfortable label there was this feeling
scratching at me: I didn’t have a label.
I could never figure out
who I was attracted to (or if there was a
who to figure out at all) and while
everyone else had done it for themselves,
they couldn’t help me.
Knowing everybody had found, understood, and
prized this piece of themselves that interlocked
perfectly with their lives, and as many terms I’d
experimented with like paint samples, there was
always a shade of doubt so that no color matched me
I mean queer as in bad, worthless, or counterfeit.
Queer as in
I found myself in an obscure,
whispered term that was perfect
in resources and in my life, but not
in the sex-saturated world or the sex-saturated community.
I found myself hoping more than anything that I
would not only meet a girl but
meet one who didn’t just want a hookup,
finding nothing but disappointment in the world
I’d anticipated joining for so long, and eventually
making up excuses for skipping pride events.
I found myself shimmying into place
to belong, and feeling somewhat jammed in
but slowly adjusting to the pressure.
No matter how familiar, though,
pressure always remains uncomfortable.
I mean queer as in not physically feeling right or well.
Queer as in
Have you seen the commercials with scantily clad women
And shirtless men used to move product because everybody
Will buy spontaneously based on elevated levels of hormones?
Or the one where the man treats his salad like he can have sex with it?
Have you seen the groups of teenage boys and girls
discussing their significant others and sexual exploits
(with their significant others or not) and giggling
as though it means absolutely nothing?
Have you ever seen someone looking determinedly away
While those commercials play? Seen anyone blush
When everyone chatters? Me.
I’ll never quite understand why the jokes are funny,
Why the acts are appealing, and I’ve heard people
Whisper behind my back that I’m awkward or abnormal.
No, I want to say,
Moira Armstrong is a junior at Howland High School, where she enjoys stressing over honors classes and extracurriculars. Her favorite is the speech and debate team, where she competes in original oratory and serves as president. In her very limited free time, she likes to color, volunteer, and, of course, write. Her work has also been published in two Creative Communications Poetry Collections, Blue Marble Review, and The Asexual Journal, and is forthcoming in After the Pause.
“I haven’t seen you in ages!” an aunt exclaims, even though I saw her not even a month prior at a barbecue.
Another praises me: “You’ve grown into such a beautiful young woman… you look just like your mother.”
“How long until you bring a boy over?”
My grandmother asks the same question every time I visit her house.
This is what any gathering of my family is to me, even if visits are close together, the fact that I have never brought a boyfriend to these types of functions sends unease through those related to me. They may not be as out in the open about their suspicions like my mother, who makes homophobic comments at the dinner table and places bets on my sexuality, but I know they whisper about me. I know they talk about me over the phone, muttering things about sin and going to Hell. I pretend not to hear, for their sake and mine, because being silent is easier than trying to explain my lack of interest in anything, romantic or sexual, to people who believe things that I’m not willing to put into words.
There’s no easy way to explain the frustration I felt in elementary school when my parents would tease me about my best friend, a boy, who I did everything with. We saved seats on the bus, pushed each other on the swing set, and even wrote letters because we didn’t have cell phones. Every time I spoke of him at home, a mention of his name brought verse after verse of the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song upon me. I’d get angry at their accusations because they never believed my assertions of us just being friends. They never listened, waving me off with a laugh and an offhand comment about how my defensiveness equaled embarrassment at being attracted to someone. I didn’t understand dating back then because to me everyone was just a possible friend. I thought people who dated were weird because all they did was break up after a day or two and then hate each other. I never had a crush in elementary school.
Middle school was strange. Sixth grade was me trying to be friends with people who didn’t care about me. It was me wearing clothes I didn’t like, making snack runs during basketball games, and traveling to the bathroom in packs. I never dated then either and came to resent the vicious cycle that came with it. The cooing of preteens, the sloppy kisses and fumbling hands, the constant texting, nonstop chatter about how so-and-so is just perfect, the questions that came with me never having a boyfriend, the crying and the yelling when relationships crumbled to hate. It always ended with me listening to how other girls wished they were like me, a complete 360 from when they were in a relationship. I got so tired of it that by the seventh grade I just stopped hanging out with them. I was reunited with my childhood friend that year after being separated from him for a long time after switching schools and suddenly everyone talked about us. They, much like my parents before, whispered about how we shared earbuds, always partnered up, and sat next to each other. It was another year of deflecting rumors and questions and other people asking me out. I always felt bad about declining them because I never really gave clear answers when they asked me why. I couldn’t just tell them that I didn’t know, that I just didn’t feel that way towards anyone.
Eight and ninth grades were a blur. More me rejecting various boys in my class, more rumors about me except now everyone thought that I was a lesbian. More pressure from family to bring home a boyfriend.
Sophomore year I caved in. I just wanted people to leave me alone so when a boy who I’d turned down in middle school tried again, this time I said yes. He was kind and enjoyed the same movies and music I did so if I were to be romantically involved with anyone I thought it would be with someone like him. It was alright for the most part, he was sweet, holding doors and calling me cutie. We held hands while we walked to class and leaned our heads on each other’s shoulders on the bus. Everything was okay until a month passed and he told me he loved me. It was abrupt and in my surprise and confusion I stuttered out the same. I went home that day puzzled and a bit alarmed. I didn’t know what that kind of love was. I valued him as a person and appreciated his feelings but did I want to spend the rest of my life with him? I pondered over that thought for four whole months. I hated saying that I loved him back and kissing him on the cheek after. I hated the way he looked at me with adoration. I hated me. So, one day at the door to my pre-calculus class during my first semester of junior year, I broke up with him. I asked if we could just be friends but I never got an answer… or a chance to explain anything. He sort of froze up and didn’t say anything for a moment before walking off. He never talked to me again and avoided me by having a friend drive him home so he didn’t have to ride the bus. I never got to tell him that he deserved someone who could love him back. Someone who could look at him the way he looked at me. Instead, I got told rumors passed around after we separated that I was heartless. I didn’t deny it because I kind of was. I used that poor boy to quell the accusations of both my family and my peers but only made them worse in the end.
How could I possibly let someone so good-looking and intelligent go?
Everyone had their opinions solidified, and I don’t even need to explain what those were.
The second semester of my junior year I finally figured it out, or at least part of it, because who really knows every single thing about themselves? I learned about the aromantic and asexual spectrums and things started to make sense. I talked to people like me on forums and on Twitter, people who shared stories and insight, and helped me realize who I am. I found the courage to tell my friends and add it to my profiles on social media. Everyone who knows supports me, but not everyone knows. My family is still uninformed, still grasping onto their false ideas and whispered conversations, but I know who I am.
I am Kylie, senior in high school who worships pizza, ramen noodles, and slushies. I am Kylie, a girl who loves writing and coding. I am Kylie, a future computer animation major. I am Kylie, a proud AroAce.
Kylie Wood is a senior at Grant County High School who enjoys reading comics, fangirling over Gotham, and writing the occasional fanfiction. She consumes more pizza than she should, spends a copious amount of time playing The Sims 3, and has a bad habit of procrastinating. What free time she has is dedicated to her school’s marching band, where she performs in its color guard and gets wicked-bad tan lines. She hopes to be accepted into Full Sail University, major in Computer Animation, and thinks it would be super rad to work on a Marvel film.
I embrace a view
That does not belong.
I belong to a group, forever
considered to be unreal, forever
considered to be misidentifying
individuals, who are too
confused to know themselves.
I chose a name
that was not my own,
that determined who I was,
that said I couldn’t be other-than.
I am other-than. I am not
the name I have chosen, because
who I am is more complicated
than a name claiming to be me,
claiming to represent me.
I am not who you think I am, perhaps
because I have been calling myself
something different, something far
different from who I am.
Surely you understand.
I think everyone understands how it
feels to be considered something
you’re truly not, even when
some of us accept this false name.
Well, no more conforming
to society’s rules, established by
an eagle god who asks for less diversity.
I struggle in a nation that is
demanding less from me yet
wants more than I can offer.
I am who I am.
I will do what I can.
Nothing can change that.
Not even the name
I falsely call myself.
Maribel C. Pagan has appeared or is forthcoming in the first issue of Zaum, the first issue of The Asexual, Persephone’s Daughters, Every Day Fiction, and others. She has received the Junior Reading Giants Award, has made the President's List in Mohawk Valley Community College, and has received a number of other awards and scholarships. Additionally, she is the host of The Maddie Show on WLMU Radio, a Prose Reader for Apprehension Magazine, and a singer and musician for The Angelic Family Choir. Visit Maribel at http://therollinghills.wordpress.com/.
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.
there is power in my asexuality
and yet, power transforms so often into pity
within your vicious eyes looking upon me
some broken anomaly
flickering switches, oscillating off and on
there must be some faulty wiring concealed within
and so, you connived and prodded me
opening my insides with your tools of the mind and body
and yet, to your astonishment you discovered
my levers, pulleys, and belts operated to your flawed standard
and yet, still, I did not function as you or he intended
send my damaged body back, a new motherboard was needed
but they could not fix an incorrectly assembled machine
my mind came under recall, HSDD was the director
but there was no powering down this body defective
for my perception changed, and no repair was needed
and still they could attempt, twisting the screw deep within
pushing until a spring is sprung, ejection
you can spin the head and pull it back
like empty vessels, filled and put on a track
and yet, I am still mine
under these polystyrene sheets
no pulsations in deplete
not bound to the broken
or hung in my sleep
your controllers are obsolete
Michael Paramo is a 24-year-old queer asexual Latinx in California. Their academic work has been accepted for presentation by the National Women's Studies Association, the American Culture Association / Popular Culture Association, as well as the U.S. branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Their research interests concern queerness and asexuality as well as their many intersections.
All works published are original work by the authors. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights, and electronic archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided. For more information on submissions visit: TheAsexual.com
Photography by Michael Paramo.