For such a long time, I had no idea what my sexuality was. Before I started university, I believed everyone was either straight, gay, or bisexual. I had no idea there were any other sexualities (and I also had no idea non-binary genders existed, but I’m going to discuss gender in another post sometime). So considering how many words I need to use now to accurately describe my sexuality, it’s unsurprising I didn’t have a clue back then.
The assumption in our heteronormative society is that an individual is straight. So that is what was assumed by my classmates in school. They used to corner me (sometimes literally, other times metaphorically) and force me to answer the question “which boy do you fancy?”. The truth, of course, being none. But apparently that was ‘impossible’ and I was ‘obviously lying’. I eventually learned they would never believe the truth, and so would choose a random boy to fake a crush on.
At the time I believed I was choosing at random, in hindsight, I was choosing the most ‘feminine’ appearing boy I could at the time, in general. This was to become one of many signs I would see only years after the event.
I had no interest in sex at all at that point. In sex-ed classes I sat there thinking ‘eww I never want to do that ever’. Even nowadays, I have no interest in pursuing a sexual relationship. I’m not as completely repulsed as I used to be, and I would consider it in the future, but it’s not something I’m actively seeking. In those days, I thought I was missing something – why does everyone else seem to be interested in this activity that I find so repulsive?
When I discovered the term ‘asexual’, I felt elated and understood. It was so exciting to realise I wasn’t alone or defective, or that something had gone wrong during puberty (yeah, I thought that). But it still didn’t fully explain what I felt, because I still wanted a romantic relationship, despite not wanting sex.
Once I realised I was somewhere on the asexual spectrum, I still had to work out my romantic orientation. This I did mostly by recognising that my crushes on fictional characters were on women. There were also many signs throughout my past that I was attracted to women, that I had been ignoring throughout my life. I don’t want to get into them all here, but suffice to say they helped lead me to the discovery that I am homoromantic.
I believed for a while that I was grey-asexual (experiences sexual attraction only rarely), but what I thought was sexual attraction was really aesthetic attraction (something I realised while watching this fantastic video by Ash Hardell). So now I just identify as asexual.
I would use any of the following to describe myself:
– Asexual homoromantic (most technically accurate)
– Asexual lesbian (one I use the most)
– Ace homoromantic/lesbian
– Gay/lesbian (not fully accurate, would only use in cases where I need to be brief, e.g. tweets, or as an introduction when coming out to people who wouldn’t know the more specific terms until I explain them).
Now I’ve worked out what I feel, or at least have a better idea than I used to – after all, who knows what new things I might feel in the future that I haven’t yet. Now I face the other battles: coming out to family & friends, general discrimination.
Discovering my identity took so long, I’m so relieved I now understand myself, and have found labels that allow me to find others who feel the same way I do. Moving on from here, I still have a lot of work to do in educating people who don’t understand asexuality, and in coming out to those friends & family who I have not yet spoken to.