Pride and Lack Thereof

As most people know, June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. I was watching this video earlier this week about someone who identifies on the asexual spectrum as a demi-sexual. He talks about his lack of pride in his identity and the lack of representation. As someone who identifies on the asexual spectrum, this video has resonated with me a lot. It puts a lot of how I feel in myself and my identity into words and a logical format.

For those of you who don’t know what the asexual spectrum is, I’ll give a quick run-down:

  • Asexual – someone who lacks sexual attraction
  • Gray-asexual – someone who may rarely experience sexual attraction, or feel asexual does not fit the way they feel for some other reason
  • Demi-sexual – someone who feels sexual attraction after forming a strong emotional bond with someone

It’s important to remember that people who identify on the asexual spectrum can have meaningful, loving, and romantic relationships. Also, those on the spectrum may also have sex for a variety of reasons, like showing their partner they love them. This doesn’t mean they’ve experienced sexual attraction and it doesn’t mean they aren’t asexual. Additionally, asexuality is not abstinence or celibacy. Being celibate and abstaining from sex are personal choices whereas asexuality is a feeling of how one identifies and experiences attraction.

When I was in high school, I discovered the asexual spectrum and it was life changing. I finally found an identity and a community (Asexuality Visibility and Education Network – for those who need it, I offer them some cake) that showed me I wasn’t broken, there wasn’t anything wrong with me, and I didn’t need to change myself. In a society where sex is such a prevalent thing, it was so ingrained in my mind that if I didn’t want to have sex, something was wrong with me. And as a teen dealing with other mental health issues, it was so damaging.

The first time I “came out” to anyone, I had just thought I’d come to terms with this identity when the person I came out to couldn’t understand and told me it was probably just a phase that I’d get over in a few years, basically invalidating how I felt and identified. Because of this, I refused to tell anyone for at least a year after that because I was terrified of other people’s reactions. In this online community I found earlier, I knew those on the asexual spectrum were not unfamiliar with this response, and it’s actually extremely common.

Suddenly, this thing that has previously explained more of who I thought I was, became something I didn’t like and something I wanted to get rid of. I broke up with a boyfriend because of it, I avoided any situation that could possibly lead to a romantic relationship, and I pushed away my friends. As I progressed through high school, and began to reaccept this identity, my feelings about how it played into who I was started to change. More quickly than I could ever understand who I was, I was back at square one – not understanding my sexual identity and how it impacted my life. I started floating around, not quite straight, but not quite not.

Through my first couple years out of high school, I was horrified of changing my identity because I’d already “become” asexual in the eyes of many people. It’s so easy to forget that sexuality is fluid and changes as we change and grow. I also used to identify as bisexual but that doesn’t really fit either. If I were to list out what I consider to be my full identity, I’d be a hetero-flexible demi-sexual woman, which is a bloody mouthful that most people won’t understand any part of other than that I’m a woman. So, because of that and another reason I’m about to talk about, I’ve recently decided to simply identify as queer (which can be pretty controversial within the LGBTQ+ community) and expand upon when asked.

During this pride month, I’ve been thinking a lot about the LGBGTQ+ community. I see so many people finding refuge and a supportive place there, and for them, I am so happy. But as someone who doesn’t identify as what I see as the core identities (gay, lesbian, bi, trans), I feel like I don’t have a place within this community. I’m a minority within an already marginalized group and I’ve had so many people questioning my identity and seen so much asexual erasure that I don’t see how I could fit in there at all. For a community claimed to have so much love, I’ve experienced such a lack of compassion and understanding.

(Just a quick note here, I know that within this minority group, I am also privileged in ways that many others aren’t by being “straight passing”. Basically, no one would know I identify as something other than straight unless I, or someone who already knew, explicitly told them. This spares me a lot of public discrimination and humiliation, which I do recognize.)

This isn’t to say the LGBTQ+ community is a bad one, just that everyone has different experiences and it’s not immune to missteps. I think a lot of people forget that marginalized groups are capable of marginalizing other people and it’s part of the learning and acceptance (which it shouldn’t have to be). I love that others are able to call this community home, and find themselves being embraced and accepted and I hope that those who identify on the asexual spectrum can find the same.

~Sarah Ann

My Last Post: The Limited Memory

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