The Asexual Handbook Pt. 2: An Ace’s Experience With Identity
Forming an identity is a lifetime effort. It entails the art of becoming and claiming something as one’s own, which is quite beautiful in contrast to the topics of conformity and (what I consider) the “hivemind” of society. An identity, regardless of what aspect that may classify for you, is used to develop a definition of self – something that one can claim as the title to their soul. The topic of searching for an identity is significant when placed in the study of sexual orientation. For a group of people who have been forced to keep silent for so long, possessing that idea of self becomes an opportunity to feel a sense of belonging. As I mentioned in my previous entry to the handbook, labels may not always be a stellar idea to implement because of some inaccuracies; however, for a good portion of the LGBT+ community, these titles become our approach towards creating a personal image.
Regardless of preferences, each of us has a story behind their respective journey – our collective “opening the Pandora’s box” that is effectively determining sexual orientation.
For some people, moving into their chosen orientation comes easily. They realize their preferences during their youth and grow with them as they transform into an adult. They may further develop or alter these choices through learning more about themselves. As for others, it takes time. One may not realize exactly who they are or how they feel until one day, it simply… takes them by surprise!
In my personal revelation, several years passed until I was able to blossom within my identity. Surprisingly, I never thought much of my overwhelming lack of sexual interest throughout my adolescence. What I do recall is being 17 years old when my true colours first began to shine through – it took form in the realization that I wasn’t as heterosexual as I originally believed. The girl who made me realize this was someone who didn’t stay in my life for very long, but her influence began my arduous process of questioning who I was (while I didn’t yet consider myself asexual, the initial leanings in that direction were highly present, and this was a contributing factor in my confusion).
At 18, I wore the title ‘bisexual’ – to love both genders equally. My first four years of college helped make my efforts to learn about my identity easier than it was to do the same while hiding in the closet at home. I found myself with more liberties than originally, and with this newfound freedom, I took chances to seek out more information. Becoming a member of the Gay-Straight Alliance my senior year was a significant turning point for me as I became part of the community. I finally felt I had a place to belong.
The years that followed, however, were filled with personal grief and torment as I continued to pursue something that didn’t exactly ‘feel right’ to me.
This can be a familiar concept to those of us who are LGBT+. If you have been there before, dear reader, you certainly aren’t alone. Many of us frequently struggle with uncertainty when we’re coming into ourselves. Feelings and bodies may or may not transition into something different as we leave adolescence and shift into adulthood; for me, this was clearly the case. My desire to pursue relationships with men was slowly diminishing, and, just as I mentioned above, my sexual interest was still practically nonexistent. I was introduced to the asexual spectrum at the age of 21, and that, too, was something I juggled, alongside everything else, to determine whether it fit or not.
Everything came to a climax when I was outed to my parents at the age of 22. I never had the opportunity to explain myself before the storm of my mother’s anguish struck. This experience was both a traumatic and eye-opening whirlwind that left me both paranoid of and temporarily dismantled from the reality that was my orientation, but thankfully, my dad was much more reasonable. He and I had a heart-to-heart conversation on the subject of my sexuality as soon as he knew. That support alone helped me continue my research and, interestingly enough, was the first step into realizing the validity of my asexuality.
Remember when I said that labels might not be 100% accurate? Within eight years, I ended up transitioning through five unique orientations before reaching my final destination at 25. I now consider myself as Homoromantic Asexual, which means that while I possess no sexual interests, I actively seek out romantic relationships with those of the same gender. I will be the first to say that this orientation brings forth a multitude of questions, such as “What does the romantic orientation actually mean?” or “Can you be gay AND asexual at the same time?”, sometimes even “How can you be certain you like one specific group if you’ve never had sex?”. All these topics, among others, are ones I will delve into further as you join in on my adventure through living on the ace spectrum.
In conclusion, an identity has the capability to be fluid. This fluidity is a completely normal process of personal growth and should be encouraged instead of combated. Allow yourself openness in your identity; do not deny who you are, and do not let others decide that for you. If what you thought fit your identity suddenly changes, allow it to undergo metamorphosis. You will eventually find a path that best suits you, no matter how long the trip towards it may take.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid of labels or changing them to suit you. They, too, may come and go with time. Just remember that no matter how you choose to love, continue loving yourself and all your beautiful colours!