I worry sometimes that I would never receive the love they write about in books, the one’s they make movies about, because everything I’ve ever seen has always revolved around the aspect of sex. Sex has been a topic rarely discussed in my neck of the woods, and when it was brought up, I found myself cracking jokes as a way to steer clear of the conversation. It remained taboo at home, which meant it was an easy topic to dodge, but amongst friends, sex was used to represent the pinnacle of popularity.
It’s not hard— to sound like you know what they’re talking about— to refer to moments and pretend that you’ve gone through them, so that people don’t think you’re a freak, so that they think you’re one of them. And I know that not everyone has sex before marriage, and that the concept of virginity is flawed and outdated, but there is an undeniable stigma around virgins, more so as time passes. The question always comes back to, are you not desirable enough for someone?
And I think I struggled with that greatly, because sex isn’t and wouldn’t ever be something I’m interested in. It feels weird to type that out, because I’ve always thought and believed it to be a part of everyone’s life, but the thought of sex repulses me. For the longest time I felt horrified at myself. I tried to bargain and convince myself that I only hated sex because no one could find anything to love about my body. That I only hated sex because I hated myself. And maybe a part of that remains true, but I’m a lot older now, and with time I’ve grown to appreciate my body for what it is, and though I may not go so far as to say I love myself; I am damn proud of myself. But one thing still remained. The thought of having sex continued to disgust me, still made me want to hurl.
Why was something everyone seemed to prattle on about, make movies about, sing and talk constantly about, something I didn’t want? Was I scared? Did I think I’d be bad?
I genuinely thought I was damaged. Broken. That something just wasn’t clicking in my head the same way it did for everyone else. I constantly skirted around conversations where my friends would gush over guys, or anyone they found ‘hot’. Sure I knew when someone was conventionally attractive, and aesthetically pleasing to look at, but did it make me feel hot all over? No. Did I understand what exactly my friends were saying when they said they wanted to take these people to bed, to rip their clothes off and show them a good time? No. But I pretended like I did. And as I grew older, people began asking questions, wondering why I never really talked about my crushes the same way they did.
And of course this made things even more confusing because I quickly realised that I drew a line between romance and sex. It’s often intertwined— almost exclusively portrayed in the media as one and the same, but that wasn’t exactly the case—at least not for me. I found certain people fascinating and had this urge to be with them in a romantic way. I longed to spend time with them, and bond on an emotional level, but had little to no interest in the sexual element that was expected to come with that sort of connection. Needless to say I felt like a walking contradiction.
It didn’t help that around this time I began to realise I wanted to be with girls romantically, the same way I did boys. It felt like the universe was throwing another curveball my way, because now was I gay? Bi? Pan? I didn’t seem to fit anywhere, because all these labels were sexual orientations, and I on the other hand was completely averse to sex.
The internet is a wonderful, magical, place filled with all sorts of knowledge, and for me it’s where I found who I was. Where I first heard about asexuality.
Asexuality. A term that was part of the LGBTQIA+ community—defined as having little to no sexual feelings or desires, unlike allos (people that did have sexual feelings and desires). People that identified as ace could still feel and desire romantic relationships, they could even be biromantic, panromantic, or even homoromantic.
Reading those words, a wave of complete relief washed over me. It sounds cheesy to say that I felt like I finally belonged, and maybe it is, but that sensation of finding people that viewed love, sex, romance, the same way you did, and not feel ashamed about it… it’s euphoric.
I started following accounts owned by ace influencers, slowly building this bubble of people like me, which was incredibly validating, and I learned how asexuality in itself was a spectrum with a range of varying degrees of sex aversion, with some aces being more sex favourable than others. I read stories about aces who managed to find and forge meaningful romantic relationships with other aces and even allos. I read stories of aces who lost their loves because they couldn’t give them what they wanted. There were stories where people shared how some believed asexuality wasn’t real, that it was just something people said to get attention, that everyone wanted on some level to have sex, and those that didn’t had to have been traumatised. That asexuals just needed to have good sex to know they weren’t ace.
And although it initially hurt to read comments filled with such hate and vitriol, it brought me comfort to know that the ace community had turned these harsh words into running gags amongst themselves; slowly taking its power away. I began to do the same, and soon found myself making jokes about my asexuality. Finally being able to laugh and love the part of myself I had long thought to be broken.
It’s a rush knowing that a whole host of people like you existed, and that it was okay to just be me, and if the people I cared about, cared about me, me being ace wouldn’t change things.
And it didn’t. The friends I’ve told continued to love and be there for me. Sure I did have to explain myself a couple of times before they understood, but honestly, they took it way better than I could’ve expected. And I’m beyond grateful for that.
Coming out as ace to your parents is tricky, telling Asian parents you don’t want to have sex… Well on paper that sounds like a good thing. God knows the amount of times they’ve tried drilling in the whole ‘no sex before marriage’ idea. But what if there was no sex even after marriage, you know? That’s not something I can easily bring up. But that’s something I hope the future me eventually tackles, and I have no doubt she will.
Having the lexicon to finally describe who I was, was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and if you made it to the end of this long-winded story, and if any part of this resonated with you, here are some of the things I wish I heard when I was struggling with figuring out my identity.
You’re not alone, you’re not broken, you’re not damaged.
I hope you eventually love you, and all you are too.
Written by Anon