Coming Out as Asexual
From the time I began to associate myself with the term asexual* in my sophomore year of high school, I have found myself coming out to groups of people. Large or small, in learning environments or in groups of friends, the scenario of sitting amidst a collection of people as I try to extract the aspect of sexuality from the meaning of attraction has become familiar to me. I’ve never been able to keep quiet for too long about concepts or issues that are important to me. I’m obsessed with sharing and exchanging information that changes how people see me and how I see them.
In high school, when a group of boys demanded to know “Why won’t you go out with anyone?” “Do you think you’re to good for me?” “Are you like a lesbian or something?” I was happy to silence them by explaining that I wasn’t sexually attracted to anyone. Their reactions were varied. Some were confused while others were flat out insulted, but by the end of the class period, regardless of whether they liked it or agreed with it, I made sure all those boys understood that I was asexual, what that meant to me, and that any thoughts they had of getting with me could be checked at the door. In hindsight I can see how I may have come off as a little abrasive, but at the time all I wanted was to stop the unwanted sexual attention that was being forced my way. Coming out to my peers several times throughout the rest of high school not only validated asexuality to my peers, but also helped me validate it within myself.
When I see other asexuals wondering if it’s worth it to come out, and whether or not it even matters to anyone, I want to scream “yes!” Of course it matters. How could it not? Any aspect of your identity is important. The idea that asexuality is not valid enough to address is common, and there is always the risk of not being taken seriously, but if you feel the need to let people know about your asexuality, you should do so. It pays off not just for the people you may educate, but also for yourself. Coming out to people and helping educate others on asexuality has given me the confidence to insert myself into a sexually driven world. Instead of standing on the outside of it wondering how I fit in, if forces me to carve out a place for myself. When any of us comes out it forces other people to make room for asexuality.
Coming out to a group creates a raw openness between you and the group. There is the possibility for so much mutual thinking and understanding and learning. I love the thrill of answering questions about asexuality, never knowing what the question will be or if I will have the answer. Many times people ask me things I’ve never asked myself, and I love being given the opportunity to look into myself for a deeper understanding. Asexuality often leaves me with unanswered questions and frustration but in the moments that I am explaining myself to someone else for the first time, I feel completely aware of who I am and what asexuality is for me.
Asexuality is important because it challenges everything about the way we are accustomed to relating to each other. It changes what we think human nature is, and if we chose to, it allows us to break down walls of gender and sexuality and how we interact with them. It allows us to create something new and authentic between people. Coming out is not always easy. It requires a lot of patience and understanding, but it has to happen. We can’t expect the world to respect or understand us when they don’t know who we are. I challenge everyone, regardless of your sexuality, to come out to someone, even if they’re already aware of your sexuality. Talk to people about what your sexuality means to you and maybe you’ll surprise yourself. It will help us all learn new things about ourselves and each other so that when we are told that asexuals are selfish, or that relationships with sexual people won’t work, or when we tell ourselves we have to settle or miss out, we can prove it all wrong. There is no social blueprint for asexuals. We’re forced to be innovators and coming out is our greatest tool.
*Asexual – a person who does not experience sexual attraction.