Sometimes, its hard to differentiate between being attracted to everybody and being attracted to nobody.
This is something that I’ve said to myself a few times over the years. It is a wholly innacurate and grossly simplified generalisation: glossing over the complexities of unique individual attractions, and ignoring the fact that it is neither an accurate definition of ‘bisexual’ nor of ‘asexual’. But, nonetheless, this is the phrase that pops into my head in those unsure, self-questioning moments.
It seems ridiculous to be talking about this less than a month after writing a gushy, glitteringly proud post about being bisexual. But it also seems accurate to the shimmery barriers that sometimes exist between categorisations of sexuality.
This week is Asexual Awareness Week. And I just want to make it clear from the outset:
- Aces (asexual, aromantic and further) exist.
- Aces who identity as queer are queer.
- Aces who identify a LGBTQIA+ are LGBTQIA+.
- Aces are an inherent and valuable part of our community.
- The ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ definitely stands for ‘ace’, not ‘ally’.
- The only time I hear the term ‘a-spec’ used in conjunction with the autistic community is when allistcic acephobes and ace-exclusionists try to accuse aces of ‘appropriating’ a word ‘used by autistic people’.
- We are not your props to beat ace people with.
- It is not our word, ace people can use.
- Loads of ace people are also autistic.
- Please stop.
- Ace ‘discourse’ and gate keeping of the LGBTQIA+ community is gross and better not be on my blog ever.
- Aces are literally ace and I love them.
Phew. Glad we’ve cleared all that up.
I was in my late teens when people started using the word ‘asexual’ at me – and it was, without exception, derogatory. It was a nasty commentary on how I got increasingly older without having had a ‘serious’ thing with anyone. It was a challenge when I came out as bisexual: ‘but you never date anyone, you must be asexual instead!’
And it always felt like there was an element of truth to what they were saying. I tried incredibly hard to suppress it – I had come out as bisexual, I claimed bisexual as my label, and nobody was going to take that away from me. I felt bisexual. Most of the time. And that was all that counted.
But, sometimes, there was a faint hint of grey in in the corner of my purple.
The truth was there were aspects of ace that sometimes filtered through into my identity. Sometimes, I would absolutely walk through life without feeling that attraction to other people – I’ve never dated properly, and I’ve only ever felt compelled to date in ‘that’ sort of way once (spoiler: it definitely did not happen – my very first heartbreak). I tried to suppress that maybe my sexuality was more complicated than I was giving it credit for.
But I didn’t want to be asexual, because it had taken me such a long time to feel comfortable with bisexual. I was angry every time someone mentioned it. I didn’t realise that it didn’t have to be an insult. That I didn’t have to relinquish my beloved bisexual identity in order to make some space for this little bit of ace.
For such a long time, ‘asexuality’ was a word that was used to demean me; a word that was used to undermine my identity. It was an insult – and I took it as one.
It took me an incredibly long time to stop internalising it as a bad thing – and to start internalising it as a possibility.
The truth is, my sexuality never feels completely fixed. It has a certain fluidity to it, a gentle shift this way, that way, or another way. Its why I have settled more comfortably on ‘queer’ as an identity, although bisexual still stands as one of my subfolders. Maybe some level of a-spec could also be one of those smaller headings, a branch leading from the main trunk of my queerness.
This is a lot of labels. It’s a lot of labels splitting into lots of smaller labels.
I like labels.
There’s something reassuring and empowering about self-determination; about taking words and categorisations, twisting them around to suit certain parts of me, padding them around me like protective pillows, a pillow fort of self confidence and individual identity.
I’m not entirely sure what this is. I originally intended to write something about Asexuality Awareness Week, and to celebrate and support ace people. But it turned more into a semi-coming out post. I don’t feel altogether comfortable calling it that, but there aren’t any other descriptions that accurately explain what this has morphed into.
So, I suppose this is me.
With a branch of bisexuality.
And some aspects of ace on the side.
For some more information on all aspects of ace, and to find people who understand, check out the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN)