“I Relish The Ability To Challenge The Ideas That People Have About Asexuality.”

by Rachel Zaslow

Satellite overhead image of Pennsylvania from Google Earth 2022

As a sixth grader, I learned that I was supposed to start having some odd feelings about certain people. Maybe I’d want to kiss them, or touch them, or do something else that I couldn’t quite describe at that age.

Those feelings never came.

In the summer of 2014, I returned to sleepaway camp in rural Pennsylvania for my sixth year. I spent much of my free time with my close friend, Michael, talking about books we’d read or video games we’d played before returning to the middle of nowhere for the season. Almost every person in our age group had the same thing to say about this: “You guys are so cute together! You should date!” Nothing was more annoying to me than that mentality, that since he was a boy and I was a girl (I thought I was at the time. I came out as nonbinary a few years later), that we absolutely had to be romantically involved. That notion drove me absolutely crazy. Besides, camp relationships don’t usually last, and they mostly consist of sneaking into the woods at night to make out. To avoid such a fate, I started telling people I was asexual. I had only recently heard that term, and I thought it was a surefire way to get everyone off my back about this relationship nonsense.

I began to understand that I actually was asexual in 2015, that very next summer. With that came the realization that I had the incredible opportunity to be a stitch in the fabric of a wonderful culture. Plus, since there were (and still are) so few like me, I could go out and educate people on asexuality. Not many people, even members of the LGBTQ+ community, seem to entertain the notion that some individuals don’t experience sexual attraction. So I came back from that summer, prepared to teach my friends and family about this integral part of me. Since then, so many of the people in my life have been accepting and interested in learning more about my experience. For that I am eternally grateful.

Of course, there are still loud dissenters (even within the LGBTQ+ community) and I’ve heard pretty much every negative reaction under the sun.

“If you were asexual, that would be a biological miracle.”

“But everyone wants sex!”

“No, you’re not.”

These comments, among others, still weigh me down from time to time. The misconception that baffles and hurts me the most is the idea that this is a choice I’ve made. Rest assured, it is not. We don’t get to choose our sexual orientations, but many of us are fortunate enough to choose how we live with them. I consider myself especially lucky, because I get to walk through my life with pride in my identity, and I relish the ability to challenge the ideas that people have about asexuality.

I’ve been raised by a society that not only believes wholeheartedly that sex and romance are necessary parts of life, I’ve been taught to conflate them with love. As important as those elements can be to many people, to think this way is flat out incorrect. For me, love shows itself in the laughs I share with my friends, in the songs that I play on repeat, in the dogs that let me pet them, or even just in the walks I take across campus.

Not experiencing attraction does not make me broken. Not wanting sex does not mean I’m sick. I’m not faking it or cashing in on a trend. I am a part of an incredible and supportive community, yet another instance of the love that I encounter in my life.

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