Dec. 31, 2016
I’m outside the Harlem Target store loading up my new kitchen appliances when suddenly a little old lady approaches me. With a smile across her face she exclaims, “Ah! Bringing in the new year with a fresh start eh?”
I shrug bashfully, “Sure, sure.”
She nods knowingly, “I gave up new year resolutions ages ago, but a friend of mine, she’s a bit older than me, she told me a good one to try is having less sex. Hehehe.”
I nod and smile, “Indeed.”
Sometimes it’s bewildering even to me that I’m in my late twenties and still identifying as the same asexual I’ve always been since age 5. Back when I first learned of frogs that could reproduce without mating with an opposite sex. “That’s me,” I’d tell my parents, “I stand on my own. I’m asexual.” I’ve always struggled to understand why people strive to pair up or find each other sexually attractive. Why would anyone need to be so…close?
Of course they passed it off as silliness but by the time I was in the 5th grade the pressure was real to claim at least one boy attractive; to recognize the innate game of cat and mouse between the genders. My parents didn’t care if it was someone I knew, a celebrity or a damn cartoon character, I could feel them searching for “normal development” behavior and that there would be social consequences for not fitting in. Was I mentally falling behind my peers? Gay? Emotionally immature? I caught on quickly that I needed to start acting ‘normal’ and began lying about boys on TV I thought were “Cute” or “Crush-worthy.” The look of approval from them when I did this made my stomach churn.
Stereotypes of Black women in the United States are hyper-sexualized to a caricature level. As a brainy femme teenager the expectation that I would fail in life was everywhere, from the Black community in my home to my white peers at our rural suburban high school. There are countless moments where my brown skin felt like a magnet for sexual advances. “Black girls are fast, Black girls are trouble, Black girls are easy and their bodies develop too early. They’re boy crazy and obsessed with babies.” –Total bullshit I still hear from my elders today.
I understood some of the discrimination I was getting at school surrounded by whites who’d only ever seen black people on the BET cable network booty popping (a channel they were proud to sneak a peek at when their parents weren’t home). But what hurt my feelings more was how often my relatives spoke of good clean girls vs. nasty fast girls – lecturing my parents on how to keep my sister and I in check of our hormones.
But quite the opposite was happening in our home. Our hormones were quite fine. I was a tomboy that didn’t talk about crushes, never asked about dating, and knew my helicopter parents were worried I was gay. (To this day they don’t believe asexuality exists. Everyone loves sex!)
Up until grad school it would bother me sometimes that my lack of interest in connecting with others in a romantic way hadn’t changed. I’d never so much as kissed another person but also didn’t want to do those things and had a hard time relating why anyone would want to. My fun was music, writing, art-making, conversation. I saw the sexual currency people exchanged and consistently felt isolated from that market.(i.e. flirting through a job interview, the benefit of combined household income, professional approval…)
But the simple truth for many asexuals is, we’re solid in who we are. There isn’t a feeling of something missing, if sex never came up in our lives we’d never notice. It’s why I’m so surprised when people discuss their fear of being alone. Is it that scary taking care of yourself? Fighting your own battles?
I have friends, family and community just like you. I stand on my own and I’m cool with that, I’m building a life around that and enjoy what I do. I try to keep my mind open to having a platonic partner one day but honestly…I’m indifferent.
So you may be wondering why asexuals are coming out more and more, with some flowing into LGBTQA activism.
- We are “other” and therefore subject to many of the same discriminations and violence. Especially young people of color. When a homophobic family member suspects your sexuality is anything other than hetero, they rarely wait around to hear you explain asexuality. And because our society is that sex obsessed it’s not likely they would believe you. To them it’s just another gay person trying to hide in plain sight.
- People grow. Some of us reach asexuality later in life or fall somewhere else on the Spectrum. Maybe we already have children or have identified as gay most of our lives and now feel differently about our attraction to others. That doesn’t necessarily mean we stop having romantic relationships or stop identifying as queer.
- It’s only one part of ourselves. Queer, trans and non-binary folk can also be asexual. Some peoples feelings around attraction shift over time and it’s all about learning and understanding yourself better.
- We are not against sexuality in any way and support everyone’s journey. Granted I don’t like media propagating sex as a life or death need, but I love seeing my friends freely expressing themselves and loving who they love. You do you! It’s all about everyone living their truth without the threat of violence or discrimination from opportunity.
I believe anyone who supports shifting this cis-gender patriarchal system should join forces and build a stronger inter-sectional community of love and respect. Especially in 2017. This is a moment where the powers-that-be will strive to divide us and create doubt within our movements. It is critical that we support each other.
#blacklivesmatter #feministkilljjoy #qwoc #equality #asexual #pride #lgbtqa