Happy asexuality awareness week! I was under the impression that next week was ace awareness week, but was kindly informed otherwise by a friend. I have been looking forward to this week since the beginning of the month; I love that at least one week of the year, this obscure orientation gets a small nod. This is the third year that I have observed asexuality awareness week, and this year I have been reflecting on the “road thus far,” so to speak. Obviously, I was ace long before I had the word to describe what I felt (or, perhaps more accurately, didn’t feel) and finally finding this term, this community, was such an amazing feeling. In the beginning, I reveled in this newfound identity, what felt like this newly discovered aspect of myself, and I wanted to tell everyone relatively close to me. Looking back, I marvel at my fearless enthusiasm. I quickly was met with resistance from my family – I have written a couple posts detailing my mother’s stubborn inability to accept that her daughter wouldn’t be bearing her biological grandchildren – and I realized just how many people knew about asexuality, and how few people would accept the explanations of an 18 year old. My enthusiasm slowly began to dull, though I was still immensely grateful to have a term for this aspect of myself. A couple days ago, whilst I was having my routine philosophical pondering in the shower, a thought occurred to me: if the words for something do not exist, does that thing really exist? If it does exist and is something that a person understands in their mind but lacks the words to articulate, does it also exist for other? Words are important. Having accurate terms for description are important. I distinctly remember the day I found out there were more options than girls liking boys and boys liking girls. I was around nine years old, and I was playing with my Barbies in the living room while my mother watched one of her shows. I was pretty absorbed in keeping my red haired Barbie from falling off her plastic horse, but I remember one scene from the show in particular. Two men were seated at a table in a restaurant, one wearing a wig and makeup. The other was gazing at him affectionately and saying, “This could work.” “There is no way he looks like a woman,” my mother muttered. “They’re both boys?” I asked. Hesitantly, my mother replied, “Yep. They are.” She sighed and proceeded by disdainfully saying, “It’s called being gay.” I was raised in a conservative, highly religious household, and while neither of my parents were never outright discriminatory or blatantly hateful, it was made very clear to me growing up that being straight was the only okay way for me to be. Hesitantly, my mother continued, “There’s three ways to be. You can be straight, like the opposite gender, you can be gay – ” so much discomfort in that one word – ” or you can be bi, meaning you like boys and girls, which really gives you a lot of options.” Her discomfort had eased enough for her to joke. “I’m kidding, of course,” she remedied quickly. “It’s a very confusing way to be.” Be gray biromantic, I actually agree with that, somewhat, though of course what she meant was strictly sexual orientations, because she had never heard anyone differentiate sexual orientation from romantic; how much easier my teen years would have been if my mother had known the difference, and if she had known about the option of simply not “liking” anyone at all. This is exactly why I feel so passionate about asexuality awareness week – sooo many people have no idea this is an option, and so many aces share the same narrative of feeling broken and alone before discovering this one simple word that defines this unique part of themselves.
Hope everyone has a great week!
Normally, this would be where I would write, “Keep on aceing it!” but I just wanted to take a moment to explain what that little farewell means. It is, of course, a pun on the phrase “ace it” which is an equivalent to doing really, really well at something; when I type it at the end of these little rants, I’m wishing everyone the ability to do what they want to do in life while being true to themselves. I’m also wishing everyone the ability to love the entirety of themselves, flaws and all, because I know that can at times be challenging.