Svar, genderfluid, United States.
I used to think I was just a prudish straight girl. I used think I was just really messed up and not meant for any kind of intimacy with anyone (quite frankly, I still feel this way sometimes). While others around me were going through puberty and swooning over celebrities’ bodies, I was struggling alone to find my place in the world, and I didn’t care about sex at all. Girls would show me pictures of topless men and ask “isn’t he hot?” and would just shrug because the pictures elicited no feelings of arousal in me. They would always respond with “how can you not think he’s hot?” Yeah, how could I not? I was a freak, just like people had always told me, and this was just another reason why. For years I labored under this idea, believed it, internalized it. It didn’t help that my parents taught me nothing good or useful about sexuality, gender, and growing up. I had to figure it all out on my own and unlearn all the toxic things they’d told me about queerness.
My father said once “Some people think they’re asexual, but asexuality doesn’t exist and those people need medical help.” That was the first time I can remember anyone using the term asexual to refer to people, and it was with a highly negative connotation. I didn’t hear the word in that context again for years, so I forgot about it and I carried on silently thinking there was something wrong with me, until two years ago, when I joined tumblr. There, I saw mentions of orientations I’d never heard of or knew anything much about. After I joined the Sherlock fandom and thus became more engrossed in the tumblr life, I started to learn more and change my attitudes about a lot of things. I looked up all the terms I was uneducated about on Urban Dictionary, especially any related to asexuality, since I had seen Sherlock referred to as asexual before. I identify with the character quite a lot and thought maybe this word could apply to me.
I spent months thinking about what I had read and eventually asked the only openly queer person I knew well for advice. I explained how I felt to him and he told me that I was probably asexual, but that the term only applies if I want it to. It was like a breath of fresh air after a long day in a stuffy room, a balm to the itch that had been under my skin for ages. There wasn’t anything wrong with me after all. Suddenly, everything seemed to be much clearer and it wasn’t long before I was completely comfortable thinking of myself as asexual. This is who I am and that’s okay.
I moved on to tackling how to define what made me fall in love with fictional characters without having sexual desire towards them (I have yet to fall in love with a real person, but I take my feelings for fictional ones as proof that I’m capable of it). I knew I had some sort of attraction to men, but it wasn’t sexual and that confused me because society had taught me that sex was an integral part of romance. I then learnt that this teaching is bunkum, thanks, once again, to tumblr. I came to understand that I was experiencing romantic attraction. I still haven’t completely sussed out what kind of romantic attraction I experience, but it doesn’t concern me terribly. The important part is knowing that I’m free to define myself as I wish and alter how I identify should my feelings change.