Asexual people are sometimes asked rude and offensive questions, but answering them can actually be pretty powerful.
Editor’s Note: This post is a part of the May 2014 Carnival of Aces.
“Can I ask you a question? And I really don’t want to be offensive—I’m kind of drunk. I really don’t mean any offense by this, but what makes asexuals queer? I mean, who really cares?”
A bar was the last place I wanted to be answering this question. We were at my friend’s party, and I’d have preferred to be talking about anything else. Practically the entire university queer community was out at the bar that night, making it almost too loud to be having such a deep conversation. I didn’t know why he was asking me this question out of the blue, but regardless of the circumstances I knew I had to answer it.
The irony was that he just answered his own question. He cared—enough to be asking me about asexuality. Enough to be asking me offensive questions like, “Okay, but how do you know it’s not because you were raped?” Enough to be saying, “Are you sure you’re just not a repressed lesbian?” I’m sure there were times in his life people used those same questions to invalidate his identity, but he somehow thought it was okay to ask me them. I wasn’t surprised, I just took it even though it hurt. It hurt because I miss the times where I felt like I belonged in the queer community.
No matter how rude the questions are, I must always answer them. The weekend before this conversation with my friend, I had the exact same one at another party. This is a fairly common occurrence for me. If I don’t answer these questions, I’ll never see the days where I belong in my own community again. I’m becoming an outcast from the queer community I grew up in and the only one who can save me is myself.
I started my queer rights activism in early high school. I just went through my college graduation ceremony on May 10th and still haven’t stepped out of the movement. I began by identifying as a lesbian, but moved into identifying as a homoromantic asexual a little over a year ago. I boarded the change train sometime in my senior year of high school after my friends convinced me I was broken, because I was asexual, and in need of fixing. I finally jumped off the train early in my senior year of college—a choice I sometimes regret.
Coming out as ace in the queer community wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. Where I could once exist and feel validated, I now must convince people why my identity is real. When I’m not busy convincing the non-believers, I’m busy educating my friends on why the things they say are rude and offensive. Coming out as ace in the queer community almost gave me a blackout ace bingo card—many of the aggressions I’ve written about on multiple occasions.
The queer community is uncomfortable with the idea that someone can exist without experiencing sexual attraction. They need to explain it away to make themselves comfortable with my existence. They can’t help their rudeness—they’re just too ignorant right now and it’s going to be a while before they’re in a more enlightened place. It’s not like they say mean things out of malice. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready for the hurtful commentary in my own movement. The only way I can feel like I belong again is to educate those around me.
Existing as an asexual in the queer community requires the patience of a goddess. No matter how offensive, hurtful or ignorant people are about my sexual orientation, I must forgive them. If I didn’t forgive everyone, I’d have no friends left. I must be an ambassador for the asexual community to see acceptance happen. It shouldn’t have to be this way, especially since the ace community is very diverse and there’s no way I can accurately represent everyone. But life doesn’t always happen as it should, and some representation is better than no representation.
I’m overcoming an obstacle by making a sacrifice: being the change I wish to see. I have given my life to educating the public about LGBT* issues and I can give my life to educating others about one more thing.