I’ve been considering this post for about a year and a half.
In the spirit of starting 2018 being more honest with myself and the world, it’s time to write this post.
Yep, it’s the A in LGBTQIA.
Being asexual simply means that I do not experience sexual attraction towards anyone. That being said, I do experience romantic attraction towards men.
This post is not going to be a Q and A or what asexuality is or isn’t (but you can check out AVEN if you are interested!)
This post is about acceptance and visibility. I’m going to reveal the questions I asked myself as I considered if I wanted to come out publicly.
I considered for awhile, “Why add another label?”
It took my awhile to realize that this wasn’t really my deepest question; it reflected what I thought other people might ask me. Especially because this was true when I started speaking up and writing about chronic illness.
When I first started owning the fact that I indeed had a chronic illness, and started speaking that way, I inevitably faced the question, “Why do you so closely identify with your illness?”
For those who were Christians asking this question, it was in the context of “Why do you put your identity in your illness rather than in Christ?”
Simply stated, I needed to identify with an unknown illness, then to be Hashimoto’s, so I could integrate it into my being. Acceptance could not come without integration. But not to identify with it in some way, meant to ignore this part of myself. It also meant leaving people to assume that I was a healthy, vibrant mid-20-something when I wasn’t. I needed a label to say “I am sick, and this is lifelong. I may manage it well, but it’s something I do manage every day.”
Also, notice how odd it would sound if I started asking people, “Why do you so closely identify with your health?”
A label simply says, “I experience life differently than you and both of our experiences are valid.”
However, those with illness navigating living in a world of health, which can often feel foreign to us. We want our experience validated as we live on the margins in a society that glorifies health and young able bodies.
Ok, back to sexuality. Asexuals comprise 1% of the population and most people don’t accurately know what asexuality is.
So why a label?
Because I experience sexuality differently than most people. And that’s okay. And it’s valid.
Labels have to do more with “the majority” (and that can mean many things depending on the context) accepting diversity which means changes in language to depict that diversity.
Another question I thought for awhile about was, “Why come out when you can pass as a straight person?”
Deciding that I needed to come out publicly is a personal decision related to my own emotional health. I felt like I was hiding a vital piece of who I am, which was just breeding shame and self-contempt.
Also, for celebrating my uniqueness. For visibility. To challenge assumptions. For a more complete acceptance of myself.
I experience my life as a white cisgender asexual woman, living with chronic illness. I could add other identity markers like Christian, middle class, American. These are all true.
Labels can be seen as over-kill or they can be seen as an incomplete, yet important way to talk about how we experience the world differently based upon race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, religious affiliation, health.
For we all have labels if we bring them out.
A white cisgender heterosexual Christian male born into an upper-middle class family are all labels too. We are just taught that this is the norm.
Here’s to 2018: more honesty, more listening to the perspectives of others, more love, empathy, compassion, and forgiveness.