General note: this post does not merit a “mature content” warning, but as the word “sex” is used and LGBT(QIA) ideas are discussed, and after all, the word sexuality is in the title, so I figured I would put up this obnoxious run-on sentence telling you there’s no “adult content” in the post below.
I often feel like my asexuality is a shame to the rest of the disability community. I’m afraid to talk about it, because it fits a stereotype of disabled people that is for the most part absolutely and completely wrong, horribly unfair and grounded in prejudice and awfulness. I know many disabled people who are sexual, often despite many attempts from society to shut them down, and I applaud that, and respect it, because everyone should have the chance to experience the full extent of whatever makes them human.
But it doesn’t make my experience invalid. So I fulfill the stereotype of being disabled “too immature”* to be sexual. But negative stereotype or not, I’m asexual. The question isn’t “do you like boys or girls”. There just isn’t a question asked at all for me. For years, I was completely oblivious to all of the teenage signs of growing interest in the opposite/same sex around me. Every single joke and reference whizzed by me, and didn’t even come close enough to make me notice it. I was used to missing most of conversations, and this felt no different.
When I was in middle school and all of the girls around me had crushes, I didn’t understand what those were. They had nicknames for all of the different boys they “liked”. After about 6 months of being bombarded by “oh look what Apple is wearing today!” or “Oh, Banana is soooooo cute” (I still don’t get the whole fruit theme) and constant pestering from my mother asking which boys caught my eye, I decided that I would have to find some boys I “liked” too, so I picked the two smartest kids in the grade to pretend to “like”. I didn’t understand what I was doing, but that wasn’t really that different from the other times my classmates did things and my mother pestered me until I joined in. I never liked those boys but I would parrot lines that my friends said to my mother only to please and silence her.
In high school, all I wanted was to be close to this girl. But never anything past getting a hug or sitting close by. I wanted comfort from someone. I even “dated” a close friend (a boy) briefly because everyone told us we were a couple anyway, and that was one of the most miserable experiences in my life, because I liked him plenty for his brain, for our conversations, but nothing past that and figuring that out made me feel deficient. In college I figured that since I didn’t like boys and I did seem drawn to girls, that of course, that’s it, I’m a lesbian! But that doesn’t really quite fit either. I’m just not sexual. I have no interest. I sometimes identify as an asexual lesbian (yes, you can be straight or gay or anything else, without ever wanting or needing sexual interaction), but I’m not really 100% sure that’s the right label either, so I don’t use it that much.
I’m asexual. That doesn’t mean I’m missing out on an integral part of the human experience. Sure, I’m missing out on an important part of what a sexual person considers to be part of their version of the human experience, but it’s not part of mine**. To say something like that to me is like telling someone who was born Deaf or became Deaf at a very young age that because they can’t hear, they’re missing out on an important part of the human experience. That’s crap. They might be missing out on what YOU consider a part of being human, but that matters to YOU. I could even go as far as to suggest that telling me that I’m missing out on an integral part of the human experience by being asexual is the same as telling me that in order to be fully human, I must be neurotypical. And that’s just as much crap. What matters to me and MY human experience is what I feel, and how I experience the world, not how anyone else does.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly (safe) sex-positive, LGBT friendly, pro-choice, and most importantly, pro-education for both women AND men. I believe everyone should have all of the information and protection they need to make informed, consensual decisions. But that still doesn’t make me a sexual person. I don’t have those thoughts and desires. Does that mean I’m a child trapped in an adult’s body? I’d like to think that the desire for sex is not the one and only way to define adulthood and personhood.
*Don’t get me started on how wrong that is. I’ve been “older than my age” since I was 4 and had to take care of myself when my parents lacked. I’ve always been better able to converse with people who are older than and “more mature” than I am, and intellectually, I’ve always been more thoughtful, advanced, aware, and relatively mature (compared to my age-group “peers”).
**However I do recognize that sexuality (and gender and basically almost every part of humanity) is a spectrum. It’s also fluid. I’m asexual at this time in my life. That might change in the future. I doubt it will, but it’s always a possibility. If I become “not asexual” later in life, that doesn’t mean I’ve “matured” enough to be sexual. It just means that now I’m no longer asexual. And it might never happen. And if it does, it might reverse itself again. But I’ll still live a fulfilling adult life, regardless.