Hello, my name is Ariel. I use she/her or they/them pronouns. I am 22 years old, and I’ve been in California my entire life.
I’m queer, specifically bi and ace, which is short for biromantic and asexual, and those are the words I use to describe the fact that I’m capable of romantic attraction to all genders but sexual attraction to none of them.
To give some background, I came across a definition of the word asexuality when I was 19 years old, and I immediately identified with it. Before then, I just thought I was straight and very bad at it. I could not understand why I found kissing men or boys to be so unpleasant and why I was so fascinated with my female friends. I’d grown up surrounding myself with girls and women, and I was never sexually attracted to them, so I thought that meant my attraction to them couldn’t possibly be romantic. Because I wasn’t sexually attracted to women, I had to be straight. I did want a boyfriend, but I didn’t date that much because I was trying to avoid these physical expectations that I couldn’t really understand. Uh—when I did realize I was asexual, I took a longer time to understand that that meant I could also question my assumptions around my attractions to women. Uh—uh—for the first two years, I identified as a heteroro—heteroromantic asexual. Um—I also took a very solid break from dating because I was trying to figure out what being asexual meant for me as an individual. It wasn’t until I started exploring dating again that I realized that I really want to date women and nonbinary people maybe even more—no, definitely even more than I want to date men.
Um—now, I’m someone who feels very solid in my ace identity and is growing more solid in my bi identity. I love being in LGBTQ+ spaces. I work in government, and in my ideal future, I will work for a governmental LGBTQ+ focused agency. I love meeting queer and trans people whose identities and experiences are different from my own. Um—with that being said though, I do feel that it’s easier for me to be in ace spaces than in LGBT or bi spaces. Um—I feel that the ace community was built around people of various romantic orientations, so no one has ever assumed what genders I’m romantically attracted to. Conversely, the bi community was built for bi people who experience romantic and sexual attraction. Likewise, the LGBTQ+ community was built around people—allosexual people, or non-ace people. And, so, I’ve never felt unwelcome in LGBT or bi spaces. It’s just that I feel much more included in ace spaces. I do love spending time in places like the website Autostraddle. I feel fulfilled by seeing actual or depicted love between women and/or nonbinary people. However, spending too much time in these spaces brings back the shame—the feeling that it’s not okay for me not to want kissing or sex in my relationships. That I’m obligated to try those activities more times or in different ways before I’m—it’s—before it’s okay for me to give up on them for good—for me to opt out. This shame that no one will ever want to date me the way I am.
I’ve never seen or read a portrayal of a romantic relationship that looks like the kind I want to or can have. I’ve even read books with ace characters—a few of them—and all of them, either the aces weren’t shown dating or the ace loves kissing. And so, this lack of representation of how I experience asexuality can make me feel abnormal sometimes even in the ace community. I try to ignore that little voice in the back of my head that tells me I’m gonna be alone forever. I mean—I understand—cause that’s some amatonormative bullshit, too. I can definitely be satisfied with close friendships, but what I want is someone or people who I hang out with multiple times a week, who I spend time with very frequently and closely, and, unfortunately, as an adult, that kind of closeness is most easily accessible and socially acceptable in a romantic relationship. So that leaves me back in square one.
When I’m feeling this shame about my asexuality, I—uh—ace spaces make me feel better. Though the online resources, or ace people, are amazing and essential, this year was the first one where I made real connections with in-person aces. I now actually have a—a [pause]—I can’t get the words out, it’s so awesome [laugh] –group of friends who all identify on the ace spectrum. We’re still getting to know each other, but I feel so fortunate. It is so gratifying and affirming to talk to people about ace experiences and to have them just understand what you’re saying—even though our experiences and intersectional identities are different from each other, these people are able to relate and respond to my identities and experiences in a way that no other friends or family can. I’ve been aware that, while I would never choose to be straight, if I could choose to be allosexual, I would. But now, with this new group of friends, I’m starting to rethink that. If I were allo, I never would have met these people and I would never feel how special it is to connect with people from your same small, misunderstood minority. [sigh] So, I struggle with having pride for my individual ace identity, but I am so proud of my ace community. I am so proud of how we support and validate each other. Of the conversations we have around consent, boundary setting, and redefining relationships. I’m proud of how hard we work to educate the world on our identities and experiences. Also, I’m proud of and grateful for aces of color, disabled aces, everyone else who doesn’t feel represented in the larger ace community and is—who is doing the work to make sure that this community recognizes, respects, and includes your other identities. I’m also grateful for aromantic people, or aros, ace or not, who receive even less visibility and understanding than alloromantic aces do but who have contributed so much to the languages—language—the vocabulary that aces use to define and understand our experiences. With that, I’m gonna end this video with a thank you. Thank you to all the aces and aros in our small but so strong community.