[This post is for the Carnival of Aces for the Month of May. The topic is “Questioning Your Faith” and is hosted this month by halfthoughts.wordpress.com]
Before realizing I was asexual I didn’t really give a thought to the LGBT+ community. I assumed I was “normal” and I didn’t understand all the different complexities of what LGBT+ meant. I thought it was “either or”. I knew I wasn’t gay, so I had to be straight, right? And I never felt the strong feeling that I was opposite of my designated birth gender so I assumed I was “normal” there too. And over and over people, books, movies, whole imaginaries were based on the idea of finding a soulmate, a true love. Some of the very first movies I watched as a child where about the prince rescuing the princess and when I was very little I was obsessed with fairytales.
Even now I can still clearly picture the colorful pages of the children’s fairytale book I had as a child. I can visualize the black and white pictures in the Grimm’s fairytale book I read when I was older. When my father played his upbeat sixties music, like “The Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana I’d bob my head along to the tune without an inkling that something was amiss.
Books were everything to me. I spent entire summers turning paged after page. I would easily finish a 300 page novel in a day if I put my mind to it. Books filled in the gaps of my knowledge left by the Texas education system and there were many gaps. I danced back and forth between science fiction and fantasy reveling in the epics of past ideals and future hopes and dreams.
But nowhere in those pages was a drop of ink spared for asexuality.
I memorized every ancient riddle I could find and puzzled though every mystery along with the great detectives, but somehow I hadn’t been able to learn about myself.
In books it was simple. There was good and evil. Man and woman. Love and hate. And I believed this for the longest time.
I still believed this even after going through college. The literature was the same. Men and women. Love and hate. Occasionally there would be a strange work like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave which I didn’t understand at all, but almost everything I studied or read just reaffirmed what I already knew.
It wasn’t until I was done with college that I began to question things. I had never dated anyone. I have never liked anyone enough to date them. I had been asked, but the idea of dating strangers made me uncomfortable. I realize now that was probably more due to being aromantic than asexual, but it gave me the question I needed to ask. “Why had I never dated anyone?”
And Google came through for me. I was directed to blogs by asexuals who talked about thinking they were “straight by default” before discovering asexuality. They described in themselves everything thing I was feeling. Learning about asexuality lead me to realize I was aromantic and then talking to trans members of the ace community made me question my gender identity. Asexuality was my gateway into the LGBT+ language and culture.
And I felt betrayed. Why did it take so long for me to learn about this? Why didn’t anybody tell me? Why wasn’t it in any of countless the books I had read? The signs were all there like the complete boredom I felt when people talk about the dating scene. I didn’t even have a celebrity crush.
Once I had the name for it I could pinpoint moments when I started developing aesthetic attraction and sensual attraction, but sexual and romantic attraction remained absent and my relationships with both genders never moved beyond friendship. It was so damn obvious.
It was so obvious that in retrospect several unpleasant encounters I’ve had could probably have been attributed to prejudice. Labeling myself didn’t change anything. I’m still the same person. The only difference is that my inability to conform to gender and sexuality norms has a name and I know that it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault that people think I’m “weird”. They didn’t know the name of it, but they knew something was different and different made them uneasy. Different made them angry. Different made them give me silent looks of “why can’t you just be normal?”
Music became the worst. Songs I had listened to for years suddenly seemed like a personal attack. I don’t listen to the radio anymore and prefer to drive to work in silence.
Books were no longer the escape they once were. A fantasy series I had started before learning about asexuality turned sour when I read the same words only a year later. Liar. Liar. Liars! My mind whispered over and over. I actually laughed at the most recent book in the series between horrified cringes. The protagonist had discovered their best friend’s body after they had been murdered and the protagonist spent half the book wallowing in misery. Well, wallowing in something at least. I don’t think the author knows what that kind of loss feels like. It seems more like they were just throwing words on a page and repeating themselves like a bad politician trying to convince the audience they knew what they were talking about. With each repetition I kept thinking, “I don’t believe you.”
Was it the same with my other beloved books? If I reread my favorites would I hate them too? Did the authors really know anything about “love” or were they just repeating the same lie over and over like the writers before them?
But I couldn’t live without books. I needed them, I needed the words and stories more than any drink, more than any drug. Stories were my bliss. So, I took a literature course not for a grade but for understanding. With my new knowledge about myself I needed to find a way to reconcile with the heroes and heroines I had grown up with and it wasn’t something I could do on my own. I needed wiser eyes to see what I couldn’t with a haze of quiet rage clouding my thoughts.
And it worked. My professor was old and English and grew up in an almost forgotten age himself, so he could tell stories and knew them with an intimacy I was envious of. In the weeks I listened to him we trekked down and through the ages and the heroes and what made them special. To my relief it wasn’t because they were good or because they were in love. Actually many of the legendary heroes were like me, angry and frustrated because they had been somehow cheated by fate.
The professor gave me something else to think about as well. When we finished talking about the main work he would talk about the different spin-offs or other works inspired by the original. He called it “writing in the gaps”. Just like literature had filled in the gaps in my knowledge, I could fill in the gaps in literature as well. Books weren’t broken, they were incomplete.
Writing is a difficult task that takes years of mastery just to be adequate. To make any money off of writing is all about luck and timing. Most writers barely make $10,000 a year. I know this because I’m an aspiring writer myself, but I’m in a bit of a bind. Knowing what I know, being who I am, I can never write mainstream. One percent of people have to hunt and peck for books they can relate to, for characters that don’t make them feel broken or ashamed.
I want to write for them. I want to write in the gaps and write stories for asexuals, polysexuals, pansexuals, aromantics, and transgender. I want to tell stories that change people’s minds. I want to write about worlds where “we” are normal so that maybe someday my faith in literature, my faith in humanity can be completely restored.