Being queer shapes many aspects of one's being, from one’s relationships with society and family to one's relationship with oneself. A person can be proud or ashamed of their own identity. As an asexual person, I experience no sexual attraction to individuals of any gender. My asexuality sculpted my entire life before I even knew that I was asexual. Learning to love myself and my sexuality has been a long, difficult, but ultimately rewarding journey.
I never had an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite gender—or any gender—for the first sixteen years ofmy life, and I believed that there was something wrong with me because of it. I saw that my personal love life did not match the narrative proposed by media. I had never experienced the happiness that couples shared, nor the thrills of romance and courtship. I believed I was somehow broken.
I carried that brokenness with me everywhere. It negatively affected my sense of self-worth because I perceived myself as inferior to my peers. Everyone had fulfilling relationships with each other, but I had nobody except for my own unloved self. To me, “single” came to mean “unlovable” and “worthless”.Compared to everyone else, I was empty. A cold and empty heart like mine did not deserve love, I thought, and I hated myself for the longest time because of this thinking.
My mother, my most trusted confidant, did not alleviate my self-loathing. As in a typical parent-child relationship, I would often discuss my future with her. While I would talk about gradually progressing my studies and starting a career, she was most concerned with my future marital status. When would I find a find a husband? In my mother’s eyes, the most important goal for me was marrying and starting a family. To her, my personal happiness was dependent upon a significant other, not what I could do for myself.
I could not muster the courage to object. I could not confess to her that I had never felt attracted to a man, much less felt the desire to marry one. Marriage was just as terrifying as the thought of coming out on the spot to my conservative, traditional mother. I knew she would have said that I "would love eventually," implying that marriage was not only natural but also inevitable. I felt like it would be my personal fault, a tragic shortcoming, if I failed to do something seemingly so basic as falling in love. I lived with this flawed thinking for the majority of my life, constantly fearing for a future that I thought would be ripped away from me when I was placed into an unhappy marriage.
But the journey of self-discovery must be walked alone. I gradually learned that the lack of sexual attraction I experienced was not indicative of an absence in my heart. It was not a flaw, but simply another aspect of my identity. I am not broken; I never was. I am whole. I am asexual.
Rome was not built in a day. The same could be said for myself; the shame and self-deprecation I have felt for my entire life will not magically evaporate simply because I label myself "asexual." Like everyone, I continually spend my life searching for personal fulfillment. However, now that I know who I am and how my sexuality reflects me, at the age of 17 I can finally focus on myself. The art of self-love, which has been so elusive for me for my entire life, is now visible to my heart. Coming out to myself finally made me realize, with complete confidence, that I deserve happiness as much as any other person.