The Aspec experience is, like many Queer experiences, completely different from one person to the next. One thing I find common in the stories of Acespec and Arospec people is our isolation when coming to terms with our identities. The Aro and Ace communities are still not well known. Though that is improving at a fairly steady pace, many people have still never heard of them and the misconception that the A in LGBTQIA+ means ally still persists!
Being Ace or Aro is not a deficiency and does not mean one is not a fully formed person, however trying to explain to someone that you do not feel or experience something is infinitely harder than explaining something you can feel and have experienced. For example, if you had never tried chocolate before how on earth are you supposed to explain it! How it tastes, smells, feels?
Those of us on the far end of the Aro and/or Ace spectrum cannot explain the lack of feeling something we have never
felt because we don't know what it feels like to feel it. Which makes it a lot harder than many identities to even realise what is 'wrong' why we don't have the same experiences as those around us. Why we are growing older and can no longer be labeled a 'late bloomer'. I want to use this space to share my own Asexuality (and possible aromanticism) and hopefully interact more with the community. I would love any comments, feedback or even your own feelings reading this or about what is being discussed.
When I was questioning my own sexuality I looked up many definitions online. Being a more logical thinker I needed strict definitions; boundaries, rules, traits, anything that could point to exactly what I was and tell me definitively "This is what you are!". Like most of you reading this could probably tell me, that was wishful thinking. The Ace and Aro identity is a spectrum, one that has even less boundaries than most. The first definition when looking up what both identities means is:
Experiencing no sexual feelings or desires; not feeling sexual attraction to anyone.
"Murphy, who has never married, considers himself asexual"
not involving sexual activity, feelings, or associations; non-sexual.
- Oxford Languages
experiencing little or no romantic attraction to anyone; not having romantic feelings.
"I identify as an aromantic asexual"
a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to anyone.
"both asexuals and aromantics face a lack of understanding"
- Oxford Languages
As you can probably see both definitions are very lacking in their explanations and their actual understanding of the identity. When I first looked up Asexuality I had no idea it was a spectrum and this didn't help.
What I also notice reading these definitions now is something that I may not have noticed if not for my recent reading of 'Sounds Fake But Okay' by Sarah Costello and Kayla Kaszyca. They discuss the Aspec lense and how looking at the world through this lense you can see the world that could be, from the Aspec perspective. They also discuss that through this lens you can see that the view of Allonormative people ties relationships, sex and love together very closely, though to most of us Aspecs they are separate.
What I notice is that these definitions are not only too definite; no sexual/romantic attraction to anyone and not having sex at all. They also pigeon hole us, as characterised by the example of an Asexual, "Murphy, who has never married, considers himself asexual". The tie between sex and marriage feels iron bound but there are plenty of married Asexuals and/or asexuals who have sex, who either knew or didn't know their sexuality at the time. However as a newbie Asexual this can be very isolating. Not only do Aspec people have relationships that thrive but this pressure to be in a sexual relationship (or any relationship at all) and the societal pressure one feels, that to be single is to not be whole or happy, is extremely intense and takes a concerted effort to get past.
The definition that Costello and Kaszyca give is one I wish I had found whilst I was just discovering my identity:
Aromantic: 'A person who is aromantic experiences little to no romantic attraction.'
Asexual: 'A person who is asexual experiences little to no sexual attraction. It should be noted that sexual attraction is not the same as sexual desire or a person's libido. Rather, it is who you are or are not attracted to.'
Sounds Fake but Okay Pg 8.
Though it is a very simple definition that in itself is better, aro and ace is at its core a level of attraction either romantic or sexual. The separating of sexual desire, libido and sexual attraction would also have saved me a lot of aggravation when I was just beginning this journey! I learned alone that these feelings are separate in a time when most of the people around me told me they were the same.
I will be going into my own journey in later blogs but just the fact that this book, and others like it, are out there now and being published makes it so much easier for Aspec people to discover who they are with less heartache and confusion. Though there is still a way to go before being Aspec is common knowledge I hope others discovering their identity can read this book and others like it. They can put on their Aspec lenses and see the world for what it could be and recognise that the ideas of love, marriage and sex are built up constructs created from the current majority opinion, not steadfast rules to live by or proof that you are "not normal".
If you would like to read 'Sounds Fake But Okay' consider buying from the Gay Pride Shop they donate 15% of their profits to Pride charities and are based in the UK. (This is not a sponsored link I just think shopping small and supporting LGBTQIA+ owned businesses is great!)
I would love to know what you think of my ranting or what you think of this topic in general!