This blog post was originally written with the intent of being posted to the official Ace Week website as a guest post: https://www.aceweek.org/stories but due to some complicated circumstances, never was. I was asked to write a post, did my best to cover personal history and stuff, and wrote a very long blog post (over 7,000 words in length), which you can now read below. The post was written end of October 2020, with slight edits I made on December 5, 2020 to the “2019”, “2020”, and “Looking To The Future” sections. I’m finally sharing it below.
Ace Week (or as it used to be called, Asexual Awareness Week) is a special anniversary time for me because it was during Asexual Awareness Week near the end of October 2013 that I first embraced the truth that I am asexual. I had been questioning my sexual orientation for years in a passive way, and much more actively for a few months. At that pivotal moment seven years ago, after feeling consumed with confusion for a long stretch of time, I finally felt certainty around my newfound identity, and felt like I finally understood such a key part of myself. I was 23 years old. (My birthday is in January, so my age typically lines up quite well to the year—I was 23 years old for the vast majority of 2013.)
In the seven years since then, I’ve been on a much richer journey than I ever would have imagined. One piece of that is a continued exploration of the nuances of what identity labels work for me in what seems to be a potentially always evolving process. Often, as I experience new situations within my interpersonal relationships, I learn more about myself. I currently identify as a pan-alterous, demi-sensual, gray-aromantic, sex-averse asexual. I think some other terms describe me well too, but I don’t claim them as orientations or as important things to label.
The history of Asexual Awareness Week is described here. I didn’t even know until this year (2020) that the celebratory week was launched in 2010.
2010 and earlier:
Reflecting on it now, I realize I was 20 years old when the initiative was beginning. That was a time in my life when I was still assuming I was straight-by-default, all while never having dated, kissed anyone, or had any romantic or sexual experience whatsoever.
For the decade prior, age 10-or-so till age 20, there were little signs of my orientation, had I known what to look for. There were many moments along my journey where I felt a disconnection from my peers and from the cultural narrative of what feelings “everyone” supposedly starts to feel during puberty. But I didn’t know what to look for. And even if asexual online communities were all starting to exist during those years, it was a small corner of the internet and that information certainly did not reach me.
As a cis person who mistook herself for straight, I was not spending time in any LGBTQ+ community spaces yet, including online ones. A possible exception was enjoying fanvideos with canonically queer ships. In 2006 when I had been 16 years old, I’d entered the vidding fandom community. By the time I was 20, I had already become entranced with a handful of stories of people questioning their sexuality, all while stuck feeling convinced I must be straight if I was not actively attracted to women. I didn’t know there were any other options.
I was also 20 years old when I first started reading fanfiction in some of my favorite fandoms, and encountering sexually explicit scenes at times, although never purposefully seeking them out. I was starting to grow more and more aware that I didn’t fit allosexual narratives, and yet I didn’t understand why or how.
With only one Asexual Awareness Week having taken place, and the target audience that first year being LGTBQ communities, it’s no surprise I was not yet aware of asexuality. As far as I’m aware, I didn’t hear the word asexual in relation to sexual orientation for the first time in my life until May 2011. If I had heard it at any earlier point in time, it left absolutely no impression on me.