You know you’re the “good one” when you’re asked to be on every panel on asexuality; I had it all! The charisma, the sense of humor, the indifference to sex, and the cute genderqueer sports coat. If I was on the panel, you had to know I was going to be adorable AND able to discuss sex like it was no big deal. The LGBT groups loved me, the gender and sexuality professors loved me, and most importantly, I didn’t make anyone feel like they had to question the amount of importance they put on sex in a relationship.
There was only one minor problem with me as an asexual rep: I’m a rape survivor. It happened my first year of college, by someone who thought they could fix my asexuality, and I conveniently edited that out of my story every time. At first, it was just because it was too new, and I didn’t want to discuss it. You need time to heal from something like that.
When I finally felt at ease with the past enough to discuss it, however, I talked with my asexual collaborators about it. You wouldn’t believe how quickly I was shut down. Yeah, they supported me, I was “brave” for telling them…but I probably should just keep it to myself. Enough people assumed that aces were that way because of trauma (it was the number one question at panels besides “…but you can have sex, you just don’t want to, right?”) and if I told my story, it would just feed that misconception.
I didn’t come out with my story until after I left college. Another, braver asexual wrote their story, and asked me to contribute mine. Then I wrote my story for asexualsurvivors.org, and joined the team as a moderator. It’s been amazing, connecting with other survivors, but it’s also been heart breaking, knowing that the same story is repeating for so many people out there. And it breaks my heart to know that my silence, and the silence of so many other people, has left many aces feeling the same way; that they are alone, an anomaly, and that if they speak up, their orientation will be seen as invalid.
It also makes me wonder how many of the young aces I mentored in college experienced the same, or something similar to this, and felt like they couldn’t say anything to me about it. Because I was so busy being a shining example of what a sex positive asexual looked like, there wasn’t any room for anything messy or questionable in my life.
I was always scared to say it out loud, and even today, I get nervous just thinking about others knowing.
I’m asexual. I’m a rape survivor. And I am no less valid for being both.