Surprise! I’m not straight.
In the LGBTQIA+ acronym, the letter “A” stands for agender, aromantic, and asexual. Contrary to popular belief, the “A” does NOT stand for ally.
I’m asexual and aromantic, also commonly referred to as aro ace.
If you know me personally, most likely this is not a surprise at all. I’ve become more open about discussing my sexual orientation in the last year, but given my blog name, Ace Space, I wanted to start discussing my identity here as well. In my opinion, there is no better way to do this than with a blog post during my first Pride out of the closet.
So if you've been wondering, Ace Space got its title as a nod to my sexual orientation.
At this point, you may be wondering what being aro ace means. Although the LGBTQIA+ community has become more visible in mainstream media, unfortunately, the asexual and aromantic communities have remained in the shadows.
To put it very simply, asexual and aromantic are two very different identities. Asexuality means that I do not feel any sexual attraction to people, and aromantic means I do not feel romantic attraction to anyone. Asexuality and aromantic are both very wide spectrums, and different people experience these identities differently. It’s also important to note that not every ace person is aromantic, and not every aro person is asexual.
Additionally, this post focuses on my experience as an aro ace person, which could be vastly different compared to the experiences of other members in the community. I can only tell my story, not speak on the behalf of an entire complex and diverse community.
Honestly, it can be exhausting to explain all the nuances of being aro ace, especially because the lack of representation and knowledge about these identities means that every time I come out, I have to explain my entire identity. For the purpose of this post, I will be going off these very basic definitions, but if you want to learn more, I will link some sources at the bottom.
As a child, I always knew I never wanted to have children. Even before I knew how children were created, I knew I had absolutely no interest in having them.
According to my mom, one time in elementary school, I came home very upset that one of my peers had said I had to get married and have kids. I don’t remember this incident, but looking back, it definitely was a blaring aro ace sign.
I progressed through my childhood pretty normally, except that I very rarely had crushes. When I think about this now, I think I just found two of those people aesthetically attractive and felt the need to have a crush because everyone else did. The other two crushes I had turned into relationships, which did not work out as I came to terms with my identity. But more on that later.
The first time I ever heard the word asexual was at band camp during my freshman year of high school. One of the people in my cabin was discussing it, but after the conversation, the information went to the back of my mind, and I did not think about asexuality for a couple of weeks.
A few weeks later, I was mowing the grass one weekend. When I’m on the riding mower, it’s just me and my thoughts, which meant I had lots of time to think about my sexuality, whether I wanted to or not.
I thought about how I didn’t want to have sex, how I didn’t understand the appeal, and how, quite frankly, it made me feel very uncomfortable and a little ill. I thought about my future, and I just simply could not imagine myself in a sexual situation that would be comfortable.
When I returned inside, I did what every person questioning their sexuality does, I turned to Google. I vividly remember reading countless asexuality articles on wikiHow, frantically texting my close friend about it, and asking forums if I really was asexual. You know, typical teen stuff.
I never did look back to see the forum answers to my questions, but given that I asked them in the first place, I’d consider it to be a pretty clear sign (and a funny story for the future).
By the end of the day, I had concluded that I most likely was ace and then proceeded to enter my four years of high school consciously in the closet.
At this point, I knew I was ace, but I thought I still wanted to date people and be in romantic relationships. My first relationship continued this belief because my boyfriend at the time and I did not hang out much out of school or participate in typically romantic activities.
I do remember that we didn’t kiss until we had been dating for six months, which to everyone else, was incredibly weird.
Eventually, we broke up, partially because he did not take my being ace very well, and I continued to believe that I was into boys, just only in a romantic way.
During my senior year of high school, I started to like one of my male friends. I enjoyed talking to him and spending time with him in class, so naturally, I believed through common societal messages of romance that the next step was for us to date.
Compared to my other relationship, this relationship functioned a lot more like a romantic relationship. He took me on dates, and we attended to prom together.
I knew that he liked me and I thought I liked him. However, I kept waiting for this romantic feeling to kick in. In my mind, I should have wanted to spend a lot of my time with him, invite him to family events, and talk on the phone. Yet, I still kept treating the relationship like all of my platonic friendships. I didn’t have this burning romantic desire to be with him that I thought I should have, especially since he was a nice guy, and our relationship fit the ideal model. A tiny part of me began to wonder if I was happier when we were just friends.
Then, he told me that he loved me. I remember very awkwardly avoiding saying it back because I simply did not feel the same way. I was beginning to feel very frustrated with myself for having the relationship I thought I wanted and not enjoying it.
I thought I should have liked him. I also felt guilty because I couldn’t seem to like anyone the way I thought I wanted them to like me.
As the summer ended, I headed off to college without even really considering the future of our relationship. We texted, but I was so busy that the conversations were very short, and we didn’t talk on the phone much either.
I spent more time talking to one of my high school friends than the person I was supposed to be dating. And as bad as it sounded to myself, I didn’t miss him or want to put in the effort required for a romantic relationship.
So naturally, I returned to Google and began pestering two of my friends with my second sexuality crisis. I’m so grateful for these friends because talking through everything I felt really helped me come to terms with something I had been denying for a while. I was somewhere on the aromantic spectrum.
I broke up with this boyfriend because I knew I couldn’t drag him along especially when I didn’t feel the way he did. To this day, I still feel incredibly guilty about this because if I had come to terms with my sexuality earlier, I could have avoided this mess.
There’s not much I could have done though, considering the lack of aro ace representation. There was no model for me to see and relate to, to show me that I was perfectly normal. I had to figure it out on my own.
I spent my life feeling like I should be dating and should want to have a romantic partner because that’s all I ever saw in the media. I wanted companionship, but as I’ve come to realize, I feel fulfilled from my platonic relationships.
So there you all have it: an incredibly brief recap of how I came to terms with my sexuality. I’ll probably go more into depth on this in the future, as there is so much left of my identity and how it impacts my life that I can discuss and explore.
Being aro ace certainly is weird sometimes, considering that romantic and sexual relationships are necessary and desirable to many people. Not a lot of people know about or understand aromanticism and asexuality, which can make figuring out your identity and coming out all the more complicated.
I stared at my computer forever debating if I would upload this post. It is incredibly scary to me to open up about my sexuality and leave myself vulnerable to the prodding of non-aro and non-ace people. In many ways, it would have been easier to live my life in the closet because unless I told people, no one would know about my sexuality. But I would be living a lie.
I’m not doing this to please other people or to spite them. I’m doing this for past Kaitlyn, who couldn’t figure out why people wanted to have sex, who couldn’t understand why she didn’t have the desire, and who couldn’t figure out why her feelings in romantic relationships didn’t match the images she saw in the media.
Maybe if I had seen someone like me when I was younger, I would have understood myself a lot sooner.
And that is what I think really matters.
For more information on asexuality and aromanticism, a lovely master list of resources put together by Sounds Fake But Okay can be found here.
The Trevor Project also has articles on asexuality.
Just like I did, you can also conduct your own research through the wonderful power of Google.