An Open Letter to Asexual Teenagers
I’m in my mid-twenties now and have no real desire to relive my teen years, however I will if it means lending some support to others who may have had the same “issues” I had growing up being an anomalous teenager completely disinterested in sex.
I remember when I was growing up I was physically an “early bloomer,” requiring a bra before I even got out of gradeschool. Logically speaking my mind should have followed at almost the same pace and I should have found myself in the chaotic and emotional world of teenage dating a few years later, but that’s not what happened.
I had a best friend at the time, another girl my age who I grew up with, and when she hit puberty it was like a giant neon light started to flash above her head. She started wearing make-up and getting all mushy and stupid around boys and that was her favorite thing to do was cruise around looking for attractive boys. Initially I thought she was the nutty one. I couldn’t understand any reason why she’d be acting so insanely but not long after she started to feel amorous so did almost all our female peers. Suddenly I was the odd one out, and the one routinely being considered as a freak by my peers. Of course there was always the sweet few people who would say, “Just because she doesn’t want to join our games that’s OK. She’s fine! Just let her be!” but I knew inside they were wondering.
My mother just thought I was a late bloomer. I had heard the term before but never associated it with sexuality. Only later did I realize there are late bloomers out there… some finding their own sexuality in their twenties, or even as late as their forties. For awhile I was complacent with this idea but something still struck me as strange about it. My best friend didn’t believe I was a late bloomer. She thought I was hiding something, keeping a secret for some odd reason. She theorized I was a lesbian. I did defy gender norms, but this wasn’t an inclination to my burgeoning lesbian nature, it was more my own personal rebellion against something I found insipid and pointless. So much of gender is based on sexuality that I found no particular desire to follow suit and start prancing around in mini skirts and mascara. My other good friend at the time, a boy, also hit puberty like a freight train. He didn’t believe I was a late bloomer or a lesbian. He just thought I was playing hard to get (and was I ever! I stopped talking to him and gave him a cool decade or so to just chill.) In my teen years I was actually nauseated at the idea of sex… with anyone… male or female. The idea of all those mingling body fluids and the pure mechanics of it all just made me want to retch on the floor. Since then I learned that this is why you’re not supposed to actually think about these things. This is how people end up being germaphobes! I stopped.
I realized at the time I was being speculated upon by everyone around me and in an attempt to cover my own uneasiness with that I started to act, to pretend to be someone I was not. The only people I knew in history who flaunted asexuality as a good thing was English Victorian women. I’m American and was born in the 1980’s, there was nothing English or Victorian about me except perhaps my genes. Either way I started to dress primly and properly, femininely but not overtly sexually. I started to show great manner and class. I think this just proved to confuse and piss off the people around me. I didn’t stop this charade until I was into my twenties, by that time I had grown to hate the whole thing and every aspect of it and reverted back to my more natural rebellious self.
In the meanwhile people continued to make theories about me, now they were trying out pop psychology on me. Something horrible must have happened to me to make me act this way! But that wasn’t true either. Though I have immense sympathy for victims of sordid pasts I am not one of them. I wasn’t religious either so no one could blame religion for my apparently odd behavior, though that was brought up too. “You just don’t want to have sex because you see it as shameful! Sinful! A guilty act!” That couldn’t be farther from the truth… Just because I never partook didn’t mean I was passing judgments on others. I never did.
As I grew I had a few encounters, mostly innocent, but none I particularly enjoyed all that much. I started to learn everything I could about sex in history, religion, and science. It was my way of trying to make sense of it all. I can now rattle off all sorts of interesting trivia but little good that did! Though I was on the right track as I stumbled upon my own truth. It was called asexuality.
Suddenly, in my late teens and early twenties I had a word to claim as my own but it was more than that, it was a history and others who were like me. According to recent sexual studies up to 2% of the population (both women and men) could be asexual. It just isn’t being studied in specific but there are people out there who keep popping up in the studies and fitting none of the usual categories. Not only are there asexual people but breeders of domestic animals will tell you that every once in a while they’ll come across an animal that for whatever reason won’t do the hanky panky. Usually these are perfect animals their owners badly want to breed. The first of these animals to be scientifically recorded were probably sheep where up to 3% of their population showed no desire to breed for no apparent reason. Their hormones were studied and were shown to be at normal levels. This was great news for me, as that was yet another theory floating around my sphere of existence, was that I was somehow hormonally challenged.
With this knowledge I found others, like AVEN, the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, who had message boards loaded with others of all ages with the same issues. It was a comforting thing indeed! And I learned something none of the science articles or anything else could have told me. I was normal! 100% normal! What was natural to me was indeed natural to nature. I wasn’t breaking any rules, I wasn’t a freak or an anomaly. I was… me. And not only was I me I was educated and ready to tackle this world. I have since learned that asexuality means so very little in the grand scheme of things. I have gone on to have deep fulfilling platonic relationships with a number of individuals, something I never though would be possible. I’m happy in life and though mostly everyone I meet still makes theories about me I have found people who are accepting, and those who aren’t I have ceased to care about. There was a time in this world that homosexuality was “against nature” as well as intersexuality. We’ve found out through studying the animal kingdom that we’re actually the freaks, trying to fit everyone in a gender binary of male or female, and finding heterosexuality to be the only correct state of being. Now we know there are millions of species of animals who beg to differ as well as a whole plethora of unique humans.
I know the future is bright and I want any young asexuals to know that. We’re at a time where we’re starting to be recognized, just like the lesbians and gays of the past. 20/20 even had a special segment on us not so long ago. Asexual has started to be seen as an option in some sex studies, right next to heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. It’s a refreshing change.
In the end I just want to tell any young asexuals that you are normal and that you are supported. Don’t ever let anyone cow you into thinking otherwise or doing anything you don’t want to do. And if at some point in time you change that’s fine too. It sometimes happens. Neither is better than the other as far as a state of being. So relax! Be happy and make the best of it. And try not to dwell. Since I have learned to accept myself as who I am without thinking too much about it I have found that nauseous knee-jerk reaction has gone away. Sex still isn’t my cup of tea but at least now I don’t act like an eight year old in my replies to it, “Ewwwwwe, that is so gross!” has morphed into an eloquent, “Meh…”
For More Asexuality Articles by Theophanes
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