Hello and welcome to It’s Queer Here!
It’s Queer Here is a ten days long mini blog series which will hold from June 14 – June 25th (skipping Juneteenth) to commemorate Pride month. The purpose of this blog series is to centre more often forgotten queer voices, especially those which intersect with other marginalisations and affect their experience of queerness. It’s Queer Here can be seen as reminder, that although these identities less are presented, that they’re still here and they’re still queer.
Today on It’s Queer Here, Tee (she/her) talks about the uncertainty of questioning, through her own experience questioning and recommends some books with asexual representation that she loves/ is excited for.
Hi, I’m Tee, I’m 23, and I’m asexual! Or at least that’s the umbrella I’m most comfortable snuggling under right now. That’s the first time I’ve stated such publicly, rounding up the tally of people I’ve shared that with to my sister, my best friends, and you, kind reader. Before I get into my thoughts on the uncertainty of questioning, I’d like to warmly thank Zainab, for hosting this series on her blog. I am excited to share my thoughts, and more excited to read the other posts that will pop up here.
An internal conversation I’ve had on repeat for the last 2 years or so has been “Am I ace, or am I scared? Yes, I know asexuality is valid, its part of the acronym in all its glory, and it’s a wide spectrum, so why do I constantly feel like I’m trying to force my way into the community?” To be clear that’s not an observation on how welcoming the community does or doesn’t feel, but more an observation on how I feel something I identify with is valid, yet somehow, I am not.
I was 20 the first time I learned about asexuality, having heard the word a handful of times before then but never really paying attention. I couldn’t quite figure out why the small interview series I had read kept popping into my thoughts for a full year afterwards, until I realised it was because I had found comfort and understanding in the words shared. There was a feeling of calm when I thought about how the words could be used to describe me, and yet sheer panic when a million other thoughts rushed in to invalidate it.
The thing with labels is that no one label is a one size fits all experience. It’s a spectrum, and it’s incredible and leaves room for growth and exploration and understanding, but it’s also terrifying, because if I don’t fit the very definition of this label then surely I’m not it. Surely, I’m just scared or confused or trying to fit myself in a space I don’t belong to. And so, I’ve found it difficult to believe the label and I are a good match because I don’t tick all the boxes. And if I choose this label, what does it mean about how I go about with future relationships, and conversations. How does my new understanding of romantic attraction change how I view my attraction to others as a whole? To what extent am I allowed to claim the community and call it mine?
I can’t recall having any relationship with sex appeal or sexual attraction outside of finding people nice to look at, and how that only lasted if they were funny and kind. To me, that’s what all added to appeal, not just physicality. I unknowingly made my own criteria for what I believed sexual attraction to be and so when I first found an identity that detailed a lack of sexual attraction, I felt like it couldn’t be me. But, I’m trying to be kinder to myself and my journey. I am constantly learning new words that feel like home, listening to myself on how I want to be loved and perceived, and how I want to love in turn. Always remembering moments where my identity shone through clearly when I was younger but was then played off and trying not to let the action of me playing them off back then be reason for internal invalidation now.
Questioning has always been a seesaw between ‘this is me and I am valid, and lol what if it’s not and now you look dumb’. But that’s what it will always be, isn’t it – there will always be a different take on how you perceive attraction and yourself. You will always understand parts of yourself differently and then express those parts differently. And so, I might find myself elsewhere on the spectrum later in life wanting to use different words to explain it, but I need to give myself the benefit of the doubt that I understand myself and my feelings now, and I always will.
I think labels are important for a sense of belonging, and community, and understanding of self. And they can get messy and confusing, but ultimately, their meaning and how we hold them to ourselves is personal and unique, and no one person can say we have chosen incorrectly. It’s weird, because most days I feel like my identity isn’t one that ultimately changes how I experience my idea of love, so I don’t need to disclose it or share it with anyone, because TMI, right? But then other days I want to be loudly proud about it, and casually bring it up whenever and wherever; then the idea of having to find the words to explain it to others, when I’m not fully sure I have the words to explain it to myself comes up and I’m safely yeeted back into not wanting to share at all. That might be something I struggle with always, given how little I usually want to share about myself in general, and that’s fine. For now, I am trying my best to find peace and pride in my identity as I understand it, I’m trying to not be too hard on myself when I feel confused about it all, I am trying to figure out how loudly I want to express it, and that is fine. I am doing fine.
Thank you again to Zainab for hosting this series. This post was a more cathartic experience than I could have ever imagined, so truly, thank you.
I process a lot of my emotions through those of fictional characters, so I thought I could share a few books I have read and loved or am excited to read that have aspec representation.
Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman.
This book is about so much more than being aspec, but the part of it that dealt with it, specifically with being aro/ace, was the first time I’d seen it explicitly in a book, and it warmed my heart completely.
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Tash explaining her identity to her friends helped me find some extra peace in how I explain it to myself. Her story makes me feel less afraid about mine and I needed that.
The Sound and the Stars by Alechia Dow and Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
I haven’t read these yet, but they are definitely on my list of must reads. Both books feature Black Aspec girls, one a new adult exploring relationships and the other a teen librarian who teams up with an alien to fight the system. They both sound fantastic and I want to read them so I can shout loudly about girls who look and feel like me for eternity.