Members of the Leeds LGBTQ community talked to Features Editor Brigitte Phillips about living with their identities, and their misunderstandings and misrepresentations that come with it.
asexuals aren’t sex-hating killjoys.
I realised I fancied other guys when I was 12, but it took until I was 24 to realise I didn’t want to have sex with them. It’s quite a difficult realisation to reach in a society where sex is often portrayed as an essential part of being human; people who don’t have sex are to be pitied or mocked. So when you’re one of those people who genuinely doesn’t want to have sex, it can feel quite isolating. The hardest part about being asexual is that it doesn’t get talked about, so a lot of people don’t even realise it exists. Like many other asexuals, before I heard and understood the term, I felt broken and alone. I couldn’t maintain relationships, as I used to find intimacy terrifying (there was always an assumption it would lead to sex eventually). I kept trying to enjoy sex (because I felt I had to) and as a result had some experiences I could really have done without. When I realised I was asexual, it was like I’d been living underground all those years, and had finally stepped out into the sun. I’ve never looked back. There are many misconceptions about asexuals – and trust me, we’ve heard them all. I’ve been asked whether I was abused as a child (Why would you ask that? Seriously?), whether my penis still works or not, whether I hate everyone who has sex, or whether I’m just a sex-starved bitter virgin. But being asexual has nothing to do with any of those things, just the same as your sexual orientation. I didn’t choose to be this way, but I certainly see no problem with it, and given the option, I wouldn’t change it. Not all asexuals desire romantic relationships, but many do, and this can be hard to navigate at times. I’ve never dated another asexual (it’s hard to find others out there) but since coming out, I’ve found that lots of guys aren’t bothered by it. I was really expecting that no one would want to date an asexual, and I’m quite pleased to say I was wrong. Being open about my asexuality has made dating far more rewarding, as intimacy no longer feels threatening. So remember: asexuals aren’t sex-hating killjoys. We smile, we laugh, we bake cookies. We experience love, intimacy, rejection and hope just as anyone does, we just don’t always express those things in the same way. We certainly don’t hate people who have sex. In fact, we love you all. Just not like that.
Photographs: Sam Broadley and Ruby Lott-Lavigna