I work as a Library Team Assistant in different libraries in East Hampshire.
I am asexual, or ace; I do not experience sexual attraction. This does not mean I am broken, or traumatised, or in denial. I have never had a bad sexual experience, nor am I conventionally attractive enough to be harassed. I am not damaged. It doesn’t mean I am physically incapable or do not want sexual experiences; this opinion varies from person to person and not just among the asexual community either! However, as a general rule, sex is not vitally important to us or our relationships. And we can and do have relationships - I have a current boyfriend and a former girlfriend, as I personally identify as panromantic (gender means nothing to me, especially in matters of the heart!). It only means that my sexual orientation is null. My compass does not have a needle.
Asexuality is not very well-known and it can be difficult to pinpoint within yourself as it is quite a trial trying to confirm the absence of something. This isn’t helped by the varied but strong opinions about sex and sexuality prevalent in society and even just saying “I don’t get what the big deal is” can lead to being told all kinds of things from “You just need to find the right person” to “I can show you” - needless to say, none of this is helpful or appreciated! Trust me, no matter how incomprehensible a complete lifelong lack of attraction may be to you, the very concept of attraction baffles me and for my entire adolescence could not understand why people had such trouble just keeping it to themselves. Why are those Eastenders characters arguing? Well why did he go and do that if he knew it would end badly? Honestly, does nobody have any impulse control? It is also a spectrum: I am completely asexual; other people may be gray-asexual, having experienced attraction before under specific or exceptional circumstances but not reliably; some are demisexual wherein attraction can develop once a deep emotional connection and trust has been formed; some people previously felt sexual attraction but don’t anymore for any number of reasons and decide to identify as asexual now. And even then, individual experiences, thoughts and feelings can differ wildly.
It’s a very complex and little-known identity, but more common than you think (it’s estimated there are roughly as many ace people as there are gay) and completely valid no matter where you sit on the spectrum or what others tell you! And for both the curious and the questioning I would like to direct you to Asexuality Archive which is a truly fantastic informative website offering an absolute wealth of information on asexuality itself and also advice and answers for those who identify as asexual, or believe that they might.
Why it is important to be a role model
It is important to be a role model because people fear and reject what they don’t understand, and an absence of attraction - or gender - can be impossible to justify to people who simply do not want to try and wrap their head around it. It’s important to make this information accessible, to demonstrate that it isn’t impossible to understand, we’re not confused, it’s not a phase or a disorder (in fact, as of 2015, it is officially registered in the DSM-5 as explicitly NOT a disorder) but simply a different way of being. And the lack of awareness isn’t just among straight communities but in LGBTQ+ communities as well, and this lack leads to people suffering unfairly being overlooked and not accepted in safe places.
It is important to me that I am a role model because some ace person has got to stand up, declare “I’m here, I’m queer, and that is a fact.” Because no one should be alone and no one should feel unwelcome.