My life in the last year has taken a complete 180. In early 2021, I was a devout Catholic. When it came to matters of faith, I didn’t half-ass it. I listened to religious podcasts. I attended church. I participated in Lent. I was involved in the Newman Club as a secretary and attended two meetings a week. I watched religious videos. I tried to maintain an active prayer life. I’m not saying I was the perfect Christian, but I took it seriously.
Being Catholic came with a large dollop of internalized homophobia. It’s basically built into Catholic doctrine, in which homosexuality is considered a sin. Some Catholics clarify that same-sex attraction itself is not a sin because usually Catholics don’t consider feelings that are not acted on to be sins, but sexual acts between members of the same sex are considered a sin….but that doesn’t help the Catholics’ case.
Over most of my years of college, I was ultra-Catholic. I went to a Christian college with predominantly Protestant students, to the point that there were maybe fifty Catholics max at a college with 2,500 students. The Protestants ranged from acceptance of Catholics, to not believing Catholics were Christian, and to what could only be called anti-Catholicism. I was questioned so much as a Catholic that I learned as much as I could in self-defense.
By the time I graduated from Grove City College, I was no longer Catholic. There were a few crises that influenced this. One of the things was that my sibling came out as a trans man and bisexual. That utterly confused me. As in, I barely understood what that meant, other than gay = bad.
You see, not only was I predisposed to be uncomfortable around the topic, I had also been sheltered enough that I simply didn’t understand it. I had never knowingly encountered anyone from the LGBTQ+ community. My only knowledge came from the annual pride display at the retail art store I used to work at. Basically all I got from that was RAINBOWS ARE GAY. Some lady gave me a mask there and I remember not wearing it because it had rainbows on it and I didn’t want to support the LGBTQ+ community. After all, I had to be a good Catholic. (How ironic.)
Anyway, my first crisis came from my brother coming out. It was 100% not his fault that my life was thrown into utter chaos. It was my own fault for being ignorant. Not going to use ignorance as an excuse to get off scot-free either; I was definitely to blame for not trying harder to see things from the perspective of people in the LGBTQ+ community.
After my brother came out, I researched everything gay, tentatively at first. I asked my brother for more information. I dedicated everything I had been putting toward religious study to trying to be a good sister. I began using his new name, Finch, and his pronouns, he/they. At first I just used them around him because I wanted him to be happy and comfortable, and didn’t want to trigger dysphoria. Then, as I became used to the change in my own behavior, I started using his name and pronouns around other people, including my friends, who were almost all very Christian. Admittedly, this was not the best way to do it. I should have switched to the right name and pronouns with everyone he was out to.
Through an amazing feat of doublethink (think George Orwell), I managed to maintain my Catholic faith and my acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community at the same time. That didn’t last long.
The Catholic Church presents itself as totally right about all of their doctrines, without much wiggle room. I was under the impression that the Catholic Church was correct in every way. When I discovered that I no longer believed what the Church taught about the LGBTQ+ community, it was a crack in my faith that widened much quicker than expected. If the Catholic Church was wrong about that, what about the Eucharist? And confession? And its stance on abortion? Heck, what if they are wrong about that Jesus guy entirely?
Which is what caused my second crisis, a crisis of faith. Many of my friends are not aware that I am no longer Catholic. Or Christian, for that matter. I guess they will find out if they read this, but I am okay with that. As long as no one tries to convert me, it’s all good. So now I am agnostic in general, atheist at times.
The third crisis was my oh my gosh moment when I realized that not only had I abandoned my religion and embraced the LGBTQ+ community, I also am a member of said community. The pay-off for my research was an identity crisis that was eventually resolved when I accepted that I am both asexual and biromantic.
What asexual means
It’s been about a year since I discovered the term asexual. Well, that’s not completely true. Being a student, I had certainly encountered the word, but only as part of the term “asexual reproduction.” That concept has no bearing on my current topic of conversation, which is about what asexual has come to mean in terms of the LGBTQ+ community.
Asexual these days means having no sexual attraction at all towards others. It’s simple. There are other things that are stereotypically ace (which is another word for asexual), but I will go over that in my section about how I know I am ace.
The differences between sexual, romantic, and aesthetic attraction
Sexual attraction is the desire for sexual contact or showing sexual interest in another person. Romantic attraction is wanting to do romantic stuff with another person, but does not necessarily include sex. Sexual and romantic attraction often go together but not always. Society and the media often conflate the two, but they are different, and you can have one without the other.
Aesthetic attraction is appreciating how someone looks, kind of like how one would appreciate a work of art, but does not include any romantic or sexual interest or attraction.
I do not experience any sexual attraction whatsoever, and have trouble understanding how anyone could. Sex is such a weird thing to want, in my opinion. Not shaming anyone who does want it; I just don’t get the appeal.
Romantic attraction I do experience. I have had crushes on both guys and girls. Some were short-lived, others were longer term, the longer ones I considered my “real” crushes. I want a romantic relationship, but I could also pretty easily be single for my entire life without really feeling like I am messing up.
This is super ignorant, but since I felt the same way about guys and girls even as a Catholic, I wrongly thought that all people had feelings for people of all sexes, but if they were moral they only pursued those crushes that were on the opposite sex. In my head, lesbians and gays were people who chose to have relationships with the same-sex–they made the “wrong’ choice, I had thought as a Catholic. On later reflection, I realized that I only thought this because I experience the same or very similar levels of attraction to both males and females. (I have only met two people who are non-binary and I am not sure if I am attracted to non-binary people as well, since I didn’t have feelings for either of those people.) I suppressed the feelings I had for people of the same sex and only allowed myself to pursue relationships with guys.
Aesthetic attraction is not something that I have experience with either. I don’t care what the heck people look like. I have a bad memory for faces and even general appearance, which may be a factor in that. (That’s not an ace thing, that’s just a me thing. Aces can experience romantic and aesthetic attraction–just not sexual attraction. I personally cannot recall faces, which may factor into my particular lack of aesthetic attraction.)
This is a very short explanation that goes straight to the point–if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me by social media or leave a comment.
How I know I am asexual and biromantic
Now these next things that I will describe are not true of all aces, but are common among them.
I think the best indicator of how I am asexual is how very sex-repulsed I am. The idea of it makes me shudder. Graphic descriptions of it make me feel like I will vomit. Honestly, even mild descriptions of it gross me out.
First off, I want a romantic relationship with someone without any sex. Honestly, I don’t even want the typical romantic things most people want. No kissing, hand-holding, or cuddling is desired on my part. In fact, it is pretty darn undesirable. I was in a relationship with a guy who constantly wanted to hold or caress my hand. I tolerated this despite my discomfort because I wanted him to be happy and knew that relationships required sacrifice. It only really felt like it was going much too far when I had my first kiss.
It was the most disgusting thing I have ever experienced. I was thinking the whole time, why the heck do people ever do this? Why do some people enjoy it? I always assumed before I had my first kiss that despite my aversion to the idea, if I just tried it I would enjoy it. Every movie or show with a romantic plot I had ever watched made kissing and romance almost inseparable. Same with books. When I felt like washing my mouth and lips with peroxide afterwards, I figured something was wrong with me. I figured it was just connected to the mental illness I struggled with. It was not until I came upon the ace community that I realized there were many other people who felt the same way.
Many ace people have no crushes, have few crushes, or have crushes later in life. When I was a kid, all the girls I talked to had crushes on guys. One day, when I was with my former best friend and a couple of her friends, they decided we should all say the name of the guy we were crushing on. I panicked. I had never had a crush on anyone before. When it came to my turn, I named the first guy I thought of. Having very few friends and almost no interaction with guys, this person was not someone I knew well at all. It backfired though, because my former best friend was shocked. I had named her brother’s friend, who was nice and all, but he was several years older than me and we had never had a conversation.
Embracing the concept of me being a “normal girl,” I proceeded to tell my family that I had a crush on this guy and they just kinda shrugged it off. Phew, I thought. I guess people won’t think I’m so weird after all. I never actually talked to the guy I told everyone I had a crush on after that because I literally had no feelings for him whatsoever. And I doubt he heard about it.
Another thing about me that seems very stereotypically ace is that I have no understanding of what it means for someone to be “hot.” I thought there was just criteria like a checklist people thought of when they DECIDED people were hot. Like: Skinny, check. Muscular, check. Tall, check. Lack of acne, check. Big breasts, check. None of these criteria made sense to me, but it seemed to apply to the people on the front of magazines. My brother gave me a bit of a reality check when he said people didn’t decide other people were hot. It is something that is felt, and has to do with attraction, and is different for everyone. I was like…what? People actually like other people due to appearance? I thought that was extremely rare and mostly only happened in movies and fairy tales.
When I was asked what my type was by some of my friends, I named aspects of personality and shared interests. When they pressed me for details about what my type looked like, I made stuff up. I thought, well, I have a ton of trouble recognizing people because of an issue with my visual memory. So my type should be someone who is distinctive. So I made up a type. Dyed or red hair, since both are uncommon. Shorter than me, because I am 5’2″ and anyone shorter than me is also pretty rare. Tattoos or piercing perhaps? Something that stands out. It wasn’t a serious type and not at all set in stone. But it was an answer I could give friends and family to seem “normal,” even if it also made me seem super picky. Besides, the supposed pickiness conveniently explained to them why I made it two decades without having a boyfriend.
Here’s another story. I was at youth group and a bunch of the boys went to the gym. One of the girls found out the guys were playing with their shirts off and let us all know. They got all excited and asked me if I wanted to come watch the guys with them. My immediate response was “Ew, no.” The girls teased me for being uncomfortable, and the youth group leaders praised me for being “innocent.”
Another youth group story. We often got lectured about not having sex before marriage. And all the other teens were talking about how hard that was, and I was like, JUST DON’T. How is that hard? You can’t control yourself? What do you mean?
As a kid and young teenager, I also eventually got into the habit of telling people I was never going to marry. That was because I connected marriage to all that stuff that made me feel uncomfortable, like hand-holding and kissing, and later the idea of sex.
It’s not that I haven’t fallen in love before. I have. I’ve had a few very strong crushes and thought, wow, I would happily spend the rest of my life with this person, in a completely non-sexual way. It just didn’t work out. Those people didn’t see me in the same way, or they wanted sex and I didn’t. We’re still friends, but it’s all platonic on both sides now. That’s how I know I am not aromantic–since people who are aromantic do not experience romantic attraction or have crushes. I am biromantic–I have crushes on both men and women.
Before you say it, it’s not just that I haven’t found the right person
People who simply don’t understand say this to aces and aros (aromantic people) all the time. People also do this to lesbians, saying things like “you haven’t found the right man yet,” or to gays, “you haven’t found the right woman yet.” All I can say is, who do they think they are, telling other people how they should feel? If someone wants to identify as asexual or aromantic and does not feel this attraction, why try to saddle them with the idea that they have just failed to find “the one”? This is not a fairy tale where each eligible bachelor inevitably has the perfect bachelorette to hook up with, and they all live happily ever after. I have found people I have fallen deeply in love with, but I have never once thought that I would actually desire to have sex with them. I have found people who could have been “the one” if they just felt the same way, but sexual contact was always out of the question. And it’s not because I’m “pure” or “innocent”. It’s because I am ace. We’re not broken, we’re not missing out, and we deserve to be accepted for who we are just like anyone else.
So…now you know. And everyone who reads my blog will know. Sorry to my friends and family who found out this way. My verbal communication skills are lacking, and the only way I could possibly come out was through writing. I am good with that, and I hope you are too. If you have any questions, I am here. Please be polite, and as my brother says, don’t contact me if you “just want to convert me to your flavor of Jesus.” And please don’t try to tell me the biology or hormones or reasons involved in my asexuality, I literally could not care less–as far as I am concerned, it is a part of my identity and I have accepted it.
Also, a disclaimer. I know that people have all sorts of different relationships and I don’t intend to shame anyone for having sex in their relationships. Just because I can’t understand the appeal doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate that most people are very different from me in that respect. Love is love.
Also, as a head’s up. I want to be the kind of writer who creates great ace characters, so look for ace characters in my books when they are published.