Story on Finding Your Voice

City: San Francisco

Industry: Tech

I’m asexual but not aromantic – which means I still want emotionally close intimate relationships.

When you’re asexual, coming out to someone is no simple feat. You have to be vulnerable but also an educator because few people know what “being asexual” means, so they tend to ask a lot of prying questions.

Several years ago, when I was just beginning to identify with this term, I found myself at a bachelorette party. We were finishing up dinner and discussing men (obviously) when someone sighed and said, “I just wish I were asexual. Life would be much more simple.”

I froze. My life is not simple. In fact, I’d argue it’s even more complicated. I’m asexual but not aromantic – which means I still want emotionally close and intimate relationships but have no desire for sexual ones. See how that might complicate finding a partner? Try to find your average guy in his 20s who understands not having sexual desire. And here is this woman, saying that my life is easy. I wanted to correct her, to explain the difference between asexuality and aromanticism, but did I really want to come out right now? To watch the “she’s weird” thought dawn on people’s faces and color our interactions for the rest of the night? I decided I’d really rather not. But I wanted to bring visibility to asexuality…

My best friend Sarah was watching me out of the corner of her eye. This had transpired in a matter of seconds but she knew the thoughts I was tumbling through. Before I’d made up my mind on outing myself and educating people, Sarah chimed in, “You know, some asexual people still want romantic relationships and it can actually be even more complicated, trying to navigate that with a partner who isn’t asexual.”

I started breathing again. The other women made little “oh” faces. The importance of allies had never struck me as strongly as it did in that moment. Sometimes it’s hard to be our own advocates, and that’s ok. In a moment where I was struggling to find my own voice, Sarah lent me hers.