One thing I’ve tried to never doubt was my ability to know myself. Even when I didn’t have the words to describe who I was or what I was going through, I didn’t doubt that I’m always me. No matter what. Sometimes the only thing I have is myself, and I’ll do anything to never lose that.
There’s always been a bit of conflict in my identity. When I was younger I had no Jay’s and no idea what Polo shirts where. Which got me plenty of funny looks from the other kids. I didn’t have them not because my family was too poor to afford them but because my aunts and grandma believed in letting kids be kids. A statement that doesn’t really validate not buying kids brand names but one that seems to keep holding up. Not to mention my mother had me when she was 42 years old, I was much younger than her siblings’ children who, by the time I was born, were already nearing adulthood. My cousins were too old for me to play with, they thought I was annoying. So I spent most of my time with my aunts who were all in their 40’s. Their sense of fashion was not the current style of fashion. I wore homemade dresses until I was in the fourth grade, it got me a fair bit of teasing but it never made me question who I was. Neither did my extra baggy pants in middle school, or my ever-growing need for my hair to never reach my ears. No matter what was happening to me on the outside, on the inside, I always had a firm grip on myself.
Until suddenly I didn’t.
The inter-workings of the community are complicated. Especially the inner knowings of the Black community. We fight each other a lot, over the smallest things. The darkness of complexion, the way some of us speak, the way some present ourselves, our body shapes, and those unspoken rules that all Black people are just supposed to automatically know. The community is tight when we have to be, but it can also unravel with the lightest of yanks. The older generation holds onto toxic views that harmed them but they believe hardened them for the better. I’ve never been more frustrated and angry than trying to discuss “modern views” with my mother. I used to listen to her and my aunts talk down about other women for things that were clearly the fault of men. I had to sit through their defense of scum men because the women just “seemed” like they were lying. I thought I could escape the suffocation of not being heard, listened to and understood by putting myself around people my own age. That didn’t really work either. For every one accepting Black peer I found, there were two more who held onto the beliefs of their parents. My generation tries not to struggle with same-sex relationships but the bigotry shows up in so many of us once you talking about the other letter best G and L in LGBTQIA. It’s frustrating.
I’ve yet to meet another Black Asexual in person. Granted, I’m stuck in Colorado for the time being because of things I cannot control but I’ve met several white asexuals since I started looking and asking around. In turn, I was the first Black Asexual many of them had met. So when the inevitable question of “what other Black asexuals you know” first came up, I found myself embarrassed and unable to provide any response. Because I didn’t know any other than me. I lost that argument of whether or not my sexuality was valid, but that was back when I first came out. And for the first two-ish years I avoided conversations that steered in that direction, I basically avoided all conversations that drifted towards my sexuality. It hurts when something as important as sexuality and how you personally identify with it isn’t believed. Not the surface, cry for a bit and then go on about your life hurt. But a deep pit of the stomach, feel lower than dirt kind of hurt.
It’s apparently very hard for people around my age to grasp the idea of someone not having any kind of sexual attraction. It’s especially hard for them when they see my brown skin and automatically hypersexual me. It’s not uncommon at all for a person to reach out and touch me before even opening their mouths to speak to me. People gain a sense of entitlement when they see Black women as if we instantly belong to them and can be poked and prodded as such. Stereotypes keep us locked in small boxes that we have to almost kill ourselves to get out of. I can’t count on both hands the number of times I’ve been told by another Black person that my Asexuality was “white people shit”. To them, because they don’t understand it and haven’t ever heard of it, I’m acting white. Even though acting white is as much a myth as acting Black is. You cannot act a color, only a stereotype.
The more I was around people who didn’t accept or even acknowledge my sexuality, the more I felt like I was losing myself. I couldn’t actively and truthfully participate in conversations about dating and sex because my opinion was never taken seriously. I can’t have an opinion on sex because I’m asexual, despite the fact I’ve had sex a bunch of times. I couldn’t give dating advice because I’m asexual, even though I’ve been in relationships before. Quickly a stigma was built around me, men would spend days in my inbox trying to convince me that their dicks would cure my Asexuality. Instead of taking my words at face value, many assumed it was a silent challenge. Me saying I wasn’t interested in relationships or sex was actually code for them to try harder, to attempt to hang around longer, to prove that they could break down the walls I’d put up. This started four years ago, and today there’s still one or two who think they’re going to wait my asexuality out. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic.
It wasn’t until I found other Black Asexuals online did I start to feel somewhat settled. Twitter can be a hell site but it also connects you with people you’d never have the chance to talk to otherwise. It was incredibly calming to put out a tweet about being Black and Asexual and have others like me respond. It’s nice to be able to experience something and have others relate in incredibly specific ways, it’s amazing to have other brown-skinned people tell me that what I saying resonates with them. I don’t feel as lost now as I did five years ago and I really don’t want other young Black Asexuals to feel that way. We aren’t alone, we’re not on white people shit, and there are more of us than we realize.
At the beginning of the summer, I had contemplated not writing as much about being Asexual because I worry that I’ll start to repeat myself. But then I realized that if I’d had someone sharing their experience as Ace, repeated or not, back when I first started identifying it would have been incredibly helpful. So I’m hoping that if my posts do anything, they reach a fellow Black Asexual who needs just a bit of reassurance. We are valid, and there’s nothing wrong with being Black and Asexual.