When I was in high school, it eventually became apparent that I was a lot less interested in pursuing romance and sex than my peers. While they were moments when I thought ‘hmmm, I wonder why I am not as interested as my classmates’ I never thought that there was anything wrong with myself, that it was most likely a natural and harmless variation in my sexuality, and that I had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, it was a bit of a relief, because I had a lot going on, and pursuing romance or sex seemed like it would have been a great bother.
Ironically, I think this delayed me identifying as asexual.
Because I didn’t see a problem, I didn’t look for a ‘solution’. I don’t quite remember when I first stumbled on AVEN, but when I did I at first thought ‘hmmm, that sounds a bit like me’ then I promptly put it out of my mind and continued to identify as het.
Then, in a conversation, somebody mentioned that 1% of the world population is asexual and ‘that’s a lot of people’. That time, it was not a thing I casually discovered on the internet, it was something that somebody else brought up spontaneously. I thought ‘you know what, I think I am asexual after all’ so that prompted me to look at AVEN again. I thought ‘yep, that sounds like me’ and then … I put it out of my mind a SECOND time, and continued to identify as het. But this time the notion was not as thoroughly dislodged from my consciousness, and when I claimed that I was het, I would wonder in the back of my mind if that was actually not true.
Then, a (non-ace) blog I happened to read linked to several in-depth discussions of asexuality. Reading those discussions made it clear to me that I had more in common with these aces than with heterosexual people. That started a cascade of ace-blog-reading.
Now, why do I say that feeling that there was nothing wrong with me delayed me from identifying as asexual? Well, I grew up in a culture of heteronormativity, even though being in San Francisco and my parents open-mindedness filtered out the most extreme forms of heteronormativity. Therefore, people who feel like they are in place must be het (unless they are obviously gay/bi, but I was certain that I was NOT gay or bi). I did not feel like I was out of place, so I was het.
If I had lived in a generation before the internet disseminated asexuality awareness, I would have probably been able to happily identify as het for my entire life. Realizing that I was asexual did not bring relief, or make me realize that I was not broken (I never thought my sexuality was broken). The realization does, however, help me understand myself better, and that is valuable in its own right.