An Open Letter (or: I am not sick and sexuality is not a choice)

Taking a page out of  SwankIvy‘s book. My response to a lovely message I got the other day, from someone who decided that they knew more about me than I did, and that I obviously need help.

Hi there, family friend.

Well, it’s always nice to know that you’ve got me all figured out in your mind, and that I can rely on you to tell me just how messed up my life really is! Yes, the truth can be awfully inconvenient sometimes – but to me, it seems like I’m disrupting your narrow view of the world more than anything else.

So based on a magazine article, and maybe talking to me twice in the real world, you’ve put together a nice explanation of everything that’s wrong with me, complete with gross generalisations, a shaky foundation in Freudian psychology from Wikipedia, and your views on my own family life. Well, let me respond.

First of all, you don’t know my story. So much is obvious. A magazine article doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about me. Neither does knowing my parents, or talking to me once several years ago now.

Your statement that I identified as a lesbian before because it was “cool” to do so is insulting and reeks of heterosexual privilege. Belonging to a minority sexuality isn’t something that people do for shits and giggles, and for you to say that shows a deep misunderstanding of GLBT issues. Do you have any idea how much stress and anxiety people have for being out as gay or lesbian? Do you know what emotional and physical risks you put yourself in by being out, the homophobia you are subjected to? Sexuality is not a choice. People don’t choose to be gay or straight or asexual. People do not just say that they’re gay for a laugh. If you think that I identified as a lesbian because I thought it was cool, then you are sorely mistaken, and you need to look at your own heterosexual privilege before you make a judgement on anybody else’s identity.

If you would like to know why I identified as a lesbian, this is why: because I wasn’t attracted to men, and I didn’t know that any other options existed. Asexuality is almost invisible in our society. That’s why I do activism and visibility work and put my story out there for other people. So it took me a long time to realise I wasn’t actually attracted to women either, until I even found out asexuality existed. And you know what? That was the first time I actually ever felt completely comfortable in my own shoes.

Moving on.

Your generalisations about children from divorced families are ridiculous. You can’t possibly take anecdotal evidence and apply it to everyone around you, it’s a ridiculous methodology. I don’t care what your experiences are – you’re not me.

You seem to think that my life is guided by fear. It’s not. You assume that I shut myself away from people and have no social contact, that I’m terrified of letting people into my life and forming relationships. Well, I’ve changed a lot in the last few years since you met me.

I have friends. I have many relationships with people that mean the world to me. They’re not sexual relationships or romantic relationships. But they are deep and real and I am completely capable of letting people into my life. There is this idea in society that romantic/sexual relationships are the only relationships of value, that you can’t possibly be complete without sex and romance. Well, I call bullshit on that. Because it’s not true. People experience love differently. The love I feel for people isn’t sexual. But it’s strong.

I don’t hide from life and relationships and love. I look to myself and see what works for me, and negotiate those relationships in the way they work for me. I throw myself into my studies and my volunteer work and my extra-curricular activities because I LOVE them, not because I’m locking myself away from the world. I do it because I love living in the world and want to do it to the max. I love my work and my studies and being involved in things.

If you seriously believe that the world can be defined by functional, heterosexual people, and that everyone who is gay, lesbian, has a fetish or is celibate has some sort of psychological complex, then you need to be educated. Sexual orientation is not a mental illness. There is no reason that people are gay. Gay people don’t suffer Freudian complexes. They are gay. There’s no other reason for it.

As for the “options” you’re giving me:

I think I’ll take the first one, as flawed as it is.  Because there is nothing wrong with me. So maybe I’ll never get laid. I’m happy, I’m functional, I love my life and am fulfilled by it. I refuse to believe that I need to live my life by your narrow standards in order to be happy.

But it’s not “the easy option,” as you suggest. You think it’s easy to be asexual in a world where sex is valued about anything else? You think there’s such thing as an “asexual media?” Look around you. Most people don’t even know asexuality exists. I get told by many people who don’t know me that I must be sick, or frigid, or afraid. Other asexual people (yes, they exist too!) put up with this shit every day. In case you didn’t get the message earlier: in no way it it easy being part of a minority sexuality.

You think I should seek professional help? I don’t need it. You think I should  just start a relationship with someone and take it slow and talk about my feelings more? Let me just do that then. Oh, hang on, I forgot about the fact that I am not actually attracted to anyone. That is the crux of my identity. I literally AM NOT INTERESTED in anyone. Maybe you don’t get that. But I’d like to see you start a sexual relationship with some stranger without an ounce of attraction.

I’m not sitting here secretly craving a sexual relationship with someone but too scared to act on it. I don’t have anything to act on. I’m not denying myself anything because there is nothing to deny. This is who I am. Not my choice.

And no:

I will not read up on psychology on Wikipedia.

6 thoughts on “An Open Letter (or: I am not sick and sexuality is not a choice)

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