What do you mean you’re asexual?

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“What do you mean you’re asexual?”

“Are you sure, how do you know?”

“You sure don’t look asexual (dressed like that)”

These are just a few of the things I’ve heard when I’ve shared that I’m asexual.

To be fair, about 2% of people in the world identify as asexual, and I don’t know many people who know an asexual person, aside from me.

On top of that, it seems to be less believable since I am a Black woman. I think we all know that, unfortunately, at a younger age than most, our bodies are immediately sexualized before we’ve even had the chance to conceptualize and process how we want that to look in our own lives. I’ve not only had to deal with that, but I’ve also had to unpack and unlearn these things as I was growing up, which brought me to where I am today.

Through navigating my trauma, relationships, and then coming to a “sexual awakening” of some sort, I've learned that these sexual expectations of me are just projections of how society perceives me based on their stereotypes of Black women. When I enter the room and share my truth they are thrown off. They have to sit and question why they are frustrated with my indifference towards how they view me sexually. It’s hilarious and liberating to experience! When I explain how I define my asexuality, and how it translates into how I express or share intimate moments with people, this is usually what confuses them the most. 

It didn’t take me long to understand but it did take me a bit to express this: the difference between being a sexual person, sensual and becoming, a sensual asexual! You see, being sensual doesn’t have to be sexual. You can be intimate with someone without expressing sexual interest for them, but a lot of the time those lines cross because of the lack of communication and assumption of intent. People don’t consider hand holding, hair playing, or other acts of touch or vulnerability a sensual act, and that’s only because it doesn’t lead to sex. I’ve had to have a lot of conversations with people about the difference, and it’s surprising to see how signals can be mixed because of this being misunderstood.

Don’t get me wrong, my being asexual doesn’t mean I lack a libido, I can and sometimes do enjoy a night of passion with someone I care about and vise Versa (sorry mum). Still, I value sensuality more because it allows me to be better connected with people I care about and build more secure and trustworthy relationships without the expectations of sex. I love cuddling, giving massages, face stroking, just being emotionally vulnerable with someone because it gives the other person and me a better look into who they are. They open up more, they relax and become a bit less unhinged and show you a different side of themselves. For me, that’s a lot more fulfilling in the relationships I form with others.

Granted, the way I embrace and live in this is different from others who identify as asexual, and that’s fine! There are so many ways to navigate the world as an asexual woman of color, this is just how I do, and those who do it differently are valid too.