I Belong to the LGBTQ+ Community Even If Others Disagree

Woman marching in Pride parade

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

A few days ago, I took a trip to New York City to see the rainbow flags and decor set up in the West Village. As I walked around, I noticed there were pride flags, lesbian flags, non-binary flags, trans flags, and bisexual flags. However, I didn’t see any asexual flags. 

I first discovered the term “asexuality” in high school. Throughout those formative years, I thought something was wrong with me. Unlike the other girls who were head over heels for the boys at the private school down the street, I did not care one bit. I didn’t even like the girls at my school in that way. I’ve heard the “oh, you will find a nice boy when you get older” and “high school boys are immature—you’re not missing out on much.” I always wondered why people cared so much that I wasn’t interested.

While those words of affirmation temporarily alleviated some of my anxiety, I knew deep down that this wasn’t just about not finding the “right guy.” I’ve never had an interest in sex or experienced sexual attraction. I don’t think that was going to change. 

The fact that I didn’t experience sexual attraction didn’t personally bother me, but I felt ashamed by society. I couldn’t watch movies with sex scenes or even talk with my peers because I couldn’t comprehend how most people were interested in it. No judgment, but it’s just a whole different world than I’m used to and even capable of understanding. 

The fact that I didn’t experience sexual attraction didn’t personally bother me, but I felt ashamed by society.

Since I couldn’t relate to the sexual desires of most people, I was isolated from most of the dating world. This was most prominent on dating apps, where I’d get matches that were far and few between. If I happened to get a match, they would gloss over the asexual part like it wasn’t even there. Maybe they didn’t know what it meant, but I don’t feel like that’s a valid excuse in the age of Google.

Regardless, I thought it was important to let my matches know I was asexual and my expectations in a relationship. In most cases, I told them, and the conversations went something like, “oh, you just haven’t met me yet” or “I’ll change your mind.” 

Those are pretty standard responses, so I can’t get mad at them because they typically stem from ignorance of asexual identity. I can’t expect people to know about asexuality in a world where we are rarely represented. However, I’ve been lucky enough to have a supportive group of people around me who support and understand my asexual identity. Still, every once in a while, especially during Pride Month, more people question the validity of asexuality.

The logic behind this comes from the fact that asexuality doesn’t refer to whom people are sexually attracted. With this line of thinking, then I’d think it would mean that transgender individuals also shouldn’t be included because that term refers to gender identity and not sexuality. 

This is the phrase I hear most often: “Asexuality shouldn’t be considered as part of the community.” 

For a while, I thought they were right. Since I don’t experience sexual attraction, I probably shouldn’t be part of the community. 

However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that’s a bunch of malarkey. I think anyone who faces discrimination and scrutiny for being who they are should be part of the community—asexual individuals, transgender people, etc. 

Yes, I don’t experience sexual attraction, but that in and of itself is my sexual orientation. I identify as a homoromantic asexual woman. If you don’t know what that means, let me explain. For me, it means I’m romantically attracted to women. To the passerby, if I were holding my partner’s hand, it would look like I was a lesbian because you can’t tell if someone is asexual by looking at them, and it isn’t the status quo. 

Since that’s the case, I still experience the same discrimination and microaggressions of those in a sexual relationship. 

For the most part, a majority of the LGBTQIA+ community prides itself on being “inclusive” and welcoming new people with “open arms.” However, for asexual people, it doesn’t always feel like that. I can only imagine what it must feel like for asexual people in heteroromantic relationships. 

I’ll never forget my first Pride parade. I was dressed to the nines in my rainbow apparel with hints of purple, white, and black (the colors of the ace pride flag). Several people along the route asked me what those colors meant in reference to the ace flag. I told them it represented the colors of the asexual flag, but I was met with some eye rolls and disbelief. 

Yes, I don’t experience sexual attraction, but that in and of itself is my sexual orientation.

I smiled and continued walking with my head up high. Just because it wasn’t part of their definition of LGBTQ+ doesn’t make it any less a part of mine. It’s probably worth mentioning that since I’ve been in mostly same-sex romantic relationships, I also identify as gay.

I can see how that’s a bit more controversial, but it’s a lot easier to explain to straight folks that I’m not straight rather than saying, “I’m homoromantic asexual,” and have them look at me like I have four heads. Instead, if I say I’m gay, they aren’t surprised when they see me holding hands with a woman because that’s sure how it looks. 

The fact that I even thought about how I would explain my identity to straight people for so many years still bothers me. I went out of my way to make who I am more digestible for those people who never had to think twice about holding their partner’s hand in public or worrying if their rights to marriage equality would be revoked. 

For the first time this Pride, I stand loud and proud with my fellow LGBTQIA+ community members because I belong there. Asexuality and my orientation are valid whether or not other people agree. I owe it to myself to celebrate my identity because it definitely hasn’t been easy to come to terms with, especially in a world that ignores your existence. 

By Casey Clark
Casey Clark is a NYC-based contributing writer for Verywell Mind who covers mental health topics such as anxiety, depression, PMDD, and trichotillomania.