We will be sharing some stories from our volunteers about their life experiences as LGBT+ people. Next up is Erin’s Story:
Hello! My name is Erin, I have she/her pronouns and identify as asexual. I have just finished my final year in molecular biology at the University of Sheffield.
Discovering my sexuality has taken a long time. I first realised something was a bit different towards the end of secondary school when my peers started getting boyfriends and girlfriends and I was completely uninterested. My friends would ask who my crush was, and when I said I didn’t have one, they thought I was hiding my crush from them. But I didn’t, and still don’t, feel any sexual attraction to other people. However, there is more to relationships and attraction than sex. Many asexual people experience romantic attraction – I am biromantic. However, others are aromantic and don’t feel romantic attraction.
I used to think there was something wrong with me. I am autistic and believe that this also separated me from my peers. At university I managed to find a group of friends who are very accepting and ask me lots of questions about asexuality and how this changes my view of the world. From my point of view, the world is obsessed with sex. Unfortunately, both mainstream media and the LGBT+ community is very sexualised, and because of this I (and many other asexual people) have felt alienated from the LGBT+ community. Some people do not accept asexual people in LGBT+ spaces and this can be quite upsetting.
I find it hard to be proud of my sexuality because it’s more a lack of sexual identity and I find that hard to connect with. However, I am very keen to help educate the LGBT+ community and wider public about asexuality. There are many assumptions about asexual people, including that we are all sex-repulsed, we don’t want a relationship, we reproduce like plants, or we haven’t found the ‘right person’ yet (all of which have been directed at me at some time or another). I also hope that I might be able to help a young person out there who might think there is something wrong with them, until they learn more about asexuality.
I am a great proponent of fluid sexuality, and the idea that a change in my sexuality would not invalidate the one I currently identify with. A good example of this is that I may grow to become sexually attracted to someone, especially if I am close to them and romantically attracted (this is known as demisexual or grey ace).
My advice for young people who might think they are asexual is this: you may feel you might be a late bloomer (I did). This might be the case, or you might be asexual – both options are okay. My advice is to listen to yourself and not feel forced into doing anything you’re not comfortable with. I feel quite naïve and childish when my friends around me are in relationships, having sex and ‘pulling’ on nights out. But my true friends embrace and appreciate this side of me.
The best thing about being asexual is that the part of the brain I imagine is dedicated to negotiating relationships, crushes and sexual attraction in other people is free in mine. Whilst some of this brain matter is involved in scientific research (my passion and future career goal), quite a large chunk is dedicated to my platonic relationships. I have a few really close friends who I can talk to about anything. I don’t feel like I am missing anything in my life currently – this may change in the future, and that’s perfectly okay.