by Kazul Wolf
We all know that representation matters. This is a blog on diversity, I mean, it goes without saying. Asexual representation, however, is a tricky thing.
Growing up ace but completely ignorant of what asexuality is wasn’t a fun experience, as most asexuals would know. I was never into the things that other girls liked, but not in the I’m-better-than-them nonsense sorta way, I just didn’t get it. Why did the princesses always want princes when they could have DRAGONS? So I never got into Disney, I avoided anything that was pink or frilly because I knew what that entailed. Luckily I had a gang of friends that stood by me and my obsession with fantasy, video games and the weird books I dug out of the library.
At least until puberty hit. Oh yeah did that sucker hit me too, but not like them. While my interests flipped around a lot, how I perceived other people didn’t change like everyone else. At fourteen, I confessed as much to my best friend at the time, and he suggested I might be asexual. I was confused. I’d never heard it before. After searching Google for a bit, I found the Wiki article on it and I scoffed. I’m not that, I said. I’m not broken.
It took me seven years to come to figure out that I was an ace. Seven years of wondering why I wasn’t attracted to people like others were. That, yeah, I would develop feelings after getting to know someone, but I still didn’t want to have sex with anyone. It fed my depression and anxiety to dangerous places. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be like literally everyone else I knew, everything I’d ever known? Then, finally, I remembered that Wiki article that had scared me so much.
I cried for about a day. I was broken. Since I was born, I’d been broken. In everything I’ve read, everything I’ve watched, everybody kissed and wanted to kiss, everybody had sex and, boy, in some instances seemed like they never thought about anything else. What could I be besides broken? There was nothing to make it okay for a long time. I confessed to my mom how I felt, and she confirmed it: I was broken. “It will get better, you’ll meet the right person.” But she didn’t understand, it never changed. No matter who I met, even I might find them pretty, there was never that attraction. I wondered if I was born without the right hormones, or my brain was defective.
So, naturally the internet was where I next went. But most queer communities weren’t welcoming to who I was, and neither were the straight communities. It took a lot of searching for me to finally stumble across a few Tumblr blogs for aces. And I found out I wasn’t alone. I discovered I wasn’t broken — and even if I was broken in some way, it was completely okay.
I could want nothing to do with any kind of partner, I could only want romance with the “opposite” sex, the “same” sex, I could be only sometimes romantically attracted to people, and sometimes occasionally sexually attracted to people, and it was all okay. Maybe I was only asexual after a trauma, maybe I was born this way. It didn’t matter that my mom refused to accept that I wasn’t broken, that I’d had friends drop me because they thought I was too dramatic, making it up because I wanted to be special. Because here was proof that I wasn’t alone.
So now, with a few more years under my belt between now and then, I can’t help think: what if little-me, the me that loved dragons and video games and books with her whole heart, had found a book where the leading female didn’t have to end up with anyone. Where she maybe even just had a partner that meant something special to her, or at least that she didn’t have to kiss or feel a burning desire from. Maybe, if I had had the word asexual in my vocabulary before I was fourteen, I might not have been so utterly devastated at being 1% of the population. My depression and anxiety might not have eaten at me over who I was for so long. There might have even been a place for me to go without having to dig for shelter.
Which is why it’s so frustrating to want desperately to write an ace character, to represent what I needed so, so badly as a child, and hear it deemed as unsellable. Even if all of my books have emotional relationships, it’s not enough. I’ve had published authors tell me how no editor will look at my book unless there’s more chemistry, there’s more hormones. It doesn’t matter if I say that’s the point; it doesn’t matter that representation could mean something to someone; it doesn’t matter that suicide among asexual youths is alarmingly high and knowing they aren’t alone might save them.
I know it’s an industry. I know people need to make money, support lives and families. But it is my life’s goal to bring this representation to the table. Because livelihood is important, but so are lives. I never understood representation until I held a book with an ace side character in my hands and couldn’t stop the tears. I knew this could have saved me so much hardship, so many close calls. It could save others. But it’s still nearly non-existent in any sort of media.
So maybe we aren’t “queer enough” for safe queer places, and maybe we aren’t “straight enough” to be safe among hetero spaces either. I know that aces don’t experience the same hardships as other identities do, that our pain may seem small to others. But we need a safe place too. That’s why brick by damned brick, I’m going to help build it. And I dare you to add a brick to that wall, too.
Kazul Wolf (aka Bacon) is a fantasy author, leegndrary typoer, chef of all trades, and a dragon that prefers capturing cats and dogs as opposed to princesses. You can find her at her website, Twitter, Tumblr, or on Facebook.