Riley Speaks

"all i have is a voice" ~ w.h. auden


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LGBTQ+ – But not asexual folk!

This just in, the “plus” of the LGBTQ+ no longer stands for “in addition to” but is now on par with a full stop. Only lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and queer are in. The rest, are out.

I’ve been relatively quiet on this issue for a while. It’s always eaten at me though. I’ve seen numerous people say that asexual people do not belong within the LGBTQ+ community. More importantly, straight asexuals do not belong. They can “pass as straight” and therefore do not know the struggles.  Anyone is straight passing if they want to be – if you hide enough of who you are. 

Do asexual people face the same trials of gay and lesbian folk? No. Do they face discrimination and hate? Are they forced to change who they are because of outside sources (parents, boy/girlfriends, media etc)? While I do see gays and lesbians getting more hate and verbal/physical abuse, it does not erase the pain asexual people face. Growing up, I never thought there was anything wrong with me liking girls. I had never seen it to be an issue. But I knew there was something wrong with me when I didn’t like or want sex. I knew I was different. I felt like an outcast. All my friends would talk about sex and I just wanted to vomit. It never showed and there was no way to have known, but I was in pain. I felt like I was a broken version of a human. Like I missed the puberty train – the puberty train that gave me the need and desire for sex. It’s the same pain of other members of the LGBTQ+ community, the feeling of exclusion among society. The questioning of being wrong, or having the wrong brain functions. 

Asexual people face “conversion” therapy too. They’re forced into sex in an attempt to have them like it. As if being forced to have sex will make you want it – if it were even a choice. But just like being gay and being a lesbian and being bi, being asexual is not a choice. 

I remember a friend saying “well you can’t have a relationship without sex”, and my whole world shattered. I had just gotten comfortable with the thought that it would take me a lot longer to find my someone because I had to take sex out of the equation. But now I was being told it would always be in the equation. That if I were to ever have a relationship, to ever have any chance of comfort and companionship, I would have to force myself to have sex. It is no different than a gay man having to be in a straight relationship. A lesbian in a relationship with a man. It’s forcing what is not right, what is not me. 

I spent so much of my teen years trying to fit in. Trying to change myself to be what everyone said was “normal”. I would get high and get drunk just to even cope with the idea of having sex. When you compare the internal struggles of an asexual to the internal struggles of a gay/lesbian person, they’re not that different. If we take out street abuse, and slurs shouted on the sidewalk, etc. Then it’s the same. Asexual people are forced into having sex – not from themselves – but from their partners. I knew someone who was forced to have sex with their boyfriend every time. They cried each time. They didn’t want it. And it took a long time to realise this is rape. Asexual people are often raped when in their relationship. They say no, they say they don’t want it. And they’re told “oh no but everyone wants sex”, “it’s what people do in a relationship”. They’re excuses. Excuses used to justify rape. 

And to top it off, lesbian and gay folk are “allowed” in the place of sanctuary. They are allowed in queer bars, and queer groups. They are allowed to be there and be queer. But even people from the LGBTQ+ community exclude ace people. You may think I don’t have the whole totality of it. But I do. I am a girl, attracted to girls. I’m gay. And so I do know discrimination for liking my own sex. I know how it feels when someone yells “gay” in a not so nice way. But it was always okay. It was always okay because I knew that there were others like me out there. I knew there were boys that liked boys, and girls that liked girls. I knew I wasn’t alone. And this was in 2012, when gay rights were on the rise. When same sex marriage was becoming legal in more and more countries. I knew it was okay. But not wanting to have sex? Not wanting to even “french kiss”? That made me terrified. I didn’t know I wasn’t alone. As far as I knew at that moment, I was alone. I genuinely thought something was wrong with me. When I found out that it was in fact something real and not a malfunction in my genetics (yet another), it was like a weight have been lifted off my shoulders. I had never experienced this weight with being gay, it never felt heavy to like other girls. But it felt like I would be crushed to death with the weight of not wanting to have sex. 

I know there are people who won’t even read this in it’s entirety but will comment about how ace people are not truly part of the LGBTQ+ community. How they “don’t belong here”. Funny how people were saying that about gay, lesbian, and bi folk way back when. But then people grew. They made their own group. They united together. But now they are deciding who can sit with them.  Only the cool kids that are socially acceptable are allowed. No ace, no agender, no fun. If society isn’t on the up with it, then neither is the LGBTQ+ community. Asexual people are valid and they have a right to be apart of the community. It’s a place for inclusion and acceptance. A place and community to be who you are despite what society says you should. A place to like who you like, in the way you like (excl. abuse), with no judgement. No. Judgement. 

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Pride – Coming out and coming to terms…

Same-Sex Attraction:

You always hear stories about how “I knew when I was young”, “I knew that I was different” and maybe that’s true. But for the longest time I didn’t really think it was any different. I thought everyone felt that way. None of my friends thought boys were cute – ew cooties! – and so I just assumed it was the same for them as it was for me. Looking back all the pieces of the puzzle fit, but at the time it felt like they were all from eight different puzzles and no pieces matched.

I would see boys and think nothing of them. Nothing happened. I could tell you if a boy was hot or if they were cute but that was it. I had no desire to want to be with them. It terrified me to think I would have to spend the rest of my life with a man. To have to live day in day out, until I died with someone I didn’t care for like that. But that was “the way that it goes” and so I thought I had to suck it up. Until I was 15, I didn’t really have much idea about same sex relationships. I think I knew that they existed, but I can’t actually confirm that. I don’t remember thinking “oh two girls can be a couple” or “two boys can be a couple” – I think that was some good ole institutionalised heterosexual madness going on. Boys were with girls, and girls were with boys. It wasn’t until high school that I realised it didn’t have to be that way. I was lucky enough to go to a very diverse school. People would tell you it’s a crap school, and while it doesn’t offer a lot of additional subjects, it was a lot better than other schools in my town. I remember seeing my first same sex couple. They were walking around like nothing mattered. I remember thinking that it didn’t have to be the way they say it goes. I didn’t have to marry a man, not if I didn’t want to.

My first girlfriend was a…lets call it lesson. I used her to prove I was attracted to girls, I used her for my own personal security, and she used me too. We were toxic and a horrible combination. For a while I thought that it was because I didn’t like girls, because I was a liar. Turns out I just didn’t like her. And that doesn’t make me straight. It took a lot to realise that. I thought if I didn’t like every single girl then I was straight. But hetero people don’t like every single member of the opposite sex so why should I be held to that standard?

Non-sexual Desires:

Sexuality and different means of attraction should be taught in schools. Unlike being gay, I did think I was different. I knew from the start. From when I learned what sex was and that people “had” to do it to love each other. I tried so hard to fit in that way. I wanted to enjoy sex. But every time I even thought about it, it made me vomit. It disgusted me. I could never do it sober. Always drunk/other. The feeling, the sound, all of it. I knew something was wrong. All my friends were in love with the idea of it. They wanted it more and more and more. When I had my first french kiss, all I could think about was how disgusting it was. I felt like such a prude. No one else felt like this. The first time I ever heard the term “asexual” I had no idea what it was. I looked it up and I could have cried. It was me. I wasn’t as alone as I believed. I was so mad that I had to learn about it from the internet. Someone should have told us about it in sex-ed. I spent so long thinking I was wrong. That I had been messed up in the womb that I didn’t like sex. I thought I would have to add it to my list of “ways I’m screwed up”. But I don’t. It doesn’t mean I’m screwed up, it doesn’t mean anything. It just means I don’t like sex. And that’s okay. At least I know the person I will end up with won’t like me just for the sex.

I think the difference between being gay and being asexual was that when I was little, I was naive. But when I was at high school – when everyone started having sex – I was more aware of others. I could see that they were not like me, that I was not like them. I knew I was different because I was more aware. I was not young and naive, I was old and wise (as much as a 15 year old is).

Gender identity:

This one I knew. From the moment my body started changing. Until then nothing much was different. I could have been a boy, I could have been a girl. I could have been neither. When I started growing boobs, and I was an early bloomer, I cried. It meant I was a woman. It meant that was it. I had to be a woman. I watched a documentary on transgender people, I thought “maybe that’s what this is, maybe I’m transgender”. I didn’t want to be a woman so maybe I was a man…but that wasn’t it either. I was 17 when I learned what the term agender meant. 17. I thought it was just people who were both man and woman. Non-binary. I thought that you had to be one or the other or both. I had no idea you could be neither. But I can. And I am. I call myself her and she, but I am not a woman. Don’t call me that. I’m me. I’m Riley.

When I envision my future, I have a wife, we have a kid, and we are happy. We live on a farm – that’s not too close to town, but close enough. She protects me from all that scares me, and I try to do the same for her. We love each other so much and we are so happy. She doesn’t force me to have sex, she doesn’t care for it so much either. She doesn’t call me a woman, because I’m just Riley. And we have family game night, and couples game night, and we go out to dinner, and we go out to places. I finally see my future relationship as happy. I realise it doesn’t have to be the way I was made to think it did. I don’t have to be unhappily married to a man who makes me have sex. It doesn’t have to be like that at all. I can be happy. I can have my happy ever after, after all.