AA: ace or just a virgin

LTea wrote in:

So, I’ve considered myself an Ace (Hetero-romantic, but still Ace) And I’ve been stuck in a feeling of uncertainty. Basically, I’m still young and a virgin, and while I’m perfectly fine with that, and I don’t particularly want to think of sex (for obvious reasons) when considering a relationship, My friends seem to see this as an excuse for… I guess, not believing me. It’s somewhat ironic, actually, as they all associate to gay, bi, pan etc. I used to be the token straight friend, until I realized I wasn’t. For people who constantly pride themselves on accepting people, I can’t help feeling like nobody believes me. When I tell my family, when the topic comes up or I’m feeling uncomfortable in a conversation, or even when I came out to them, they always just go quiet and move on. My family are very classic people, so I can understand that as a response, but my friends aren’t, and they reply in a similar way. They ask questions now and then, but only when we are being serious, and even then it’s “would you have sex if…?” and “But what about…?”. Most of the time, when they’re just being normal, they’re constantly making me awkward by using ridiculous sex jokes (I get the odd one here and there, but seriously, it’s only so funny.) and they’re constantly trying to get me to say I’m gay. People already see me as a lesbian figure, because I’m rarely showing interest in people, and I’m a tomboy, and I’m independent, yada yada. I did my research, and I like to think I’m ace, because that’s what I mostly relate to, but with almost everyone acting like I’m just not experienced or making stuff up for attention, even I can’t tell if I’m being honest or not. I don’t know anyone else who is ace, and I don’t talk to any ace communities (I’m an introvert, and in a very backwards area) So I’m kind of stuck. Am I Ace, or am I just a virgin?

I want to answer this one in parts, if you don’t mind.

At the first level, there’s the question itself. Are you ace? …And that’s a question that I cannot answer for you. I subscribe to the philosophy that when it comes to sexual orientation, it’s not anyone’s place to tell another person what they “are” or should identify as, and I mostly try to abide by that nowadays. It’s truly important that your choice of identity label — regardless of how much it’s informed by what you’ve learned through others — should come from you, grounded in your own introspection and your own self-authority. Anyone who talks to you like your label needs to be granted from someone else’s authority can buzz off, okay? It’s important that you know that. But if I stopped there, this answer would feel incomplete.

At the second level, there’s the information accompanying the question that tells me how you’ve already answered. You already consider yourself ace. You like to think you’re ace. That’s what you mostly relate to. That’s all, already, in your own words — not me making extrapolations. It’s clear here that you already know your answer. If that’s what you want to call yourself, then that’s what you call yourself. It’s nobody’s business to tell you otherwise. Frankly, the ace community is supposed to recognize as ace anyone who recognizes themselves as ace. But if I stopped there, this answer would feel incomplete.

At the third level, there’s the situation you’re in that’s prompted you to come and send me this. The people you call friends aren’t respecting your authority over your own self-labeling.* And they frequently (whether accidentally or deliberately) are making you uncomfortable. From what you’ve described, it sounds like this is a situation where you don’t feel welcome to speak up to stop it. Here’s what I will tell you: These are not the behaviors of people who care about your well being. This is not the kind of environment created by people who care about your well being.

*because you’re young (which, logically, all aces start out as — it’s not like there are aces who merely spawn as old people who have, somehow, paradoxically, always existed; everyone is young at some point) and because you’re personally sexually inexperienced (which is a state many aces are content to remain in — it’s not like there’s some kind of sexual Initiation Rite before you’re allowed to identify as ace, and it’s not like people can’t recognize who they’re sexually attracted to *before* they try out sex with other people) and because they suspect you’re gay (which, even if you were or turned out to be, doesn’t necessarily cancel out being ace — there are people who are both ace and gay, just like there are people who are both ace and heteroromantic; it’s not like there’s one “right” way to be gay and other ways to be gay are a problem).

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer I can offer you, but since you have internet (I’m assuming, since you sent this), I recommend looking for the ace corners of whatever parts of the internet you frequent — whether that’s Facebook, or Twitter, or Tumblr, or WordPress, or wherever. In-person interaction may feel more meaningful, I get that, but it’s still a way to get connected to the ace community, if that’s something you want in your life.

At the– well, let’s stop numbering these. Time for links! You might want to check out these, if you haven’t already: Queenie’s ace validation linkspam, Queenie’s analysis of the “you might not be asexual forever” disclaimer, the Carnival of Aces on teenagers, and the Carnival of Aces on age. Also, fun fact — as far as we know, the average age where people first experience sexual attraction is age ten.

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