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Blossoming into (A)Sexuality: Opinion Piece

WRITTEN BY Izzy Alexander

All I can remember from the astonishingly clinical sex ed class I took as a child was how unappealing the entire ordeal sounded. Granted, I was eleven, and the purpose of the class was to terrify children to convince them of abstinence’s great benefits, so I didn’t think much of my general distaste for sex until much later, when my friends began expressing genuine interest in physical relationships and I found myself, bafflingly, still firmly opposed to this seemingly universal experience. 

I share a childhood of confusion surrounding sexuality with millions of people across the world, including fellow UT freshman Alex Stone. When we talked about identity and sexuality, Stone and I found we shared several formative moments, questioning our friends’ experiences, feeling as though sexual attraction was an inside joke we’d been left out of. Stone even admitted to me that they felt sex was more a chore than pleasure. When he discovered the term asexual — meaning, at its most broad, a lack of sexual attraction to others — Stone says they remember feeling more panicked than before; “[I remember] I was like ‘oh, that’s kind of me, but that’s not what I was told — I’m not supposed to be this way’.” 

Growing up in a predominantly and devoutly sexual world, there’s a sense of ill-fated doom that wrongly accompanies asexuality — growing up, I felt bitterly wrong and misunderstood for my identity. It was impossible to not feel some sort of imposter syndrome when the desire for physical intimacy and sex pervades classical literature, art from every century and modern media. A lack of understanding or empathy for asexuality made growing into my identity harder. 

But ultimately, as Stone stresses, “There’s nothing wrong with being asexual.” Asexuality doesn’t make you broken or wrong. Estimates suggest that over seven million people in the world identify on the asexual spectrum, with a variety of different experiences and relationships with sex and sexual attraction and sexuality. Though my understanding and relationship with sexuality may look different from the majority of the world, it’s no less valid.

Asexuality, as an aspect of my identity, has always struck me as something I grew into, just as so many people around me congruently bloomed into sexuality. And that age-old metaphor of flowers representing sexuality — furthered through artists like Georgia O’Keefe, famous for her zoomed-in portraits of flowers that resembled labia majora, or dictionaries of flower symbolism — still applies. As you grow, you blossom into sex and sexuality. I was no exception, and neither are the other millions of asexual people in the world.