So, June is Pride month.
And I want to be proud.
Homophobes, hide your eyes– a queer person is in your face, and she’s not going anywhere.
I had my first girlfriend, and effectively ‘came out of the closet’ when I was 15. I approached telling my parents in the same way that I would tell them I had a boyfriend. When my mum asked me what this meant, I told her that it meant I had a girlfriend and we– for the most part– left it at that.
I am, from the stories I’ve heard from my friends and from the internet, one of the lucky ones.
My first girlfriend never came out of the closet– and I could do a whole blog post on how that’s affected me as a person, and how it’s affected me in my following relationships, but I don’t want to throw all of that in her face. She’s a lovely person and deserves great things, despite the way she’s treated me.
I’m also lucky because I never really faced any horrible backlash for coming out. My parents were fine with it– perhaps slightly confused, because it’s not something that’s prominent in our lives, but three years on and it’s just a thing. I still wonder, sometimes, what my mum thinks of it– if she does at all– and I know that I’m lucky, but I’ll never forget how it felt to have to ask if she still loved me.
When I came out, I only told my mum and dad– that was all I thought needed to know. Sometimes with colleagues and friend’s, I’ll drop it into the conversation, but I feel as though I never quite emphasise what a big part of me it is. I know that I am more than just my sexuality– I am more than being panromantic and asexual, but God I just want to scream it from the rooftops so that people know I’m different.
I’m different, and I’m proud.
I haven’t always been, though.
University, if I haven’t mentioned it yet, is hard.
I can handle the lectures and the workload, but it’s the socializing that really tested me. No, I’ll be more specific. It’s the sex that tested me. Because sex is everywhere at university. Coming from an all-girls school, no one cared if you were sleeping with anyone or who it was with.
At University, hooking up can be a given stage of a night out, getting drunk and going on tinder just means sexual partners are now on speed-dial at all hours of the day. Sex is present in my friend and her boyfriend, and my friend and his girlfriend, it’s even there in my lecturers– because of course every reimagining of a fairy tale needs to involve erotica in order to be seen as ‘adult’ (I’m looking at you, Angela Carter).
But you know where sex isn’t? It isn’t in me.
So when I got a boyfriend (and I’m sorry in advance, for when you read this), it wasn’t quite the sunshine and rainbows I was expecting. I was over the moon to have someone who actually liked me, and I think is kissing is one of the best things in the universe. But anything after that is where all my biggest regrets lie.
I’m sorry to admit this, because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I regret every second spent where someone has seen me naked. Memories of people touching me are more like nightmares and it feels… violating. I don’t want to hurt you, but I’ve been bottling this up for months.
So I did the decent thing, when I realised that this wasn’t working for me, I broke up with him. When he jumped into bed with another one of our friends a week later… Fuck. I had never felt more broken in my life. I know that I was the one to break up with him, but I had done it because I knew I couldn’t give him what he wanted, and when he immediately fell into the girl who would and could give it to him… I wondered if it was wrong that I wasn’t more like her.
I wondered if I was broken.
I’m not broken, and I have to tell myself that at least once a day. There’s nothing wrong with being asexual, just as there’s nothing wrong with being promiscuous. I’m genuinely happy that they’re now a couple because they both seem happy together. I’m glad that my ex-boyfriend can be with someone who can be with him properly and fully without any doubts or insecurities.
Now, as the first year comes to an end, I’m now having to deal with what it means to be panromantic and asexual. Flirting is so impossibly difficult because, in my head, I feel as though I’m leading people on. If I try and flirt with someone, I just wish I could tell them that they’re only going to be disappointed. It’s especially prominent with guys since it’s been drilled into me from a young age that boys only care about sex, and all my experience does seem to lead me into believing that.
Sorry, future dating prospects, for that moment where I’ll ultimately disappoint you. I promise it’s nothing person.
But here I am, out of the closet for the second time in the most public way imaginable.
My name is Phoebe Hedges, and I’m panromantic and asexual, and I’m proud.
picture copyright © of pride flags on deviantart a dictionary of terms can be found here if anyone wants to read up on their sexual and romantic orientations!