If you follow me on Instagram (@philanthropicbookace), we’re Facebook friends or if we know each other in real life, it should come as no surprise why I am writing about being Ace in Canada. Because SURPRISE – the A in LGBTQIA does not in fact stand for Ally, it stands for Asexuality. Allies are still welcome, absolutely! And for those also wonder – I use the she/her/elle pronouns :).
So, what is it like to actually be Ace in Canada, and as a person with a decent-enough-in-some-circles profile?
It’s tough, I’m not going to lie. Why? Because it’s such a “new” concept in our society that people are in fact Ace, that it’s a hard concept for people to wrap their heads around. I’ve opened up to some people about what it means to me (using the lines of “see that person over there? My mind doesn’t register that they are attractive or anything like that”), but it is an awkward conversation if they don’t/won’t understand. I struggled for a very long time after my relationships ended because I thought that there was something deep-seedily wrong with me and that I wasn’t loveable or worthy. That used to bother me quite a bit, as I saw everyone around me pairing off, and the only inclination I had was “I wish I had someone there for me to talk to and get to know better, but I don’t even think anyone finds me attractive”. That bothered me a lot then, and still semi does.
It was March/April 2020, and I hit my breaking point. I felt so alone and dark, that I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew that there had to be other people out there like me. So, I reached out to my old friend “Google” and typed in some words that I don’t remember now. Then, I saw the term “asexuality” and read the definition. It clicked. That was the word I was looking for and the missing piece in my puzzle. I did some more research, got even more reassured, had a few meltdowns about this life-altering revelation, and then called my Mum to tell her.
“Sexual attraction is a type of attraction to another person that involves a sexual interest towards them. While this type of attraction is a normal part of life for many people, this concept can be completely foreign for people who identify as asexual. Asexuality is a sexual orientation where a person experiences little to no sexual attraction to anyone and/or does not experience desire for sexual contact. Like any other sexual orientation, asexuality isn’t a choice. Unlike abstinence and celibacy, which are both choices to avoid sex, asexuality is an innate part of who someone is.”
Most are cool and accepting, and some have even said “I thought I was the only one I know! (which made me cry because I thought I was the only one I knew too). My Mum’s and twin brother’s reactions were the best – “Are you happy? Yes? Then that’s what matters. I still love you”. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist. I’ve also ran into a tonne of haters/people who say that they understand, but actually thanks to their own prejudices, don’t/won’t understand. To be honest, they are people that I thought never would act like that towards me. I knew I’d get some blowback from coming out of the closet (unfortunate in 2021 Canada), but not from people I trusted. Thankfully, I also have friends that said “we want names” when I mentioned the reaction of some people and was pretty much breaking down on a Zoom call out of relief and fear.
I admit, I am still terrified some days of the fallout from coming out and the fact that I don’t hide it anymore. It’s a part of my identity as much as my glasses are. I’m also liberated by that fear, because I know that every time I, as a woman with a platform and in a key leadership position that works with youth, speaks up, our voice gets louder. I wore a damn Rainbow bracelet for the last week of Pride month just because I noticed that I didn’t see a heck of a lot of them this year in my explorations around my community and I had been seeing so much about corporations celebrating Pride as a gimmick. I wanted to know that there was at least some visibility out there. I’m also not going to lie, every time I wear that bracelet out, I fear that I will get jumped or have an insult thrown at me. I think this every time I post about being an Ace woman in Canada too.
Going back to the liberation and “I know that I have a voice” point. In one of my jobs, I work closely with one of the most vulnerable populations, teens. Young men and women who are dedicated to bettering themselves and at the same time figuring out who they are and their places in this world. I’ve always been open about the fact that I have theirs and the other adults’ backs when it comes to figuring stuff out, and I know for a fact that some are watching my every move/emulating me. For me, that comes with setting the example and living authentically. If I can be publicly true about who I am and live authentically despite my fears, they’ll see that it’s OK and acceptable to be themselves too. In my other job, that’s going to take more work for it to feel like a safer space, but I’m willing to work at it with the team.
I need help raising the profile of Aces in Canada, because there are about 365,000 of us, and we deserve to have our voices heard.
I’m looking to connect with Canadian Ace business people, community builders and/or entrepreneurs for the My Day interview series. Even if you’re none of these, and still want to participate & tell your story, the more the merrier! There are no questions about sexuality, nor do you have to disclose it unless you want to. Privacy is key, and I respect you all completely as fellow humans.
I hope that by me telling a little bit about my story has helped you. This is absolutely a safe space and you are free to be you any time we interact.