Would you like to introduce and identify yourself?
I’m Hannah Whittock, a third year Politics and International Relations student. I am a homo-romantic asexual but I usually I just say that I am a lesbian because I am attracted to women.
How did you come to the realisation of who you are?
Through relationships. So I grew up thinking that I needed a boyfriend and to get married. I've had boyfriends, quite a few and I could not find anyone I could connect to. This was from primary to secondary. I even had a problematic relationship with a guy who was 17 and I was only 14 who wanted to take things sexually. So in secondary school, I was getting to the age where it was expected that I should be having sex and I had a boyfriend for 6 months and I felt physically ill when he touched me. I don’t think it was his fault but when he did touch me, I would breathe in and hope his mum came home. When I tried to touch him, I just felt pure disgust or nothing. But I felt I was supposed to be used to this, my first kiss was in year 2. I was introduced to sexual and romantic boundaries at a very young age.
As I got older, I tried to be sexy and have sexual desire because that is what society wanted me to be. I got my first girlfriend because I thought if I do not really like men maybe I am into women. Had my first girlfriend but I still felt uncomfortable. It was a constant feeling of what is wrong with me. I hated myself. I am still with her to this day and I still love her like someone tried to hurt once and I threw a shoe at her. That kind of love. But it felt like a marathon, like I needed to get to some finishing line and block everything out, I hate this. But then I had a conversation with her and said look I don’t want to do that but I still love you. She did not understand and she still does not fully understand to this day. It is a weird disconnect and I do feel terrible for doing that, even though I know that it is not my fault. It is a big problem because everyone says sex is love and love is sex. You see that everywhere and you feel so alienated. Even with the LGBT community, you don’t see any asexuals, a lack of representation. Asexuality is often seen as an illness to be cured by real, true love in the media like in the TV show, House. Straight people said the same things to lesbians, gay people and bisexual people and everyone in the community. It still continues and it is frustrating. In relationships, you feel terrible as the other person in the relationship who wants to feel like they are sexually attractive. I just don’t feel lust. I do though make compromises in my relationship because I love my girlfriend and want to make her happy.
So you have had to remove boundaries for yourself for others then?
I don’t resent her for that because I understand where she is coming from. By talking to her, I understand that it is an integral part of many people’s lives and that I am an outlier for not understanding it. It is complex and I don’t think anyone should be demonised for it. It is weird.
So you came out to your girlfriend, was there anyone else you had to come out to?
I came out to my mum as gay in the car and she said that I have been trying to ask you for months and I was like yeah. Great, get out of the car. And she later told my dad. But the first person I told was my brother when I was 16 and I told him that after my last ex-boyfriend, that I was done with guys. Another friend knows but does not understand. I don’t feel anyone can truly understand it really, a friend of mine for 8 years still asks me questions all the time. I get this all the time, what is it? How does it work? No one understands it.
So like my other interviewee, you have to struggle with people constantly asking who and what you are?
It has gotten to the point where I have to just recommend a Youtube video playlist that I have created. Watch this because I am so tired...all these questions. What helped me was the AVN network which is for the aromantic and asexual community. There are so many people in this community, an entire spectrum for aromantic and asexual people, demisexual, aromantic. So many identities that people do not know about.
So how do you navigate university life as an asexual person?
I have made myself comfortable in a relationship but if I was not I think it would make my life tough. Because of the daily culture, with things like tinder telling you where your daily hookups are, it is very difficult. I would rather just have a coffee and talk for hours, my feelings have to be built up over time. There is no love at first sight feelings for me or the cannot get your hands off her period for me. There is a joke in the asexual community, that you would have cake than sex. I have only known my girlfriend for 5 years and we only started dating when I was 18 years old. It takes time.
In what ways have you connected to the asexual community?
So there is the online community like on AVN, where you go on the forums and laugh because everyone gets you. There is an ace community called ace space but i have not really interacted with it. I got the impression of Pride Soc that it is just a place where people find people to date. That is not for me.
Have you seen any positive representation of asexual people?
It is quite niche but there is a Youtuber called Maiden of the Eventide, that is her stage name. She is an author and she is asexual and biromantic. She has this book which is really good and called The Company of Death and she has put biromantic and ace characters in the book. It has zombies, a female robot and vampires, it is great! There was a character in Shadowhunters called Rafael and when a character called Izzy tries to ask him to have sex with her, he says that is not the thing for me. But that is it, that is all he gets. There has been a lack of demisexual and aromantic characters around, it is not great.
How did you discover the language that you could use?
I found it online and it was just a feeling of seeing the community and knowing I fit there but not knowing how. Then I took a quiz online and it describes me as asexual and then I just felt like i had found myself finally.
What support do you wish for those who are growing up and are asexual?
Just do not make people feel alone. I think that with the LGBT+ education that they need to be told that they are not abnormal or strange people that do not understand the fundamental ways of life. I wish someone understood me sooner, as it would have saved me a lot of heartache and years of failed relationships and self loathing. No one thinks we exist really especially the LGBT label lacking the 'QIA' and the 'A' for so many people stands for ally not asexual! Some people should not be there because we are not sexual but I am in love with a woman so it is weird. I think we had more representation like oh yes, Sex Education, there is one character but that is just this year and in the second season. But growing up, I had no idea.
Interviewed by Kabejja