The Connector
The Connector
by Melina Barbuto
Illustration by Jennifer Ober

I’m asexual.

Because I know people, I know there might be some that scoff something fierce, and say “Oh, there’s no such thing,” or make some joke about whether I’m going to replicate my cells to create another, identical, version of myself.

Because I don’t know everyone, I’ll say that some are accepting people who don’t judge. But how does this magical word that many apply to plants and amoebas, and brings people back to high school biology class, apply to me?

It means that I don’t find people (that’s both male and female) sexually attractive.

Don’t get me wrong, I still look at people like Gina Rodriguez and Chris Pine and I’m stunned by their beauty. They’re aesthetically pleasing, but whereas others might fantasize about them, I look at them and I think they’re beautiful, awesome and inspirational.  Someone who I would love to meet, but that’s it. I get starry-eyed and I could say I love them to a degree, but there’s nothing physical about whatever form of ‘love’ I have.

With that said, I don’t mind intimacy: holding hands, hugging and even kissing are things that I could tolerate. I’m not averse to a romantic relationship. I can even fall in love; I have fallen in love. It just so happens that pinecones have more of a sexual appetite than me. The whole sex part grosses me out.

It’s irritating that some people I know would take that as a reason to baby me and protect me from dirty jokes. My being repulsed by the thought of sex doesn’t mean that I can’t handle listening to anything related to it. The bottom line is that it’s a biological part of life and it doesn’t bother me to hear about.

The question that’s always raised is if this whole aversion to sex was caused by a traumatic experience, usually a rape. That assumption is incorrect. I don’t look at someone and immediately salivate at the sight of them. I can say if I find someone cute and smart and a good conversationalist, but “sex appeal?” Yeah, I can’t do that.

This wasn’t something I always knew either. I was 19 years old when I realized I didn’t want sex at all. In high school, there was a casual nature about having sex and being in those types of intimate situations. It wasn’t something that was frowned upon, at least not by the people I knew. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I never sought those situations out. I couldn’t relate to anything they were giggling about. And I think part of that was a lack of information. No one mentioned asexuality as it relates to humans until my psychology teacher said it my senior year, and even now I don’t even feel comfortable talking about it because even in the most liberal-thinking circles, it’s laughed at.

It’s even harder when you are a Latina woman. Media portrayals engraved this expectation of me to be promiscuous and flirtatious from a young age, which made me more awkward than I already was. It made me think of myself as a sexual being before I even know what sex was. My grandmother would call me a “monjita,” a nun, because I refused to wear anything over the knee or anything that showed skin on my arms. I felt skin was a neon sign advertising sex, and I didn’t want have anything to do with that. Finding out that I didn’t even like sex removed a weight off my shoulders I didn’t even know I had. Telling my mother that, “Oh, sex is kinda gross,” was something I feared. I mean, a Latina mom wants to be a grandma — it’s their rite-of-passage to strict and sweet old-ladyhood.

But this is only my story. Asexuality is a range and it falls from completely sex-repulsed to just not interested, and I fall somewhere in between. In reality, there’s so much stigma against asexuals right now that there are “correction therapies” to “normalize” this group of people. They call us “sexually disfunctional” and consider us psychologically troubled. To many, we’re broken people. We need to be “fixed.” But just as everyone is able to live out their lives, we want to live ours — loving the way we want to love.