Round-Up: Origin Stories

Round Up of Submissions

Welcome to the round-up of submissions on the topic of ‘Origin Stories.’ You can see the call for submissions here: Thank you to everyone who participated! We had seven responses, from students at Smith College, Rowan University, and University of Toronto.



  1. For the longest time I assumed I was straight, since that’s the default sexuality according to society. I never really had crushes in school, but I chalked it up to me not being ‘boy-crazy’ and being a dedicated student. I thought that crushes were something you chose to have, rather than something that just happened to people!

I think I first heard the term asexual at school in 8th/9th grade, but it was in an aphobic context. I later was exposed to the ace and demi labels in a more positive light at my summer camp, which was very queer-friendly. Until late in high school I called myself ‘probably straight’, since I didn’t experience attraction to women but still felt a disconnect from other straight girls. But late in 11th grade I did end up taking on the demisexual label – at the time I thought I had a crush on a friend and I didn’t realize the split attraction model was a thing.

In the fall of my first year at college, being surrounded by other queer students, something clicked and I started identifying as heteroromantic ace (again, still assuming straightness as the default romantic identity!). This later shifted to biromantic ace (when I experienced another possible crush), then to non-SAM ace (because I decided romantic attraction was too complicated to deal with) and finally to my current label of aroace.

Looking back to my childhood and teenage years there were a lot of little signs that I was aroace. I think those rare crushes I felt when I was younger were likely more platonic than anything else. But I wasn’t really exposed to the ace or aro communities until my late teenage years – if I had heard about them earlier, my aroace journey may have played out differently.


2. Before I knew what asexuality was, I used to say that I wanted to “wait until marriage.” Not for religious reasons, but because it was the only way I knew that someone could defer sex without forgoing relationships altogether. I wasn’t too sure that I wanted to have sex after marriage either, but that seemed like a long ways off. Surely I’d change my mind, right?

I was fourteen when I first saw the term “asexual” in the comment section of youtube video. I was googling definitions and reading articles within minutes, devouring the information on the other side of the screen. I’d been questioning my sexuality for a while, but my mental arguments always went in circles. I only knew three options—gay, straight, and bi—and I knew I wasn’t sexually attracted to women, so I couldn’t be gay or bi, and thus I defaulted to straight. (Compulsory heterosexuality, am I right?) Realizing that asexuality was an option opened the door to possibilities I’d never imagined, but needed so desperately.

The most important thing I learned in frantic googling was that romantic attraction and sexual attraction are two different things, and just because I knew I didn’t feel sexually attracted to women, didn’t mean I couldn’t like them romantically. Once I realized that, it quickly became clear that I did like women. A lot. Way more than I liked men. So, in the end, realizing that I’m asexual is also how I realized that I’m a lesbian. And honestly? If I never encountered the term, if I never had that fourth option, I might still be “defaulting” to straight.


3. I first heard of aromanticism while fanfiction about Keladry of Mindelan (Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small series). That particular fic was something about Kel realizing its okay to not want relationships, and in the notes at the end, the author included something about aromanticism. Later, I google-imaged aromanticism, and read a bunch of graphics about both asexuality and aromanticism, and learned about different misconceptions people can have about asexuality and aromanticism. At that point, I thought I might be aromantic, but I couldn’t possibly be asexual. It was alright for other people to asexual, but I had to be sexual, because of biological imperatives to reproduce and continue my genes and my species. And then I forgot about both aromanticism and asexuality for about a year. A year later, I came back to either the same fic or a similar one, and I researched asexuality and aromanticism again. This time, I wasn’t just limited to google image searches, but I also found AVEN and read I lot of threads there. After several months, I decided to start identifying as asexual, but I had no idea about my romantic identity. Since then, in terms of my romantic identity, I’ve identified as questioning, somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, quoiroromantic, romantic attraction doesn’t exist so I will not label myself with a romantic label, and aromantic. These days I mostly use asexual aromantic.


4. Movies were my first introduction to relationships. I always felt that sex scenes were low-hanging fruit, an easy way to show that two characters were interested in each other. Movies made it seem like the only way you could strengthen a relationship was to have sex, and that didn’t feel right. Then there were movies without sex scenes. I admired the ability of screenwriters to show two characters in love without falling back on the “old reliable” of romance plots. I thought I was just drawn to the literary talent of it. In retrospect, I see that I was drawn to, if not actual canon asexual representation, then my own perceived asexual representation. I had no definition of asexuality or understanding of the asexual spectrum until I came to college. Before that, I thought I was just more closed off than other people. I love the idea of love, but I couldn’t see myself wanting to have sex. To me, “sex” and “love” were not interchangeable terms, but that didn’t fit with the mainstream depiction of love. So, I thought I must be the one in the wrong. People said I was shy or cold or emotionless. I didn’t put out, so I must not be interested in a relationship, right? And then I came to Smith. People are so open about their sexuality in a way I had never experienced before. I found ace channels on YouTube. Alone in my room, I would say, “I am asexual” out loud and see if it felt wrong. It never did. I learned about the split attraction model, and I joined AACE. I heard from people whose experiences I could relate to. Labels are just labels, but when I say, “I am asexual”, it feels right. I feel warm and whole.


5. I could imagine my wedding night clearly: a nondescript man whom I didn’t love would say that now we were finally married, we could have sex. I would ask myself if he’d married me just so he could demand consent and would then tell him that I’d only married him because of the pressures placed on Catholic women to wed before reaching their “expiration date.”

This scenario has played out in my head countless times. Originally, it brought horrible anxiety attacks that made me conclude I was broken for not feeling the same attraction that my peers did.

I eventually began to wonder if I felt attraction towards women and had just repressed it because of my upbringing. I took a huge step away from the Catholic idea of thought-crime and imagined scenarios (with as much vividity as my sheltered mind could muster) between other women and myself, though I ultimately realized I didn’t feel sexual attraction towards them either.

While this helped me understand what I felt, until I discovered the word “asexual” a few years later, it didn’t help me feel any less broken. For being such a taboo subject in Catholic circles, sexual attraction is viewed as innately human and something to be repressed until marriage, so not feeling it at all means you’re even worse than those who feel “temptation.”

Through the past few years (and a lot of non-Catholic social support and therapy), I’ve unlearned a lot of the mindsets I was raised to have. I’ve come to realize I’m not broken, and while I’m still exploring what romantic (and even gender) labels best fit me, I’m fully accepting myself for who I am and not letting outdated ideologies dictate how I feel about myself.


6. I first heard about asexuality in grade 12 (age 17) when a friend suggested it to me considering I had never had a crush or been physically attracted to anyone before. At the time, I (naively) believed that not *that* many people experienced attraction at this age anyways, so I was probably someone who just needed time and experience (since I had few friends, too, not having a romantic/sexual partner didn’t seem off for me). I first considered that I might be asexual when I became extremely close friends with a male individual in first year university (age 18), yet still did not feel any romantic or sexual attraction despite him being completely emotionally and socially compatible to me. Yet I didn’t want this to be true, so I just shoved the thought away. Being a pre-med made it easy for me to blame being “too busy with studies” to worry about my sexual orientation. Finally, in third year university (age 20), with the pandemic allowing me time away from having to perform an unauthentic version of myself for others, I (albeit hesitantly) began exploring a potential queer identity for myself. Asexuality never felt like the missing piece of the puzzle to me, so I delved into the ocean depths of the internet one evening, and eventually came across the term aromantic through this avenue, although I don’t recall the exact moment it happened. Aromantic described my experiences to a tee, and since then I have embraced the labels of aromantic, asexual, and queer, not being interested in further microlabels. Claiming an aroace identity took much unlearning due to amatonormativity – I had to unlearn that being aro guaranteed loneliness, an absence of family, and a less fulfilling life, while relearning that it is simply its own unique and beautiful experience.


7. Growing up, I’d never heard of aromanticism, and I’d only heard of asexuality as it being part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym; I didn’t really know what it was, I’d never heard of anyone who was ace, and my general impression was that it was incredibly rare. I knew I had never experienced attraction, but I assumed it was inevitable; I never asked myself whether I would be attracted to people – I just asked myself what gender they would be. It was at a church forum when I was 14 that I first heard someone talk about asexuality and aromanticism as identities real people had.

A few months later, I started researching asexuality. At the time, I quickly dismissed the idea that I might be asexual, but I kept coming back to it every few months, eventually realizing that I was sex-repulsed and had never experienced sexual attraction, but concerned that I was just a ‘late bloomer,’ until I eventually realized that the label of asexual felt right to me, and that I could change it later if my experiences changed.

But I found it much harder to conclude that I was aro. For one, I had to unlearn the assumption that marriage or long-term partnership was the only path to happiness, a surprisingly difficult assumption to unlearn despite my inability to imagine myself in such a relationship and my bafflement every time I realized my peers were interested in dating. Another sticking point for me was that romance is not well defined. It was only in college when I met other ace and aro people and was able to talk with them about their experiences that I realized I was aro because despite not knowing what romance was, I knew I didn’t experience romantic attraction because I didn’t experience any attraction.