“I’m asexual,” I tell her, “and possibly aromantic too.”
“Are you sure?” she asks, frowning at me. “Because you could be just confused, you know? Or maybe you haven’t met the right person yet.”
I am breathless. She is looking at me like I have ceased to be normal.
I think about the fourteen year old girl who had stumbled across an article about asexuality. She had felt an overwhelming sense of relief. But she later folded the newspaper into a tiny square and threw it away, because she did not want to be different. The thought terrified her so she spent the rest of the day reminding herself that a girl in her society grew up and got married and had children and did everything expected from her.
I think about the sixteen year old, who couldn’t make a list of the celebrities she lusted after, when her friends were giggling and playing truth at a sleepover. She stumbled over her words and her friends assumed that she was a prude.
I think about the eighteen year old whose parents kept waiting all her teenage years to date someone, giving her playful warnings along the way. Eventually, they started to drop hints, trying to draw her into conversations about boys, desperately hoping to see her show interest in someone.
The feeling of being inadequate and wrong and incomplete reappears with a vengeance. But I manage to smile, stare at her right in the eye and say, “I’m sure.”