Personal Column: Just Asexual

“I’m not kissing my best friend.”

My acting coach stared at me, incomprehension on her face. I’d been working in this studio for months, building fragile trust with new coaches, but I’d never seen any coach like this. 

“It’ll make you better.”

She kept pushing, even though she moved on to the next group of actors. I kept refusing. At the end of the class, I was questioning myself.

I came home nearly in tears. “That wasn’t okay,” I insisted.

“No,” my mom agreed, just as angry as I am.

The studio is run by another coach, the one I’ve been taking classes with until today. I made a plan. “I’ll email him.”

I don’t know what I expected when I sent the email. Maybe an apology. An admission that he didn’t realize what that coach was doing? 

I didn’t expect an accusation.

“You’ll never get anywhere if you aren’t comfortable with gay people,” he wrote. “In this industry, you can’t be close minded.” To hammer the point home, I was not invited back for another class. 

I didn’t know how to defend myself. That wasn’t why I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t homophobic. I just didn’t want to kiss my best friend.


“Am I wrong because I don’t want to kiss people?” I asked aloud.

“I don’t know what to do if I’m broken.”

— Brooke J Ferrell

“Would you feel differently if you were kissing a boy?” my mother answers.

I picture it. I imagine wetness slurping against my lips. It just sounds gross.


She’s quick to shake her head. “You’re still young for all this. You’ll feel different about sex when you’re older.”

I hope she’s right, I think to myself. Even if I’m not comfortable with that touch, maybe my mind will change when I’m older. Maybe I just don’t understand yet.

Time passes. I don’t understand. I try, but it doesn’t work. I still don’t understand.

I don’t know what to do with a world where I’m so markedly different from everyone else. I don’t know what to do if I’m broken.

It’s freshman year. National Coming Out Day, although I don’t know that until I step outside the cafeteria into an explosion of music and color. The bright sun blinds me and I find myself relying on the flow of people to guide me through the courtyard. A moment is enough that when I can see again, I’ve been swept to the middle of the chaos.

“Take a sticker,” someone offers, yelling over the music. “Take a couple! We have pronouns, genders, and sexualities. If you can’t find the one you want, you can write your own.”

I stare at the assortment before me. I find it hard to believe that there could possibly be labels missing from this rainbow.

“Okay,” I say.

“Take whatever,” the person urges, before turning to squint into the sun. “Oh, hey!” they exclaim. A lull falls over the crowd.

On the stage is a door, labeled haphazardly with “The Closet.” It pushes open and someone comes out, waving a flag striped with purple, white, grey, and black. “I’m asexual!” she declares.

Everyone watching cheers.

“What does that mean?” I ask, but the person I was talking to is gone, drawn back into the flow of colors swirling around.

I look for someone else. This time, though, I’m looking for something specific. The person I’m looking for would have a bright purple label that reads ‘asexual’ pressed onto their shoulder—there!

“Excuse me,” I say, “do you mind telling me what your labels mean?

“Huh?” my chosen target says. She spins to look at me clearly. “Did you ask a question?”

“Oh, I was just wondering what your stickers mean,” I say. “If you don’t mind explaining.”

“Yeah, of course!” she says. Her finger taps along her collarbone, brushing past a she/her pronouns sticker to a blue, pink, and purple self-made label that proclaims ‘Bi-Rom’. “Biromantic. Kinda like bisexual, but romantically, not sexually.”

“What does the other one mean?”

She pokes the ‘Asexual’ label. “This one?”


“Sure,” she says. “Basically, it’s like… you don’t want to have sex. Ever. Or at least, it doesn’t appeal to you. You wouldn’t seek it out, if that makes sense? Different people have different tolerance levels for sexy stuff—some don’t want to even talk about it, while others would be okay if their partner really wanted to, you know?”

I do not know, actually. I stare. Wanting nothing ever isn’t an option–everyone wants sex. Eventually. Later. Soon. It’s written out in every story I’ve read, painted on neon billboards down the highway.

“People can do that?”

She gives me a funny look. “People can do whatever they want.”

Asexual. The word rolled around in my mouth, tasting spicy-sweet and maybe just a little like saltwater. Asexual.

I’m not broken.

There’s freedom in that label. The first time I tell someone, it’s a big deal. The second, less so. One person wants an in-depth analysis of what precisely my feelings are on sex. Another one just laughs, and says, “Good for you.”

Some days, I’m comfortable with sex jokes. I set myself up and a friend jumps in to complete it. Other days, I’m not.

“Hey, maybe not right now,” I say when a story starts that I want no part of. They move on.

I get very comfortable with saying no, setting boundaries. I read online that some people think that asexuality is a pointless label, offered only so that others don’t feel left out, but to me it feels like a shield. It reminds me that I’m not broken. I’m not wrong.

I’m just asexual.