“My name is Mads Billings, I am a 22 year old gender fluid, and I am an aromantic asexual. But more importantly: I am a human. And this is my story.”
An aromantic, or “aro” (pronounced “a row”), is someone who does not experience romantic attraction. An asexual, or “ace,” is someone who does not experience sexual attraction.
Growing up I always thought myself to just be neutral, being both an aro and gender fluid I’ve always kind of walked the middle line. I never fit in with any social group when young; girls thought I was too tomboy, and boys didn’t want to hang out with a girl, so besides the small group I found I didn’t get much attention or appreciation from anyone. Because of that I thought that when those around me started talking about dating and kissing, it was simply because I didn’t fit in that I didn’t want to join in the conversation. I saw nothing wrong with how I felt, since there was nothing I was feeling. Of course I got comments, things like “you just haven’t met the right person,” “you’re a late bloomer,” and my personal favorite: “maybe there’s something wrong with you.” But despite the hate the world gave me I still didn’t see a problem. It wasn’t until I got into a sticky situation when I was 17 that the search for a word for how I felt even begun. After that I would hop from relationship to relationship, trying to prove to not only those around me, but to myself, that I COULD function like a “normal” human being.
For nearly three years I did everything in my power to pretend to be someone else, I blamed everything I thought was wrong with me on my mental state and swept it under the rug. It wasn’t until I moved back into my mother’s house at age 20 that I reevaluated my life. I started doing searches on Google, and it took me a while but I came across a website that brought me to tears. It was a group on Tumblr where asexuals could send in questions looking for advice. Each ask was almost like it was sent in from a part of me I had been repressing for so long. And slowly the pieces fit together.
Finding an identity for myself, after nearly 21 years of stumbling around in the darkness, opened the door to a whole other world. Finding my identity gave me the confidence, and the voice, that I never had before. I began opening up to people more, trying to help others the way I felt that group helped me. Now, at 22, I am an LGBT activist, I’ve helped run online support groups, I’ve answered questions about sexual and romantic orientation, and am currently in the process of getting a support group made for asexual and aromantic individuals in the KCMO area. Asexuality and Aromanticism are severely overlooked and misunderstood orientations, and I want to help spread the word. People like us ARE out there. People like us DO exist. And we are wanting to be heard, just like all other LGBT groups.
If you are interested in more information on asexuality and aromanticism, or if you are interested in being a part of the ace/aro support group please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit: asexuality.org