It’s that time of year again. All of a sudden, social media feeds everywhere are bombarded with lovey-dovey couples flaunting their perfect relationships.
It’s an excruciating time for singletons everywhere. But single people aren’t the only ones dreading Valentine’s Day.
Alienated by both queers and non-queers alike, Valentine’s Day can be a particularly invalidating experience for the asexual community. To this day, asexuality is still clouded in deep-rooted stigma. So when it comes to this over-the-top ‘love day’, it’s no wonder that aces tend to feel even more invisible.
Our next interviewee wants to make sure her story doesn’t fall through the cracks. And she wants other aces out there to know that they aren’t alone, either.
Dear Straight People,
Meet asexual Singaporean Nicole Low, who is working in tech.
At 27, being confident in her asexuality is still an ongoing journey. But seeing little to no representation for her community out there, she’s stepping forward to tell her story.
DISCOVERING SHE IS ASEXUAL
Nicole’s awakening was sparked by openly asexual character Todd on Netflix show Bojack Horseman. She felt a strong connection with his experience, but couldn’t really pinpoint why.
Things only became clear a couple years later, when she was telling a friend about her current crush and that friend asked, “Have you ever imagined having sex with the person you like? Because whenever you talk about them, I never sense that.”
Up till that point, Nicole hadn’t even realised imagining having sex with your crush was a thing. When she admitted that she never did, she wondered, Is that normal?
“If you don’t, you should really think about whether you really have a crush on that person,” her friend responded.
Returning to Bojack Horseman and contemplating her sexuality during lockdown led Nicole to finally accept that she was asexual – much to her excitement.
“It gave me a lot of clarity in terms of understanding how I perceive myself in relation to the world and how it affects my personal relationships.”Nicole
COMING OUT AS ASEXUAL
Self-acceptance, however, was just the first step.
The LGBTQIA+ community is already heavily marginalised in Singapore. But when it comes to asexuals, representation is almost non-existent. Asexuality continues to be plagued by misconceptions, even from within the LGBTQ+ community.
As such, she’s chosen to keep it from her family.
If I had to explain to my family what being ace is, they probably would think I don’t know what I’m talking about or that I’m lying. There’s a lot of nuances about being ace beyond surface-level understanding that people don’t understand.”Nicole
Coming out to her friends however, proved to be easier. While some simply showed indifference, many of her ‘straight’ friends have accepted her. Some of them have even casually identified with the label too, much to her surprise.
CHALLENGES OF BEING ASEXUAL IN SINGAPORE
With turning 30 on the horizon, Nicole worries how systemic disregard for asexuality will affect her future.
“If I never get into a relationship because I can’t find someone who understands being ace, I have to wait until I’m 35 to get a BTO apartment in Singapore.
Even though we may not face the same kind of discrimination [as other queers], I think aces still face a lot of lack of government support heterosexual people would get.”Nicole
She also has to contend with the many misconceptions surrounding the asexual community.
“When I first tell people I’m asexual, they assume I might not have a libido, that I’m celibate, that I might not want to get into a relationship. But that isn’t the default.”Nicole Low
Nicole also wonders if she will ever find someone who can truly understand her and her sexuality. In the past, she’s held herself back from pursuing relationships because she thought she was meant to be looking for a sexual ‘spark’.
“If I were to pursue a romantic relationship, I have to think, how do I explain what asexuality is to my partner? Even though I may be sex-favourable, it’s not like this aspect of myself doesn’t exist. I want to feel understood.”Nicole Low
Being both asexual and single on Valentine’s, Nicole is conscious of how much she stands out. She believes the ace community should come up with their own equivalent of Valentine’s Day instead of latching onto something that doesn’t work for them.
“I feel like an updated or ace-equivalent celebration would be one where we can celebrate individuality and the relationships we forge and have despite those differences. Platonic, romantic or familial—love exists in more than one form.
We just would like our existence and experiences to be acknowledged and validated within this holiday that perpetuates a lot of stereotypes about love that we may not necessarily conform to. If their experiences are celebrated, ours should be too.”Nicole Low
FINDING SINGAPORE’S ASEXUAL COMMUNITY
Nicole may seem pretty ‘out’ by appearing in this article. But there’s a part of Nicole that still hesitates about being too loud and proud about her asexuality.
“Sometimes it’s easier to pretend to be normal than to explain who I really am. I would not want to go through explaining and then seeing another person invalidate me.”Nicole Low
Thankfully, Nicole managed to find solace when she stumbled upon Aces Going Places during COVID lockdown, a community group for asexuals in Singapore. Joining their Discord server has given her a sense of comfort.
It’s just nice being in a place where people are comfortable with talking about what ace means and being themselves. If I ever have any questions or need advice, this community is available. I guess that’s something people take for granted.”Nicole Low
Meanwhile, Nicole is campaigning for better mainstream ace representation in the media and society in general to rectify the damaging stereotypes still prevalent today.
We could have all the ace characters in the world, but whether or not it’s truly a good educational representation is a different story. I don’t want to just see the ace version of the gay best friend or roommate trope.”Nicole Low
Ultimately, Nicole wants to encourage fellow aces to come out to share their stories. This will not only allow society to gain a more nuanced understanding of asexuality, but also help future aces better understand themselves as well.
I think it’s OK to be scared of how people perceive you, but never be afraid of perceiving yourself. If you’re questioning your sexuality, don’t be just another person invalidating your experience. No one will be your biggest campaigner except you.”Nicole Low
Once again, Dear Straight People would like to thank Nicole Low for sharing her story with us.
If you’d like to reach out to her, you can connect with Nicole on her Discord @gypsycat#7474.
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