See an explanation for the context of this post here.
Tell us a story – can be real, or fictional, about queer romance
One time someone asked me, “How does it work to be asexual? Do you never have crushes?” and this is the story I told them as the best personal example I could give.
If I were to have a type, for whatever reason it seems to be baristas. Even if I meet a girl completely unrelated to a coffee shop, if I like her and then talk to her I end up finding out she is or was a barista. Everything else about my crushes changes: from body shape, race, style, age, personality, interests, etc.
The thing with me is I instantly know if I like someone or not. It’s like love at first sight, I guess, except without any expectations.
There was this girl in her 20’s who was a barista at a coffee shop I frequented. I freaking loved her. She was funny, smart, beautiful, super talented in a variety of ways, and I loved how her personality came out in her clothing style. I can chat with anyone on any stupid topic but when it came to her, I wanted to talk more and more. And as my infatuation with her grew in those conversations with every new piece I learned about her, I came to have what I felt to be embarrassingly obvious reactions. I would start to blush, and then kind of stutter a bit, maybe ramble, and definitely joke even more than normal.
I always think I’m being ridiculously obvious in these rare crush cases but then later find out I wasn’t obvious at all. I guess it’s because I’m so rarely interested in anyone that, to me, having that interest is already monumental. It makes me feel like surely everyone else must know from a mile away. With her, I wasn’t sure if she knew I liked her and I was afraid to be overt.
Thing is, I have shit for gaydar. Like seriously, I rarely know if someone’s gay and it’s even worse with ladies. Which is a real pain as a lesbian. If someone isn’t wearing a shirt that says, “WHY HELLO I AM A LESBIAN AND I AM INTERESTED IN YOU OHOHO :D” then I basically have no clue. So after a while of going to that coffee shop once or twice a day to get a chai or iced tea, talking to her every chance I got and utterly failing at figuring out her sexual orientation but utterly succeeding in becoming more smitten with her, I finally started doing that dorky thing where I whispered to friends about this barista I liked but I didn’t know if she was gay.
My straight female friend, hilariously enough, has fantastic gaydar. So I brought her with me one day and asked her afterward. She said her gaydar was a little mixed on the woman. So then I asked all my lesbian friends, and convinced one of them to stop by the coffee shop one day and see. She also tried, and came back and said she wasn’t sure.
This went on for some time, with me getting increasingly giddy when I saw the woman. I mean, I felt my cheeks heat, I felt butterflies in my stomach, I didn’t want to stop talking to her even if it was the most inane of conversations. I found myself thinking about her even when I wasn’t at the cafe. I wanted to know more about her, I thought about how cool it would be if I could go out with her, or how awesome it would be if we could move in together eventually because I could also meet the pets she talked about. I thought about whether she liked to travel and if she would ever want to travel with me, and all the places we could go. I wondered if she could teach me how to customize clothes like she did for herself.
Things like that. It didn’t even matter if we talked. I just liked the idea of being able to spend any time with her.
I wanted to know whatever she was comfortable telling me because I liked everything I knew about her, even the things she might have expected people not to accept, like when she mentioned she had depression and ADHD. To me, they were simply facets of her beauty. It only made me want to know more.
This makes me sound like a stalker, but I swear I wasn’t. It was simply that I had such strong admiration for her that I felt like she was a story I could read every day for the rest of my life, and still find something new and exciting on the next page.
After weeks of this, and at the height of my giddiness, one day I stopped by again. In the process of talking to her about some topic I don’t even remember, she gave me her Facebook name. I had tried searching for her on google and Facebook already, hoping I could at least solve the question of whether she was gay or not, but I hadn’t gotten anywhere in my initial search and I wasn’t interested in becoming a total creeper so I stopped and figured I’d see if she ever was open to telling me, herself. So when she gave me her Facebook information, I was ecstatic. Finally! I would know if she was even gay, because so many women I had liked in the past weren’t.
When I pulled up her Facebook page, I was really excited to know a little more about her, like the sorts of things that interested her enough for her to post, or if she had any funny pictures of her and her friends, or if I could see her pets, or–
The first thing I saw stopped all the questions.
She was gay, definitely. I knew this because she was married to another woman. Their wedding pictures were all over her Facebook, and they were beautiful. Her wife looked really nice, and they seemed really happy.
Instantly, all that giddiness, that interest, that heat I’d had before– vanished. Completely disappeared. It’s like someone dropped a wall between me and it, and every piece of it was gone. There was literally no transition. I went from, “OMG SO EXCITED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HER I KEEP THINKING ABOUT HER CAN’T STOP” to “What? I know her?” in a second.
I still thought she was an awesome person, I still thought she was talented, but any and every bit of romantic interest in her vanished because I knew it would never happen. She was with someone else. That was all I needed to know. I was no longer interested or intrigued.
The next day I walked into the coffee shop, curious to see if I would still blush and maybe ramble. I was a little worried that I would have to lay off the coffee shop for a while so I wouldn’t bug her while I transitioned. But to my relief, that feeling didn’t resurface at all, not even when I saw her. I felt toward her the same way I felt toward all the other baristas: I liked her as a person, I joked around with her about stupid things, but when I got my chai and we were done chatting I said goodbye and left without looking back.
I never once thought of her after seeing her Facebook, except the way I would with any other barista there. After that, when I went in and saw someone else working I didn’t find a way to squeeze in casually asking if she was there/when she’d work next. Because it no longer mattered. It was cool if I saw her, but totally cool if I didn’t.
From what I understand from other people, or at least the way things seem to be represented in a lot of media, that is perhaps the difference between at least the way I am as an asexual, and the way other people might function who aren’t asexual. I’ve always gotten the impression that it’s much more difficult for others to turn off their feelings.
It seems like there’s a trope where people can’t turn off their love even when finding out someone is otherwise engaged, and they fantasize about stealing them. For me, there is no way I would have interest in interfering. Even assuming I still had feelings, why would I ever try to break up someone else’s happiness for something as selfish as my own? Especially since I would never be happy if she wasn’t happy. It just feels completely illogical and pointless to me. Which is probably what’s at the heart of it: I may feel the emotions deeply, but ultimately they are still immutably tied into logic in my mind.
But if she hadn’t been married/with someone else, and if she had been interested in me, I would have devoted myself to her for as long as she wanted me. I would have developed a loyalty that would mean I would never have any interest in straying or betraying her, because she was all I wanted and all I needed.
For me, it’s like a switch. I can’t control if it’s turned on, and I can’t control if it’s turned off, but that stark dichotomy between being supremely interested and utterly disinterested definitely exists. And if something occurs where I realize it’s not to be between us, that switch is thrown and every extra feeling I had is completely gone. I couldn’t recreate that same heated giddiness with her if I tried. Any more than I could make myself be romantically interested in someone I didn’t have an instant connection with the first time I met them.
Maybe it actually is exactly this same way with everyone else, at which point this isn’t a very good story to use as an example. But if this is not the way it works for you when you are romantically interested in someone, and if you wondered what it means to be asexual– then, for me, the story of the barista I adored until I found out she was married is the best way I can explain.