Being asexual, on the aromantic spectrum and Asian are core parts that form my identity and like many aspects, I just wouldn’t be complete if one was erased. However, they have come to intersect with other parts of my life that present unique struggles. The unique struggles that can come with being (aro)ace and Asian is what I would like to talk about in this post.
In Asian society, there is often a strong societal pressure once you reach your late teens/early 20s to begin to look towards marriage. What starts off as subtle nudges and jokes about boyfriends/girlfriends and romance evolves into outright questions of when you will get married, why you haven’t gotten a partner, and unwanted involvement from parents and relations on what they think is best for you. When many of your relatives have gotten married at socially appropriate times or are in relationships, it is difficult to hold out to what you really want. This is even more so if you are asexual.
To my knowledge, asexuality is not widely known or discussed with Asian families and communities. Families may be reluctant to budge against norms and what they think will guarantee you happiness in life, a tried and tested path. Indeed, it would throw a wrench into a key part of the life mapped out for one in society: to get married and have children. I personally have been told to ‘grow up and live in the real world’ when it comes to marriage and asexuality, even though I had never come out or even hinted at my orientation - this was a passing comment made by another family member when I voiced dismissiveness against getting married. I am still expected to get married and, in that vein, produce children as if it is a natural part of life.
This was hurtful. To unintentionally be told that you aren’t even part of the real world, inhabiting a kind of fantasy, seems to insinuate that I myself am not real. But I am. I am Asian, asexual and very real. I may not end up in a ‘romantic’ or ‘sexual’ relationship because I am not sure I experience that type of attraction. Since the society we live in is very relationship and romance oriented this can be difficult to deal with. But not being in relationships does not mean you do not care for family; does not mean you are not able to form meaningful attachments in relationships of any kind. If you are Asian, of any age, orientation or gender, I implore you to look to change attitudes in your families and communities. Asexuality is not destructive to family relationships or ‘wrong’, it is just what some people are! Marriage and children are not and shouldn’t be end goals in life, there is so much more to celebrate.
Want to find out more about asexuality? Read the Civil Service LGBT+ Network’s Asexuality Fact Sheet