Not seeking attention, but recognition
In part one of the series, you met Jordan Doe (a pseudonym), a transgender Loras College student who has chosen to remain in the closet. In this part, you will meet an open and out student whose sexual identity is not quite as controversial, but every bit as misunderstood.
For those who are under the impression that a lack of sex or romance would make a person very grumpy, they haven’t met Lillian Feltes. A Loras College junior, majoring in history, Feltes identifies herself as asexual. Whatever you see as the opposite of grumpy – that’s what you will see in Feltes.
“Asexual is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or a low interest in sexual activity,” according to the website Web MD. “Some people consider asexuality to be their sexual orientation, and others describe it as an absence of sexual orientation.”
Feltes also identifies as aromantic. Web MD defines aromantic as, “… people [who] have little or no romantic attraction to others.”
As noted above, while asexuality may not be as much of a hot button issue as many others in the LGBTQ+ identity range, that does not mean it is any less misunderstood.
“A lot of people are boggled by the idea of not being sexually attracted to someone,” Feltes said. “It’s kind of like it’s hard for me to understand sexual attraction … it’s hard for them to understand how I don’t have that.”
Aromantic is another identity that Feltes said is confusing to a lot of people. She said that, although both (asexual and aromantic) can be present in the same person, they are not the same thing. While Feltes said she has not seen any of what she believes is overt discrimination over her identity, she said that a lot of people question the validity of those who identify as aromantic. She said this is difficult because it is, in essence, people telling her that she is simply not the person who she knows that she is.
“For me, when someone discounts what I say, it feels like – because it’s a part of me – someone is rejecting who I am as a person,” Feltes said. “Someone is rejecting a conclusion that I have come to about myself – it’s almost as if [they are] telling me they know more about me than I do.”
The rejection from others often manifests itself in disappointment, Feltes explained. That is, she is often told that she will be wasting her life if she doesn’t find the traditional partner with kids and the “white-picket-fence” type of lifestyle.
“A lot of people see life as incomplete without love … this idea that romantic love is the end all be all of love,” Feltes said. “We still love people, we just love them very differently. Just like you love your mom and you love your best friend very differently.”
Those are some of the downsides that come with identifying as asexual and aromantic. But, Feltes notes, there are plenty of upsides.
“I never have to get involved in boy drama – I don’t care,” Feltes said. “For me it’s empowering to know that this is who I am. Nobody else has to like me [because] as long as I can live with myself that’s all that matters.”
Like most people, Feltes feels the strong human desire for touch and affection, she just satisfies that need a little differently than most.
“I am someone that is really affectionate with [my] friends … and my family,” Feltes said. “I’m a hugger … people ask me for a hug all the time because my friends know that’s who I am.”
Feltes, who realized her identity at age 16, said there definitely was a time she felt alone. But not because she lacked a romantic or sexual partner.
“There are lots of representations [of sexuality] in the media,” Feltes said. “If I would have seen someone like me when I was younger then I think it would have clicked. It would have made me feel less alone.”