Words by Rosie (she/her), 30 QLD
When I was six, my parents asked me if I had a crush on any boys.
First of all, bonkers, right? I was six. And I didn’t—because, y’know, I was six—but they were convinced that I did and that I was too embarrassed to admit it. “There’s no one,” I told them, “I don’t like any of the boys in my class.”
“There must be someone,” Mum insisted, “Come on, you don’t have to be shy. Tell us who you have a crush on.”
They weren’t going to take no for an answer, obviously. So, I did what any six-year-old would do, and I just picked a boy from our class photo: a kid named Paolo, the only other Filipino kid in my class. That’s what’s expected of you when you’re a Filipino kid growing up in a non-Filipino environment. “I kind of like that one, I guess,” I lied. I hadn’t spoken two words to Paolo, but my parents wouldn’t shut up and what else was I supposed to do?
Mum laughed. “I knew it!” she said, “I knew there was someone. That kid has a funny-shaped head though, are you sure you like him?”
I was embarrassed at this point because no answer I gave was going to be good enough and I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
I expected this to change as I got older. I thought attraction to someone came with age and that one day, I’d look at someone and go, “Yeah, they’re pretty cute.”
It kept happening.
I spent more than half of my high school career at an all-girls Catholic high school where gossip was rampant and boys were special. Boys were mysterious. Boys were alluring because they were forbidden. If anything, it just made the horniness worse. The idea of a single-sex high school sounds good in theory, and I can see what they were going for. But as someone who actually went to one, I think it did the opposite of what the nuns actually wanted.
The questions were everywhere:
Which rugby player do you think is hottest?
FMK: x, y, or z?
Would you rather do Gerard Way or Brendan Urie?
I didn’t know! I couldn’t answer! I didn’t find anyone particularly attractive. “Neither” as an answer was never good enough!
Magazines were shoved under my nose left, right, and centre. Girls flirted with the boys from the other school. My best friends giggled over band members and debated over who was the cutest—and I didn’t get it! I couldn’t understand! I couldn’t explain it! For the longest time, I just thought I was a really good Catholic, and it wasn’t until after I was married that someone asked me a different question—one that I never thought I would be asked:
“Could you be demisexual?”
I thought about it. I Googled it. It stuck with me for days.
Assigning labels always felt so silly to me. Love who you love, it’s no one’s business but yours. But the day I learned what demisexual meant, everything just sort of… clicked into place. The LGBTIQA+ spectrum is incredibly complex and finding your spot on it isn’t always easy – especially if you’re unsure if you belong on it at all. However, I did learn that having a label makes it a lot easier to identify and understand why you feel the way you feel.
Demisexuality is on the spectrum of asexuality, and it is the experiencing of sexual attraction only after you’ve formed an emotional connection with a person.
Of course, I couldn’t have a crush on someone I’d never spoken to. Of course, I didn’t find band members or rugby players hot. Of course I never flirted with any of the boys from the boys’ school.
I only had one other relationship before I started dating my now-husband.
That relationship was with someone I was friends with first. When my now-husband and I first got together, we’d already been friends for three years.
It’s obvious now, but I spent a lot of time wondering if there was something wrong with me, or if I was ever going to see someone walk into a room and feel the way movies said you would feel.
It’s funny how with the right question, everything just clicks into place.
“Could you be demisexual?”
Yeah, actually. That’d explain a lot.