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Sparks, Rainbow Waterfalls, and Invisible Closets: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Coming Out
By Ren Martinez
I never realized I needed to come out of the closet. For most of my life, I didn’t even realize there was a closet.
Only that it was really dark in there.
In the United States, there is nothing quite so rampant as sex. Next to Ford trucks and Law & Order episodes, sex is the most plentiful thing to be found, from billboards to commercials to movies to music. Even when I didn’t know what sex was, I knew it sold and everyone was looking to buy.
In eighth grade, puberty transformed me from a skinny board with knobby knees to a perfect hourglass with D-cup breasts. Suddenly, I was bombarded with offers to take me out, to take me up, to buy my time, and, even though none of these offers interested me, I knew that my body gave me something. It gave me power. Collateral in a world of rumors exchanged in locker rooms and a fickle social stock market. But, while my body had suddenly become a billboard, it hadn’t quite gotten the message. Sex might have been what it was selling, but it wasn’t terribly interested in buying.
It’s not that I didn’t notice what boys were cute (or the girls for that matter). But, none of them caused heat to spiral low in my belly or lightning to crawl through my veins or whatever metaphor for lust I can come up with.
It wasn’t until high school where I met the boy whose offer I would eventually accept. Alex was one of my closest friends, and the year that passed was full of intimate conversations and best-friend hijinks. He had admitted his crush months before, but I couldn’t give him what wasn’t there. While I loved talking with him and playing with his hair, my heart didn’t flutter when his hand brushed mine.
My body felt the first flicker just before he asked me to prom. It was a foreign sensation, almost alien in nature. It creeped along my nerve endings, and the stew of chemicals in my brain would rush through me whenever I saw him.
After prom, Alex asked to kiss me. My stomach nearly dropped to my knees, my cheeks flushing. I said yes.
When he and I eventually had sex, it was almost as alien as that first spark. My mind was ready; I had been preparing for this since I had stumbled across my mom’s collection of Harlequin romance novels. I knew that, somehow, my body was going to get swept up in a waterfall, alight with all the colors of a prism, before climaxing like daybreak over my aching body.
Or, you know, something like that.
What happened was that, while the mind was willing, the body needed coaxing. Everything felt fine, clumsy but nice, awkward but enjoyable. He would say things like, “I want you,” and I would wonder, Is this what lust feels like? Warm but calm, like a cup of tea. There was nothing remotely close to waterfalls or tidal waves or the break of dawn.
The guilt was the worst of it. I always expected that the lust I felt when by myself (and reading the most carnal erotica of all-fanfiction) would transfer over to my partner. But, more often than not, I had to remind my body “Yes! You do want to be here! Just get on with it, dammit!” And, after a bit of mental coaxing, the gears would slide into place and I would have my warm-cup-of-tea-type sex. But, I didn’t know how to tell him that-he thought I was just as lust-hungry as he was. It was a balance between genuinely enjoying myself and putting on a show, something born out of the unreality of porn and my own feelings of inadequacy.
After Alex was gone (and good riddance, but that’s another tale), I had a short string of monogamous relationships. The second, a nice boy named Patrick who was the living personification of the color beige. Sure, he was boring, but he was nice. Having the face of an Abercrombie model certainly didn’t hurt either. When that spark never ignited, not even a glimmer, I readied myself for an Oscar-worthy performance. I became quite the actress; Meryl Streep would have been proud.
(As a disclaimer, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy the sex at all. Orgasms are nice! I enjoy them! But, it wasn’t my partner that lit me up. Having sex with a partner that you’re not attracted to is like masturbation with another person involved. They’re just helping you out, really. And, vibrators don’t cuddle afterwards.)
It was only upon falling in love for the second time that the spark came back.
Sex with Karim was nothing like I had before. It was like being on fire for the first time, crackling hot through my blood and flaring low in my belly. Every time he touched me, it was like being hit by lightning. I burned for him the way I loved him.
When he and I broke up, it was like a light going out. And, it was during this time when a few things became all the clearer to see.
First, I fell hard for my best friend, Eleanor, and promptly freaked the fuck out. Because, yeah, girls were cute and hot and guh, but I had never had feelings for one. Even more confusing was that I had no desire to have sex with Eleanor. Sure, I wanted to cuddle her and play with her hair and kiss her a bunch. But, my body was content with that; sex was simply not interesting.
So, that was weird.
When it became clear that I wasn’t quite as straight as I had thought, I began looking for communities online. Telling anyone seemed silly (what if it was a fluke? I didn’t even want to have sex with her!) so online anonymity was the perfect solution. Tumblr became a refuge, where I could lurk and laugh and meet other people just as confused as I was.
It was on Tumblr that I first read about asexuality.
And, I realized that I had been in a closet my whole life that I hadn’t even seen.
I found out that there were people like me, to whom sex wasn’t the rainbow waterfall earthquake that Harlequin taught me. To some, sex was like eating cake or folding laundry or touching rotting animal guts. There were people who never wanted to have sex and others who would have it for fun, but weren’t attracted to their partner.
And, there are those who didn’t feel sexual attraction without a deep emotional connection first. They called themselves demisexual. They were exactly like me.
So, in conclusion, an introduction:
Hello. My name is Ren Martinez. I’m a writer, actor, and fangirl extraordinaire. I love Thai food, Florence + The Machine, and anything with zombies in it. I have a cat named Maergery Tyrell and a boyfriend who loves me just as I am, panromantic demisexual and all.
Also, I’m pretty sick of closets. Not nearly enough light.
#Real #PanromanticDemisexual #WriterActorFangirl #ComingOut #ClosetsAreDark #ButTheLightIsBetter
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