This is actually my first blog tour (and I’m Day One?? Eek!) and our lovely novella is Learning Curves by Ceillie Simkiss.
Read the blurb here.
The novella features ADHD and anxiety, as well as LGBT+ matters – Ceillie has kindly written a post on asexuality – enjoy!
I was a bit of a late bloomer when it came to figuring out the labels that fit best for me. I always loved the idea of romance, and loved being with people, but until my senior year of college, I didn’t have labels that fit correctly for me.
For a long time, I said that I was straight. There are a lot of reasons for it, but I always knew that it wasn’t something that neither my parents, nor my extended family, would encourage me to explore. My extended family has made it explicitly clear that they aren’t safe to come out to.
Despite having more queer friends than I could count on both hands, I didn’t really search for words that made sense for me, even knowing that straight wasn’t right. I always thought that everyone was beautiful. I still do, but back then I said that I was an artist and artist should appreciate beauty in all its forms no matter if they were sexually attracted to that form are not
I knew the words for being bisexual or pansexual, but neither fit right for me. I’ve always dated men, so it didn’t seem like it was fair for me to use either of those labels. I know better now, but that’s what I thought at the time. I learned the word asexual in my senior year of college, sitting in the second row of a human sexualities class.
It was a near the end of the semester and we were talking about the changes in some of the DSM definitions. One of those definitions was for the word asexual. It was classified as a disorder at the time, though it was changed shortly afterwards. My professor, who was not the most progressive of thinkers, didn’t say anything about it being a queer identity, but one of my classmates did.
A girl in the back of the classroom shout it out that it wasn’t a disorder, it was an identity, and it didn’t need treatment. I don’t know who said it. I heard it from the back of the classroom, but couldn’t identify the speaker. Hearing that word, and learning it was an identity was like having a fireworks set off right in front of me.
I walked out of the classroom that day and turned to the two friends who always set to either side of me in the class, and said, “I think that’s me. I think that’s my word.”
They didn’t know much about it either, but I remember them both being excited for me. For months, any article that they found and tumblr post that referenced asexuality wound up in my messages on Facebook. I learned so much in the next few months that I’m pretty sure they were all sick of me talking about it. But finally, finally, I felt at peace with the labels I use to define myself – panromantic asexual.
I didn’t come out to most people in my life for a long time. I told my best friend. I told my sister. I told my boyfriend, who is now my fiancé. That was about it, for almost two years. I didn’t come out fully until the beginning of this month. My family reacted about the way I expected them to – by basically ignoring it because I’m still marrying a man. A lot of people that identify on the ace spectrum have this experience. I’m sure that people on the aromantic spectrum get the same thing, with Even less understanding of why it’s important. People will try to tell you that it doesn’t matter, that if you aren’t sexually or romantically attracted to someone of a similar gender, that you don’t need another label.
They’re wrong.I’m here to tell you that finding the words that define you, even if it doesn’t change anything that you’re doing, is so important. Finding the labels that fit me made me feel so much more comfortable in my skin.
In the last four years, I have been able to do more to understand who I am as a person because I know these labels, because I can search for other people in my community that feel the same way I do.
My sexual and romantic identity is only one part of who I am, but knowing the words has made me more confident in who I am. To whoever that girl was in the back of class that day, thank you. It would have taken me a lot longer to get here if you hadn’t spoken up.
Being so late to knowing my labels is one of the reasons I wrote Learning Curves. You hear a little bit about Cora’s family and their reaction to learning that she is queer, and talk about a lot of the gatekeeping that we all face, even within our own community. Readers will also get to see Elena’s family, who are incredibly supportive, even when they’re thoughtless, because that’s a reality I’d like to see someday for myself.
Even if Learning Curves doesn’t win any awards or hit the bestseller lists, I hope that someone else will read this book and think that maybe these are the right words for them. Even if they aren’t the right words for them, I hope that everyone who reads it will love my characters as much as I do. And finally, I hope that people will actually buy this book. It means a lot to me to have it out there in the world.
About the author
Ceillie Simkiss is a queer writer of all stripes based in southern Virginia. She is also a blogger, public relations professional, and freelance writer. She has bylines at sites like Culturess, Global Comment, and Let’s Fox About It, in addition to her self-published novella Learning Curves
She started writing fiction as an escape from her day job as a small town journalist, and has been at it ever since, with the support of her partner, her dog and her cats.