When I Think of Queer Joy... by Rebecca Burgess - purple square with cover image of How To Be Ace and a comic strip image

When I Think of Queer Joy…

Rebecca Burgess, author and illustrator of the humorous and honest graphic memoir of growing up asexual, How To Be Ace, shares with us what queer joy means to her. In this blog, she writes about her relationship with her asexual girlfriend, interspersed with some awesome comic strip pages.

When I think of Queer Joy, the first thing that comes to my mind is my girlfriend, who I’ve known for over ten years, and I’d say we’ve been together for about eight years. I say ‘about’ because, the beginning of our relationship didn’t really have any traditional markers that often help people define their relationship.

Both me and my girlfriend are asexual, and physically speaking the most intimate we ever get is hugging each other in bed! So, we never had a ‘first kiss’, or the first time we had sex, or similar things that often kickstart my other friends to begin separating a friendship from ‘something more.’

So, how did me and my girlfriend end up falling in love, when our relationship had very little physical intimacy? I feel like, outside of sexual attraction, it was pretty similar to how others fall in love! We were friends for a while before we became close, but after Uni, when she moved away, we started exchanging letters and emails just for fun. I had always found her very easy to talk to and down to earth. She always found me to be very kind and easy going. We went from friends talking once a week to best friends talking and sharing every day- and our relationship formed almost entirely over text messages (and writing stories together!).

I knew pretty quickly that I liked my to-be partner in a romantic kind of way – in comparison to my other friends I felt so much closer and more able to open up to her. And I couldn’t stop thinking about her – I wanted to share everything about myself to her! I knew the moment I was in love – it wasn’t a romantic moment at all – she hadn’t replied to an emotional message I sent, and I got way, way more upset than I would ever feel over any other friendship.

After that point, I decided to start getting closer and closer (I think she was more reluctant compared to me at first haha). But again, because we were both ace and the same gender, to everyone else we just looked like ‘normal’ best friends. There were many awkward moments in that time, where other friends would get confused if we didn’t give them the same attention as we did each other. And moments where we weren’t quite sure of ourselves, unsure where the line between friendship and partner was, unsure if we had crossed that line or not.

In the end, the answer to that question came down to our love simply feeling…right. It’s pretty corny, but our relationship just felt special and that’s all it needed to be for both of us. We’ve been together ‘officially’ for a long time now, but we still get questioned by people. My girlfriend has been insisted to by people that she should really try (insert sex tip here). Or that she has Stockholm syndrome, when she explains that we’re together because I’m always there for her, and that she could do better than me!

But, for both us, we don’t need any of those kinds of validations. We still after (about) eight years feel a deep and caring love for each other that brings us closer every day, and that’s enough for us. It’s definitely a Queer kind of joy, that I hope I’ll continue to feel it for years to come.

How To Be Ace: A Memoir of Growing Up Asexual is available at JKP.com or wherever you buy books. Get 25% off using discount code JKPPRIDE25 at checkout, offer only on JKP.com, valid until the end of June.

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