“Invisible” by Mika Babineau (2017, 18×24 inches, Acrylic on stretched canvas)

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Being ace can be exhausting. Pretty much nobody knows asexuality exists, so you can’t just say “hey I’m ace” to someone without it being a big thing. As if coming out wasn’t hard enough, you now have the added fun of explaining every detail of what that means! What joy! Every time you want to come out to someone – even a coworker or casual friend – you have to weigh the exhaustion of explaining the entire thing. And the awkward personal questions will inevitably follow. You have to be an expert, always on your toes, ready to teach a whole vocabulary lesson and advanced LGBT+ theory at the drop of a hat.

Everyone knows what being straight is. Everyone knows what being gay is. But there is no education on what it means to be ace. Even other people in the LGBT+ community may not know much or anything about aces, and they’re the ones that I’m supposed to feel most comfortable to talk about this with. In my last painting, I mentioned how important representation is; this painting is what it feels like without it.

Invisibility comes with the feeling that you are alone and broken, and that no one else knows what it’s like to be you. Invisibility means that you can only be is what society says you can be, without even knowing there are other identities out there. Invisibility means that, since people have only just starting hearing about aces, they feel like they can have entire debates about the nature of our existence. They debate that we’re lying. They debate that we’re doing it for attention. They debate if we really exist at all. I will not stop fighting for visibility until telling someone that you’re ace is as easy as telling someone that cats are your favourite animal. It needs to be easy. I need mainstream media to talk about asexuality. I need it to be taught in schools. I need it to be normalized. I need others to know asexuality exists – that I exist – and it’s not going away.