Finding my labels: on my experience figuring out I’m aroace

I believe we can learn a lot from listening to each other, so when I learnt about ASpec April I offered to write a post to share my experience with figuring myself out.

First, let me introduce myself. My Name is Laura, and I’m asexual and aromantic. I’m also a writer of queer romance. And last but not least, I’m Spanish.

The first time I saw the word asexual was in fanfic. And I think I was lucky enough to be able to read in English, because until two years ago, I hadn’t ever heard the word asexual in a Spanish conversation. It’s still pretty unknown in Spain, except for very specific queer circles. To give you an example: two years ago I was studying for a masters in teaching, and I offered to do a presentation on queer identities since none of our teachers had even mentioned them. Out of a 70 people class, no one but two people had ever heard about asexuality or aromanticism, and I had been the one who had talked about asexuality with them before.

Up until I was 27 years old, I didn’t have that word to describe myself. I never knew why I was different. Conversations about sex made me uncomfortable. I could joke about it, when it wasn’t personal, but conversations about the sex my friends were having made me feel weird and like I wanted to hide under the table. My friends thought I was a prude and they would tease me about it, which let me tell you, didn’t feel great.

But still, I didn’t think the word asexual could apply to me. Not until I first saw and interview and someone talked about being autochorissexual. Because that label, that one was exactly me. That one described exactly how I felt. Everything around me shook and it felt like sliding into a well-worn jumper: warm and soft. Because I was not alone, there were more people who felt like I did, I wasn’t just “weird”. Ever since then, I have worn that label with pride.

But it wasn’t until two years later that another label surprised me, that I felt I could also identify as aromantic. Because I do like the idea of romance: I love reading romance novels, and writing them. And I love the idea of having that close relationship with something, of having that *someone*. But I examined how I really felt, and while I did love that idea, I had never felt romantic attraction towards anyone. So there I was, 29 years old and identifying as aroace. And everything clicked into place.

And you know what? I’m almost 31 years old now, and I have an amazing partner in life and in crime. I love him to death, I am just not in love with him. And I couldn’t be happier.

On communities and allies.

As an author that’s debuting next month I’m probably not doing myself any favors writing this, much less posting it, but I have some thoughts on the word community and the way it’s been used lately.

Here’s the thing: I don’t believe writing M/M makes your part of the LGTBQIA+ community, it makes you part of the M/M Romance business. And it’s been shown, time and time again, that some authors are here just for the business part. I’m not recriminating them this, people can write whatever they want and make money out of it. But I draw a line at trying to make this your own special place and throwing actual queer people out of it, when you’re making money out of telling their stories and calling yourself an ally.

Let me say it again: writing and/or reading M/M stories doesn’t make you an ally to the LGTBQIA+ community, listening to actual LGTBQIA+ people when we speak does.

Because when you’re complaining about infighting, or about this community turning on in itself, what I really hear is: I said something that hurt a group of people and now they’re telling me how I hurt them I refuse to listen to them and make them the bad guys in all of these.

But raising our voices when something hurts us is not being the bad guys, especially not when you hide behind the word ally and blame us for attacking you. Let me tell you something: I don’t think that word means what you believe it means.

So keep writing M/M stories, keep reading them, but don’t try to make us believe you’re an ally to our community, because you’ve shown your cards, and we’ve all seen them.

On writing… bios

WIN_20160415_17_31_38_ProLast week, my bio was published on the Dreamspinner Press website (and how exciting is that?!) But as excited as I was to have my own corner of the publishing world, I had no idea what to say about myself when the time came. I was convinced I was boring and everyone had much more interesting lives than me. I went looking at other people’s bios and spiralled into a terror that I would never be able to write something about me that was remotely engaging. Here’s what I finally wrote:

Laura Bailo is a veterinarian and a teacher in training who can do surgical sutures but can’t sew on a button to save her life.

She lives in Spain with far too many books and boxes full of notebooks. She loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and she’s known to have gotten lost in her own city. She loves reading, singing and trying out new cooking recipes, and if she’s feeling adventurous she may try to do all of these at the same time.

Continue reading “On writing… bios”

My 2016, or a post on new beginnings.

I’ve been thinking about writing something like this for a week now, but every time I opened a new tab to do it I couldn’t write one word. I kept telling myself “who could be interested in reading about what you’ve done?”   But then I realised that this year has meant a lot to me, and that I could benefit for putting it all together here, even if no one else reads it. So here I go.

The name of this post is pretty self-explanatory; this year has been a year of new beginnings for me. That doesn’t mean everything has been good, but today I want to focus on the positives.

I was diagnosed with anxiety. And yeah, maybe this doesn’t sound like a good thing, but ever since I started taking the correct (at least correct for me) medication I’ve felt more myself, and there have been days when I’ve just loved being me. You have no idea how difficult that was before, when almost every day was a complete struggle. So I’m not afraid of saying I’m on meds and talking about how much they help me.

I went back to University for a Masters in teaching. I couldn’t get in last year and decided to try again this one; and I was lucky! I hadn’t realised how much I really loved teaching until I started learning how it’s done. The last week before Christmas break was hell, but even that was worth it for me to be able to shape the younger generations even a little bit.

I met a lot of good people, both online and offline. I consider some of those people to be among my closest friends now. Being able to talk to someone, to tell them I’m not feeling well, to talk through what I’m feeling with them and not being ridiculed because of it? That means the world to me. I’m not giving names, because if you’re reading this, you already know who you are and that I love you. I do want to do a special mention here, for the online friend I had the opportunity of meeting in person this summer: Rain, you know that was the highlight of my summer and one of the best moments of this year.

I discovered something important about myself: I’m asexual. You can read my blogpost about it if you want to know more about what this meant to me.

And last but not least, I wrote a book and signed a contract for it to be published next year. You already know the title: The Sun Still Raises. It’ll be published with Dreamspinner Press and I can’t wait to tell you more things about it. I’m so excited that all of you will be able to read my words and meed my characters!

And that’s all for today. As you can see, this has been a good year for me, but I’ll hope for 2017 to be even better. Happy New Year, readers!

Me, my asexuality and I

I’m a firm believer in the fact that we can learn a lot from reading other people experiences. And while my intention with this post is not to educate anyone, I’d like my voice to be heard, my experience to be known; for it to help even if it’s just a little bit. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for reading quite a lot of people discussing their feelings and sharing their own experiences with us readers. So here goes nothing.

My name is Laura, I’m 28 years old and I’m Spanish. I’m telling you this so you can imagine my situation – our dictionaries don’t even hold a definition word the word asexual related to a sexual orientation.

Half my life, since I was 12 years old, I’ve seen people around me become interested in sex, they’ve talked about it freely (which is good, don’t get me wrong) and something about it always made me a bit uncomfortable. I thought something was wrong with me: I had no interest in sex, and while I enjoyed erotic literature I could never imagine myself in one of the sex scenes.

People didn’t help. Society pushes us so much nowadays, that losing your virginity is considered almost a rite of passage. I felt ashamed because I hadn’t lost mine, because I had no interest in doing it, because people look at you weirdly when you’re 20 something and still a virgin. Even my own friends shamed me – maybe not voluntarily, maybe they didn’t know the damage they could do – and it didn’t help  with the feeling that there was something wrong with me.

And then, quite by chance, I came accross the concept of asexuality. And I thought for a while I might belong there, somewhere along that spectrum. But still, something didn’t feel just *quite right* to me. I couldn’t find the final piece of the puzzle that was my sexuality. Until I read this interview done by El on the blog Just Love Romance:

There, I came accross this: autochorissexual. And when I read the definition something in me clicked, a small voice that had been silent for too long said “That’s me! That’s how I feel!” I smiled and cried after that, and trembled for so long I thought I would never be able to stop.

Finding that label meant A LOT to me. Suddenly I wasn’t broken, I belonged somewhere, and there was a whole community that accepted me just as I am. I’ve felt much more comfortable in my own skin ever since, and I’ve met some amazing people that I can now consider friends.

I hope this small part of my life gives you an idea about why being alienated as part of a bigger community hurts so much, why our sexuality being erased feels like a knife going through our hands, why we’re still fighting for represantion. We just want to be heard.

But I’ll say this again: this is just my experience. If you want to know more, talk to us, ask us questions, read that amazing interview El did, look for representation in the media. Just don’t think we don’t exist.