Jun 1, 2024 | 2024 Summer - More than One Letter

By D.D. Deischer-Eddy

If I were a more self-centered person, I would claim that the arrow of the demisexual flag is and always has been pointing directly at me. But I hate seeming so vain, so I would prefer to be more metaphorical in saying the arrow has always been pointing me in a certain direction.

I followed a distinct pattern growing up: I only had crushes on boys with whom I first became relatively close friends. The recurring one, of course, being my best friend. (In my defense, he gave me a series of confusing signals in high school.) While I found other classmates cute or attractive in some vague sense of the word, I would never actually pursue them. I originally chalked it up to not being brave enough or not liking them that way.

I was about 16 when I first learned the term “demisexual.” While I felt a certain kinship with the word, I was still a silly teenager, i.e., stubborn. I felt too normal—whatever that means—to even consider that I was anything but straight. Even when a good friend of mine said she would take care of me if we ever dated, and I started to consider it, I didn’t face the music until college. When I finally did, a lot of things made sense—especially my relationships with some of my best girl friends. Of course, that’s the usual story, isn’t it?

How about something a little more unusual? As odd as it sounds, I’ve always been more attached to fictional characters than to real people. While I love my friends deeply, I’ve almost always felt a disconnect with them, something I couldn’t explain that didn’t always click. Although I would have loved it if my friends had invited me out to places more often than they did, I enjoyed sitting at home reading or watching anime. The characters I read about or watched felt more real to me than the people in my life, and they ran much less of a risk of breaking my heart—unless they went out with another girl who wasn’t me—and they know who they are.)

My running list of fictional husbands has become a personal joke, something to break the ice when talking online. But truthfully? I like them far more than any real man. It’s easier to imagine relationships between these characters and some idealized version of myself than to imagine a relationship with any potential romantic interest. Even with an imagination as hyperactive as mine, one that immediately pictures something I read or hear, I can’t look at a stranger and see a fictionalized future life with them.

About the time I finally realized that maybe demisexual was more than a term I appreciated, I was realizing the age-old truth: women are hot. Frankly, so are nonbinary people. Honestly, everyone is hot! I have video games to thank—Danganronpa and Monster Prom specifically—for helping me realize this, because otherwise I might have gone on believing I was straight for much longer. My entire world opened to appreciate more than just two-dimensional men. I decided I should probably figure out a way to express this in terms of my identity. I could no longer convince myself that I was heterosexual. 

I settled on demisexual and biromantic, though I often shorthand this to demibisexual, thanks to a lovely pendant I got from an Etsy creator. (The arrow over the bisexual flag just feels so right, even more so than having two separate symbols.) While I didn’t face many obstacles to this “announcement,” there were the annoyances. Perhaps the moment of greatest frustration was the well-meaning, but ultimately ignorant, “Well, aren’t you bisexual?” 

If I were different, I would have proudly said “Yes, yes I am bisexual.” I did not enjoy the assumptions and the attempt to stuff me into one solitary box. No one can tell me how I identify, and I wasn’t going to let anybody do it, either. Yes, I have the capability of being attracted to multiple genders, but the demi part is important to me. It’s an identity I’m not willing to let go of, nor should I.

“But everyone is demi,” people love to say. “Everybody prefers being friends first before dating.”

No, you don’t understand, I say to myself every single time. That’s not what it means. Or maybe it is. But that’s not what it means to me. While I can appreciate someone’s physical appearance, I won’t be interested if I don’t know them. Unless, of course, they’re fictional. I’ve always been more attracted to my close friends than friends I’ve known for a brief time. I could never join a dating app because I wouldn’t know anybody and therefore wouldn’t trust them. So no, not everyone is demisexual. To say otherwise is to trivialize something that affects the way I think about everyone in my life.

So, yes, I think Dick Grayson is the perfect male specimen, and yes, I find Kyoko Kirigiri to be my dream girl. But outside of fiction, in real life, I cannot bring myself to think too deeply, to fantasize, unless I know someone well. My greatest crushes have been the stirrings of affection originally intended for a friend. Touch-starved as I am in this world forever changed by COVID-19, I will probably never go on a blind date or dating site. The connection I need to consider such a thing is lost in that way. I would rather watch anime and swoon over a fictional man whose hand I can never hold. 

And when I put it that way, it doesn’t sound so trivial, does it? I’m much more comfortable with my fictional dates—at least they’ll never try to tell me that my identity is trivial.

D.D. Deischer-Eddy is an aspiring writer living in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, U.S. She has a B.A. in English and Creative Writing and loves writing the queer characters she has never met.

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