At the dawn of MySpace, before smartphones or affordable home internet service, in a time just before online forums passed from the realm of shadows into the light, I draw your attention to 13-year-old me sitting at a spare computer in my mom’s office desperately seeking answers to questions I was too afraid to ask out loud. Why wasn’t I like the other kids? Why did I literally give no fucks (pun intended), while the other hormonal teenagers were running around talking boobies and boners all of the time?
These weren’t questions I was ready to discuss with real life people. Lucky for me, I stumbled into the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (fondly known as AVEN forums. Starved for answers, to be understood, and to know that I wasn’t alone, I plunged into the conversation. I remember hastily minimizing the browser every time someone passed by, terrified of revealing my confusing secret, but spurred on by a sense of teenage deviance and a need to define what I was, or rather wasn’t feeling.
With my innumerable feeble attempts to hide what I was doing in a shared office, the moment my mom caught me off guard and got curious about what I was looking at was inevitable. I sat frozen in fear as she read over my shoulder, knowing that it was too late to try to cover it up. I can still remember the feeling of anxiety as I took her aside and told her that I didn’t want to have sex with anyone, ever.
She told me I was just a late bloomer, that I would change my mind eventually, but that it was okay to feel that way for the time being. That was it, the whole conversation in a nutshell. I was mortified, so much so that I didn’t dare try to speak to anyone about it again for years. After all, according to the people around me I was just a think-I-know-everything-but-really-don’t teenager. How much could I really know about sexuality, even my own?
I sometimes wonder if my asexuality is the reason it took me so long to realize I’m also a lesbian. I never thought I would find someone who wasn’t bothered by my lack of sexual attraction, so I never had much reason to wonder who I might love if I had the chance. In any case, once I accepted my homosexuality, I started dating, had sex (and enjoyed it), got married, the whole nine yards. I left asexuality in the dust. After all, if I was having sex and liking it, how could I still be asexual?
It’s taken me quite a few years to unravel the complexity of my own sexuality, but I have recently accepted that I can enjoy having sex and still be asexual. Enjoying sex and being sexually attracted to another person are two different things. Asexuality is currently seen as a wide spectrum of people who want to have sex, don’t want to have sex, only want to have sex under certain conditions, and everywhere in between. I’ve lumped myself into the grey part of the spectrum for the time being. I have sex, I like sex, I can be turned on, but with very few exceptions, I am completely indifferent to the concept of having sex with other people. Functionally, porn, erotica (preferably the fluffy stuff. Lesbihonest, I’m pretty vanilla), fantasies that almost never involve me, and skillful heavy petting are pretty much the only things that get me going. I could go the rest of my life without sex, and probably without masturbation, and be happy as a clam (pun intended).
So, why am I telling you this? I’m asking myself the same thing at this very moment. I hav)e never been able to have a completely coherent conversation about my asexuality, and I’ve only tried a few times since the fiasco with my mom. Now I’m sharing some of the most intimate details of my personal life with the whole freaking internet. I’m doing it because visibility is important, and I hope that by sharing my experiences people might gain a better understanding of asexuality. I’m doing it because having open conversations about sex and sexuality is important. The more open we are with each other, the less time we spend feeling confused and alone, and the more opportunity we have to make informed choices about our sex lives. I’m doing it because people need to see that our individual sexuality is a complex, evolving web that can take years to untangle, and that’s okay.
I want everyone who struggles with their identity, especially my fellow aces, to know that you’re not alone, that it’s okay to feel the way you do. Those feelings are yours, and no one can tell you they’re not real or valid, no matter if you’re having sex, or writing erotica, or getting off to your favorite porn, or want nothing to do with any of it. You are you, and there’s no one else you should try to be.
If you have questions about asexuality, I strongly urge you to visit the AVEN website, asexuality.org. You are also welcome to reach out to me. I will gladly address questions, comments, concerns, etc. to the best of my abilities. Please note that I am speaking exclusively from my own experience and that I would never claim to speak for the entirety, or even a significant portion of the asexual community, as I acknowledge and respect the fact that asexuality can manifest in infinite beautiful varieties.
This blog post came into being because I started trying to parse through my experiences writing sexually explicit material as an asexual. It quickly became clear that the subject was too complicated for one small blog post. If you want to read about my asexy writing experiences, stay tuned for my Off Pitch blog tour in the upcoming weeks. A gentle reminder that you can still enter to win a signed copy, or one of two e-copies of my upcoming novel. Off Pitch is also available for pre-order from Ninestar Press, and will be available from most major retailers on October 9th!
Update: You can read my follow-up guest post here.