Q & Ace: An Introduction to Asexuality

I wrote this a while back for my friends and family.  I sent it to them when I came out.  It’s intended to be an overview of asexuality for someone who isn’t aware of what it entails and who was a bit blindsided and confused by an announcement from someone they’ve known for years.  Hopefully it’s useful for other people, too.

So, wait, what? You’re… Huh? What’s going on again?

I’m asexual. It’s a bit like being straight except I’m not into women.

Oh, so you’re gay?

No. Asexual. I’m not into men or women.

So, you’re a woman trapped in a man’s body?

No, I’m not transgender. I’m quite comfortable with the factory original parts and don’t see any need to replace any components.

Although, some people who are trans are also asexual.  They’re not mutually exclusive.

Are you missing pieces down below?

Uh, I don’t think so. Let me check…

Hang on a sec…

Ah, found it. Nope. All present and accounted for.

So, then, you’re saying down below doesn’t work or something?

Down below works just fine. It’s just I have no desire to interface my down below with anyone else’s down below.

You can clone yourself then?

No, different meaning of the word. Although, I’d have to say that binary fission would be an awesome trick for parties.

What are you talking about, then?

Asexuality means I don’t experience sexual attraction. That’s it. While other people are on an unending quest to find someone willing to test the repetitive compressive stress tolerance limits of their furniture, I’m on an unending quest to find a complete set of game cartridges for the Nintendo Virtual Boy. I’m simply not interested in having sex, although the customs and practices can be rather intriguing from a scientific or anthropological point of view.

You don’t want sex?

Right.

What, is it against your religion?

No.

Were you abused, then?

No.

Repressed or repulsed or something?

No.

They have a pill for that, you know.

That’s not what the pill is for. The pill is for people who are ready and willing, but not able. I’m perfectly able, just not ready and willing. Saying there’s a pill that’ll fix asexuality is like saying there’s a pill that’ll fix homosexuality. I’m not going to take a pill, feel a stirring in my loins, and suddenly want to sleep with the next woman I see.

What is wrong with you? Sex is AWESOME!

You can keep your sex. Red Alarm is awesome.

More Awesome Than Sex

You should try it some time. You might like it!

“You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say!”

I did try it. I didn’t care much for it. I mean, it was okay, I guess, but nothing spectacular. Nothing close to what all of you claim. Kinda boring, actually.

Wait, you had sex? Gotcha! That means you’re not asexual!

I had sex twice. Nine years ago. Call it a youthful indiscretion or whatever. I didn’t know I was ace at the time. I thought I was straight and that sex was what I was supposed to do at some point, and she offered. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like being gay or straight. Orientation is not the same as behavior. A little bit of experimentation in college doesn’t make someone gay. A lesbian who wants a child and opts for natural insemination isn’t suddenly straight. I had sex for the experience and because I thought that doing it might make my libido turn on. It didn’t.

I don’t regret it at all. In fact, I think it’s good that I did try it, otherwise I’d probably have doubts that I’m really asexual because there’d be that chance that I would like it if I just tried it.

Maybe she just wasn’t any good. If you find someone good, you’ll change your mind.

Maybe she wasn’t. I don’t know. I don’t have any other data points to compare. But that’s irrelevant. I wasn’t put off by a bad experience. I never was really all that interested in it to begin with. She could have been the most mindblowingly skilled woman on the planet and I still probably would have said “Meh”.

It’s just a phase. It’ll pass.

19 years since puberty is “just a phase”? Well, I’ll give it another 20 minutes, but that’s it!

You could be a late bloomer.

I’m 32 and I’ve never been sexually attracted to anyone, not even a naked woman standing directly in front of me with her hands on my equipment. That’s not a late bloomer. Nothing was planted in my garden.

I’m so sorry for you. It must really suck for you.

No, it’s absolutely fine, actually. I don’t want sex. It’s not like I’m yearning to get laid but can’t, leading me to be a pent up bottle of frustration and sadness. I’m not missing out on anything because I’ve never felt anything to miss out on. It would be a bit like me telling you that your life must suck because you don’t want a copy of a game like Space Squash. You’d give me a funny look and shake your head in confusion over how I could possibly think that you’d be interested in that.

But sex is awesome! Everyone wants sex!

You can’t see me, but I’m giving you a funny look and shaking my head in confusion over how you could possibly think that I’d be interested in that.

By the way, weren’t these supposed to be questions?

Oh, right. So, uh… Aren’t you just putting a fancy name on celibacy?

No, not at all. Celibacy is the condition of not having sex, while asexuality is not feeling sexual attraction toward anyone. Think of it this way: Celibacy is “I don’t have sex because _________.” As in “I don’t have sex because it’s against my religion” or “because I can’t find anyone” or “because I’m in prison”. Asexuality is “Sex? Whatever. Please pass the cake.” So yes, I am celibate, but I’m celibate because I’m ace, not because I made some life choice to never have sex or just haven’t been able to get laid and have given up trying.

Not all celibate people are asexuals, and not all asexuals are celibate.

What you’re saying is that you can’t get laid and have given up trying?

Um. No. I’ve never even bothered trying because it’s just not that interesting to me. When I did have sex, it was entirely my partner’s idea, and it took a lot of persistence on her part to get me to the point where I said yes.

That’s a bit like claiming that I’m not interested in golf because I’m no good at it. No, I’m not interested in golf because it’s golf and it’s not interesting.

(Unless it’s Golf for the Virtual Boy.  In which case I’m all there.)

Why do you hate sex?

I don’t hate sex. I just don’t care about it. As far as aces go, I’m fairly sex positive. I’m not repulsed by it and I don’t have any problem with it. In fact, I find it secretly amusing when someone thinks that I’m offended by a sexual conversation and tries to steer things in a different direction. If I seem offended, it’s probably because I’m zoning out and not paying any attention because I have nothing to add to the conversation.

In the right situation, I might even be willing to give it another go. I just don’t feel any need to find myself in the right situation.

Anyway, go forth and fornicate, just keep your damn kids off my lawn.

So you can’t fall in love?

I can and I have. It’s definitely more than a friendship, it’s just not tied to sex.

Wait, how can you fall in love and still call yourself asexual? If you fall in love, you’re straight, gay, or bi. Pick one.

Sex does not equal love. Sexual attraction does not equal love. Many people are sexually attracted to people they do not love. Many people love people they are not sexually attracted to. And clearly, many people love people they do not have sex with. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction, not the lack of capacity for love.

You’re just inexperienced. If you get out there and keep trying, you’ll come around.

Did you have to “get out there and keep trying” to decide you were interested in sex in the first place? And who knows, maybe you’ll really get into gay sex if you just “get out there and keep trying”. After all, how can you say you’re not gay if you haven’t tried it out?

And that wasn’t a question.

But you’re like totally socially inept. Sometimes you don’t even want to go outside if there are people on the street. Ever think that maybe you’re not asexual, but that you really just have some sort of social anxiety disorder?

I can’t imagine that my social anxiety issues would cause me not to feel attracted to anyone. It’s not a matter of just being too nervous to ask someone out on a date. If that’s all it were, I would still likely feel attracted, but be unable to approach them. On the contrary, I think asexuality and the social issues have a symbiotic relationship going on. I’m not attracted to anyone, so I never feel compelled to break out and try to talk to someone that I’m attracted to.

Then again, maybe both are caused by my deep-seated fear of having to share a closet with someone.

So, uh… Do you feel anything, uh, down there?

Of course I do. There’s nothing physically wrong with my body.

Wait a minute, how do you know that?

A: Like I said, I’ve had sex.
B: Equipment is tested regularly and has been found to be functioning within normal operating parameters.

“Tested regularly”?  So, that means you, uh…? How can you be asexual if you…  you know?

That has absolutely nothing to do with asexuality. Like I’ve said, asexuality is an orientation. It relates to who I find sexually attractive, namely, no one. You don’t need to find anyone sexually attractive for that, it’s a physical response.

Of course, that’s absolutely none of your business, but anyway…

Have you ever thought that maybe you haven’t met the right person yet?

Right, maybe I haven’t. But given that I’ve never found anyone attractive in all the years I’ve been looking and that everyone else seems to find multiple people attractive EVERY DAY, I think it’s fairly safe to say that she’s not hiding behind a tree, just waiting for me to walk by.

Why did you choose to be asexual?

It wasn’t a choice. As the song goes, “baby, I was born this way.” (Of course, the song doesn’t mention asexuality, but whatever. We’re there in spirit.)

How did you realize you were asexual?

Last year, I realized that I didn’t think about sex the same way as anyone else I’d ever met. I started to explore those feelings and came to discover that I wasn’t really interested in sex at all. And I’ve always been that way. During puberty, as a teenager, when I had a girlfriend, and now as an adult. I didn’t really understand it. There weren’t any signs that my hormones were awry and I wasn’t depressed. Perhaps most significantly, I hadn’t had sex in eight and a half years and it didn’t bother me at all. Everyone else seems like they’d go insane if they hadn’t had sex in eight and a half days.

So, I was a mystery to myself, a puzzle to be solved.

I like solving puzzles.

And so I went looking for answers. Asexuality was the one that fit the best, so I took it.

But hey, I’m a scientist. I go with the theory that fits the evidence. Right now, the evidence points toward my being ace. But in the future, I recognize that there may be some new evidence that’ll come along and disprove the theory. Should that happen, I’m willing to go where that leads.

Ace? What’s that?

Ace…xual. It beats “amoeba”.

Why are you telling me all this, anyway?

To spread awareness and hope it’ll contribute to a better understanding of asexuality. I see other aces facing ignorance and struggling with those who are unable or unwilling to understand. On top of that, asexuality is almost completely invisible. I mean, I’ve felt this way for at least 19 years, since puberty, possibly even earlier, and I didn’t even know this was an option until April.

I’ve been a supporter of gay rights for years. It would be hypocritical for me to be open in my support there, yet be completely silent about who I am, now that I know who I am.

I know that one of the greatest factors in someone being willing to accept homosexuality is to know someone who is gay. I know that if I’m open about who I am and how I feel, that all of you will gain a greater understanding of asexuality and be more willing to accept us. You won’t see asexuality as some scary alien concept. You’ll see me. (Granted, I can be a scary alien concept at times, though…)

Were you hiding all this time, then? What took you so long to come out of the closet?

I haven’t been hiding. I really just found out myself back in April. I’ve been confirming the hypothesis since then and trying to figure out how to say anything about it. And it’s not like I’ve been trying to pass or anything. Even before I made the discovery, I never went around claiming to be sexually attracted to anyone. I’m sure everyone who knows me had already figured out that there was something off here. I mean, I have this picture on my desk at the office:

(I’m not really sure aces come out of the closet, though. I think we come out of the pantry, because of the cake.)

Cake?

Yes. We have cake. That’s how we recruit people.

Recruit people?

Of course. Just like any other sexual minority, we recruit people to help carry out our sinister agenda.

Sinister agenda?

Yes. Say, would you like some cake?

 

—————-

Some excellent resources for learning more about asexuality are the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, at http://www.asexuality.org, and the Hot Pieces of Ace YouTube channel, at http://www.youtube.com/user/HotPiecesofAce

13 thoughts on “Q & Ace: An Introduction to Asexuality

  1. Pingback: What is Asexuality? | Asexuality Archive

  2. You have no idea how much this kinda of cleared out my mind, i mean, i’m a fuckin 20 yr old virgin who has all time found herself kinda of off. I mean, i thought i was bisexual… now i’m not that sure, i mean, i do find attractive girls and boys so i don’t know if being asexual resticts that or it is just me thiking everyone is kinda of ok?

    Well, my bugger lies here though, i’ve always found the idea of sex pretty separate from love, i mean, when i read or when i write i can totally connect the idea of sex for love but to me, i don’t know… i’ve always felt that Sex is something apart from love. that’s just something to be done, sometimes when aroused and totally independent of love.
    is that asexualish? or am i just kinda of weird?

    • I feel your sediment exactly! I feel an attraction towards everyone, but it’s not sexual. It’s just a general romantic attraction or “I think you’re kinda hot aka hey, I like your aesthetic and can appreciate how you look”

      Plus, I must admit, it feels odd when I admit to people I’m ace because I’m such a hopeless romantic sometimes, and it makes me feel weird when all I can find are aromantic asexuals to talk to because sometimes people think that romantic attraction invalidates being ace in some odd roundabout way of thinking.

      As someone with some experience with digging around and talking to people, what you feel about sex and love is perfectly fine! There’s plenty of people who are asexual but can still enjoy sex as an action and get aroused, etc etc, yet feel it’s different from love. I don’t think it’s weird at all.

  3. So nice to finally find useful information. I grew up thinking that I was straight. I dated girls here and there, but I look back now and realize I never thought once about having sex with them. Not saying that as in I thought sex was bad, I just mean I was never really interested. I always felt that something was off about me and now I think I have finally cleared that up. I can be happy knowing who I am now.

  4. My daughter is dating a man who tells her that he is asexual, or perhaps, hemi-sexual, in that in order for him to have sex with someone, he has to have a deep emotional connection. So far, so good with them, but I’m concerned that at some point, that might not be enough for her (unless of course she is also asexual – a possibility). Would love opinions of whether asexual couples and/or one asexual + one heterosexual couple type of couple can make it work, long term. Thank you!

  5. Nothing has been covered concerning being an Asexual and Transgendered either from Male to Female or from Female to Male, I would like feedback on this Issue.

  6. Is this site even still monitored?

    I am feeling fairly confident that I somehow fit into the “ace” category. Identifying as a gay man and definitely attracted to men, but just how sexually is a big question…

    With a partner of 16 years and no desire whatsoever. Sex was always a challenge. No sex in about a year. Partner doesn’t even ask for it! (Performance is also a big challenge.)

    I take a lot of medications for both bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I know that these can affect libido and performance. Even so I have no desire to use a supply of Levitra that was prescribed to me several years ago. Just not interested. If I found myself outside of my relationship with an extremely attractive man, I am not at all confident that sex would be likely.

    Input from anyone? Thanks so much.
    Wallace
    Raleigh, NC, USA

  7. This is a wonderful letter! I think you did a beautiful job of presenting this topic and I love the part about the cake!

  8. I have enjoyed reading this while being informed about asexuality. That office picture and the cake part had me ROTFL. I can totally relate to you about this non-existing feeling of sexual attraction. I’m glad I read this. Now I feel I can certainly call myself an ace.

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