You’re not alone. I’ve been there, too.

If you’re waiting to find out what it’s like to find someone hot, waiting, waiting, waiting, and it’s just not happening, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you find yourself retreating into your shell when the conversation turns to dating or sex, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you wanted a relationship because that’s what you’re supposed to do, not because that’s what you want to do, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you end up in a relationship and nothing feels natural and everything feels like you’re acting in a play but have never read the script, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you’ve had sex and found it boring, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you went through high school without going on a single date, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you went through college without going on a single date, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’re desperately searching for something that will turn you on, and constantly come up empty, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you looked at someone’s naked body in a sexual situation with more scientific curiosity than erotic desire, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve ever been baffled by why a sex scene was included in something, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve sat on the stairs alone, for hours, staring at the wall and wondering just what in the hell is wrong with you, why can’t you be normal, why aren’t you interested like everyone else is, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you suddenly realized, hours after someone talked to you, that the person was trying to flirt with you, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve felt that you’re masturbating wrong, because everyone says you have to think of someone while doing it, and you never have, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you find the entire concept of sexting completely baffling, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you find the entire concept of fantasizing completely baffling and impossible to do, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve ever told someone who’s trying to give you an erotic webcam show to “Go upstairs and put on a more comfortable shirt if you don’t like the one you’re wearing”, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you hear people talk about how horrible it is that they haven’t had sex for a month, and you wonder what’s so hard about it, because it’s been far longer for you and you don’t care, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve ever completely frozen when someone starts hugging or kissing you, because you simply do not know how to respond, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you tried kissing and couldn’t figure out what’s supposed to be so appealing about it, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve felt that people around you are just faking their interest in sex to seem cool, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you sometimes feel like you’re a failed man because your parts work, but you don’t want to use them with someone else like everyone says you’re supposed to be doing, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve been in a conversation with a group of other people, when suddenly it turns to which celebrity is the hottest, and the only thought that comes to your mind is “Please don’t ask me because I can’t answer that”, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

I eventually discovered that I’m asexual.  Maybe that’s what you are.  Maybe not.  I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers.  I just want you to know that you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.  Really, I have.  Sometimes I’m still there, lost and confused.  But I’ve kept going, and you can keep going, too.

If you’re there now, you can talk to me.  If you want me to say more about any of these things, just to hear what I went through, I can do that.  (I’ve already written about many of these experiences, either here in the archives, or on my site:

And if you’re someone who’s been somewhere, feel free to reblog and share where you’ve been, so others know they’re not alone.   Let’s keep going together.

The Great Chicago Conspiracy

Thanks to a troll, I have discovered an amazing way to mock and ridicule people who attempt to invalidate asexuality or claim that it does not exist:

State unequivocally that Chicago does not exist.

You see, if at least 1% of people are asexual then there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.2 million people in the US who are asexual.  That means that there are more people who are asexual than people who live in Chicago.  So, pretty much any claim that dismisses asexuality based on prevalence alone can also be used to deny Chicago’s existence.  (And that 1% statistic generally believed to be an underestimate of the actual number of aces.)

But it doesn’t end there…  Because denying the existence of a major American city is patently absurd (Just like, you know, denying the existence of a sexual orientation…), you can take Chicago denial to whatever ridiculous extremes you desire.  That means that just about any dismissal of asexuality can be turned into a dismissal of Chicago.

Here are just a few examples.

“Chicago doesn’t exist!”  Good for use with any form of “Asexuality doesn’t exist!”

“Statistically, you’re more likely to be from Los Angeles or New York, so let’s not talk about this Chicago nonsense.”  This is the one that started it all.  Someone was trying to tell me that statistically, people are more likely to be straight or gay, so therefore people shouldn’t bother talking about asexuality.

“Chicago sounds made up.  I’ve certainly never been there.”  This can be used in response to people who say that asexuality must be imaginary because they’ve personally never heard of it before.  Clearly, only things they’ve heard of can exist and only things they experience matter.

“One geography lesson with MY maps and you’ll understand.  I’ve got a magic map that will change where you were born.”  This one works for people who try the “Well, you just haven’t slept with me yet.” line.

”Someday, you’ll find the right borough and you’ll realize you’re from New York after all.”  This is the equivalent of “Someday you’ll find The One”:  The idea that you just haven’t explored all those options you’re not interested in exploring.

“Have you tried being from New York?  You might like it!”  Never mind you were born in Chicago…  You just have to visit New York, suddenly you’ll like it, and that’ll change where you were born.  This can be used when someone says “Have you tried having sex?  You might like it!”

“Maybe you’re not from New York, but have you tried being from LA?  Are you sure?”  When someone says “I get that you’re not straight, but have you thought that maybe you’re actually gay?”, it’s like they’re saying you have to be from New York or LA, there are no other possibilities, because Chicago doesn’t exist.

“Chicago isn’t on the map I’m looking at, so clearly it doesn’t exist.”  This is like claiming that asexuality isn’t in a dictionary or a textbook, and using that to “disprove” its existence.

“You’re just claiming to be from Chicago because you’re afraid to give directions.”   For the people who say that a person is asexual simply because they’re afraid to have sex.

“I’m sure you’ll move to New York or LA when you’re older.”  This works for “You’re just a late bloomer.”

“I thought I was in Chicago once, but I was wrong.  I was really in New York all along.  There’s no such place as Chicago.”  There are people who try to say that asexuality can’t exist, because they mistakenly thought they were asexual once.  As if their experience can be used as a way to shut down everyone else.

“You’re just saying you’re from Chicago because it’s trendy.”  There are people who think that asexuality is a fad of some sort.  Well, so’s the Windy City.

“You just don’t want to admit that you’re from LA because society hates people from LA.”  If someone says “You’re just gay but are afraid to admit it.”, try this one.

“Chicago is basically just New York anyway, just without the Statue of Liberty.  You’re not special just because you don’t have a Statue of Liberty.”  For those sadly misguided people who, for some reason, think “Asexuals are basically straight, just without the sex.”

“That place sounds cold and windy and it’s unnatural that anyone would live there.  Have you considered seeing a real estate agent about your problem?  LA is soooo warm!  I love LA!”  If someone tries to pull “You should see a doctor about that”, pull this one on them.

“There’s no research proving that Chicago exists.”  Because clearly, if you don’t bother to look for research on a subject, it can’t possibly exist.  This is especially true when someone points out that research does, in fact, exist.

“Chicago?  Like the pizza?  It’s not possible for a human to be from Chicago.”  For the “Asexual?  Like a plant?  It’s not possible for a human to be asexual” crowd.

“Two hundred years ago, there weren’t people living in Chicago.  Just New York and Los Angeles and that was that.  Everything else is just a fad.”  Because things that have been recognized more recently than some arbitrary point in the past clearly cannot exist.

“Chicago?  Do we really need another city?  Why can’t people just say they live in ‘America’?  Are they going to want a mayor next?”  We can’t let people accurately describe who they are, because then they won’t cleanly fit into my preconceived boxes.

“Chicago means ‘wild garlic’.  It can’t be a place!”  Words, like “asexual” or “Chicago”, can only mean one thing.  Despite the fact that “like”, “can”, and “mean” can mean multiple things.

“But your accent!  You can’t be from Chicago!”  Useful when someone points out some characteristic and uses it to dismiss asexuality, such as “You’re too pretty to be asexual”.

“You took a trip to New York that one time, so you can’t be from Chicago!”  Similar to the absurd claim that “You’ve had sex, so you can’t be asexual!”

Now it’s your turn!  Try turning any ace invalidation into a ridiculous statement about the Second City!  It’s fun and easy!

Special thanks to everyone who took part in that thread a couple months ago and suggested a bunch of these!

An Ace At Work

[This post was written for the September 2015 Carnival of Aces topic of “Living Asexuality”.]

When I’m not working on an asexuality related website or gazing at my collection of vintage stereoview cards, I have what’s known as a “job”.  The specific nature of the job would either bore you to tears or make no sense at all (probably both), so I’ll just say that it’s in tech and the workplace is male-dominated.  When I go to work, I don’t stop being asexual.  Sometimes that makes me feel like I’m leading a weird double life:

  • Nights and weekends:  Totally open asexual activist, spreading the word about asexuality to anyone who’ll listen and a bunch of people who won’t.
  • Weekdays: Half closeted engineer, quiet in my cubicle.

As I’ve talked about before, sometimes I feel like an invisible visibility activist.  It’s not so much that I’m hiding that I’m asexual, I just don’t talk about it because it seems so irrelevant under the circumstances.  But then, when I really think about it, pretty much everyone else is broadcasting their sexuality in a number of ways.  So why should I keep mine hidden?

Now, I don’t deny what I am.  I’ll sometimes wear the ring, and when Asexual Awareness Week rolls around, I’m decked out in the ace colors.  But no one knows what any of that means.  I’ve gradually built a passive ace pride display in my cubicle, but as far as I know, no one’s actually noticed it.  It started with a black ring, then I added a small flag, and finally, I added a Archive promotional magnet.


Anyway, what I’m really here to talk about is all the ways that being asexual is relevant to my day at the office and interacting with co-workers.

The Waitress At Lunch

“Would you look at that?”

“I bet you left a nice tip!”

“Let’s go to Joey’s for lunch.  There are one or two reasons I like that place!”

“You left your credit card there on purpose, just so you could go back and see that waitress again, didn’t you?”

As I mentioned, I work in a male-dominated industry.  As a result, I hear things like this regularly.  Those are all actual comments I have heard coworkers say to each other, discussing the “hot” waitresses at local dining establishments.

It’s not always a waitress, sometimes it’s a coworker, sometimes it’s a random woman on the street, sometimes it’s an athlete or celebrity, but whoever it is, the remarks are similar, and the effect they have on me is the same.  While conversations like these can be roundly condemned as sexist, boorish, and inappropriate, that’s not why I’m bringing them up.

I mention them because they make me acutely aware that I’m asexual.  That I’m different.  They’re said around me because “I’m one of the guys”, but in this area, I’m not.  Not at all.  I can’t relate to what they’re talking about, even though they think they’re making a universally recognizable statement.  While everyone else actively enjoys going to Joey’s (which is basically an upscale, swanky Hooters), that restaurant makes me distinctly uncomfortable.  (And the food is pretentious and overpriced, and the sodas are 3/4ths ice, so it’s not even a good restaurant…)

Whenever a conversation like this gets started, I pull back and shut down, because I can’t be a part of it.  And I don’t just mean I go quiet, I mean that I’m fairly certain that I physically pull away from the group.  I don’t know what I do exactly, but I know that the change in body language is striking enough to be noticed by other people.  One person even began to try and change the subject (Despite starting the conversation himself, usually…) by saying something like “Some people might get offended by this kind of talk”.  It was always clear who “some people” was.

But I’m not offended by it.  That’s not why I close down.  It’s more of a “Please don’t call on me” reaction.  I feel like I’m going to be “found out” if I don’t make some kind of crude comment or nod along with the crude comments others at the table make.  I’m expected to react approvingly in some way, but I can’t.  I have nothing to say on the topic.  If I move away and try to make myself as small as possible, maybe I won’t be directly asked to make a comment myself.  Maybe I won’t have to explain what’s going on.

Which brings me to…

The coming out.

I’ve never actually come out at work.  I’m not entirely sure that I’ve even said the word “asexual” in person to a coworker.

(Now, that’s not to say no one at work knows.  Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook will fairly quickly discover that I’m asexual.)

I guess I don’t really know how to come out at work.  Other people can work it into a conversation or put a picture on their desk or show their partner around the office one day.  I can’t do any of that.  (Although, I do have a web browser “missing image” icon in a frame on my desk, but that’s as much of a nerdy joke as it is a reflection of my life.)  I can’t think of a way to casually work it into a conversation.

“So, what did you do this weekend?”

“I worked on my website about asexuality and went to an ace meetup.”

The response to that would probably be a blank stare and a muttered “…what?”

It would either kill the conversation outright or I’d have to recite the entire Encyclopedia Asexualica for them to understand.  It couldn’t be a quick, casual, matter of fact thing.  By then, all the effort would make it feel like I’m recruiting or proselytizing or something, instead of simply stating basic facts about who I am.

Beyond that, there’s the question of whether I’d even want people knowing…

None of Your Business

When you come out to friends or family, it’s often because you want them to know.  You want them to understand you, you want them to share in your life.  And if they react negatively, although it may be painful and difficult, it’s generally possible to cut them out of your life if necessary.

Work is different.  For eight hours a day, you’re stuck in a confined environment with people you didn’t choose to be around.  Some of them are your friends.  Some of them you don’t really know.  Some of them are your enemies.

I live in a very liberal city and work in an industry that’s full of liberals or libertarians.  Even the small handful of “I voted for Bush twice and I’d still be voting for Reagan if it were legal and he weren’t dead” Republicans at the office are generally totally down with the whole rainbow.  I do not feel like I have to hide who I am in any way, whether it’s for my safety or to keep my job or any of that.

That said, there are people I don’t want to know about me:

The President?  The CTO?  Senior Director of Marketing?  Those people simply do not need to know.  Why should they know?  They know nothing at all about me other than maybe my name.  I don’t need the one piece of personal information they have about me to be this.  I’d much rather they know that I like going on vacation and taking pictures.  I don’t feel I need to keep it from them or anything, I just don’t see the point in them knowing.

But there is one person I want to keep it from:  That Guy™.  You know That Guy™.  Narcissistic, arrogant prick who’s all talk and no substance, has a Masters Degree in Brownnosing and no real talent to speak of.  His career arc at the company is not driven by how good a job he’s doing, but how well he talks up the half-assed job he’s doing to managers who aren’t really paying attention.  He’s the sort of person you avoid interacting with as much as possible until he quits or gets fired.

That Guy™ is transparently manipulative.  You know that every conversation you have with him is just a way for him to find something he can exploit and use against you.

You are forced into silence out of fear.  Telling That Guy™ that you’re asexual is like dousing yourself in honey and rolling around on an ant hill.

He will scoff.  He will mock you.  He will gaslight you.  He will spread rumors about you.  He will deny it exists.  He will ask invasive questions.  He will call you broken.  He is the living embodiment of the comments section of an article about asexuality.  He will do all of these things just carefully enough that you can’t file a complaint with HR.

And you have to sit next to him for eight hours a day.

The Flirting Coworker

Occasionally, a coworker will develop an interest that goes beyond the professional.  They’ll begin probing and testing, trying to figure out if you’re interested, too.

My initial reaction to flirting is to ignore it.  This isn’t a conscious strategy to shut it down before it goes too far.  I’m actually terrible at detecting it, so I ignore it because I don’t even know it’s happening.

If it persists, I’ll eventually catch on that I’m being treated differently somehow.  Maybe they stand a different way.  Maybe they go out of their way to stop by my cubicle to talk to me about things that aren’t work-related.  There was even one woman who seemed to make it a point to lean over her desk whenever I was around.  (And it took me several weeks to even notice that.)

When it gets to this stage, I start to panic.  If the flirting is overt enough that I’ve started to see it for what it is, then the situation is serious.  I start to try to figure out how to say “Well, you’re nice and all, but I just can’t like you in that way…”  Do I say I’m not interested?  Do I say I don’t work like that?  Do I say that it’s not my area?  Do I just say nothing and run away?  What do I do?

So far, it’s only gone to the next stage once, where interest is explicitly stated and a request is made to change the relationship status from “Friendly Coworker” to “Potential Romantic Partner, Pending Outcome Of Probationary Period”.  (I think everyone else senses I’m a lost cause and gave up well before it got to that point.)  I had been practicing how to explain asexuality to this person for a week or so when it happened, but as it turned out, that was not necessary, because they came out to me as ace themselves!

That, of course, turned the rest of my script on its head…  I was expecting my asexuality to be the deal breaker, but when that turned out to be a known and desired quality, I had absolutely no idea what to do.  In the end, we talked for hours in a hallway and didn’t get much work done that day.  I went home and thought about it, and realized that it just wouldn’t work out, because I could not be who they wanted me to be.  We had a few awkward days in the office after that, but after those settled, we remained good friends.

The “Family” Conversation

People at work like discussing families.

“Do you have kids?”


“Are you married?”


“Are you seeing anyone?”


By the time the conversation gets to this point, it’s not going to end up anywhere good.  They usually stop there, but I know it continues in their head.  “Well, why not?  I wonder if there’s something wrong.  Did he just come off a bad relationship?  Is he secretly gay?  Maybe I can fix him up with someone.  But who…?”  I can see that I’m a conundrum to them.

The conversation isn’t always about my status.  Sometimes they’ll vent about their wives as if I can relate.  As if I care.

I’ve taken to saying things like “I have a room full of video games and no one to tell me ‘no’.” as a way to lightheartedly deflect the conversation from the questions I know they really want to ask.  Sometimes I’ll even show pictures of the room full of video games.

I know that I’m looked at as odd for not having a family and for not looking to acquire one, but I know I’d be looked at as even more odd if I tried to explain why.

Before I started writing this, I barely gave any thought to just how much being asexual comes up in my work life.  I figured it was rare, that there were only a handful of times where it was an issue.  Now I realize that it has an impact, sometimes small and subtle, sometimes big and notable, but it has an impact pretty much every day.  And so many of these things are only an issue because I can’t just say “I’m asexual” and have people understand and accept what that means.

Now maybe I need to start thinking more seriously about the impact singlism has on my life at work…

Social Anxiety and Asexuality

[This post was written for the September 2015 Carnival of Aces topic of “Living Asexuality”.]

I am not good with people.

Let me rephrase that:

I am absolutely terrible with people.

I can’t approach most people to start a conversation. I can’t carry on a conversation that someone else starts unless it has a purpose or is on a small number of topics I’m comfortable with.

I avoid social events, parties, that sort of thing.

If you send me an email, I have to prepare myself before I can even open it, let alone respond.

Telephones fill me with mortal dread.

I got a perfect score on the “Introvert” portion of the MTBI.

If you need to find me in a crowd, I’m either hiding behind a camera, or I’m the one sitting in the corner, staying out of the way.

I’ve lived in my house for five years. In that time, I’ve only had five people in my house that I’m not related to. Three of them were the movers. One of them was the cable guy.


I am not good with people.

I am also asexual.

Those two facts are entirely unrelated.


I am not asexual because of whatever social anxiety I may have, and I don’t have whatever brand of social anxiety this is because I’m asexual.

Right about now, there’s probably someone screaming “But how can you know you’re asexual, if you’ve never bothered trying? Maybe the anxiety is holding you back!”

Well, no. No, it’s not.

If that were the case, the attraction would be there and would be fighting the anxiety. There’s never been a situation where I’ve thought, “I’d like to get with that girl, but I’m too afraid to talk to her.” I’ve have heard that sexual attraction is rather compelling. I have heard that it is often strong enough to help overcome social anxiety in some situations. And social anxiety wouldn’t get in the way of fantasies or thinking celebrities are hot or any number of other expressions of sexual attraction that don’t involve social interaction. But none of that happens with me. There’s nothing there. No conflict. No feeling like some part of me is being kept down by another part of me.

Beyond all that, there are people who have pushed themselves into my comfort bubble and expressed interest in me. In those cases, the anxiety part of the equation is canceled out. If attraction were there, it would be free to come of the surface. But it doesn’t. I even had sex with one of these people, and still there was no attraction present.

Don’t let anyone tell you that social anxiety invalidates asexuality.

Now, this brings us to an interesting collision in my life.  You see, I’m asexual and have social anxiety.  I’m also a fairly prominent activist.  I run websites, I wrote a book, all that stuff.  It’s sort of my mission to tell people about asexuality.

Except…  I can’t actually talk to people about it.

I wrote about this to some extent over in the post (in)Visibility Activist, but it goes deeper than what I talked about there.ometimes I get interview requests, but I end up putting them off for so long that it’s not relevant.  I have ideas for collaborative projects, but I have no idea how to bring the collaborators together.  I am unable to make contacts or reach out to people.  People who reach out to me often get silence in return.

I was invited to go to the North American Asexuality Conference earlier this year.  I wanted to go, but everything inside was fighting it.  Instead of finding ways to make it happen, I tried to find every excuse to get out of it.  It costs too much.  I don’t have a passport.  And on and on.  It took the demand of a dying friend to force me to go.  And even so, I had a full-on paralyzing freakout about the whole thing the day before the flight.

But I went.  And it was amazing.

Granted, I spent a good chunk of the time between sessions sitting in the corner, staying out of the way.  I skipped all the post-conference dinners and probably unintentionally offended some people with my inability to interact (If one of those people was you, I’m sorry!).  Even so, it was well worth going.  I learned so much and shared so much.  I even managed to sit on a panel in one of the sessions!  (For all the social anxiety I do have, somehow I managed to avoid stage fright.  Go figure.)

So here’s the thing I need to keep telling myself (and that you might need to hear, too…):  Just like there’s no One Right Way™ to be asexual, there’s no One Right Way™ to be an asexuality activist.  I’m not the hand-shaker.  I’m not the friend-maker.  I’m not the face on TV.  And I don’t have to be. 

After all, someone needs to sit in the corner, stay out of the way, and work on the website…

Who Cares About Asexuality? (or: Why Visibility Matters)

Whenever asexuality gets mentioned in an article or in an interview, there’s always the inevitable remark in the comment section:

Why do you have to talk about this?  Who cares that you’re not having any sex?  Stop shoving it in our faces!

It frustrates me to see that kind of attitude, to see people who are unable to close their mouths and open their minds long enough to understand that there are people who are different than them.  And it’s not just anonymous Internet nobodies who share that view.  In his infamous appearance in (A)sexual, that’s basically what Dan Savage says.  But really, those people aren’t who I’m talking about asexuality for.  Ignorant jerks like that are a lost cause and not really worth spending energy on.

But the questions remain.  Why do I have to talk about asexuality?  Who does care?

Let me share a conversation that I came across the other day.  It’s between a guy in his early twenties and a girl who’s interested in him.  It’s a real conversation, edited slightly for privacy and to remove a few irrelevant bits.  It’s a bit on the long side, though, so please bear with it.

The Girl> Sorry, Joe and I are having an ass competition… Don’t even bother asking..

The Guy> I wouldn’t ask.

The Girl> Cast your vote anyway!

The Girl> I probably just scared you. :P

The Guy> Are you sure you’re not trying to scare me away?

The Girl> Hey, you scared me multiple times today.

The Guy> Yes, but this is one of those things that’s likely to get me rolling around on the floor beating the scarythought our of my head.

The Girl> I’m winning anyway. I don’t need your vote.

The Girl> Such a wimp. ;)

The Guy> And what gives you the idea that I would’ve voted for you, anyway? There’s only so much psychological trauma someone can take, and I’m well past that limit.

The Girl> Seriously, does that sort of thing actually disturb you?

The Guy> It was a part of the world I was happier not knowing existed…

The Guy> But does it actually have me rolling around on the floor, baning on my head to get the scarythoughts out? No.

The Guy> I’m not that messed up.

The Girl> Guys are supposed to be turned on by that, but I suppose you have all that repressed..

The Girl> And no, I don’t understand why they’re turned on by it either..

The Guy> If you want to call it repressed, sure. But I honestly don’t think of it that way. I don’t feel that I’m holding something down, that there’s something evil lurking inside that I have to keep hidden. It’s just not there.

The Girl> So it was never there?

The Guy> I don’t know if I didn’t get it, or if I just haven’t found it, or if I lost it somewhere.

The Guy> But it’s not bothering me. I don’t see why it should. I’m not excited at the prospect of looking at people’s butts. Somehow, I don’t see that as a bad thing. I like the fact that I’m not turned into a slobbering idiot by that sort of thing.

The Girl> You know, I kind of like that… It’s always bothered me that guys I talk to, and even some of the girls, obviously have other intentions while talking to me, and I know that with everything they say, they’re just trying to get a step closer… It drove me insane with Jake. He’d wine and sulk, and beg, and generally act like an idiot…

The Girl> er, whine

The Guy> Maybe I just take a functional approach to things. “Hey, wow, that looks like that would be comfortable when you sit down.” That sort of thing. I don’t see anything interesting in it. I don’t have a desire to touch it, I mean what would that get me? “It feels like it’s confortable, too.”

The Girl> I guess it’s just one of those things where there’s multiple ways of thinking about it… Not really sure that I could explain the other way, though… or if I would want to..

The Girl> I guess for me, it’s all about trust or something.

The Girl> And now I’ve really scared you…

The Guy> No, no you haven’t scared me. The words are coming, they just aren’t forming coherent sentences.

The Guy> The words… They want to speak, they want to curse society for thinking there’s something wrong with me, they want to ask myself if there is something wrong, they want to dig up my past, see where I went wrong, if I went wrong, they want- …

The Guy> They want to speak, but they have nothing to say.

The Guy> I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I’m just…

The Girl> Just what?

The Guy> You see what an ass competition can do to me?

The Girl> I’m seeing it, but I’m not quite understanding it…

The Guy> I guess you hit a gas line with your digging… It’s not my sexuality that’s repressed, it’s all of that.

The Girl> Now I have nothing to say… I’m still confused, I guess.

The Guy> I’m sorry for letting it out on you.

The Guy> Wow, this is a switch… I’m the one emotional, and you’re the one that can’t find anything to say. Never thought I’d see this side of things.

The Girl> That’s fine… I like it when you talk to me, and you’re talking to me…

The Girl> And I’m also curious, I guess. I know none of this is any of my business..

The Guy> I guess it’s that I have a name for everything but myself. I don’t have a place in the “Normal” order of things, and I’m fine with that. But I’d like a name… “I’m not into women.” “Oh, you’re gay?” “I don’t like men, either.” “Oh. What the hell is wrong with you?”

The Guy> No, if this is anyone’s business outside of mine, it’s yours.

The Girl> Non-sexual. Sounds pretty awful, but I think that’s the word…

The Girl> That’s the way I always assumed you were, too… I mean, even when I barely knew you.

The Girl> I’ve heard “asexual” used, too, but that makes it sound like you’re some sort of single-celled organism…

The Guy> I’m sure there is a name for it. One that no one’s ever heard and doesn’t have a clue what it means. Yeah, it’s probably something like that. Anything like that means “I can’t get none” to Joe Average. But “I don’t want none.”

The Girl> I actually went through times when I thought like that, too… The thought kind of disgusted me. But I realize that I was thinking in the internet porn site way, or whatever which -is- completely digusting.

The Girl> But obviously it wasn’t a permanent thing for me, I guess.

The Girl> Anyway, I just started thinking about it in that trust way, I guess… And it’s really a beautiful thing if you think of it that way.

The Guy> I don’t know if it is for me, either. I don’t know. Maybe one day I’ll wake up and realize “Hey, I’m in love”. Or can I be in love anyway. the way I am now? It’s separate, so why not? Or don’t I have that, too?

The Girl> It’s completely separate, from what I’ve heard and experienced…

The Girl> Well, maybe not -completely-.

The Guy> I never felt any kind of physical attraction to Red. But was it real, or some concocted response to early teenage pressures? If it was real, why hasn’t it happened since?

The Girl> Because it’s “evil” now, I guess… You’re probably afraid of it. I mean, subconsciously.

The Girl> And you know the cliche quote that everyone would use here…

The Guy> Why don’t I think about you or Thursday and think, “Hey, I’m in love”? It’s “Aw, gee, she’s nice.” What’s not connecting here?

The Guy> Thank you for listening. I don’t know if this is going to help me (Or if there’s even anything to help), but thank you.

The Girl> I don’t know… If you don’t think it, then it’s obviously not happening, because you’d know if it were.

The Girl> I guess you should probably get to bed then..

The Guy> Oh, now you want me to leave, do you?

The Girl> No, I don’t want you to be even more tired tomorrow. :P

The Guy> If it’s something in my subconscious, it’s deep. It’s very deep. I don’t think one person could do that much damage. Maybe make me more reluctant to act, but there’s been enough time that something should have happened by now.

The Guy> I almost just said “Statistically something should have happened by now”. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I think too much. I’m probably not supposed to think, I’m just supposed to run.

The Girl> Well, you don’t talk to a heck of a lot of girls… And if you’re not physically attracted to people, you’ve not going to find anyone without talking to them…

The Guy> But every once in a while one gets in my path that I will talk to.

The Girl> Personally, I just can’t be attracted to people I first meet in real life. I guessI’ve just accidently trained myself to want to see what’s insane their mind first… Sometimes I see really attractive guys, and make eye contact, just for fun, but I don’t feel…anything, really.

The Guy> Why would it even necessarily be restricted to girls? I haven’t found Mr. Right, either.

The Girl> Exactly…

The Girl> But you don’t talk to a heck of a lot of -guys-, either..

The Guy> “Insane their mind”? You have been talking to me too much…

The Girl> errrr… inside!#$%

The Girl> They always have to make other words… always…

The Girl> Can I ask what it was that attracted you to her?

The Guy> “Attractive.” I don’t even have that concept defined for myself. There’s “What everyone else says is attractive” and then there’s the “That person looks interesting”, which I guess is supposed to count, but I feel more like I’m judging the look of a painting in an art gallery than being attracted.

The Guy> And people don’t like it when you take them home and hang them on a wall.

The Girl> But what made her different from, well, everyone else you’ve ever knwon?

The Girl> known even

The Guy> I don’t know. Nothing, I guess. The time and place.

The Girl> Did you actually know her? Like was she a friend?

The Guy> Yeah. We had half our classes together. We’d not do anything in PE together, we’d trade book recommendations for the essays in English class. That sort of thing.

The Guy> And my God, she actually liked the Grapes of Wrath. That right there shouldn’ve been a hint.

The Guy> Wait! She’s not the one that’s Evil! John Steinbeck is!

The Girl> So you -did- have a social life at one point, huh?

The Girl> How long did you know her before you started to feel that way about her?

The Guy> If you call that a social life… I call it talking to classmates in school. I didn’t spend often lunch with people, and I never went anywhere with anyone after school. Then again, it was Nevada… Nowhere to go. People hung out at the old gravel pit. Really, they did.

The Guy> I don’t remember. Months, of some sort. Not years or anything like that.

The Girl> What happened when you did? What felt different?

The Guy> I don’t remember.

The Girl> So you don’t remember how you knew?

The Girl> I’m not trying to pry anything out of your, by the way, so feel free not to answer that or anything else…

The Guy> No. I don’t remember the feeling, either. It’s like a stamp in a book. It’s the remains of getting knocked upside the head with an inky hammer.

The Girl> Well, anyway… Just because you think you -should- like someone doesn’t mean they’re the right person, or whatever… There’s plenty of people in the past that I -should- have liked, but there’s just something that wasn’t there… There’s even people right now. Sometimes there’s some flaw I can’t see past, it drives me insane that I could be so shallow. And even when I’m absolutely obsessed with someone online, there can be something that’s just…not there in real life.

The Girl> Anyway…

The Girl> Yeah…Go to bed… I don’t want to feel bad about you being tired tomorrow. ;)

The Guy> I’d probably end up tired even if I had gone at 10…

The Girl> More tired, then…

The Guy> And thank you for this. Normally I’d write these things, but I haven’t written them yet…

The Guy> I probably should, though. I mean, come on, “Coming to terms with an alternative sexuality”? That has Oprah book written all over it. And “Oprah book” means rolling in cash…

That is why I have to talk about asexuality.

That guy…  He’s in pain.  He’s broken and confused.  He’s different from everyone else and doesn’t have the words to explain how he feels.  He makes some jokes, sure, but that’s how he tries to deal with it.  He’s empty and frustrated and alone.

He’s … me.

That was a chat log of an actual conversation from 2002, between me and the woman who’d later become my first and, so far, only girlfriend (and not too long after, my first and only ex-girlfriend…).  It would be another nine years before I’d discover that asexuality was a real thing.  It was another nine years of being confused and broken and alone.  Another nine years of feeling like that.  And I had felt that way for years before that night.  Every time someone brought up love or sex or relationships or getting married, there was that emptiness, that confusion, that “What in the hell is wrong with me?”

She even mentioned the word “asexual” in there, and I dismissed it.  It was something I’d never heard of and didn’t have a clue what it meant.  I couldn’t be that.

But that one word would have made all the difference to me then.  Why didn’t I hear it?  Why didn’t I know what it was?  Why did it take me another nine years to find it?  To find me

So, who cares about asexuality?

I care.

I care because of all the time I spent lost in the wilderness, thinking something was missing.   I care because of all the time I spent looking at other people and seeing that I was fundamentally different than them, thinking something must be broken inside me.  I care because of all the time I spent not knowing where I fit in the world, thinking that I must not fit anywhere.

I care because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.

I have a place now.  I have a name for me.

I’m not broken anymore.

But…  Someone else is.

I talk about asexuality because somewhere else, there’s another person who is feeling lost and broken and alienated and confused, just like I was.  I do it because every person I tell might know that person.  I do it because every person I tell might be that person.

It only takes one informed person to be in the right place at the right time to change someone’s life.  That is why awareness matters.  That is why visibility work is important.  That is why I have to talk about this.  That is why I care.

Asexuals on Coming Out: Advice

[This post is the result of the Asexuality Questionnaire project.  The quotations used within are gathered from anonymous responses to questions asked as part of that project.]

One of the questions on the Coming Out questionnaire was “What advice would you have for someone choosing to come out?”  I had so many excellent responses to that question, that I had to split my post about coming out into two parts so I could fit all of them.

Should you choose to come out, hopefully you will find this useful.

The following is advice on coming out from other asexuals.

“If you don’t feel safe or comfortable coming out and you can avoid doing so, then that may be the best until things changes. Realize that it isn’t a simple binary between being out and being closeted. You can be honest about something, or give a true indication by your behavior, without advertising it. Not everybody wants to or has the right personality to be really open or to advertise their sexual orientation a lot, even in ideal circumstances. Each person should decide based on their situation and their personality what the best place on this spectrum is for them.”

“If you want to come out as asexual, make sure that’s what you want, and that you’re ready. Consider, if possible, taking a friend who already knows with you. If that’s not possible, I strongly recommend having some sort of support system where you can access it quickly if necessary. If things go badly, I always want a hug and a willing ear to hear me rant and cry. Personally, I tend to emotionally distance myself from the conversation, because I’ve learned that the people who are closest to me are the most likely to blurt out something accidentally hurtful, and that pretty much anyone will ask you anything. Try to equip yourself with as much patience and words as you can; you’ll possibly need plenty of both. Good luck.”

“Have tough skin. Especially if the person you’re telling isn’t very well versed in issues such as these. If you’re generally young, like me (18) you’ll probably find telling your friends a smoother process than telling your older family members, therefore tell your friends first.”

“Be prepared to get a negative reaction, because there’s a good chance you’ll be met with doubt, incredulity, or (depending on how old you are) condescension.”

“If someone gives you flack or sees you as a freak, don’t ever believe that. You are who you are and, no matter what happens, you are the pilot of your life. Don’t let words discourage you in any way.”

“Generally, if you don’t make a big fuss about it, other people won’t either.”

“It’s not as bad as it might seem. People will say what they say. The ones that truly love you won’t give a damn, they’ll love you no matter what.”

“Start with the easy ones and work up to the difficult or important people.”

“Never come out as an expression of guilt. Many people are in circumstances where coming out isn’t necessary and would only add undue confusion/strain on their relationships. Really think about it and weigh things out before doing it. If you’re in a religious community that is disapproving (like I am), make sure you have a support system in place should shit hit the fan, because it’s likely that it will.”

“Everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s situation is different. No one should take one person’s experience as evidence of what it will be like for them. But I would say that you want to tailor your approach to the person you’re talking to. If it’s someone who loves you but who might not respond well to the idea of asexuality, it might be a good idea to try coming out to them *first* and *then* educating them. If you do it the other way around and they react badly to the education, you might end up feeling really hurt and not telling them — but if it’s someone who loves you, they might have been much more open and accepting if they had known from the start that you were telling them about *yourself*.”

“I would probably recommend sending letters or emails if a face-to-face talk seems too daunting. This will give you an opportunity to explain everything without interruption, and give links to resources where questions can be answered correctly.”

“Only do it when you want to. But when it’s forced, bite that bullet and get it out. There will be people who slander and completely disbelieve you, and they may dismiss you, but you won’t be lying to yourself. I tried to kid myself for years that I was just denying that I was gay, but it just wasn’t working. Actually telling somebody helped cement it in my own mind that this is me.”

“I think it’s best to only come out to people you trust, initially. Especially when you’re “new” to identifying as on the ace spectrum. Talk to them in a calm and collected manner and try not to yell – make them see you are serious about what you are saying and that they will not change your mind. You are telling this so they know who you are. I found it’s helpful to read other aces’ coming-out stories and read up on witty responses and explanations so you don’t go into a possible battle unarmed. And it’s probably best not to choose a moment when they’re stressed, angry or otherwise in a mad mood.”

“You should be proud of who you are and know that there are people who will support you, especially if you have lgbt-friendly people in your life. There may be people who call you names, pressure you to have sex, or pretend to be supportive while actually being ignorant bigoted assholes. Some people may get irritated or angry when you come out, because they think you’re just trying to be different. Some lgbt people and their allies may even be bigoted towards you. Defend yourself and draw positivity from your support system. If you don’t have a support system, then it may be time to get new friends.”

“Know your feelings inside out and be able to articulate them easily. It’s hard to convince someone that your orientation is legit if you can’t explain yourself properly. If you have access and time, reading some of the scientific articles or one of the academic books (like Understanding Asexuality, which is a great read) is also a great help. That way if anyone says that asexuality doesn’t exist, or you’re broken/have a hormone imbalance/inhuman/repressed/traumatised from sexual assault, you can throw the science at them. Most people change their minds pretty quickly once there’s proof that their ideas are incorrect. The people who are stubborn and still don’t believe or accept you, they’re not worth your time. Browse the AVEN forums or the tumblr asexual tags too, there’s always some good coming out stories on there.”

“First, it’s never as bad as you think it will be, your mind exaggerates to incredible degrees. Second, test the waters first, see how that person reacts to statements typical of the group you find yourself a part of (ex: oh, hey, those homo-/bi-/asexuals, those transgenders, those transsexuals, etc.) Really, it’s not so bad as you think it will be. If people you like react poorly to it, those are not people you want to be around and it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.”

“Coming out is personal, moreso as an asexual in how it is regarded by the public at large. Whether the outcome is a positive or negative experience, always stay true to yourself and your feelings. If your friends discuss engaging in sexual behaviors with people and characters, but you’d rather not, don’t try to pretend that you would to fit in. If you test out sexual acts with other partners and you do not enjoy them, that is entirely okay. If your family or friends make fun of asexuality in ways that make you uncomfortable, attempt to use neutral “I feel” statements to broach the subject. Most of all never project negative labels onto yourself such as “frigid” or “broken” and more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how you feel.”

“Relax. People will probably be understanding. If they know you well, they’re probably at least somewhat aware of the fact that you’re asexual; they just may or may not have a name for that. And if you’re unsure about how people will react, start by talking about the asexuality of other people. When I came out to my friends, it started with a conversation about the sexuality of Abed in the show Community, and that helped me figure out how much explaining I’d have to do and how understanding they’d be. I also like gauging reactions by telling people about Tim Gunn being asexual.”

“Tell those that you trust first. They can be there for support while you come out to people who you are not as comfortable with.”

“Take it slow. And only tell one person at a time. People listen better one on one, and if it’s a group one person who doesn’t believe you, or who has negative views or bad information on asexuality might sway others who individually may have been more receptive.”

“Have resources on hand, bear up for rejection but always hope for the best.”

“Choose who you come out to, make sure your comfortable with them knowing, be ready to explain, explain, explain, and have some facts and links as well. Also, be prepared for some rather intrusive questions and possibly revealing more about your intimate life than most people would ever feel comfortable with doing. Also be prepared for some insensitive comments as well.”

“Be prepared to answer questions. There might be misinformation to correct. For the most part, people tend to be accepting, if not somewhat confused. Don’t feel pressured to come out if you don’t want to. Don’t feel pressured to “fit” the label. The only person who can decide your sexuality is you; it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”

“Bring along lots of sources to back you up. Also, patience is key. Asexuality is a strange concept to sexuals.”

“Time and place is key. Think of the questions they might ask and be prepared with the answers. Trust that your judgement of the person is sound and that they’ll at least listen to you. Put your courage to the sticking place and just do it.”

“The best advice I was ever given came from the asexual vlogger Swankivy, who pointed out that coming out doesn’t have to be one conversation: numerous hints over time can culminate in an eventual coming out.”

“Be confident. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are, or tell you it’s just a phase. Most people are just unaware of what asexuality really is.”

“Choose who you come out. You can do it little by little. You don´t need to go on national television or anything.”

“Don’t submit your orientation for approval. Bring up asexuality in advance, just to see how people react to it. If they react badly, perhaps rethink your plan to come out. Don’t come out unless you feel comfortable coming out. Being out is not worth compromising your safety or well-being. Don’t do Asexuality 101 unless you want to. It’s not your job to educate everyone in the world; people can respect your privacy and use basic search engines. That said, be polite about turning down questions, and direct people to other (good) resources. Expect people to bring the topic up again. Some people won’t ask questions when you first come out, but will instead do some basic research before asking you questions. You’re still not obligated to answer anything you don’t want to. Be aware that if you come out, people may assume that you are out to everyone, and may out you without your permission. If this is a problem, pull them aside and politely ask them not to do so. Most people are pretty good about respecting your privacy.”

“You don’t have to come out to everyone at once – it’s a process. Pick a time and place where you feel comfortable to have the conversation. If there’s a chance the other person will actually be violent, pick a public place, maybe a coffee shop. Otherwise, maybe somewhere more private, with a hot drink, and lots of comfort food available? Be prepared for lots of awkward questions.”

“The most important thing is to not come out to someone that you think will respond in a negative way that could hurt you. Probably the second thing to watch out for is people who might put you in a dangerous situation by outing you. If you’re nervous, email, instant messaging and texting work great to give you time to think about the conversation and your responses, as well as giving you the opportunity to easily walk away if you need to get out. It might also help to have a friend with you who can provide support. mediate, or step in and help explain if you’re having trouble.”

“Make sure you can explain the terms you choose to use.”

“Tell them as simply as you can. Address confusion or objections as they’re made clear. Pre-emptive defence is likely to make things messy. People have the right to be unhappy about your sexuality, but not to blame you for it. Don’t take objections to the concept of asexuality personally. If people have made assumptions about your sexuality, then any false conclusions they may have come to are not your fault. If you have unintentionally misled people about your sexuality, then that’s also not your fault. If you’ve intentionally misled people about your sexuality, then before you talk to them, think about that, about your reasoning for doing so and about the degree (if any) to which you owed them honesty in this area.”

“Do your research before you come out. When your friends/family come to you with questions you should know the answers and be ready to defend them. You should already know the things that people might say so they are prepared.”

“Being out is better.”

“Come prepared with background knowledge, know the bingo and don’t try to do too much at once. That means, leaving stuff like non-binary trans* people to another conversation, if you’re not trans*.”

“Prepare. Get a definition and some links, be ready to educate people, even though ideally you shouldn’t have to. I realize a lot of people have had worse experiences than I have, so maybe you should be emotionally prepared for some real issues; definitely be prepared for people not to know what you’re talking about and possibly not even to believe you.”

“Stay strong. Hold on, and find a good metaphor. A good metaphor/analogy goes a very, very long way. People will tell you it’s not a real sexuality, that’s you’re just pretending, but hold strong. People are there for you, and they love you for you. Find your LGBT community, they are usually great people who will embrace you for who you are. ”

“You need to decide how much of your life, sexual or otherwise, is anyone else’s business. Let that guide you in how much, or not, you want to come out.”

“Think about why you want to come out, and if the reasons are good, for you, then do it!”

“Be prepared for questions you don’t want to hear. You will hear them.”

“Ideally to have scouted the waters first to see what they said when asexuality came up as a topic or possibility. Other than that, just go for it and be firm that no, you really know yourself best and whatever they think is not relevant. At all. Once you’re out it’s really nice not to feel you have to hide to fit in.”

“Explain as well as you can and answer sensible questions or comments. If they start asking silly questions or making offensive comments, just walk away – they’re not worth your time.”

“Don’t let anyone tell you that what your feeling is wrong or that you are too young to know how you feel! Only you can decide how you feel, not anyone else. Also be prepared to answer questions that people might have or if you don’t want to do that, direct them to some helpful resources!”

“Before you do it, think about how much information you’re willing to share with this person, what questions you’re comfortable answering and what you want to be off-limits. You’re going to end up answering questions, and you don’t want to go into it unprepared. Have an idea of how you’re going to explain asexuality if they just don’t get it. You don’t want to feel like you’re scrambling for an explanation, or like you’re on the defensive. And be proud of yourself, because it’s not an easy thing to do.”

“I think the most important thing is to live honestly with yourself and to be honest to others. Sometimes being honest to others may require explicitly “coming out” to them. Sometimes you can just live your life how you choose and they can think of that what they want to. Don’t feel that you need to come out or to do so in a specific way if that isn’t the right thing for you and your circumstances.”

“From my experience, you don’t necessarily need to come out as asexual in order to be accepted as one.”

And I think this one says it best:

“Don’t be afraid.”


(Also take a look at the companion post about the experience of coming out as asexual.)

Asexuals on Coming Out: Experiences

[This post is the result of the Asexuality Questionnaire project.  The quotations used within are gathered from anonymous responses to questions asked as part of that project.]

Coming out is an important part of the asexual experience.  Most asexuals consider coming out at some point.  Often, they’ll confide in a close friends, other times, they’ll dive in with a running leap and announce their orientation to the entire world.  Some decide to remain in the closet until another time.

Many people are only out to a few of their friends or only part of their family.  The phrase “I’m out to the people who matter” came up repeatedly in the responses.  It seems to be uncommon for an asexual to be out to everyone they know.  The two most common reasons for not coming out to a particular person are fear of how they’ll react and not considering it important that they know.  Quite a few people just viewed their asexuality as a component of who they are, and held a “Yeah?  So what?” view of it, that is, they don’t hide it, but they don’t feel a need to broadcast it to the world, and they’ll talk about it if it ever comes up.

When it comes to family, more people said that they were out to a sibling than to a parent, and more were out to parents than grandparents. Sometimes they would be out to only one parent, but not want to tell the other.  Often, different members of the family would react differently.  A brother might be wholly accepting, while the mother could be dismissive.  Awkwardness discussing sexual matters (or lack thereof) with family and fear of rejection were some of the primary reasons for not coming out to family.

Most people who came out reported at least one positive experience.  Positive or neutral experiences seemed to outnumber negative experiences.  In fact, many of the people who responded did not report any reactions that they classified as negative.

Quite a few people stressed that coming out was a personal decision to make.  No one should feel as though they have to come out.  In the end, it’s nobody’s business but your own, so if you don’t want to tell anyone else, that’s perfectly fine.

The responses:

Many reactions are positive.

“The first time I came out, it was to a bunch of my long-time online friends, and I had a very positive response. After that, it was my parents, who were mostly okay with it, and then my more liberal friends, and now it’s pretty much any time it comes up. Most of the responses have been indifferent or positive.”

“They were both incredibly accepting and awesome.”

“Yes, my parents especially were accepting of me. They had never put any pressure on me before, so their reaction was mostly, “So that’s why. That’s cool.” ”

“People have repeatedly supported me by reiterating the fact that I am who I am and it’s okay.”

“Most people accepted the information like they’d have accepted information about my favourite food: mostly they just said something like ‘Ah, okay’ or just continued the conversation like it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.”

“I got high-fived once! That was pretty great.”

“I’ve been lucky. Everyone has been really great about it, once they knew what it was.”

“Almost everyone single person I have told has been very supportive and respectful, and the ones who weren’t didn’t care enough to stop talking to me.”

Some are not.

“My mother was furious. I explained what asexuality was, but she was adamant it didn’t exist. “There’s only heterosexuality and homosexuality!” she shouted. I didn’t make matters better when I confessed to being bi-romantic. After threatening to hit me, she stormed out of my room. (I should not that she did not hit me, only threatened to.) Later when my dad came upstairs to wish me goodnight I came out to him too. He didn’t care so much about the bi-romantic part. But when I told him I was asexual- I’ve never seen him look so disappointed. He wasn’t angry, just sad almost. Like I’d failed him. He told me that I was still young, and not to make such a big decision just yet. Both my parents act like that night never happened.”

“Denial was sharp and one of the worst pains.”

“I have only come out to my husband, who immediately regarded it as a failure of his sexual skills.”

“My one friend made bacteria jokes and told me I was broken.”

“I’ve been prayed over. I’ve had a therapist fixate on my asexuality to the point of ignoring everything else, claiming to accept me but going on about it in session after session. I’ve lost someone who was, at that time, my best friend; he just drifted away from me, and that was the start. I’ve been told, repeatedly, that I was broken, damaged, ugly. My mom once, after accepting me for a long time, suggested that I should get my hormones checked. I’ve had doctors treat it as a symptom, or with suspicion. I have one friend who, no matter how many times I tell, never seems to absorb the information.”

“My cousin said some very hurtful things to me and I was very depressed, even suicidal for a while. I had to cut him out of my life. If people can’t accept you for who you are, then they don’t deserve your time of day.”

“I lost one friend when I discovered he harasses asexuals on Tumblr for “appropriating queerness.” We were friends before I realised I was asexual and he realised there was such a thing. We both discovered the community separately, and apparently both had very different reactions to it.”

“First boyfriend tried to fix me with his magical penis. I’m not sure how much worse than that you can get.”

Several people “tested the waters” beforehand, talking about asexuality with people before coming out to them.

“I have not come out to my parents. I’ve told them both *about* asexuality and their reactions were not promising. I think my dad would make a lot of well-meaning but annoying conjectures about where it came from, and my mom would flip out and tell me I had an illness and if I didn’t get treated I would be “missing a crucial part of life”.”

Some people are out because they didn’t feel right concealing it.

“I came out because I didn’t want to keep such an important secret from my friends, especially when it’s directly relevant to my identity and relationships.”

“I do like telling people the truth and not having their expectations shattered after a long time of knowing me.”

“I came out to my brother first because he is my best friend and not telling him was eating away at me. I felt like a liar every time I looked him in the eye.”

“I came out because it was something I wanted out in the open and I wanted to have friends I could talk to about it.”

“I came out to a small group of people (a mix of close family and friends) because I didn’t want to keep a part of myself I considered important completely to myself, and I think it’s important to be honest with those closest to you.”

“I told other people because I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer. I felt like the longer I kept it a secret, the more ashamed of it I would become, and I didn’t want to be ashamed of my sexuality.”

Some people are out because they’ve just discovered something about themselves and want to share it.

“When I found out that Asexuality was a thing, I first read everything on AVEN, then raced downstairs to my mom and showed her the site, all ‘mom, mom, I found my people! :D’”

“I’ve come out to a few friends, though not all of them. I did it because I was discovering this new thing in my life and I wanted to share it with someone.”

“I came out because I was excited to find out something new about myself that I’d never realized before, and I wanted to share it with everyone.”

“I was out within hours of discovering asexuality, simply because the closet is not a happy place.”

Others don’t tell people because they don’t feel other people need to know.

“If someone asks, I tell them. Otherwise I see no reason to tell them (unless they wish to engage in a sexual relationship with me).”

“I only come out if it is necessary and would not voluntarily do so to anyone I didn’t know well, as I don’t see how my orientation is most people’s business.”

“Also, it doesn’t really seem necessary for me to bring it up with most people. It wouldn’t really change anything, so why bother?”

“My asexuality is not something I make a big deal out of, and I don’t really feel the need to tell people unless they specifically ask whether I’m ace.”

Quite a few people remarked that others had already guessed that they were asexual.

“The best reactions came from my friends and ranged from “That explains a lot” to “I knew there was something different about you. Nice to know there’s a word for it.” ”

“The times that I’ve talked about it, it was to explain why I’ve been single all my life and plan to remain that way for the foreseeable future. That is, to explain what they’ve already noticed about me and found out of the ordinary.”

“One is my best friend, who is also asexual. That was easy… since she already suspected I was.”

“And my mom’s like “I guessed.””

“Almost all the conversations I’ve had about my asexuality with friends have been supportive. Notably, last year some article online spurred me to tell my housemates, “I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it, but I am asexual.” They replied, “Yes, we figured.” That was lovely and reassuring.”

“When I came out to one of my best friends, her initial reaction was “Wait, is this something you just figured out?” Apparently she’s known since 8th grade and I figured it out summer before sophomore year of college. We spent several minutes then with her just saying “How did you not know?!” and me replying “How was I supposed to know?””

“People were probably pegging me as asexual before I even knew the term, or even if they didn’t have a term for it themselves.”

“My best friend simply said “I’m not surprised” and accepted me wholeheartedly.”

Sometimes the person they’re coming out to is asexual as well.

“I told my best friend about it, but that was easy because he is asexual too!”

“As it turns out, she is also asexual, and she came out to me at the same time I came out to her.”

“One of my friends that I came out to actually told me that she is asexual too and now we both have someone that understands us and we can be completely open with.”

“The second person I ever came out to was my partner, and I was so upset by the thought of him dumping me and hating me just because I didn’t want into his pants that I started crying all over his shirt, which is hilarious in hindsight, especially since 15 seconds later he came out as asexual to me (serendipity!).”

And sometimes the other person knows someone who might be asexual.

“During the talk with both my parents we discussed a number of older relatives on both sides of the family who never married. My dad’s brother has never married and in all the time I’ve known him (going on 40 years) I’ve never seen him to have any romantic or sexual relationships. I don’t know if he is asexual or not, it’s not the kind of thing he would ever talk about. But my parents could understand me in the context of other people they knew who were similar.”

Some people expressed fears or doubts about coming out.

“I don’t know if I will ever tell my family as I’m pretty sure they won’t understand and will only hurt me by trying to be understanding.”

“I haven’t really thought about why I’m not out to most people, for the most part I think it’s none of their business, but there might be a slight fear in that as well, fear of not being accepted or that they don’t believe me or think I’m a freak.”

“I worry about what some people think, as I know they will tell me that it’s just a phase I’m going through.”

“I get more disbelief and confusion. I worry about being seen as attention seeking, especially with my own regular confusion about my own sexuality.”

“I’m not out to family yet though. I just don’t know how they will react, and I want to wait untill I have somewhere else I can go if they react poorly.”

Sometimes people are skeptical.

“One friend tried to convince me that I was simply straight and haven’t found the right guy.”

“Most people disbelived me and even asked numerous questions to try and find the reason behing my unwillingness to fuck. A lot of them sugested therapy and treated me as a labrat that is now open to scrutiny and can be used to prove or refute their own personal theories.”

“He preached to me for a good five minutes about how I couldn’t be sure I was asexual because I hadn’t had sex. And, he explained, he hadn’t enjoyed sex the first time either, so if I didn’t then I should try it again just in case. He’s flat out told me that I will have sex eventually, and that I was never a teenager because being a teenager is defined by having sex.”

“When I first came out to my mother, she dismissed it as me choosing to be celibate for we are Catholic.”

“My parents didn’t really understand what I was saying at all, and probably still don’t. My dad still thinks I’m gay but repressed, whereas my mum still wants grandchildren that I have no intention of giving.”

“I have come out to two people: my mom and my therapist. Both times were less than ideal. They didn’t really get it/ don’t seem to fully believe it. I haven’t come out to others because I am afraid they will not believe me.”

“One of my friends told me that I can’t be asexual because all adults want to have sex and I was just being immature and trying to sound like a special snow flake. I also tried to tell my parents but they told me I was too young to know what I am.”

Being out makes a difference in how other people feel about asexuality.

“But the more time passes and the more quietly and resolutely I stick to what I have said all along, the more acceptance I gain. My family are usually the first to fall in line.”

“The second person I told said that if I had just told him *about* asexuality without saying *I* was asexual, he would have been skeptical about its existence.”

“She insisted at first that I was just making stuff up to avoid social contact, but she’s come around since then and is now a great ally.”

“I got a lot of the “we’re worried you’ll be lonely” and “maybe you should try it” stuff from my parents, but once I’d explained that it was an orientation, they completely took me seriously and accepted me.”

“My parents’ response also wasn’t too bad, but it was still a long, five year process to get them to the point where we’re all really comfortable with their knowledge level. Now they’re proud, running around their rural community educating people on asexuality and all sorts of stuff.”

One person cited the “Just One Person” theory, where it only takes one out and visible person to make a difference in someone’s life.

“But more important than that, I want young aces to know they’re not alone. I felt so isolated through much of my adolescence, and I think that if I had known of one other ace, I wouldn’t have felt as confused and alone as I did. So I want to be that one other ace for young people.”

Occasionally, coming out can be very cathartic.

“It was extremely liberating. I felt ecstatic for days.”

“All around it was a really great experience. I cried from happiness because it felt like a weight had lifted off my chest.”

One person says they came out because their friends were playing matchmaker.

“I came out to my friends because they kept trying to set me up on dates with people and it was getting annoying.”

Sometimes aces come out non-chalantly.

“I have come out to a few people I only know online. But not in any grand statement, just a passing comment that fit the topic.”

“It has always been incidental to a conversation, rather than something I set out to do.”

“I’m out to my mother and all my close friends. Some various people from my high school knew, and so do some various people at Uni. I never had a huge “coming out” so to speak.”

Others will write a letter.

“I sent her an email with a link to AVEN and she overall took it really well.”

“I did it through letters, so I didn’t have to say anything.”

Or a text message.

“On the day I had decided was my coming out day I texted my mother from the light rail station with, “So I’m a homoromatic asexual. I’ll still prolly identify as a lesbian in most situations however, because my sex life is not that many people’s business.” She responded with, “Okay. You know I love and support you. :)” ”

Sometimes they’ll use various forms of social media to broadcast it.

“Yes, I’ve come out individually and en-masse via youtube.”

“I came out on my Tumblr blog first, because I have very good and open-minded friends there. I then came out on Facebook to all of my friends and family and got mostly positive responses.”

“I made a limited visibility post about it on Facebook. The response was underwhelming, but at least there was nothing negative. I got one supportive comment from my mom and one like from a friend.”

“I made a post about asexuality, in which I mentioned at the end that I was aro/ace, and I linked to it on Facebook, and so it’s entirely possible that many people I haven’t come out to know. That was kind of scary, and I’m not sure I would have done it again, but there were a lot of useless news stories about asexuality coming out, and one of my college friends came out to our group as aromantic and clearly had only just heard of it, and I wanted to do my part to increase awareness.”

And a couple of people were drunk when it happened.

“I told some others when we were discussing relationships, boys, who was attractive at the party, etc. while drunk.”

“I came out once – to three of my closest friends. We were at a party and VERY drunk. My three friends were talking about sex, my drunk mind decided now was a good time to tell them that I was asexual, so I did. They slurred “we love ya”, hugged me and continued talking about sex.”

One person came out in two languages while having ice cream in a foreign country.

“I think my ultimate positive coming out experience was when I was in Japan, and I went to lunch with an American friend, a couple of Dutch friends, and their Japanese friends (who spoke limited English), and, due to a series of slightly hilarious circumstances involving Sherlock, I wound up outing myself first in English and then in Japanese (because the Japanese girls wanted to know why the conversation on our end of the table had suddenly gotten so intense). Not only was it an incredibly validating experience for me in terms of language proficiency (I think that once you are able to explain human sexuality in a foreign language, you are probably getting close to fluency), everyone was very supportive and took it well. And that was how I wound up explaining human sexuality in two languages over parfaits.”

And finally, one person even used my book to come out. (Available on Amazon and Kindle!)

“My parents know. I sent them an email with a link to your book one night. The next morning, when I woke up, my mom took me out to breakfast and talked about it with me. Both of my parents were very supportive.”


(Also take a look at the companion post about advice for coming out.)

Possible Signs of Asexuality – Part 1: About You

A lack of experiencing sexual attraction is the only thing that all asexuals have in common.  That’s what the definition of asexuality is. But that definition doesn’t help people who are trying to figure out if they’re asexual.  It’s a definition through negation, which isn’t useful if you’re not sure what’s being negated. It’s like saying “You’re unxonoxian if you’ve never seen a xonox.”  How are you supposed to know if you’ve never seen a xonox, when you have absolutely no idea what a xonox is?  Maybe you’ve seen one, but just didn’t know that’s what it was called.  So you ask someone how to know if you’ve seen a xonox, and the best answer they can give is “Well, if you’ve seen a xonox, you’d know.”

Because of this, figuring out if you’re really asexual can be a challenge.  How do you know if you’ve never felt sexual attraction when you’re not sure what sexual attraction even is, and no one can satisfactorily explain it to you?  What I’ve found is that most asexuals don’t come to the realization that they’re ace from reading that definition. Instead, they read what someone else wrote on a blog or in forum posts, or they see a news article or YouTube video on asexuality and think, “That person just described me.”

Even though a lack of sexual attraction is the only thing all asexuals have in common, there are clusters of shared experiences, similar things that some asexuals have felt.  It’s these shared experiences which often make people come to realize that they’re asexual. In this series of posts, I’m going to explore some of them.

(Please note:  These aren’t universal ace traits, so don’t worry if you don’t fit into them all.  I haven’t even experienced all of these myself. This shouldn’t be looked at like a checklist or “Am I Asexual?” test or anything like that.  You can still be asexual even if you’ve experienced none of the things on this list and you may not be asexual even if you’ve experienced most of them.  There’s no diagnostic test to confirm if you’re asexual, there’s no twenty-seven point checklist, and you don’t have to pass an initiation or be referred by someone who’s already in the club.  The only person who can truly diagnose your sexual orientation is you. 

Also, I want to note that these thoughts or experiences should not be taken as some sort of manifesto of the unquestioned and unified belief system of all asexuals.  They’re not necessarily the right experiences or the wrong experiences, and certainly, some of them may be misguided or born out of ignorance.  I am writing about them here because some asexuals have passed through these thoughts on their way to discovering their identity, and I felt it was important to mention them for those people still making the journey and who may currently be thinking the same thoughts.)

In this first installment, I’m going to talk mostly about personal thoughts, thoughts about yourself and your identity.

Links to the posts in this series:

You don’t think about sex.

When thinking about activities you’d like to do with a romantic interest, sex rarely makes the list.  You might not catch the punchline to a dirty joke, because you’re not operating in that frame of reference.  When other people start talking about sex, you have to take a second to remember that other people think about that sort of thing.  When you hear that old statistic that people think about sex every seven seconds, you only think about how wrong that statistic is.

You realize that everyone else thinks about sex in a completely different manner than you do.

This is the one that finally tipped me over the edge.  One day, I was talking with a friend about some sex scene on a TV show I’d seen the day before.  I was trying to figure out the positioning and mechanics of what was supposedly going on because it didn’t make sense to me.  As the conversation went on, it became apparent that I was focused on the wrong thing, that it wasn’t meant to be about the impossible and/or uncomfortable contortions required to make the scene believable, it was meant to be about the sex.

This, in itself, wasn’t weird.  I’ll often find things odd about scenes in movies or TV shows and try to sort out the problems afterward.  What was weird is that at no point in the conversation did I ever think anything like “Oh hey, sex!  Yay!”  I realized that I never really did think that way.  Ever.

So I started rewinding my life, going over various sexual situations from my past.  What struck me was how, in almost every single one of them, there was something that made me feel different.  One or two things over the years might have just been a fluke.  A handful of things bunched together during one summer might have just been a phase.  But here, in event after encounter after situation, consistently, for close to 20 years since the start of puberty, there was something different.

I don’t find people “hot”.

My girlfriend had to be very persistent to convince me to have sex with her.

I find most porn to be boring or unappealing.

I’d zone out of most conversations on sex.

I never had “urges”.

I never saw the point of a bachelor party.

And on and on the list went.  It became absolutely clear to me that my views on sex were completely different from anyone else I’d ever talked to.  It wasn’t some isolated thing.  There was something fundamentally different about me.

It was because of that realization that I went out to try to discover exactly what it was that was going on with me, which is how I discovered asexuality.

You think of sex in anthropological or scientific terms, rather than romantic or erotic terms.

You might be interested in sex, but interested in the same way one is interested in geology or zoology.  You see it as an object of study, rather than an object of participation.  You might want to know everything about it and read everything you can about sexual activities, practices, variants, and combinations, yet at the same time, you’re not really interested in actually doing any of them.  You’d rather watch a Discovery Channel documentary on sex than a porn movie.  You’d rather read the Kinsey Report than Penthouse.

Sometimes, because of this, you may forget that others don’t typically look at sex as an intellectual curiosity, and you may talk about things in a context where other people are shocked or embarrassed by your openness.

You don’t understand what the big deal is.  You haven’t had sex for [insert significant amount of time here], so why are other people so worked up about going without for two weeks?

In general (although not universally speaking), asexual people don’t have a problem going without sex for long periods of time.  If you told an asexual person that they couldn’t have sex for ten years, their response will often be something along the lines of “Okay, whatever.”  If you told a non-asexual person that, their response will often be something along the lines of “That’s impossible!  I’d explode!”  (And again, not universally speaking.)

I’ve felt this way before.  I’ve seen people moan about how terrible it is that they haven’t had sex in two months.  There was a big story about a DJ who went without sex for a whole year as a publicity stunt, and everyone was shocked.  I’ve seen men make it sound like their genitals will literally explode under pressure if not emptied in, on, or by someone else within a timely manner.  But I haven’t had sex in years and I don’t miss it at all.  The concept that someone could be so affected by a lack of sex is totally alien to me.


Sex is totally alien to you.

There’s this thing that everyone else does.  It’s on TV, it’s in movies, there are magazines devoted to it, songs about it, books about it.  It’s everywhere, all the time.  Some people are obsessed by it.  They can spend their whole lives chasing it, and sometimes it ruins them.

And you just don’t get it at all.

It’s not that you’re naive, it’s not that you’re sheltered, it’s not that you’re uninformed.  It’s just that it’s impossible to fathom why this thing is so important to pretty much everyone else in the world.

And whenever people talk about sex, they might as well be speaking in a foreign language or talking about the intracacies and nuances of macroeconomic theories or 17th century French literature for all you care.

It’s a bit like everyone else is a fan of a sport you’re not interested in.  You can watch a game, you can read the rules, you might even try playing once or twice, but in the end, it still doesn’t make any sense why people are so excited about getting to third base or scoring a touchdown.

You’ve thought, “I’m straight (/gay/bi/etc), but not very good at it”.

I felt this way for years before I discovered asexuality.  I’d had a girlfriend, and the occasional persons of vague interest had all been women, so clearly that means I’m straight, right?  But at the same time, I never really thought about sex.  I never went looking for it, I never felt like I needed it.  Whenever I thought about these women, I thought about things like going on vacation or scouring the local thrift stores for retro video games with them, but I never really thought about taking them to bed.  One day, I decided that meant that I was straight, but I just wasn’t very good at it.

Later, when I discovered asexuality, I mentioned this on an asexuality forum.  I was surprised by the number of other people who said that they had felt the same way.  Some of them had even used the same phrase to describe themselves.

You’ve thought, “I must be straight by default”.

I’ve seen a couple of people say that they felt this way before they discovered asexuality.  The assumption is that someone has to be straight, gay, or bi, no exceptions, no alternatives.  Everyone has to get placed in one of those buckets, there are no other options.  Clearly, since they didn’t experience attraction to the same sex, they couldn’t be gay or bi, therefore they had to be straight by default, since that was the only bucket left.

I think this makes a good thought exercise for people who don’t believe in asexuality.  If those three groups are the only options, where do you put someone who knows they’re not gay, because they’re clearly not attracted to the same sex, but at the same time, there’s not any evidence that they’re straight, either?  The only reason you’d put someone in the “straight” bucket is because “that’s what most people are”, which is a ridiculous reason to assign an identity to someone.

It’s a bit like saying there are people who like chicken, people who like steak, and people who like both.  You come across a vegetarian and you try to fit them into your limited worldview.  “Do you like chicken?”  “No.”  “Well, therefore you like steak by default.”  “No, I’m-” “You have to like steak, because most people like steak, and you said you don’t like chicken.”  “But-“  “YOU LIKE STEAK.  END OF DISCUSSION.”  There’s clearly a “none of the above” option here which needs to be recognized.  Some people don’t like steak or chicken, and some people don’t like men or women.


Tomorrow’s post will focus mostly on sex and sexual activity (So you might want to skip tomorrow, if that’s not your deal), while the third day will be about things outside of yourself, like other people.

Links to the posts in this series:

I am Asexual

I am asexual.
I don’t feel sexually attracted to anyone.
Not men.  Not women.
That’s all it is.
I’m not gay.
I’m not straight.
I’m not bi.
I’m none of the above.
Asexuality is real.
It’s not fake.
It’s not a hormone problem.
It’s not a way of running from a bad relationship.
It’s not an attention grab.
It’s not some way to be “special”.
I don’t care if you have sex.
I don’t care if you don’t.
I don’t want to recruit you.
I don’t want to convert you.
I don’t want to shame you.

I just want you to understand me.

“Attraction, not Action”

I think I’m going to use “Attraction, not Action” instead of “Orientation, not Behavior” to talk about asexuality from now on.  I accidentally used it in a Facebook post this morning because I was in a hurry and couldn’t remember the “orientation” line. Seems to work better anyway.  Shorter to type, too.  Plus, it avoids the objection that some other people have about asexuality being called an orientation because it’s not exactly “oriented” in any particular direction.

I’m sure I’ve heard it before, though.  I just can’t figure out where.