Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Situational Friends, Part 2: Success!

Remember my situational friends? Recently, I've come out to two of them--people that happen to be ones I'd like to get to know better. One person discovered I was asexual through Facebook, which is a-ok with me. The other asked me about some of my activism experiences, and it only made sense to bring up the stuff I've done with asexual visibility. I gave them both AVEN pamphlets, and they seemed interested without making a huge deal about it. Success, I'd say!

And related, something I've realized about coming out as asexual (that is unique to lesser-known orientations): It really helps to mention, as early as possible, that you are not the only asexual in the world. As obvious as it may be to readers of this blog, many people will not be aware of the fact. Well-meaning but uninformed people may assume, unless they're told otherwise, that "asexual" is a word you made up to describe only yourself. Of course, if this was the case, it would still be worthy of respect, although sadly, that respect might be harder to get. Most people have no idea that asexuals have online communities and meetups. They're often very fascinated by this, and not in a bad way. When I've talked to people about my various interactions with other asexuals, they start seeing asexuality as more of "a thing". There's power in numbers, but those numbers don't necessarily have to be in the room with you. Sometimes just mentioning them is enough.

/Captain Obvious, signing out. But before I do, here's a link I found that's quite relevant to my last post on dating: Hi, I'm single, but I'm genderqueer and you don't know what that means. The title alone is just...yes. Awesome.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yearly Thoughts on Dating (Oy)

I'm putting this question out there: If you're not attracted to anyone, how do you choose who you're supposed to date?

Marinate on that one for a moment.

Every so often, I reassess the question, "Should I date?" Many asexuals do. I want to have some kind of life partner, and I've had no luck achieving this without dating. No matter how convincing the idea may seem though, my answer always ends up being "no". In fact, as time goes by, I only come up with more reasons not to date. I'd be willing to date someone specific, but don't like the idea of dating random people. I've been on online dating sites, the prime source of random people to date, and feel very put off by the supermarket-like feel of them. In my interactions with people from these sites, they were trying to judge me, and draw some specific conclusion, extremely quickly. I can understand why, since dating is a numbers game, but I couldn't help feeling like the process was so artificial. Then there's the whole "when to disclose asexuality" issue. Once in a while I go back on OKCupid, where I have an inactive profile, but I'm just like, "Oy. What am I thinking?"

However, this creates a contradiction: it's almost impossible for me to find a specific person to date when attraction is absent. Since I have experienced romantic attraction, however briefly and/or pointlessly, I'm able to know what I'd be "missing" in a relationship without it. I've tried to see if, in the event that I met more people, I might develop romantic feelings for someone. But I just ended up developing these feelings for someone whom I could never actually date. Maybe in time, after meeting many more people, I could find one person that I might have mutual romantic feelings with (numbers game!). Still, I wouldn't bet any money on it.

Nor do I know how to figure out what gender(s) to date, which makes online dating even harder than it already is. I don't think I would feel comfortable dating someone who is not committed to challenging gender roles (now, there's a tall order). I feel like dating would activate a bunch of gender dysphoria that I might otherwise be able to avoid. The thought of being seen as someone's "girlfriend", or as being in a heterosexual relationship, makes me feel a little sick. As described in this article, I do tend to see dating as "a threat to my gender identity". While I have a hard time choosing an exact label for my gender identity, I know what it is and isn't, and I feel strongly about it and its "integrity".

Like any social skill, dating takes practice. Practice that, as you know, I've never had. I don't think it's "too late" to start now. Because despite prevailing myths, people start dating at many different ages and there isn't some arbitrary age where you're "too old". What I don't know is whether it's worth the effort, and the huge amount of anxiety around dealing with people who may not respect my sexuality and gender.

Yes, my yearly thoughts ended up being mostly complaints; that's just how it goes sometimes. But this is also a minority report, in a way. I do want some kind of life partner, but (GASP!) it's not the most important thing to me, at least right now. That this could be a goal of only moderate importance is basically unknown to our culture. But of course, it's part of many people's lived experiences, asexual and also not asexual.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Had this dream last night

I pick up a young adult novel from a bookshelf; the cover looks interesting so I read the blurb on the back. It says that there are two asexual characters, and at least one of them is not a stereotype. I eagerly start reading, but then I wake up before the asexual characters are introduced! Of course, this was quite frustrating and my day began on a disappointing note.

(Has anyone read this or this? I want to obtain these and blog about them.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Aiiieee, I've fallen prey to that curse which haunts the life of every unpaid blogger..."real life" (but the internet is my liiiife) busyness. So I pulled this one out of the drafts pile for ya.

It changes every five minutes, and has already changed since I started drafting this post. But in one recently captured moment, these were the real-life people listed as asexual on Wikipedia: Edward Gorey, Keri Hulme, Bradford Cox, Emilie Autumn, Morrissey, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Erdős, Mike Skinner (The Streets) and T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). I've always taken an interest in possible asexual role models, so I do watch the Wikipedia list with interest.

And aside from Hulme, these people all have some striking similarities. Their asexuality is either mentioned once and never again, it is quite vague, or both. I was inspired to write this post after an AVENite's comment made me wonder what Mike Skinner had actually said about being asexual. I always enjoyed his music as The Streets, so of course I was curious. On the whole of the internet, I found this one Twitter posting:

"I am asexual. you could think of me as the cliff richard of geezer urban beat poetry."

Now, I have no idea if this is a joke or if it means Skinner really identifies as asexual (apparently, the Wikipedia editors ended up agreeing with me). How can we possibly know from one out-of-context Tweet? And while Emile Autumn has actually come out as asexual, she's only mentioned it, to my knowledge, in one interview. Same with Edward Gorey and Bradford Cox.

With out gay celebrities, there is usually some ongoing story--of being closeted, of coming out, of seeking fulfilling relationships. Where is the story for asexual celebrities? It would lead me to think that their asexuality isn't very important to their lives, which is diametrically opposed to myself and many asexuals of my acquaintance. Maybe they don't want to better known for being asexual than for their work. Perhaps asexuality is deemed as something that wouldn't be interesting to the public, but when I talk about asexuality to people they're usually somewhat intrigued.

That said, interviewers don't exactly try to draw out lots of information on their subjects' possible asexuality. Take this Gay.net interview with Kim Deal (definite role model material):

Interviewer: The last time I interviewed you, the piece got hundreds of comments and a lot of them were about how both lesbians and gay men are attracted to you. I have to ask, do you have a gay bone in your body?

Deal: [Thinks] You know what? I'm just so…asexual, I wish I had a gay bone.

Interviewer: That's so wierd [sic]. You don't seem asexual. Does it seem weird to you that both are attracted to you?

Perhaps only an asexual would jump on that. Anyway, going back to people's stories, celebrities tend to be much more sexualized than average people, especially musicians and actors. Maybe this is one reason why they might want to keep asexuality more private, although I can see an equally compelling argument for speaking out about it in greater detail. Keri Hulme has remained the only famous ace who has mentioned that there are other asexuals besides herself...in short, that asexuality is a "thing". For most "regular" people on the street, naming our asexuality makes us realize that we're not the only ones. I wonder if the same holds true for celebrities.

[The Streets, "Fit But You Know It". Hurting my head trying to discern some kind of asexual content.]