I’ve been friends with Mary for, what, a billion years? Well, like five. But still! I don’t really know when we both realized we were ace, but we’ve had a couple conversations about it, and I’m always interested to hear other viewpoints on asexuality and how it affects daily living, if at all.
Mary agreed to answer some of my questions even though she’s constantly running between her social work and grad program. I don’t know how she has the time for it, but my eternal thanks, sweet baby angel.
What are some of the common questions you get about asexuality?
Luckily, the friends to whom I’ve outed myself as asexual have not asked me the typical othering questions about asexuality. But I will say that those types of questions (“What does asexuality even mean? Do you reproduce by budding? How can you NOT like sex??”) are the main reason I find myself clamming up about my asexuality — even to close friends who are part of the LGBTQ community.
I get ridiculous reactions sometimes when I tell people. Do you? What are some of the most notable ones?
Ha! I believe that. Now I will say that you’re assuming that I actually tell people — which, because of the weird stigma around asexuality, I don’t normally do. Instead, I either end up telling people I’m bisexual (only a little bit of a stretch, since it’s how I identified for a number of years) or queer (which, for me, is a nice blanket term when I don’t want to go into the specifics of my specific sexual preferences with coworkers).
Personally, I’m a biromantic asexual. Where are you on the spectrum? Gray? Demi? Can you explain what that means?
I think biromantic asexual also applies to me! Yay sexuality twins! Thinking outside of labels, I’ve found myself romantically attracted to mostly women, but also some men, and wholly uninterested in sex with other folks. However, when I think about it, I’m probably more of a demisexual? The problem is that I haven’t had time to form that kind of connection with a person in a while, so I’ll revisit that label when I graduate.
How do you deal with being ace in the context of dating?
Hoooo boy well I mostly don’t deal with it, as I’m not actively dating. The few times I’ve ventured onto Tinder or Her in the last year, I’ve stuck with identifying myself as “queer” or using a rainbow flag emoji, and leaving the asexuality talk for a theoretical later time that never comes.
Sometimes I hear it argued that asexuality shouldn’t be included in the queer community. What do you think?
I cannot tell you how many long conversations I’ve had with my friends over this topic (usually while intoxicated). I can see the argument on both sides. I understand why LGBTQ+ people might feel uncomfortable with a so-called “cishet” ace identifying as queer, but there is also a long and storied past of folks being harassed and assaulted because of their “otherness.” In the end, I find it’s easiest to remember that a person can be queer and ace, and that there’s a lot more open conversation that should be had amongst members of the queer community regarding this topic.
Has your relationship with your identity changed over time? Do you feel it does or doesn’t define you as a person?
The first time I realized that I was probably ace, I straight up cried. I wanted to be “normal,” to be able to bond with my friends who talk about sex and contribute to the conversation, to have the desire to do something that’s touted as so basing to humanity, it’s often listed third in priority after eating and sleeping. Sometimes I’m still upset about it. But these days, I’m too busy to worry about it defining me as a person or not. Get back to me in a year about this.
Are there days/times where you don’t feel like the label fits?
Whenever I think about casually running into Oscar Isaac at a bar and hitting it off. Kidding! But really, when I feel myself getting attracted to a person I know, I’m like, wait, am I really asexual? But then I remember asexuality, just like many other things, is on a spectrum, and I feel a little more content with my identity.
What’s something you wish more people understood about being ace?
God I’m so fucking pissed off that this “all people who are ace are sex-repulsed.” If you are, I think that’s totally fine and valid! But it’s not everyone! Many people who are ace masturbate! And fantasize about sex! And enjoy sex! We’re not all just sat over in the corner going, “Ew gross sex, how about some DINOSAURS or CAKE!” (no offense to either dinosaurs or cake, both wonderful things).
Any parting thoughts?
I know that labels are very helpful for some people, especially when it helps you feel as if you’re a part of a larger community of people with shared life experiences. But also, labels aren’t necessary if they kind of freak you out! Thanks for interviewing me! I’m excited to see where this blog goes.
You can find Mary on her own blog where she talks about film and her career as a social worker, and how they intersect. She’s super interesting and a truly wonderful friend. Go check her out.