CFP: Asexuality Studies Interest Group panels at 2018 National Women's Studies Association

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CFP: Asexuality Studies Interest Group panels at 2018 National Women's Studies Association

2018 Call for Papers: Asexuality Studies Interest Group

National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)

Just Imagine, Imagining Justice: Feminist Visions of Freedom, Dream Making, And the Radical Politics of Futurism

November 8-11, 2018, Hilton Atlanta

The NWSA Asexuality Studies Interest Group welcomes presentation proposals for the 2018 NWSA annual conference. We are interested in presentations that address a range of topics related to the study of asexuality.  Keeping in mind this year’s conference theme, “JUST IMAGINE. IMAGINING JUSTICE: Feminist visions of freedom, dream making and the radical politics of futurism,” we are especially interested in presentations that consider the role that asexuality can play in transforming or expanding our visions of the collective future.  Which futures does asexuality make newly imaginable?  What is the future of asexuality studies as a discipline?  How might scholarly and activist projects on asexuality collaborate with and complicate other social justice movements?       

Conference subthemes for 2018 are:

  • Afro-futurism, feminist futurists and surrealist writers and artists

  • Rethinking gender, sexuality, family, disability and the bio-politics of what is or is not human?

  • The future of the universities, schools, and knowledge production: maroon spaces, insurgent practices, and the future of disciplines and the interdisciplines?

  • Post-capitalism: imagining new economic futures

  • Revolutions and utopian projects: sustained, incomplete and derailed

  • Political, cultural and artist movements that “demand the impossible:” “abolition” and beyond

  • The earth’s future and the legacies of its past: environmental justice, climate change, indigeneity, land rights, wars and occupations.

Other potential topics for presentations might include:

  • Data collection on sexual orientation

  • Asexual inclusion

  • Asexuality inclusive sex education

  • Human rights law

  • Topics relevant for applied fields including education, health care practices, etc.

  • Asexuality and the nonhuman

  • Asexuality coalition-building for anti-racism, anti-war, LGBT, and feminist movements

  • Asexuality representations in sci-fi texts, films, and digital media

  • Violence, trauma, pain, shame

  • Queer, neurodiverse, crip justice, and asexuality

  • Reproductive justice movements

  • Medical interventions on asexuality

  • Compulsory sexuality

These asexuality-related themes are orientated towards the NWSA 2018 CFP which can be found here: http://www.nwsa.org/Files/2018/Program%20Book%20ad.pdf Visit https://www.nwsa.org/ for full CFP that is coming soon. If you are interested in being a part of the 2018 Asexuality Studies Interest Group organized panels at NWSA, please send the information by filling out this form by Feb 5, 2018: https://goo.gl/forms/7dBiaIX68vIOuXnC2

If you have any questions, please email <nwsa.asexuality@gmail.com>.

Please note: We will try to accommodate as many qualified presentations as possible, but spaces are limited to 3-4 presenters per panel. Each panel is 75 minutes long and each presentation can take 15-20 minutes depending on the number of presenters. NWSA will make the final decision about which panels are accepted. Presenters accepted into the conference program must become members of NWSA in addition to registering for the conference.

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Call for Papers: Essays on Asexual History

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Call for Papers: Essays on Asexual History

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Call for Papers: Essays on Asexual History

Asexuality possesses a relatively nonexistent history, which subsequently influences how it is perceived today. Locating asexuality historically endures as a challenging obstacle to analyses of recording asexual history. The Asexual calls upon independent scholars and academics to contribute unique perspectives on this unexplored topic. In assembling a collection of essays from varying valuable perspectives, The Asexual seeks to generate and propel a much-needed dialogue on exploring asexuality historically. Potential topics include a close reading of a historical document, journal, book, etc. that grapples with themes which may engage with asexuality, tracing a historical narrative of those who may be considered asexual, existing under the larger ace umbrella, or intersecting with ace experiences in a particular time period, or analyzing asexuality thematically or within varying theoretical frameworks while focusing on a historical time period or periods. This is not an exhaustive list of potential explorations. For the purposes of this collection, The Asexual is seeking papers that engage with asexual history preceding the mid-2000s.  

Working Deadline: July 31st, 2018


What to Submit:

Academic essays that engage with the topic of asexual history in a prominent manner. You are encouraged to submit a proposal (50-200 words, 1-3 sources) before sending a full essay, although not required. Proposals can be sent via filling out the Google form linked at the conclusion of this announcement. 

The deadline listed above (July 31st, 2018) is not final due to the circumstance of which this journal is being produced. Due to the limited focus of this call, The Asexual is aware that there may be a limited number of publishable submissions for inclusion in this special collection.

Format:

Submit essays in Microsoft Word format. If you are submitting previously published articles, please state as such in the following form. Papers should be double-spaced (excluding endnotes), with 1-inch left and right margins. Papers should exceed 2,500 words and not exceed 10,000 words (including endnotes). If your paper does not fit within these word counts, please send an inquiry to AsexualJournal@gmail.com. This special issue will use the notes/bibliography Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition. A quick reference generator can be found here: https://www.citefast.com/

If you are having any issues with formatting, please send inquiries for assistance to AsexualJournal@gmail.com. Formatting should not be an obstacle or deterrent from submitting. Please make The Asexual aware of any issues you are having and they can be worked through together via editing. Incorrect or imperfect formatting will not exclude your essay from final inclusion. The Asexual is far more interested and invested in the overarching idea or concept of the paper and how its argument(s) is/are constructed.

Publication:

  1. You will receive a response to your proposal within 7 days. If you are submitting a full paper without first submitting a proposal, a response will be sent within 30 days. It is recommended that you submit a short proposal preceding submission of a full article, although not required.
  2. This collection of academic essays will be compiled into an anthology upon completion and published via The Asexual website for open access as well as in physical form for purchase.
  3. Your paper will likely undergo an editing process prior to publication. You have the choice for final approval.
  4. All authors included in the final publication will receive a free copy of the anthology in physical form in lieu of payment. You may choose to opt out of this if you wish.

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Stop Shaming Male Virgins. Why it Matters for Asexual Men.

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Stop Shaming Male Virgins. Why it Matters for Asexual Men.

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How entwined must sex be with masculinity that if a man never has sex he is shamed?

There is a social expectation that everyone, but especially men, should not only desire to have sex, but have copious amounts of sex. And it is nothing new. Sexual desire was established as a natural human quality, especially for men, via nineteenth century Victorian medical discourses of sexology. With this normalized sexual expectation came the conditioning and internalization of a notion that if a man does not have sexual intercourse or desire sex, the latter of which is barely, if at all, comprehensible, then he is defective or “less of a man.”

These legacies endure today. If you are to briefly consider what a male virgin symbolizes to society, some initial thoughts that may emerge are of a man who is pathetically lonely, an unkempt “loser,” or a basement dweller living with his parents, all of which are meant to carry negative connotations. What do popular media depictions of male virgins like The 40-Year-Old Virgin or, much timelier, a Vine mocking the status of being an “adult virgin,” inform us of a much larger social perception? To be an “adult virgin” is positioned never as an aspiration, and is surely never a figure who any man should ever strive to be.

Men who have never engaged in sex are people to deride or perhaps even pity. This condescending perception inherently concludes that a man who has never engaged in sexual intercourse exists, not because he does not possess sexual desire, but because he is unable to attract a woman (under the perception of compulsory heterosexuality) to have sex with him. Beyond framing the male virgin as unattractive and inferior, it also places sex upon a pedestal of androcentric achievement — the more sex, the manlier the man. In this paradigm, sex is conflated with success, and remains the goal that every man should aspire to acquire.  

Considering my own status as a socially-perceived man (although I identify as a demiguy) who has never engaged in sex, and as an asexual person who does not possess sexual desire, I am conscious of my intersections with experiences of male virginity. My asexuality has been consistently invalidated in relation to my bodily perception as a “man,” who should therefore be inherently sexual. When I have told others that I am asexual, there is a frequent assumption that I may actually be “a virgin who can’t get laid” or am simply using it as cover for being gay. It is easier for society to conceive of a man to be a virgin who can’t “get laid,” residing him to abject failure, rather than a man who doesn’t want to “get laid,” positioning him outside of social intelligibility altogether.

Two months ago, I was featured in Buzzfeed LGBT’s video compilation of ace people for #AsexualAwarenessWeek and happened upon a response in the comments section of the video directed towards me that exemplifies this perception. The comment read: “That Michael P is cute, so it can’t be that they can’t find anyone to bone them. Maybe they’re just super nervous or something.” In this instance, I was being framed as a sexual person who was only not engaging in sexual intercourse, not because I couldn’t find a man who would want to have sex with me, but because of anxiety or even some other unseen possibility. I was unable to be asexual and content with my absence of sexual desire.

There is an ongoing criticism at play in society in which male virgins are being resided to the realm of humorous failure while asexual men remain external to social understanding, incapable of being acknowledged even as a possibility of existing. Both may be engaging in the similar practice of nonsexual existence (although this may not always be the case for asexual men). Within this framework of shaming male virgins and invalidating asexual men for potentially similar absences of sexual intercourse, there is an apparent forgetfulness or suppression of the relationship between toxic masculinity and the sexual expectations placed upon men, which often manifest aggressively and violently. 

The disastrous implications of toxic masculinity have rippled outward from these sexual expectations. Men are socialized to idolize sex as the tool that makes them “manly” or “masculine,” which themselves are constructed as qualities that should be aspired to gain. It is this predication on sex that generates byproducts of brutality as men strive to fulfill this gendered objective. As queer people, we frequently navigate this consequential reality daily. We feel the presence of cisgender heterosexual men, especially, as threatening to our safety and well-being, and that is not without valid reason. More generally, so many of us, including cishet men, are witnesses to or perhaps even directly implicated in the tragedies caused by toxic masculinity and the aggressive sexual violence of men on a constant recurring basis.

How then can we, rightly, critique and call out men for their violent sexual aggressiveness, yet simultaneously be silent as male virgins and asexual men are shamed as “undesirable” failures or biological impossibilities? It remains undeniably crucial to call out men for the violence they inflict, as it has always been, and will continue to be, as portrayed most recently through what has been dubbed the “Weinstein effect.” Yet, if there isn’t space for men who have never been sexual, whether in their status as virgins or as asexual people, without derisiveness or disbelief, it will remain difficult to divide the pernicious relationship between aggressive sexuality and constructions of manhood. Validating the status of male virgins and the existence of asexual men may be a needed step in the project of unraveling toxic masculinity.


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Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Lead Editor of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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An Introduction to Attraction: It's More Than Sexual

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An Introduction to Attraction: It's More Than Sexual

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Asexuality is frequently conflated with being attracted to no one. Yet, what does it actually mean to be attracted to someone? What are the, often ignored, complexities of attraction? And how does asexuality open these conversations up for exploration? While expressing my own identity as an asexual person in social spaces, I have often encountered many non-ace people who have responded to me with statements akin to "So you're asexual, that means you're attracted to no one, right?" or "Doesn't that mean you don't want to be with anyone?" Both of these questions are misinformed and can be invalidating for asexual and ace people, yet endure as prominent conceptualizations of asexuality in the contemporary moment. This propels the flawed perception that asexuality is a desire to be solitary or is simply an absence of attraction entirely, which does not reflect the experiences of most ace people.

Much of this stems from the perception that to be attracted to someone, there must be a sexual element to that attraction. As an asexual attracted to men, if I express to others that I am attracted to men without providing any further context, the attraction will be assumed to be sexual with a swift automaticity. This perception of attraction automatically being sexual has implications for both ace and non-ace people, especially for those who experience different or conflicting forms of attraction simultaneously. How then may we, as ace and non-ace people alike, combat these generalized perceptions of attraction? As a first step, there must be an awareness of different forms of attraction, beyond the sexual, in the public consciousness. This article operates as an introduction to varying forms of attraction and subsequently as a resource that attempts to articulate their complexities and intersections while maintaining brevity.

Sexual Attraction: Attraction to another person(s) that spurs a desire to engage in sexual activity, most often, but not always, being sexual intercourse. To be sexually attracted to someone is predicated on your desire to engage in contact with them sexually or to be aroused in a manner that generates such interest. This attraction may be based on physical qualities of the person(s) in question as well as other non-physical aspects, yet remain tied to sexual desire or a desire to sexually be in contact with that person(s).

Romantic Attraction: Attraction to another person(s) predicated on a desire to experience contact that may be conceptualized as "romantic." How romantic attraction is defined remains relatively amorphous, yet clearly strays from sexual attraction, and is frequently entwined with a desire to be in a romantic relationship with another person(s). Similar to sexual attraction, one may also be heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, aromantic, and more. Romantic attraction does not have to be in congruence with sexual attraction, which is exemplified most prominently in the asexual experience. Asexual people may be both asexual and romantically attracted to anyone or no one. 

Aesthetic Attraction: Attraction based on a visual appreciation or captivation of the physical appearance or allure of another person(s). Aesthetic attraction may be completely disconnected from sexual attraction (as it is for asexual people) or romantic attraction (as it is for aromantic people), and instead considers the visual aesthetics of another person(s). It may be described in a similar manner to appreciating or being captivated by the beauty of a particularly striking natural setting. You may feel as though the person(s) in question is simply more visually intriguing than others, but not necessarily because of a sexual or romantic component attached to the attraction.

Sensual Attraction: Attraction predicated on an inclination or passion to engage with another person(s) in a manner that could be described as physical or tactile, as well as intersecting with any of the senses, while remaining nonsexual. Sensual attraction may include the desire to hug, kiss, cuddle, hold another's hand, etc., while not including the desire for sexual activity or engagement. It may also include gaining gratification or being aroused by another person or persons' through other sensory experiences, such as smell. Sensual attraction is also not necessarily intertwined with any other form of attraction, whether sexual, romantic, aesthetic, or otherwise.

Emotional Attraction: Attraction that is predicated on personality rather than the physical appearance of another person(s). Emotional attraction often includes or represents the desire to be in non-tactile contact with another person for the purposes of forming, fostering, or maintaining an emotional and personal bond with them. You may feel fascinated or drawn to a person(s) based on their personality or aura, which may result in you wanting to be around them increasingly, without involving anything sexual, romantic, aesthetic, sensual, or physical in general. 

Intellectual Attraction: Attraction that involves a desire to form, foster, or maintain an intellectual or mental connection or engagement with another person(s). Intellectual attraction may involve a connection to someone mentally that is separated from the rest of their bodies. It grapples with what the person(s) in question is thinking, and potentially includes a desire to interact or engage with that person(s) further in intellectual or mental respects, without necessarily involving any other form of attraction.

Most importantly, what this examination has shown, is that attractions do not necessarily have to be in congruence or "line-up." Just because someone is heterosexual, this does not mean they experience heteromantic attraction, or even what may be described as heteroaesthetic or heterosensual attraction, etc. In the same respect, asexual people can be panromantic and homosensual, aromantic and heteroaesthetic, homoromantic and asensual. Of course, these varying forms of attraction may also parallel one another, and often do. However, just because someone states they are sexually attracted to men, for example, this does not mean you should infer the same can be said about their romantic, aesthetic, sensual, emotional, or intellectual sensibilities. Attraction is a complex phenomenon, and far too complex to be reduced to the sexual. It is the asexual experience that has allowed for an initial exploration into this necessary examination.


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Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Lead Editor of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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I Don’t Need To Have Sex To Know I’m Asexual.

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I Don’t Need To Have Sex To Know I’m Asexual.

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“But if you haven’t had sex, how do you know you’re asexual?”

As an asexual, this is a common response I have received after revealing my status openly. It is a loaded statement that possesses implicit assumptions about asexuality and a multitude of flaws, so let’s deconstruct why you should never ask an asexual person this for a moment, shall we?

Firstly, there is an inherent assumption that being asexual is the opposite of being sexual or engaging in sexual activity. The reality is that self-identified asexual people may or may not engage in sex. While I happen to be an asexual person who has never engaged in sex (hi, I’m also sex-repulsed), this information is not conveyed when I simply express that I am asexual to someone. As such, this is an inherent assumption being made that indicates a larger domineering perception of understanding asexuality as a lack of sexual activity. And not just a lack, but a complete absence of engaging in sex.

Within this question, there is also a certain condescension involved, in which I (as the asexual person in this scenario) should have to verify my asexuality through attempting to engage in sex, in order to “make sure” that I am reallyasexual. In other words, it’s a “how do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?” sort of approach, except applied to sexuality rather than, you know, a flavor of ice cream or something of that nature. “I don’t know Billy, how are you so certain of your heterosexual identity if you haven’t had sex with men?” This would be an equally ridiculous approach, would it not? Why should there be a verification process for asexuality, yet not for heterosexuality?

Which brings me to my next point. Implicit here is this idea that one can be coaxed or easily swayed away from asexuality through engaging in sex. It is in this scenario that sex is being positioned as possessing a toxic allure. Try it once, and you’ll surely get hooked, just like the rest of us. This is because asexuality rests on unstable ground within much of the public’s consciousness as even being a legitimate manner of existence in the first place. It stems to the disbelief that asexuality could even be a possibility. It’s a “how could someone not want to have sex?” sort of situation. If only I tried sex, then I would see how great it is and give up this whole “fake” asexuality thing, right?

It is navigating these harmful assumptions that remains an arduous challenge as an asexual person who has never engaged in sex, especially since there is no way of avoiding them besides remaining silent. Whenever this question is directed towards me, I am being pressured to prove that my asexuality is valid because of a sexual expectation placed upon all of us. A desire to have sex is still perceived as an inherent quality of humanity. Well, let me assert that I don’t need to have sex to know that I’m asexual. I don’t need to prove myself as an asexual person who has never had sex. I am perfectly content to never engage in any sexual activity, and that doesn’t invalidate my asexuality.


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Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Lead Editor of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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Vol. 2, Issue 1: On Asexuality and Sex

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Vol. 2, Issue 1: On Asexuality and Sex

Asexuality and Sex

Asexuality is frequently conflated with being nonsexual, that is, not relating to sex in any manner. Ace people are often perceived as possessing no relationship to sex except repulsion, yet this is a generalized assumption that does not reflect the entirety of the community. Ace people may or may not engage in sex, they may be sex-favorable, sex-neutral, or sex-repulsed. As an ace person, how do these perceptions of asexuality and sex relate to your own understandings of asexuality? What does sex mean to you as an ace/asexual person, if anything? Do you engage in sex? How do you navigate understandings of asexuality as being synonymous with being "nonsexual" as an ace/asexual person who engages in sex? Do you feel that there a sexual expectation placed upon you as an ace/asexual person that is difficult to fulfill? What are your thoughts on sex? Other related themes to explore in this issue are definitions of sexual attraction, romantic attraction, or other types of attraction, reproduction and asexuality, and sexualization of the body. 

Deadline: March 20th, 2017


WHAT TO SUBMIT:

On the above theme(s), The Asexual is currently accepting poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction, personal essays, academic essays, abstract written pieces, and any other form of writing. The Asexual also accepts photography, recorded videos, music, speeches, recited poetry, sketches, drawings, paintings, comics, abstract artistic work, and any other form of visual and/or recorded media. 

Submissions can be under a pseudonym. Submissions can be in languages other than English.

FORMAT:

Poetry should be under 50 lines and all writing should be under 3,000 words (if you would like to submit a longer piece, please send an email to asexualjournal@gmail.com or a DM on Twitter prior to submission for confirmation). Please note that music or video submissions will not be included in the print edition of the journal. Instead, a link to these sources will be included in the print journal with your bio. You may also choose to include a description of the media.

If you are submitting written work, your submission should be in Microsoft Word or PDF format. If you are submitting images, your submission should be in .jpeg/.jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .tiff, or any widely-used image format. If you are submitting music or video, your submission should be in any widely-used audio or video format.

Also, you must include a short bio, 50-150 words written in 3rd person (this may include your location, how you identify, previous publications, education, any social media links or website links you would like to share, and more).

PUBLICATION:

  1. The Asexual aims to respond within 2 weeks if your submission has been accepted for publication.
  2. Your submission may undergo a short editing process. You have the choice for final approval.
  3. All publications are paid at the current rate of $2.5o for poems and $5.00 for essays/artwork/other, as per the most recently surpassed Patreon goal. Payments will be distributed electronically via Paypal following the publication of the issue online and in print. You may also choose to opt out of payment if you so wish.
  4. You retain copyright of your work upon publication.
  5. You agree to give The Asexual first serial/electronic and print rights, and electronic and print archival rights. You agree to allow your work to be published online and in print/physical release and to be promoted on any social media of The Asexual. You agree to allow your work to be available for download in PDF format and on the TheAsexual.com upon release for free as well as for purchase in physical format. You also agree that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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Why I say I’m a “Queer Asexual”: On the concept of Queer Asexuality

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Why I say I’m a “Queer Asexual”: On the concept of Queer Asexuality

I have been engaged in a continual ongoing exploration of appropriate identity labels to categorize my existence. At one moment I used to define myself as “gay,” then as a “gay asexual,” then as a “homoromantic asexual,” then as a “androromantic asexual,” followed by an “asexual attracted to men,” and finally as a “queer asexual,” where I remain now. From this exploration through identity markers, I have recognized the efficiency and power of queerness as a non-specific category. At the same time, I also acknowledge the importance of asexuality as existing under the larger umbrella of queerness and LGBTQIA+ identity, as most ace people concur.

Asexuality is in conversation with queer theory, reminding us that it is imperative to differentiate our asexual identity within the amorphous undifferentiated realm that queerness provides. while simultaneously asserting the queerness of our asexuality. As asexual people, we are often perceived as wholly unqueer. As ace people, we are often made to feel excluded from queer spaces due to the perception that asexuality, which is often perceived as an absence of sexual desire or interest, is not queer enough. Asexuality decentralizes sex from queerness, but because sex and queer imaginaries are so often entwined, asserting asexuality as a queer identity reminds us as asexual and ace people that it is necessary to claim both our queerness and our asexuality simultaneously.

I am not just queer. I am not just asexual. I am a queer asexual. Asexuality interjects a notion of hybridity into the centralized differentiation versus undifferentiation debate of queer theory. It reminds us that as ace people we may not possess the ability to simply label ourselves as “queer” alone, because of the erasure of asexuality within queer spaces and the conceptualization of queerness as defined by sexuality. When someone states they are queer, they are often assumed to possess (at the very least, partially) “same-sex” sexual attraction. Just as when someone states they are gay it is often automatically perceived as meaning that they desire to have sex with the “same sex.”

Centralizing asexuality in queer spaces may destabilize this notion, and in that lies queer asexuality, a conception that may allow us to further expand queerness beyond its often immediate associations with sexual attraction, desire, interest, or even sexuality in general, in liberating respects. As an asexual demiguy, who is often perceived as attracted to the “same-sex,” this has become clear in my own life, as I often struggle separating the inherent sexual assumptions of my queerness or “gayness” with my asexuality. It is thus in queer asexuality that I have found the potential for empowerment.

(Article cross-posted on Medium)


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Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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You could say that I’m a Gay Asexual Man.

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You could say that I’m a Gay Asexual Man.

I am very aware of the fact that I am perceived as male in society, regardless of my existence as an demiguy. I guess you could say that I’m “read” as a man. Therefore, when I say that I’m attracted to men, I’m instantly perceived to be gay, no questions asked. But, despite the gender identity conflicts, what does it really mean to be perceived as gay? Is gayness only based in sex, or can gayness be understood via a more expansive form of attraction, that may or may not be sexual? How does this intersect with gay men specifically?

If I’m attracted to men, but don’t want to have sex with men, where does this leave me? In my life, I feel a general attraction to men. It’s evident when I look at a man and think to myself something along the lines of: “oh, he’s cute.” I’ve been attracted to men all of my life. This type of attraction could be perceived as highly aesthetic and sensual, yet never sexual, for the plain reason that attraction dissipates at the thought of sex with anyone, including men.

If I am aroused or “turned on” by a man, but still don’t want to have sex with that man, where does this leave me? As an asexual who is attracted to men, I am often aroused and “turned on” by men. This is deeply entwined with my own personal or erotic desires. Yet, while my arousal to that man indicates that my body may be physiologically responding to what I am perceiving, as soon as sex is introduced, the response dissipates or becomes nonexistent.

If I am attracted to men’s bodies more generally, but I am left feeling indifferent or (essentially always) repulsed by their genitalia, where does this leave me? To put it simply, I am attracted to men’s bodies. I appreciate a nice chest, some face, some arms, etc. in my life. But, to put it bluntly, their genitalia is not for me. “Dick pics,” (if the man in question even has a dick to begin with) as they may be referred to commonly, only leave me repulsed. I’d rather receive the image cropped or not receive it all.

A comment left on BuzzFeed LGBT’s Facebook regarding my statement that I was asexual and experienced attraction to men.

A comment left on BuzzFeed LGBT’s Facebook regarding my statement that I was asexual and experienced attraction to men.

When I say that I’m asexual and attracted to men, I’m often perceived as simply being in the closet or afraid to admit that I’m “fully gay” or “want to have sex with men.” In this sense, being asexual has simply become a “cover-up” or a mechanism that I’m allegedly using to deny my full “gayness.” I am lying about my “true” identity because I am concerned about how I am or will be perceived. I have one foot out of the closet, and one foot left within.

Or, as the comment above illustrates (as well as the not included thread of replies), left on BuzzFeed LGBT’s video compilation of ace people (of which I was included), there may be other reasons. My asexuality is simply inhibiting me or being used to cover the fact that I’m “super nervous or something” to experience gay sex. In this sense, my asexuality is invalidated as being produced by social introversion or anxiety, rather than actually being a potential and valid state of being. Couple this with being attracted to men, and everything suddenly becomes even more complicated.

When I have “come out” to people who have claimed to be accepting of gay people and queer people, I’m often met with words of encouragement and support as I reveal my attraction to men or “gayness,” yet quickly receive expressions of confusion or disbelief when I reveal that I am also asexual. To be gay and asexual is to coexist in conflict. Gay male asexuals are especially unintelligible, perceived as embodying male gayness, a highly sexualized identity category, and asexuality, a highly nonsexualized identity category.

Navigating this conflict has pushed me to explore new identities, such as being a homoromantic asexual. However, lately I have felt disconnected from identifying as “romantically attracted” to anyone. Should I then refer to myself as a homosensual and homoaesthetic asexual man? Then, what of my demiguy identity? Is there a usefulness in engaging in hyper-differentiation, or should I simply remain where I am perceived, as a gay man? It has proven difficult enough to assert my asexuality and existence as a demiguy within the confines of this category of gay manhood. But, could it also be useful?

My strong resonance with gayness throughout my life, despite my gender identity, has pushed me to consider how expanding the boundaries of what it means to be gay could be useful. Should engagement in sex remain what determines one’s relationship to gayness or the gay male identity? Should one only identify as gay if they want to have sex with the “same sex”? And therefore, is one only gay because they have sex? This is a difficult issue of identity management to grapple with, and one that I have not yet sorted out.

(Article cross-posted on Medium)


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Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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The Ace Side of #MeToo

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The Ace Side of #MeToo

Note: content warning for the discussion of sexual harassment and assault. There are no violent or graphic descriptions of anyone's experience below; this article was purposefully written this way to discuss the topic of sexual harassment and assault and still be accessible to other asexual and aromantic survivors.

Recently, you may have seen a wide array of posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter from friends and others bearing the hashtag #MeToo. The vast majority of them have been women: the hashtag was created by a black woman and activist Tarana Burke ten years ago to generate a conversation about how women – particularly women of color – are affected by sexual harassment and sexual assault. Further, this has generated conversation about how existing resources – much like those provided by Planned Parenthood – are all the more necessary and important to fight for given the current political climate in the United States under Donald Trump. People of all genders have joined this empowering moment, creating a more complicated and intersectional picture of the oppression permeating a system that lacks justice, liberation, and oftentimes the belief and support of our own friends and loved ones. Gender, race, disability, socioeconomic status, and sexual and romantic orientations – among other markers of identity based on background, circumstance, and experiences – all come together to simultaneously clarify and obscure this picture.

I wrote this not as a solution to a problem or as a blueprint for survivor-inclusive ace activism and advocacy, but rather as a series of thoughts meant to create a dialogue. In the task of creating asexual-specific spaces both online and offline which center a mindset that there are people who do not experience sexual attraction and may not enjoy or desire sex, it is also incredibly important to create spaces of healing for aces who have experienced sexual violence. In a society that privileges sex as well as shuns those who are incapable of engaging in or desiring it, we perpetuate a form of rape culture that coerces people to engage in activities in which they have no interest in participating. While there may one day come a time where I post a piece in a more appropriate outlet detailing the circumstance of my assault, I wanted to write this piece to illuminate the perspective of identifying both as a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence and as a demisexual. Through events and conversations, essays and community dialogues, I have often used my story to demonstrate how people on the asexual spectrum have their own complications to face regarding sexual harassment and assault.

When asexual people come out to others in conversation, they will often be asked if they have been assaulted in the past, particularly when they were younger. It was one of the most frequent questions I received when I first came out as asexual at 14. I said "no, I had not." While this was not true, I owed nobody my story. At this point in my life I did not know how to talk about it, and it would still be years before I would tell someone about it for the first time. But I also feared that if I had said yes, it might have acted either as an explanation or as an excuse from a more collective perception of normality: i.e. that it would "make sense" that I had no sexual attraction to others. I did not want it to seem that my lack of attraction at the time was causal, that my coming out as ace was a direct effect of my sexual assault. I did not want it to seem that I was broken, unloveable, or that I somehow "grew incorrectly" and was therefore incapable of a relationship.

While I also identified as aromantic at this time and had no interest in either sex or a romantic relationship, I wanted my identity to be and come across as valid and genuine. Other ace people that I knew – mostly online – sought to defy the stereotype, that they could be ace and not have this experience. Although I never believed that I came off to other aces as perpetuating a stereotype, stigma-fighting within this community that was not inclusive to survivors made talking about the two identities coexisting very difficult.

A couple years later when I would come out as a homoromantic demisexual (still years before I came out as agender or as being a survivor), traversing queer spaces was another difficulty. After what felt like was trial and error, I would not tell strangers that I was demisexual, even if I knew they were queer. Explaining it would not only make them feel that I was making things too complicated or that I wanted to be "special", but once they would learn that my identity was on the asexual spectrum, the same questions prying at my traumas would return. Similar microaggressive inferences that being assaulted and demisexual made sense would arise, others arguing that it was explainable that I would prefer to take the time to let someone in before sexual attraction would be possible made sense because I was assaulted.

My story differs from other stories of survivors in my community. While there are moments that I am interested in sex or will have sex (as I am demisexual), there are other ace survivors whose social experiences and possibly traumas are more complicated due to being sex-repulsed. While overcoming my trauma could mean remembering that non-abusive romantic and/or sexual love is still possible, it will mean different things to each of us. I have no doubt that there could one day be a more accessible network or space for us to gather, find resources, and potentially even share if/when we are comfortable, willing, and feel safe doing so.

Lack of resources and lack of an accessible community of others on the asexual spectrum has only served to exacerbate this oppression. We owe nobody our stories or our reasons. But due to the smallness of our community, that will mean we need allies to step up and implore the difference of experience. We will need allosexual and alloromantic people to believe and understand us, and we will need other asexual and aromantic spectrum people who are not survivors to make spaces more inclusive. While I have made it the point of the past few years to bring it up and to further complicate and expand the conversation of sexual assault so that it may be more accessible to others, it is exhausting to do it alone.

While I do not yet know how to create a solution for this, I know that I am tired and overworked. Being the only asexual in so many spaces throughout my life and having to explain myself over and over again makes me tired. Making resources for ace people in queer spaces and dedicating so much of myself to making queer spaces more ace inclusive makes me tired. Building a community at my own university by myself with little to no support makes me tired. Explaining my story of sexual assault and all of the intricacies of carrying my experience as a demisexual person makes me tired.

But throughout this past couple of weeks, I am reminded that I cannot help but keep going: I keep working because as both a survivor and as someone on the asexual spectrum, #MeToo reminds me that I am not alone.


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Geoffrey Colaizzi is an androromantic demisexual agender person located in northern Virginia. They are an undergraduate student at George Mason University, and has been selected to present their research at the National Women's Studies Association. While going to school part-time and working full-time as a human resources assistant, they are also activist in their spare time working to expand ace/aro awareness and inclusivity in local queer communities and spaces. Geoffrey is the founder of Mason's Arrows & Aces (est. January 2015), a student social group and ace/aro awareness organization. Twitter: @inqueertime and @arrowsacesgmu

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Interrogating the Whiteness of the Asexual Community

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Interrogating the Whiteness of the Asexual Community

According to a recent survey conducted in 2014 by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network of over 10,000 asexual people, 77.3% of the ace community identifies as White and “NonHispanic.” 5.2% identified as White and “Hispanic,” 3.9% identified as Asian or Pacific Islander, 2.5% identified as Black or African American, 0.5% identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, 6.8% identified as Mixed Race, and 3.8% identified as “Other” or did not respond to the question. Aside from the problematic and messy categorizations utilized in this community census (which are based off the U.S. census), one thing appears to be clear: the asexual or ace community is overwhelmingly white racially (and “NonHispanic” ethnically).

Whiteness is dominating the ace community, but the question is: Why?

Asexuality as a contemporary identity originated within highly white and highly selective online spaces, such as email lists and blogs in the late 1990s and early 2000s, at the inception of the internet’s ascension into widespread usage. So it really is of no surprise that it has largely remained within these spaces, at least, on some level. “Asexuality” is still a relatively elusive and esoteric term that maintains a strong positionality within highly selective and highly white online spaces. It’s not a word (or, at least, identity) that one would ever be exposed to in the public education system or any other general mainstream media outlet (at least, until very recently). There is thus an intrinsic level of privilege required to even be able to self-identify as asexual.

Therefore, those who do not have access or knowledge of these online spaces (or even the internet in general) will thus largely not have access to the term, will therefore not be able to self-identify by the term, and will therefore not be understood as asexual or ace or be included within the asexual community. Exposure to these terms of “asexual” and “ace” offline may be difficult to impossible. As such, the asexual identity may continue to be predominately afforded to white people, both due to their greater privilege in accessing these select online spaces in general as well as the fact that once gaining access or possessing preexisting access (referring to the white creators of these online spaces where asexuality as a contemporary identity originated), they are more likely to continue to spread knowledge of the identity within bubbles dominated highly by others like themselves.

And once a space is dominated by whiteness, it frequently become self-containing. Whiteness itself seems to always operate in self-containing ways that exclude and erase the experiences of people of color. As such, those who are asexual today may continue to see asexuality as an identity largely for white people tomorrow (whether consciously or unconsciously), and the cycle may continue to loop as new ace people gain access to the identity. This looping effect means that white aces who are coming into their asexual identity, will likely have an easier time accessing the identity as well as instantly feel accepted in ace spaces. On the other hand, ace people of color, who are less likely to even have access or self-identify as ace or asexual in the first place, may immediately feel excluded and invisibilized within the ace community as the cycle continues to perpetuate itself.

This makes ace people of color less likely to engage and participate in activities that concern the ace community, such as the very AVEN survey that frames this article. This AVEN survey or community census largely received its data from promotion within “ace spaces” that are largely, if not exclusively, online and also highly white. While the results may appear to lead one to the conclusion that less ace or asexual people of color exist, this fundamentally is no the case. It’s not that ace people of color do not exist (obviously), but they are less likely to self-identify as ace or asexual and have been largely excluded from participating in the ace community, including activities such as this census, due to the whiteness of the ace community and its relational issue of self-containment through looping effects and otherwise.

Visibility is also important. Representation (in general) can be powerful and often makes people feel validated in their own existence or identity. This is especially true for those of us who are only represented in a very limited capacity or within limited spaces, such as ace people. However, asexuality representation, as important as it is, largely perpetuates the whiteness of the ace community. Within “do-it-yourself” or “indie” representational sources (those who self-produce asexuality representation), either through their personal blog, art, stories, etc. are likely to be predominately white, and are therefore likely to create primarily white representations of asexuality in the media they create or representations that look like themselves.

Within “mainstream” media the story is largely the same, although the stakes are arguably much larger. While asexuality representation within mainstream outlets has really only just begun to ascend, it is clear that ace people of color are largely absent from this growing trend, thus embedding within general audiences who are exposed to these representations that whiteness and asexuality are largely entwined (whether consciously or unconsciously). At the same time, ace people of color, who may already not feel included within the asexual community, are not seeing themselves being represented in the limited amount of asexuality representation out there, and thus may also internalize ideas of asexuality as a primarily white identity.

On the most apparent of levels, it is clear that whiteness in ace spaces should be examined, interrogated, and dismantled, and there are multiple respects in which this can be addressed. The most useful of these is simply centering and amplifying the voices of ace people of color. This can work to deconstruct the perception of the ace community and asexual people as predominately being white as well as allow for ace people of color to feel more included within ace spaces. Other solutions include continued awareness of the asexual identity, particularly within offline spaces (media representation is important), so that the identity begins to enter the lexicon and consciousness of the general public rather than remaining a predominately online self-identity within highly white spaces, of which it originated nearly two decades ago.

(Article cross-posted on Medium)


Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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Navigating Toxic Masculinity as a Demiguy.

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Navigating Toxic Masculinity as a Demiguy.

I was assigned male at birth. I was socialized as male. And therefore, I was imbued with toxic masculinity from a very young age. Almost every body assigned male at birth in American society has a similar socialization experience and process, which essentially involves the internalization of toxic masculinity, policing other men (at least, those who are perceived as men) to meet its toxic and fragile expectations, as well as being policed by others (especially men) to meet its toxic and fragile expectations.

This was the path I was on as a presumed-to-be-heterosexual boy. This meant that when I expressed my love for sparkly clothing and bright colors in my childhood that my desires were suppressed and corrected to the drab blues and grays for “boys.” When I was drawn to women’s apparel, it was made apparent that the clothing wasn’t for me. When I didn’t want to be with the other boys in school, I was forced into their group categorization. Of course, these were all relatively subtle occurrences in my childhood, yet my seemingly unconnected internal feelings developed into continuous trends that prevailed throughout my adolescence, or the period in which gender policing (especially among peers) often accelerates tremendously.

As a pre-pubescent boy (especially younger), expressing desire to wear or actually wearing apparel societally designated as only acceptable for girls or women, such as high-heeled shoes or a sparkly outfit (material objects that are societally-marked as “feminine”), has the potentiality to be perceived as “childhood innocence” (although this is not always the case, especially in spaces dominated by hypermasculinity) or as a “fault” of the parents. Most adults (not all) will not “blame” the child they perceive as a boy for their nonconformity. An adolescent boy doing the same is more apt to produce a more extreme reaction, as with age comes the perception that they “know better.” If gendered expectations for boys are solidified in childhood to be masculine, they become as rigid as a dagger for adolescent boys.

This is because adolescent boys are closer to manhood, and therefore, adult men (and also women to a lesser extent) have a greater stake in policing the masculinity of adolescent boys who are not conforming to the expectations of toxic masculinity. This is especially true for male family members or peers, who will frequently police the gender of other boys or men because of their fragility or fear in their own gender and sexuality, entwined most often with a heterosexual strain of toxic masculinity, being called into question through association. Within a system dominated by toxic masculinity, nobody wants to be associated with a boy or man who does not conform to the expectations of toxic masculinity, especially in such an overt manner as dress, where “concealment” is effectively impossible.

Although my desire for a more colorful gender expression (literally and figuratively) was evident to me at this time, I put my head down as instructed and conformed to the standards of toxic masculinity (I still do this today, largely), and I did (at least, attempted to do so, very poorly I may add) for many years of my life, but never felt comfortable living within its confines. I never felt wholly like a boy or a man. Still, at the same time, I never felt wholly separated from being a boy or a man either. I knew that I’d rather not be referred to as a man. I felt an internal cringe whenever I was. At the same time, I felt indifferent to being societally “read” as a man. I also knew that my preferred pronoun was They, yet also understood that most people would refer to me as He, and was not deeply bothered by that.

All of this culminated into my discovery of the demiguy identity earlier this year, which came about from a casual Google search. When I first read the following description of the identity, it felt like a natural fit:

“Demiguy can be used to describe someone assigned male at birth who feels barely connected or disconnected to that identification, but does not experience a significant enough dissociation to create real physical discomfort or dysphoria.” (Source)

While my disassociation from manhood was evident, my discomfort or dysphoria was rather minimal. While I felt some minimal internal conflicts with being “read” or referred to as a man or a He, it was not enough to make me feel significant levels of dysphoria with my body.

Yet, I questioned the role of toxic masculinity in potentially shaping my connection to the demiguy identity. Did toxic masculinity in my life push me to see myself as mostly separate from being a man? In other words, should I understand my demiguy identity as a product of toxic masculinity itself? Has the intense policing of masculinity in my life pushed me to the demiguy identity? And if so, is my identity as a demiguy still valid? If masculinity was deconstructed, and the category of “man” no longer existed by the definitions of toxic masculinity, as it does today, would I still be a demiguy? These are difficult questions to answer.

As a demiguy today, I feel mostly non-binary, along with a minimal connection to being a man. I frequently seek to express my gender identity outside of what would be societally acceptable for a man. On most days, I really feel a desire to identify or express my gender in a non-binary or more feminine manner (although this currently remains entirely unfulfilled due to the prevailing force of toxic masculinity in my life), but sometimes I still do feel like presenting in masculine ways. I feel my gender identity oscillating throughout these fields of expression and identity, and ultimately see the demiguy identity as a point of centrality within them, denoting where I most often fall on the spectrum of gender expression and identity.

However, because of forces of toxic masculinity and since my body is still “read” as male (as a demiguy who was assigned male at birth), my behavior and expressions are still heavily policed as a man’s would be within this system, just as I have been throughout my entire life. As a result, my opportunities to realize my gender expression without the constraints of toxic masculinity remain unfulfilled and completely unrealized. This means that as a demiguy assigned male at birth, I still have male privilege, even though I don’t identify fully as a man. Toxic masculinity is therefore still shaping how I see myself (as a demiguy who was assigned male at birth) and how others see me (as a man). Navigating through toxic masculinity remains an immensely difficult process, and my journey navigating through it has only begun, at this point producing more questions than answers.

Toxic masculinity is thus still clouding my gender vision. I feel in my soul that I am a demiguy (or at least, definitely non-binary), but I cannot deny that this conclusion remains constrained, pushed and pulled by the toxic masculinity that has always surrounded and regulated my life. Once I am able to remove myself, physically and financially, from those who subscribe to toxic masculinity in my immediate life, will this all change? Of course, toxic masculinity will always surround me societally, but is it only the immediate presence of it that is mostly constricting me? All of this remains to be seen. I’m still waiting for the day.

(Article cross-posted on Medium)


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Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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Hi, I’m a Sex-Repulsed Asexual. No, not all Ace people are Sex-Repulsed.

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Hi, I’m a Sex-Repulsed Asexual. No, not all Ace people are Sex-Repulsed.

I am an asexual who experiences attraction to men. It’s likely some combination of sensual and aesthetic attraction, but I possess no desire to have sex with men (or anyone for that matter). To keep it simple, and in order to avoid sifting through all of the intricate nuances of my identity (sorry, it’s complicated), I am a “gay asexual.” I am attracted to men, I’m somewhat male-identified, and I don’t want to have sex. I don’t want to have sex because I am also sex-repulsed, and really always have been.

Being sex-repulsed for most of my life has meant, simply, that I have always been turned off by sex. I have never been interested in sex, nor desired sex, and have never, and will probably never, engage in sex or sexual acts in the foreseeable future because of my repulsion. For me, I remain a sex-repulsed asexual in the personal sense, meaning that I have no desire to have sex at all in any situation. However, I am also sex-positive in the non-personal or general sense, meaning that I support anyone who desires to have safe consensual sex and enjoy themselves. That’s just not for me.

However, not all ace people are sex-repulsed. If someone is asexual that doesn’t necessarily mean they “don’t want to have sex” like myself. This is a common misconception that harms and erases ace people who are sex-positive, who have sexual desire, and who want to engage in sex, as well as ace people who experience minimal or selective sexual attraction. Ace people who desire sex have to navigate identities in conflict, because being sexual is still societally understood as the opposite of being asexual.

For society, if someone reveals they are asexual, then they must also be a “virgin,” have no interest in sex, and/or possess no desire to have sex. Asexual people are frequently perceived as “loners” who are not attracted to anyone and don’t want to be with anyone as a result. This is because, to be attracted to someone is predominately only understood of as a purely or, at least, partially, sexual behavior. In the general public mindset, attraction can only be sexual.

I run into these dilemmas frequently when trying to explain my own attraction to men as an asexual person, especially as someone who is also read as a man. When I say that I am attracted to men, this automatically means that I must want to have sex with men. The connection is instantaneous. Of course, as I stated earlier, this isn’t the case. However, untangling this relationship is difficult. When I try to explain how my attraction to men is not sexual, I’m perceived as a liar, “in the closet,” denying my gayness, or being a “respectable queer.”

This is why being an ace person who is also sex-positive and/or engages in sex and/or experiences minimal or selective levels of sexual attraction, is difficult to navigate. There is a strong sexual/asexual binary that dictates how asexual people have to navigate and manage their identity. Within this binary, you’re either asexual, meaning you don’t engage in sex and don’t experience attraction (generally) at all, or you’re sexual, meaning that you engage in sex, experience attraction, and are societally “normal.”

In reality, of course, asexuality is only the lack of sexual attractionAce people can still be sexual and possess sexual desire, while still experiencing limited, selective, or nonexistent levels of sexual attraction. Ace people can still be attracted to others, while also still experiencing limited, selective, or nonexistent levels of sexual attraction. Some ace people may find a pleasure in sex, others may be repulsed by sex, others may not care at all. The ace community is diverse and expansive. And being sexual is certainly not the antithesis of being asexual.

(Article cross-posted on Medium)


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Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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Vol. 1, Issue 4: On the Intersections of Race and Asexuality

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Vol. 1, Issue 4: On the Intersections of Race and Asexuality

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Asexuality and Race

According to a census of the ace community by AVEN in 2014, of over 10,000 ace people surveyed, 77.3% of respondents identified themselves as "White (NonHispanic)." Ace communities are highly dominated by white people and white voices. How does this impact understandings and perceptions of asexuality more generally? How does the relationship between whiteness and asexuality alter understandings of your own asexuality as an ace person? What is your experience as an ace person of color? How can the centrality of whiteness in the ace community be dismantled? Submissions are not limited to the discussion or questions posed here, this is simply one potential origination point on exploring this theme of race and asexuality more broadly. Other related themes to explore in this issue are transnational asexualities, especially in majority non-English-speaking countries, and the intersections of asexuality and ethnicity.

Deadline: January 20th, 2018


What to Submit:

On the above theme(s), The Asexual is currently accepting poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction, personal essays, academic essays, abstract written pieces, and any other form of writing. The Asexual also accepts photography, recorded videos, music, speeches, recited poetry, sketches, drawings, paintings, comics, abstract artistic work, and any other form of visual and/or recorded media. 

Submissions can be under a pseudonym. Submissions can be in languages other than English.

Format:

Poetry should be under 50 lines and all writing should be under 3,000 words (if you would like to submit a longer piece, please send an email to asexualjournal@gmail.com or a DM on Twitter prior to submission for confirmation). Please note that music or video submissions will not be included in the print edition of the journal. Instead, a link to these sources will be included in the print journal with your bio. You may also choose to include a description of the media.

If you are submitting written work, your submission should be in Microsoft Word or PDF format. If you are submitting images, your submission should be in .jpeg/.jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, .tiff, or any widely-used image format. If you are submitting music or video, your submission should be in any widely-used audio or video format.

Also, you must include a short bio, 50-150 words written in 3rd person (this may include your location, how you identify, previous publications, education, any social media links or website links you would like to share, and more).

Publication:

  1. The Asexual aims to respond within 2 weeks if your submission has been accepted for publication.
  2. Your submission may undergo a short editing process. You have the choice for final approval.
  3. All publications are paid at the current rate of $2.5o for poems and $5.00 for essays/artwork/other, as per the most recently surpassed Patreon goal. Payments will be distributed electronically via Paypal following the publication of the issue online and in print. You may also choose to opt out of payment if you so wish.
  4. You retain copyright of your work upon publication.
  5. You agree to give The Asexual first serial/electronic and print rights, and electronic and print archival rights. You agree to allow your work to be published online and in print/physical release and to be promoted on any social media of The Asexual. You agree to allow your work to be available for download in PDF format and on the TheAsexual.com upon release for free as well as for purchase in physical format. You also agree that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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VOTE: Proposed themes for Vol. 1, Issue 4 of The Asexual journal

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VOTE: Proposed themes for Vol. 1, Issue 4 of The Asexual journal

It's that time again to select a new theme for The Asexual's upcoming journal issue Vol. 1, Issue 4, the final in the volume one series as well as the final of 2017. Body, the theme for Vol. 1, Issue 3 was chosen via Twitter poll previously, receiving a plurality of votes, more than other proposed themes of Interspace, Symbolism, and Pride. Some of these proposed themes are back again, but the process of selection will be slightly more expansive than last time. Listed below are sixteen potential themes being proposed for future issues of The Asexual journal as well as a short description containing questions and topics concerning potential directions for discussion of the theme in the issue. Be sure to vote for the themes that you support as potential topics. The eight themes with the most votes will be included in two separate Twitter polls (of four each). Within each of these polls, the two themes that receive the most votes will advance to a final Twitter poll. The theme with the most votes in this final Twitter poll will decide the theme of the next issue. All of these themes intersect with a multiplicity of questions that have circulating in my thoughts concerning how asexuality societally functions, including how it is understood, perceived, portrayed, accessed, and expressed.

The questions included with each theme are only meant to spur an introductory discussion on each theme and are not required to be addressed and do not define the limitations of potential discussion regarding the theme in the issue.


Current Standings:

Until October 3rd - Deadline for preliminary voting. You will have until October 3rd to choose which of the 20 themes from above you wish to see as a future journal theme. The 8 themes with the most votes will advance to the next round.

Results

Attraction    18
Representation    17
Community    16
Pride    14
Gender    11
Intersectionality    11
Defining Asexuality    10
Race    10
Privilege    10
Sex    10

Disability    9
Health    9
Cyberspace    7
Nature    7
Masculinity    5
BDSM / Kink    3

Attraction, Representation, Community, Pride, Gender, and Intersectionality are determined to be moving to second-round voting. However, because of a 4-way tie, another poll will be created between the four choices of Defining Asexuality, Race, Privilege, and Sex, with the top 2 that receive the most votes also moving to the next round. This will be done on Twitter on October 4th. Topics with fewer votes from the entire list of topics will be considered for a special yearly issue of The Asexual journal that is currently being proposed as a Patreon goal.

Results of Tiebreaker (Poll) - 149 votes

  1. Sex - 31%
  2. Race - 25%
  3. Defining Asexuality - 24%
  4. Privilege - 20% 

Top 8

  • Attraction
  • Representation
  • Community
  • Pride
  • Gender
  • Intersectionality
  • Sex
  • Race

October 5th to the 6th - Deadline for second-round voting. These two polls containing the top 8 themes will be held on Twitter via @AsexualJournal (in order to increase the total votes and potential audience) from October 5th to the 6th. The top 2 from each will move on to the final round of voting to decide the journal theme for this issue.

Group 1 - October 5th (Poll) - 226 votes

  • Attraction - 52%
  • Race - 24%
  • Community - 12%
  • Intersectionality - 12%

Group 2 - October 6th (Poll) - 117 votes

  • Representation - 31%
  • Sex - 28%
  • Pride - 20%
  • Gender - 21%

October 7th - Final round. This poll will contain the top 4 most-voted themes, and will be open for voting on Twitter via @AsexualJournal (in order to increase the total votes and potential audience) on October 7th. On October 7th, the theme for Vol. 1, Issue 4 will be announced and submissions will open.

Final Four - October 7th (Poll) - 206 votes

  1. Race - 31% (Theme)
  2. Attraction - 25% (Tie)
  3. .Representation - 25% (Tie)
  4. Sex - 19%

Attraction

Many ace/asexual people often identify by how they experience non-sexual attraction, such as romantic, aesthetic, or sensual attraction. As an ace/asexual person, how do you identify in relation to attraction? How do you define attraction? What does it mean to you, as ace/asexual person, to experience non-sexual attraction? If you do experience attraction, how do you negotiate attraction to people who may be inside or outside the ace community? If you are aromantic, how do you navigate assumptions of romantic attraction as well as other types of attraction?

BDSM / Kink

As an ace person, do you engage in BDSM or are you kinky? If so, how does your involvement in the BDSM or kink community intersect with your asexuality? BDSM and kink are often perceived as explicitly sexual practices. Does your practice of BDSM or kink countered these perceptions? Should it? Does your involvement in BDSM or kink lead to sexual arousal? How do you navigate misunderstood or limited conceptions surrounding the relationship between ideas of sex, sexual arousal, and sexual attraction? What types of BDSM or kink do you engage in as an ace person?

Community

As an ace/asexual person, how do you define community? Do you feel connected to the ace community? Have you formed a community with other ace people for support (online or in-person)? Is community important to you? Do you find the ace community to be exclusionary? Has the ace community made you feel empowered? Do you feel as though you are accepted as ace/asexual person in the larger queer or LGBTQIA+ community? How do you navigate between multiple communities which may be perceived as in conflict with one another (such as being gay and asexual)?

Cyberspace

For many ace people, online spaces have been intrinsic in their process of discovering and embracing their asexuality. How have online spaces been important to you as an ace/asexual person? Has the internet operated as an effective tool to spread awareness and acceptance of asexuality? Have online connections led to in-person connections with other ace people in your life? Without the internet, how would you define your ace identity? Could you? 

Defining Asexuality

What is your definition of asexuality? Should definitions of asexuality be specific and limited or loose and expandable? Why? Is it important that a singular definition of asexuality be adopted entirely by the community? What does your definition of asexuality include and exclude? How does defining asexuality relate to identity management? Is someone only asexual if they self-identify as asexual?

Disability

Asexuality has been and is perceived by some as a disability. Disabled people have been perceived as asexual. Why does this relationship matter? Should the relationship between asexuality and disability be deconstructed or can it be constructive? What is your experience as a disabled asexual person? How do you navigate understandings of your asexuality and disability? How does asexuality inform understandings of disability and vice versa?

Gender

Are certain gender identities in conflict with asexuality more than others? How do you navigate your gender in relation to your asexuality? Do you feel excluded from the ace community or from identifying as ace because of your gender? How do understandings of gender complicate asexuality and vice versa? Do you feel as though your asexuality is entwined with your gender identity? Is your gender identity entwined with your asexuality? What is the relationship between your gender and your asexuality regarding perception and expression?

Health

How has access to healthcare and your asexuality intersected throughout your personal life? Do institutional services relating to health invalidate or validate your asexuality? Has the status of your health, mental and/or physical, been questioned because of your asexual identity? What implications has this had in your life? How have you had to navigate this relationship between your health and your asexuality?

Intersectionality

How do discussions of asexuality overlap with intersectionality? Do you think asexuality is forgotten or acknowledged in discussions of intersectionality? Does asexuality expand conversations of intersectionality? How does your asexuality relate to your embodiment of an intersection of identities? How does oppression factor into this understanding? What is the relationship between oppression and asexuality? How do asexual/ace people's experiences differ or relate based on how they embody various identities?

Masculinity

According to a census of the ace community conducted by AVEN of over 10,000 ace people, only 13.3% of the ace community identify as a "man" or "male." Why? Are understandings of asexuality and masculinity in conflict with one another unlike femininity and asexaulity? What does it mean societally to identify as a man/masc and asexual? What is your experience as an asexual man or masc ace person? Does asexuality challenge masculinity?

Nature

Being sexual, having a sexual drive, and experiencing sexual desire/attraction, has been viewed as being "natural." Does asexuality challenge these understandings? Is asexuality perceived as "unnatural"? Does asexuality challenge what it means to be human regarding ideas of "human nature"? How is asexuality connected to nature? What does nature mean to you as an ace person? How have asexual people been compared to asexuality in nature? 

Pride

Expressing pride is a form of empowerment for many ace people. How do you as an ace person express pride in your asexuality? Is ace/asexual pride important to you? How has asexuality been excluded or included from queer pride and should it be excluded or included? Do you use symbols such as the ace flag to express ace pride? Are symbols such as the ace flag important to you in expressing pride? 

Privilege

Self-identifying as asexual is only accessible to those who have access to the term. Is privilege entwined with having access to the asexual identity? How is identifying as asexual a privilege? Do you feel that the ace community is inherently exclusionary to certain voices? Does the ace community privilege certain voices over others? What is your relationship to privilege as an ace person?

Race

According to a census of the ace community conducted by AVEN of over 10,000 ace people, a massive 77.3% of the ace community in the survey identified as "White (NonHispanic)." Asexual communities are highly dominated by white people and white voices. How does this impact understandings and perceptions of asexuality? How does the relationship between whiteness and asexuality impact understandings of your own asexuality as an ace person? What is your experience as an ace person of color? How does race intersect with asexuality? How can the centrality of whiteness in the ace community be dismantled?

Representation

How do you see asexuality represented around you regarding portrayals in media? How has ace representation allowed you to embrace or accept your ace identity? What is the importance of representation of ace experiences? Do you see yourself represented in media? How has ace representation been harmful and/or helpful? How have you contributed to improving ace representation in media? Do you create ace/asexual representation through your art or writing?

Sex

What does sex mean to you as an ace/asexual person? Do you engage in sex? How do you navigate understandings of asexuality as being synonymous with being "nonsexual" as an ace/asexual person who engages in sex? Are you sex-averse, sex-repulsed sex-positive, sex-neutral, etc.? What are your thoughts on sex, if any at all? How does reproduction factor into discussions of sex and asexuality? How has sex functioned in your life (negatively or positively)?


Vote for every theme that appeals to you in the following voting form: 

Name *
Name
Votes *
Choose every theme that appeals to you. The eight themes with the most votes during this process will be moved to the second round of voting on Twitter.
This is not required, but if you would like to introduce a theme for consideration in the next round of voting, please feel free to do so here. Try to make sure the theme does not closely overlap any other already proposed theme (although some overlap is expected and totally acceptable). Try to make sure the theme is expressed in one word (two words maximum). Be sure to include a short description similar to the above proposed themes with your theme idea.

Past themes:

Body (Vol. 1, Issue 3)

While "body" may appear to refer most directly to the human body, the term can also be interpreted and applied more broadly and abstractly, incorporating other types of bodies and bodily forms. Some potential themes of written and visual work to submit include discussing, analyzing, or questioning how your own asexual/ace body is perceived by yourself and others, how issues of body-image and/or fatness intersect with asexuality, as well as how, in a general sense, asexual/ace bodies are perceived societally. More abstract themes may grapple with asexual bodies in nature, universal ideas of purpose and asexual bodies, as well as conceptions of reproduction and asexuality.


Profile35.jpg

Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo

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Saralyn Smith "A Routine Procedure"

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Saralyn Smith "A Routine Procedure"

"It’ll get better when you start having sex.”

I had been doing deep, calming breathing, feeling the blood and color return to my face. The words were tossed out so casually but the reassuring tone sent my heart racing again.

I’d never used the word “asexual” with my doctor before, but she knew I was a virgin without plans to change. I had only started thinking about asexuality when I began seeing her and it never seemed relevant. I’d come in, answer the pointless questions about my sexual activity and the (im)possibility of being pregnant, and move on to why I was actually there. 

When it came to my first pap smear, though, it turned out that being an asexual virgin mattered. I avoided it until my late 20s, figuring that not being sexually active was a good excuse. I finally scheduled one with my primary care physician in a fit of responsibility-mindedness. I was more comfortable with her than most doctors I’d had and she was very competent. I would be fine.

...I wasn’t fine. It hurt like hell and I felt something akin to shame that I was finding it so difficult. Why wouldn’t my body just cooperate?  A pap smear is supposed to be relatively routine. We’re trying to normalize the procedure so that people with cervixes won’t avoid it, but here I was on the verge of passing out.

Less than halfway through, my doctor paused and asked if I wanted to just try again another time. I was doing all I could to relax, to breathe, to work my way through the intense physical pain and the emotions that came with it. When she asked, that all went out the window and I caught myself starting to panic. Try it again? Soon? Hell no. We powered through.

There was a big moment of relief when she said we were finished. I had done it. I closed my eyes and restarted my calming breathing as my doctor - soon to be pregnant for the second time since I started seeing her - prattled about being able to wait three years between pap smears once I hit thirty. Then,

“It’ll get better when you start having sex.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as she continued to fill me in on next steps and left the room, so casually. I got my clothes on, hopped back on my motorcycle, and headed back to work. Which turned out to be a terrible idea, because discomfort and nausea washed over me all afternoon. Discomfort and nausea, and frustration, and anxiety about the next time and the time after that...

Every couple of months, my insurance sends me a notice that I am due for my “important women’s health screening.” Every couple of months, I put it straight in the trash.

 

Saralyn Smith (she/her) is an asexual demiromantic ciswoman currently living in Washington state with her absurd pup, Grayson. Everyone is always surprised to hear she rides a small motorcycle.


All works in The Asexual are created by writers, artists, and creators who identify under the ace umbrella. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights and print rights as well as electronic and print archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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Elyse Jones "Sleeping with Space"

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Elyse Jones "Sleeping with Space"

Chalk pastel, acrylic paint
6 feet by 3 feet

I made this after experiencing a significant breakup. At least partially due to my asexuality, I have a very hard time opening up to people romantically/intimately. For this person, I felt entirely exposed, and so breaking up with them felt like the shattering of my world. This portrait is life size, physically exposing my body for its true proportions, mirroring the way I had felt emotionally and physically exposed to this person. The space represents the simultaneous emptiness I felt beside me as well as the infinite possibilities I now had, independent of this person. I wanted to empower myself while also acknowledging I had experienced a loss.

Elyse Jones is currently a college student studying English, Women's and Gender Studies, and Fine Art. She has loved reading, writing, and making artwork her entire life. She identifies as asexual, though she is not sure about her exact location on the ace spectrum. She loves Star Wars, her dog Jack, and educating people about asexuality.

SleepingWithSpace.jpg

All works in The Asexual are created by writers, artists, and creators who identify under the ace umbrella. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights and print rights as well as electronic and print archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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Deramin "Ace Pride & Queer Enough"

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Deramin "Ace Pride & Queer Enough"

Black is for every time I heard,
"When you meet the right lover
There will be fireworks
Bursting from your heart."

For the brokenness,
Of every failed relationship
Whose intimate demise was obvious
To everyone but me.

Grey is for every lustful movie scene
I cringed away from.
Wanting no place there
Among the intercourse of others.

For all the tears
When I felt I was broken.
Longing for the romance left,
Long after lust had died.

White is for every time I knew my heart,
But smugly told myself
I just adhered to a code of old morality
I never did believe in.

For the peace of being single,
Cuddling with the cat,
Thinking, "This is so much better,
For she wants nothing more from me."

Purple is for my friends
Brave enough to live their truth.
Givers of the language
To declare my own.

For your patience, dear.
Our struggle to understand
The hard path to meet half-way
When fireworks meet fairy lights.

This flag is for pride,
That I wave proudly now
Over the battlefield of identity
And live free to claim.

Because I'm queer enough.

Queer enough to note
When you erase me.

Queer enough to hear
You silently append normative to every hetero.

Queer enough to hide
Who I am from those that love me.

Queer enough to bear
A good friend say my love is just weird.

Queer enough to need
Better words to explain.

Queer enough to have
A letter and a flag.

Queer enough to tell
You to fuck off.

Queer enough to matter.

 

For Rachel and Cayden

Deramin aspired to be an Information Security Architect until a chronic pain disorder aspired to make her miserable. They've compromised on poetry, writing, and art as a means of remaining joyously miserable, semi-productive, and spawning work that may outlive her. She discovered she was demisexual from D&D friends. Now in her 30s, she lives off a steady diet of tabletop roleplaying games, warm kindness, spite, gallows humor, kombucha, and farmers market fava beans in Eugene, Oregon. Twitter: @OTDDeramin // Website: https://chasetheeeling.tumblr.com/


All works in The Asexual are created by writers, artists, and creators who identify under the ace umbrella. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights and print rights as well as electronic and print archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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Aurora Thornton "Your Asexuality is not a Problem"

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Aurora Thornton "Your Asexuality is not a Problem"

My boyfriend broke up with me today, and the worst part is that I’m not even surprised. 

I got back from visiting him (several states and two two hours flights) for the past week at 2am this morning. Around six this evening, he called to say this:

“Time to be upfront about it - I’m in a relationship with someone else. So whatever we had is over.”

He was at the someone else’s house (also in another state and plane trip away) for their child’s tenth birthday. I’d picked up the wrapping paper and bows for him over the week, and helped him pick out a card yesterday. We watched Netflix while he wrapped the present. 

I wished him well over the phone, but told him I was going to hang up. I didn’t know - I couldn’t think of anything else to say. My stomach felt like a pit, and there was something thick but permeable in the back of my throat. I want to say I was blind-sided, but I didn’t feel blind at all. 

I spent the next few hours angry. The other person had visited him earlier that month. They were his ex. I didn’t think anything of it - he was close with a lot of people, and was close with their kid, too. I wasn’t angry at him. I wasn’t angry at me, although I maybe should have been. I thought about the long hair I’d found in his bed. I have short hair. I thought he just lent them the spare comforter I was using when they visited. 

I don’t feel stupid, but I had thought maybe something was amiss in our relationship. I have anxiety, so after talking to him about it, wrote it off as my mind’s insidious whispers. He’d been working late for a while, and I assumed he was just tired. But he never really reassured me.

I am asexual. He is not. We talked about it. When I first brought it up, it was the first time I had realized it myself. He claimed to accept it, but I don’t think he really did. Because I am sex positive, I don’t think he really understood. When I explained I didn’t find anyone physically attractive, including him, I knew it hurt him - but I was just being honest. After a while, he came to realize that I really was asexual, and actually understand that. I know, because we talked about it.

He told me that he wasn’t sure how I could differentiate my love for him from my love for my friends, and that he felt like our relationship was more like a friendship. Without sex as a backdrop, I didn’t know how to explain that it felt different. That even if it seemed the same to him, I could tell the way I loved him was different. It was romantic, and not platonic. 

We were together for about four years. I had never dated anyone before him. 

We had been dating a few months when I realized I was asexual. I came across someone talking about their experience, and it led me to research more. And I had that moment - the there’s a name for that moment. If you’re also queer, you know what moment I’m talking about. My ex-boyfriend is straight. He’d never had that moment. He didn’t understand why I felt like I needed a label. I tried to explain, but it never stuck. He didn’t mean it in malice, and I understood his point of view - I wish we lived in a world where acceptance was so high that labels for orientation were superfluous. But we don’t, and it’s really fucking hard to explain the way it feels to know you aren’t alone in something treated as an outlier or variance from the norm to someone who has never felt that way. We talked about me being asexual then. He asked if I was sure. I was mostly sure, and only grew more sure after. I am asexual.

We had sex pretty regularly. Like I said, I’m sex positive - I greatly enjoy sex. It just has its own box for me - a box separate from romantic love. He told me that for him sex and romance were tied together, and I understood. I worried that our incompatible orientations would lead us to breaking up - this was still in year one. I never once wavered from considering myself asexual from that point on. 

I would ask him if he thought I looked pretty - after telling him I didn’t find him physically attractive, I thought I was being unfair, so I stopped asking when he wondered why someone that was asexual would wonder why they were pretty. Because I didn’t want to drive in the knife that I wasn’t attracted to him that way. I still thought he looked handsome in a suit. I didn’t understand the difference between aesthetic and physical attraction then, even though I could identify other people as pretty and handsome. Just nothing beyond that - I couldn’t tell if someone was sexy, and had a hard time telling the difference between levels of beauty without a dramatic difference. I can find people ugly, but never repulsive, because to be physically put off by someone, I have to have the ability to be physically put on. 

He said he was working through things. By things, I mean my asexuality. He was figuring out if it could work. I was trying to make it work. He was pulling away. He was always introspective, so I let him. I told him the week before my visit I was excited to see him soon. He didn’t say the same. I figured he just forgot because he was tired and busy. 

I stayed at his house for a week. I ran errands while he was at work to help out. We started to have sex the day I got in, but I was so tired I was passing out in the act. I apologized, he said I had nothing to apologize for. I was comfortable, and didn’t feel the urge to start anything the rest of the week. Neither did he. I thought he was tired. He played Starcraft while I watched TV. I asked him to join me at some point each night, because I didn’t want to force him away from his stress relief after working ten plus hours. We watched Ever After, one of my favorites, because he hadn’t seen it, and The Seven Deadly Sins anime, because he hadn’t seen that either and didn’t have anything else he wanted to watch. 

His ex that he’s with now reached out to him after breaking up with an abusive spouse. He’d showed me the conversations they’d had. They were benign. His partner now was on track for a much better life. He had always liked to help people in bad situations, so I didn’t think anything of it. I knew about this ex before we started dating. They deserved someone supportive like him. When we first started dating, I thought I wouldn’t measure up to this ex if they wanted him back. I guess I was right. 

I have anxiety. I had finally gotten to the point in our relationship where I’d quieted that voice telling me I wasn’t good enough, that he deserved better. I had finally stopped worrying that every serious conversation would end in a break up. I knew there was a possibility that things would end, but I was no longer afraid of it. And I trusted him. 

I am asexual, and my partner of four years told me that our relationship felt like a friendship because it lacked a sexual component on my end. And when he broke up, he didn’t call it a relationship - he called it whatever we had. I love him. Romantically. I told him so, but he doesn’t seem to have believed me. And you know what? I forgive him. 

Don’t get me wrong - what he did was shitty. He cheated on me before I arrived to visit (over $400 on the plane tickets) and didn’t tell me we were breaking up until we were states away (I lost my luggage on the way back, and since it wasn’t checked in, I probably will never get it back). I want to punch him in the face - and I have no doubt he deserves it. But I don’t wish him any ill will beyond that. 

I called my mom. She suggested whiskey. I hadn’t felt like crying until I talked to her. I did my make-up, put on a short dress with a plunging neckline and went out to the movies with friends. I had two drinks, but enough food and water that I didn’t even get buzzed. I felt tired. I feel tired now. Drained. I doubt I’m done with feelings about this. But I don’t have regrets.

I was honest about who I was and what I felt. I tried to make him understand, and it’s not my fault that he never did. I still love him right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen to my Friday night RPG games over Skype - all the other participants are his friends from college. I’ve come to call them my friends as well over the past five years (we were friends a year before we started dating), but they were his friends first and his friends longer. And he’s in those games too. I don’t want to give them up, but I also don’t know when I’ll be able to face him. 

I’m not mad we broke up - I’m sad, and I’ll miss our relationship. But I’m not mad about that - I’m mad that he wasn’t adult enough to break up with me sooner. If he had broke up with me because he wanted to pursue another relationship, I wouldn’t have been mad - that’s life, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that. But that isn’t what he said - he said he was already in a relationship. That means he waited until after his new relationship started before breaking up with me. And that’s shit.

We broke up once before, for a couple of months. I don’t remember why - probably the same reason we broke up now. But he didn’t cheat then, he was just honest. Said he’d needed time to get his own head straight. That’s fair - I wasn’t mad. I was upset, but I wasn’t mad. It was mature. It hurt, but it was the right thing to do. This was not. 

I remember why we broke up now the first time, but won’t put it here, because it was personal for him. It was still the right thing to do at the time. 

I don’t regret a thing - my relationship with him helped me to grow as a person in leaps and bounds. I’m a more secure, confident person now than I was then. His friend told him that, being several years younger than him, I was holding him back as a person. He’d told me about it. I thought it was a shitty thing to say, and asked if he agreed. He’d said it was more like he was helping me catch up. He’d said it with a smile in his voice. 

We were long distance for half our relationship, so most of our conversations were by phone and text. Staying in touch with him was easier for me than staying in touch with anyone else, family included. I have ADHD in addition to depression and anxiety - I have a hard time keeping in touch. For me, it was a marvel that it felt so natural to maintain our communication. But it got harder in the past few months, as I realized I was initiating every conversation - leading to gaps in communication. Sometimes a day, sometimes up to a week. Never longer than that, as I always reached out. I thought he was tired, but asked if he was pulling away. I already talked about that, though.

I’m writing this to share with other asexuals who might find themselves in a relationship with an allosexual that doesn’t get it. To let you know to be honest about your asexuality, and how you feel. Repeat it if you need to. Don’t run if they say they need time - they really might just need time. But make yourself heard, so that even if your relationship ends in a shitshow like mine did, your self-worth is intact. That you will never feel angry at yourself, or assume that you’re not good enough because of your asexuality. 

I know my story isn’t as extreme as what other asexuals have faced - I wasn’t abused, and he did try to listen. He tried to understand - he did. But his inability to reconcile my asexuality and his allosexuality isn’t my fault, and I don’t feel bad about that. I don’t feel like I didn’t love him enough, because I put in the effort. I tried to make him see the stars in my eyes, but when I compared him to the cosmos, he thought I was being co-dependent. I don’t hate him. I know him too well. But I am disappointed. 

I am proud to be asexual, and proud I stood by it even when I could tell it wore on my partner. Because you can lose a partner - but you’ll always have yourself when it’s over. Don’t hide yourself for the person you’re with, because if they can’t handle who you really are, they’ll leave no matter what. And you’ll wonder if it was because there was something wrong with you, and that’s hardly ever the problem. 

My ex-boyfriend probably broke up with me because of my asexuality, but I don’t see my asexuality as a problem. And I think others should know about that, too. 

 

Aurora Lee Thornton is an asexual author of fantasy that lives in the United States. She’s not overly fond of giving out much more personal information than that. Aurora also quite naturally likes books – she’s been reading and writing since kindergarten (yes, writing too) and has yet to stop. Everything from cyberpunk to high fantasy is fair game – Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women sits next to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series on her shelf of favorite books (not physically, she sorts her books by genre first, but you understand the meaning). The one thing that has always captured her interest and stayed close to her heart, however, is dragons. If you’ve had any dragon sightings you’d like to share, she’d love to hear about it.


All works in The Asexual are created by writers, artists, and creators who identify under the ace umbrella. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights and print rights as well as electronic and print archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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Elyssa Tappero "Bargain"

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Elyssa Tappero "Bargain"

take my voice, sea witch
grant me fine legs in return
a worthwhile bargain
even if each step pains me
at least I’ll be like the rest

take my voice, sea witch
after all, what use are words?
brief, untouchable
yet flesh is warm and solid
bone and blood make us human

take my voice, sea witch
I just want to be normal
feel the things I should
I long to walk on the shore
but now longing’s not enough

take my voice, sea witch
change the self I never chose
give me sensation
for I’ve given up on words
and now I’d give anything
 

 

Elyssa Tappero is a queer asexual living in Gig Harbor, Washington with her wife, elderly dog, and two extremely spoiled cats. She is an avid writer of poetry and prose whose work can be found on www.onlyfragments.com. She is far too obsessed with Hannibal and Steven Universe, hates tomatoes, and somehow always rolls low during encounters in DnD. She runs the ace blog www.still-a-valid-ace.tumblr.com, where she fends off angry exclusionists and tries to provide good advice to those who ask.


All works in The Asexual are created by writers, artists, and creators who identify under the ace umbrella. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights and print rights as well as electronic and print archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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Amanda Amos "On Motherhood, Nuclear Politics, and Other Related Topics"

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Amanda Amos "On Motherhood, Nuclear Politics, and Other Related Topics"

To say that my relationship with motherhood is a complicated one is to say that nuclear politics are a bit dicey.

On the one hand, I have a phenomenal mother who has a phenomenal mother and I would love nothing more than to carry on that unnamed tradition of women who raise the next generation of girls to be loud, unapologetic, intelligent, and funny. On the other hand, the idea that a man would accept me in all my faults, quirks, and sexuality, is one that seems farfetched at times.

This isn’t to say that I couldn’t be a mother without a man, or without sex, or anything like that. At the tender age of thirteen, I started parenting friends without parents before I knew anything about boys or sex or my tendency to avoid both of those things. But now that I am older and have explored myself more, now that I know what I want from life, even if I don’t know how to go about it, those dreams, and the reality I see on a day-to-day basis, seem to be at odds.

My body can nourish life. I’m reasonably certain of that. My mom was so good at carrying kids that she did it accidentally - three times. Two of those times (including with me, hello) were when she was on birth control. Her mom, my grandma, had similar conundrums. I want to experience pregnancy. I haven’t always, but I want my own children made of a mutual and deep love and respect.

The issue comes with that the female body is a sexual object and nothing more. To be sure, this is changing. Inch by loving inch, public perceptions of women are shifting. It started on the college campuses and liberal media, has moved to the high schools, and hopefully will continue to spread to every facet of communication until finally I can be seen without having my hips or waistline appraised for desirability.

But like with all things, the struggle is twice as hard for queer women. So much of the queer and feminist movement has focused on reclaiming female sexuality to allow women to be as openly sexual as men are. And the ground being claimed by this movement has been long overdue, but as an asexual woman, this focus excludes me from the fight. The community says that we fight for the right of women to have sex or not have sex as they want to, but too often it focuses just on that first part. It’s hard enough to be recognized by my own community. And if this cutting-edge movement, that only just now came to the obvious conclusion that trans women belong with us, how much longer will it take for them to acknowledge that my body is valid? Much of asexuality becomes dismissed - either as not real, or not important. Until the LGBT community that surrounds me stops telling me that I am an ally, that I do not belong to their struggle, that I am a part of a straight couple despite my constant crying of “But I’m not straight!” I can’t blame those not in the community for not understanding what it is I am.

The difficulty is that asexuality is a spectrum that tends to be much more diverse than other sexualities are. It is a wholly individual experience - you will almost never meet two people who experience their asexuality the same. For me, I have no feelings, positive or negative, towards sex. It simply doesn’t cross my mind. Romance based on friendship and born of mutual respect and understanding and having a family, however, is my fondest fantasy. Being accepted by the men I might marry becomes a game of Russian roulette where my easily influenced heart is the one constantly on the targeting board. Being accepted by other queer people becomes the luck of the draw or the cast of the dice on if they will recognize me as someone who has been at their party this whole time, even if they don’t think I belong there.

My hips are made for pushing out to one side to express impatience. My hands are made for wild gesturing, and my mouth is for yelling, yelling louder than anyone who tries to drown me and those like me out of the conversation. One day, I will choose to allow the sharp jutting of my hip bones to soften with skin stretching to accommodate new life. I will carry children and toys and all the hopes of a childhood that my mother once carried for me. My ink-stained fingers will become Play-Doh stained, and the stories I tell will give hope, not only to nameless children across the world, but also to my own at bedtime before they even think to fear the monsters in the closets they will never have to hide in.

My body will be empty, and I will be asexual. My body will create a whole new person, and I will be asexual. It has been this way since longer than I can remember, and it will remain this way until I can’t help but forget.

 

Amanda Amos is a college freshman in the Midwestern US. She is a short story and novella writer, a fierce storyteller, and the designated "Dad Friend." Her work has appeared in The Asexual.


All works in The Asexual are created by writers, artists, and creators who identify under the ace umbrella. Owner retains copyright of work upon publication, but agrees to give The Asexual first serial/electronic rights and print rights as well as electronic and print archival rights. Owner also agrees that if the work is published subsequently, either online or in print, credit to The Asexual is provided.

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