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

Submissions are now OPEN for Vol. 1, Issue 4 

Issue Theme: On the intersections of Asexuality and Race

According to a census of the ace community conducted 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.

Requirements: 

The only requirement is that you identify under the ace umbrella. This journal was created with the intention of providing a space for ace people to share their life experiences and stories through their work. 

What to Submit: Writing or Artwork or Music or Video

The Asexual accepts poetry, prose, nonfiction, personal essays, academic essays, abstract pieces, disjointed thoughts, and many other forms of writing. The Asexual accepts photography, recorded videos, music, speeches, recited poetry, sketches, drawings, paintings, comics, abstract artistic work, any many other forms of visual and recorded media. 

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.

  1. Your submission in Microsoft Word or PDF format if writing, or any widely-used image format if visual art, or any widely-used sound if music, or any video format if video.
  2. 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).

Other Info: The Asexual accepts Pseudonyms and Non-English Work

Your submission can be submitted under a pseudonym. When you send in your submission, simply include the pseudonym you would like the work to be listed with in your email. I will make sure that your pseudonym is used.

The Asexual accepts submissions in languages other than English. The Asexual wants to be as inclusive of all ace people as possible, not just ace people who speak English. However, if you are submitting work that is not in English, it would be preferred if you could send a loose translation of your work, if possible or necessary.

Publication: Payment and Copyright

  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.

Deadline: January 20th, 2017

Send Submissions: AsexualJournal@gmail.com

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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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Moira Armstrong "blood on my hands"

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Moira Armstrong "blood on my hands"

we bear children, create life, spawn the next generation-
so it’s fine, then, to bleed out every month. except, what
happens when we refuse? then, with no noble purpose, 
does the blood become abominable? do I suddenly lose
my token for acceptability when I declare I am not satisfied
with menstruating as a child and teenager for the end game of
birthing babies?
we are locked in a perpetual battle with our own bodies, trapped
in an awful, monthly bloodbath where there is no victor, but when
I say I will not be having children-I am never going to have sex-
then I have become the vile thing, committing suicide against
my own gender.
an asexual doesn’t deserve her femininity. she doesn’t aim
for motherhood in a world where our worth as women is
defined by the children we bring into existence. that two-
kids-and-a-dog version of the American Dream, the think-
of-your-mother card to pull.
put the blood on my hands. 
remind me it’s my fault, I’m
killing the traditional family, 
killing the values and maternal
instinct I’m supposed to embody.
just put the blame on me.

 

Moira Armstrong, who identifies as asexual lesbian is a senior at Howland High School in Ohio, where she enjoys stressing over honors classes and extracurriculars. Her favorite is the speech and debate team, where she competes in original oratory and serves as president. Her work has also appeared in Blue Marble Review, The Asexual, Sprout Magazine, After the Pause, and 805 Lit and Art, among others.


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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Emma Hutson "The Acceptance of Questioning"

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Emma Hutson "The Acceptance of Questioning"

Growing up, you thought you might be a sociopath. You’d learnt the word in a novel and it sounded like something that might apply. You didn’t feel things the way that you thought other people did. They seemed to feel things so deeply and immediately. For a while you thought you might have Asperger’s, but that was quickly ruled out. You thought that maybe you were just a little more reserved than the others at school. For a long time, you thought you were broken.

You thought about sex a lot. You and your friends would whisper in the back of classrooms; giggle at naughty books in the library. You’d stay up late and watch risqué programmes with the volume on low.  You’d all talk about who’d do it first, what it would be like. The braver girls would sneak condoms around, passing them palm-to-palm like illicit substances. You thought about kissing like they did in films, hands cupping cheeks, the slide of lips, the tumbling into bed, the panning away and a soundtrack of gasps into the next scene. That never really changed: the panning away.

At fifteen you had a strictly over-the-clothes boyfriend who you eventually dumped by text. On nights out, when you were too young to drink but did it anyway, you and your friends would all kiss, grope, move to the next person. Sometimes you wish that you could go back to that. You were at the forefront of exploration then. Slowly you fell behind while making token gestures of keeping up, have another boyfriend, have a girlfriend, profess your TV crushes and bemoan your looks as holding you back.

Escaping the town you grew up in meant escaping your lack. It meant being able to start new lies, more easily excuse the absence of fresher’s lays. After all, who would even want you? Your body was a cushion between you and the world. Your knees hurt, though. And getting to class on the second floor meant leaving early enough to have time to catch your breath at the top. You lost weight over summer. When you returned, the pressure was back. There were more expectations. You got set up. You got drunk. You slept with them. You ignored them when they tried to contact you. You complained that the big-city gay scene was too intimidating, which it was. You missed the tiny, grimy bars at the back of neighbouring towns where you could have a quick flirt and kiss and leave early for the last bus home.

After another two years of laughing about how long it’d been, you went on a night out. Two people asked for your number. You felt obliged. The boy left early; he had work the next day. The girl, you spent the evening kissing, before escaping between the bodies and bodies and bodies of the club. The boy texted you, you texted back. You dated. He lived in the town over and had to drive back and forth. One night you offered him a drink, he couldn’t drive if he did, so you asked him to stay. You slept together. A lot. You stayed together for longer than you’d ever stayed with anyone, which wasn’t really that long at all. You kept having sex. You would have preferred not to. Not that you told him. You stopped kissing, all couples do. You found your patience for him waning. You told him it was over, but he tried to stay, you reiterated. He cried. You didn’t. You didn’t really miss him. You’d rather spend your time with friends, with laughter on sofas and no pressure. You moved again. The system started over. 

Moving meant not knowing a soul. It meant joining a walking club, getting flirted with by men old enough to be your father and never going back. It meant not having touched anyone in months. Your skin was starving and you couldn’t pretend that the hand stroking your head was anyone’s but your own. It meant more expectations. At work you slowly made a friend, and then another. You joined a gym, a yoga class. You got asked about your love life. Over and over like it was the only thing you were good for. You were married to your work, you laughed, like Queen Elizabeth married to England. Maybe she was like you.

You don’t seem to feel things the way that other people do. It’s been ten years; fifteen, and that hasn’t changed. Friends talk about passion overcoming reason. You’ve never had that, you don’t want it. You can’t imagine intrinsically linking a person and sex in that way. You find love in your friendships. You can only imagine really spending your life with them, rather than a lover. An online quiz says you’re asexual. You read about it, research it. You feel like you’re doing it wrong. You research some more, meet some people online. You hope that one day someone else’s story will tell you how things work out in the end, what life looks like when your identity bucks the trend. But until then, you’ll live as honestly as you can.

 

Emma Hutson is an aromantic asexual who is currently completing a PhD on trans literature at Sheffield Hallam University. She has work published in C Word: An anthology of writing from Cardiff, Severine Literary and Art Journal, CrabFat Magazine, and the Harpoon Review. Her short story ‘Footsteps’ came second place in Sheffield Authors’ Off The Shelf short story competition. She is available on Twitter @Emma_S_Hutson 


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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Diane Ramic "Colors of the Dragon"

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Diane Ramic "Colors of the Dragon"

ColorsDragon.jpg

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I've always loved dragons ever since I was introduced to them when I was a child. I've noticed that recently, people in the ace community have also been compared to dragons. I'm not sure exactly where this idea came from, but I'm not complaining. I think it might have started as a joke on the idea that a lot of people don't believe in asexual people existing the same way they don't believe in dragons existing, equating ace people with these mythical creatures? Maybe it's a joke on asexual reproduction, because Komodo dragons can reproduce that way? Who knows, but what I do know is that I love dragons regardless, haha. I drew this little guy with the ace flag colors, some of which are my favorite colors (black, white, and grey).

Diane Ramic is a freelance illustrator and designer. When she was 7, she wanted to be a Velociraptor when she grew up, but eventually decided that being an illustrator was an even more fulfilling career choice! A lot of her works are inspired by paleontology, astronomy, sci-fi, and fantasy, and she also loves working on children's books, especially if they have an educational element. She likes using a variety of media, both traditional and digital, in her work, but usually you'll find plenty of watercolors and inks in her art. As for where exactly she fits on the spectrum, she is just about as aro/ace as you can get, and was actually hoping she’d end up that way since she was little. Even today, she thinks even something like kissing and holding hands is kinda gross, but hey, you do you (or don't, haha). If you like dinosaurs, aliens, and dragons, you can find more of her work on her blog at dianeramic.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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Ms. Ace "Inside Out"

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Ms. Ace "Inside Out"

My Body

Is a mess of muscles and joints

A calamity of bullet points for a doctor to look at and tell me what's wrong

To sing me a song of diagnostics and treatments to make me seem typical

When we both know that typical is something I'll never be

 

My Brain

Is a catastrophe

A wasted scene of hopes and dreams that'll never be achieved

Leading to a series of highs and lows that go on like a rollercoaster

Leaving me a shattered and shaking mess in a matter of minutes

Wanting to imagine the dreary days away

 

My Body

Is a calamity

Wracked by the grief of being disabled

And the numbness of being too small for my own good

Stomach churning, never yearning for something everyone seems to want

Body blooming, everyone zooming ahead

Except for me

Left to crawl along

 

My Brain

Is a catastrophe

Waiting for one more anxiety, fear, or urge for pain

To push it over the edge

For one more prick to turn to shove me over

Into the sea of “you're just confused”

Or “you'll never know until you try”

Run and hide, can't let it slide

No matter how much I want to

 

So, I trip

I fall

I stop

 

Until determination gets me back on my feet.

Love helps me to keep going.

And my Heart helps me to fly.

 

Ms. Ace is an asexual biromantic high schooler and writer who has three goals in life: to become a journalist for a magazine, to destroy ableism and acephobia, and to live in an apartment with her partner and three sphynx cats. She lives in St. Paul, MN and one day hopes to go to college to major in Creative Writing.


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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Michael Paramo "Considering Intersectionality and (De)Sexualizing Asexual Bodies"

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Michael Paramo "Considering Intersectionality and (De)Sexualizing Asexual Bodies"

Disbelief is the immediate reaction I have most often received upon revealing my asexuality to others in my life. There is a sense of shock that envelopes them as the root of their belief in the innateness of a sexual drive or desire for sex is unconsciously unearthed. How can people with no interest in sex possibly exist? Of course, some asexuals actually do have sex and possess sexual desire, but they are absent from societal perceptions of what asexuality is or should mean. On a societal level, the “naturalness” of sex is pervasive, and therefore asexuality is largely deemed an impossibility. At the same time, invalidation applies differently to asexuals based on how their asexuality correlates with perceptions of their physical body. Under oppressive systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, anti-fatness, able-bodiedness, and other hegemonic systems of oppression, certain bodies are inherently sexualized or desexualized. This applies to asexual bodies as well. Asexual people must navigate identifying and expressing their asexuality differently due to how their body is understood in this manner. The nuances of how this may actually function for every asexual person in the societal equation of sexualization versus desexualization is a complex consideration that requires far more in-depth analysis than this short essay will provide. As such, this discussion merely serves as an introductory framework discussing how asexual people must navigate expressing their identity in relationship to how their body is perceived differently based on their embodiment of overlapping social identities.

For the asexual whose body is inherently sexualized, they may be deemed to be too inherently sexual to be asexual, directly conflicting with their ability to claim and have access to the identity of asexuality on a societal level. Thus, the asexual that is sexualized under hegemonic gazes not only counters understandings of asexuality as an impossibility, but also must navigate a heightened level of disbelief, invalidation, interrogation, and subsequent violence that may be initiated by the non-asexual who objectifies their body as a sexual object. This is especially true for asexual women whose bodies are innately perceived as sexualized objects under the male gaze and are thus not only forced to navigate expressing their self-identification as asexual because of its existence as a force that counters the sexual objectification placed upon their bodies, but also must consider how openly expressing their asexuality may be perceived as a threat to the fragile masculinity of men who invest their identity as a man in the sexual domination of women’s bodies. Women of color are subjected to heightened levels of sexualized objectification in comparison to white women, just as women’s bodies that are perceived as thin or attractive are sexualized over women’s bodies that are seen as fat or unattractive, and just as younger adult women are sexualized to a greater degree than older adult women. All of these variables are of absolute necessity to consider for the asexual who exists in a society where sex is seen as a prize that provides sexual value to bodies that are perceived as desirable under hegemonic gazes.

For the asexual whose body is desexualized, they may already be understood as existing in a state of being that does not include sex, and may therefore be societally understood as “asexual” already, even though this would be flawed understanding. Still, in a society that glorifies sex, the desexualized asexual is already understood as undesirable or a “failure” due to their perceived nonsexual state of existence attached to how their body is perceived. Because a desexualized body under systems of oppression may already be understood as sexually "worthless," for the desexualized asexual, expressing their asexuality openly does not necessarily conflict with hegemonic gazes, as it does with the bodies of sexualized asexuals. For example, the bodies of fat asexuals are already subjected to being understood as worthless sexually by hegemonic gazes, and thus, claiming or asserting one's asexuality in the presence of those who reinforce societal narratives will only result in a further state of worthlessness being placed upon them. This is because, under hegemonic gazes, fatness is generally already desexualized and perceived as “disgusting.” Thus, for the fat asexual, because their body is already desexualized, expressing their asexuality may already be assumed in a manner that is meant to be demeaning or insulting, and thus, self-identifying as asexual may be met with less outright resistance in comparison to the sexualized asexual. Similarly, this can be applied to other groups, such as older asexual people and disabled asexual people, whose bodies are generally desexualized under hegemonic gazes. However, it is critical to emphasize that while self-identifying as asexual may be met with less overt disbelief or resistance in comparison to the sexualized asexual, the desexualized asexual also remains invalidated, trapped in a compounded state of perceived worthlessness due to their identity and perception of their body. The desexualized asexual who engages in sexual activity and/or possesses sexual desire, as some asexuals do, will have to navigate greater levels of invalidation, both in relation to their sexual activity as an asexual and as someone who possesses a desexualized body, both within and outside of the ace community.

While this essay has reduced the sheer complexity of this issue to a few general examples for the purposes of brevity, the central point remains: in either state of existence, whether sexualized or desexualized, the asexual person is not validated or empowered. When considering intersectionality, while the sexualized asexual must counter opposing forces of sexualized objectification forced upon them due to their embodiment of overlapping social identities that has given them "sexual worth" under hegemonic gazes, the desexualized asexual may have to navigate being understood as "sexually worthless," left to deconstruct the notion that they should even be validated or invalidated based on societal measurements of sexual attractiveness. In conclusion, I plan to expand this discussion regarding how the asexual whose body is inherently sexualized or desexualized must navigate interpretations of their identity in relationship to perceptions of their body differently based on their embodiment of social identities further in the future through incorporating scholarly research, interviews, as well as my personal experience as an asexual person.

 

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


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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Maribel C. Pagan "When You Say 'Body,' I Say"

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Maribel C. Pagan "When You Say 'Body,' I Say"

Water laps, nipping in the distance

amidst the desert sands,

an unborn vessel shriveling—

a mirage in the desert.

 

My legs spring, pounding against sand,

slipping it away beneath my bare feet.

Before the mirage escapes my clutches,

I try it on:

 

one                  size                  fits                   all,

adapting flesh and skin          sweater

adopting blood                       dry bones

    brittle         withered         rampikes

dotting            horizon           grey sky.

 

Painkillers                  body                pain

leaves behind             mind

 

—a Picasso painting

studded

blemishes unsuitable

for a god.

 

Maribel C. Pagan is a Latino homeschool graduate. She has appeared in 7x20, Cuento, Blue Marble Review, Zaum, Planted Word, Persephone’s Daughters, and others. She has received the Junior Reading Giants Award, has made the President's List in Mohawk Valley Community College, and has received 5th Place in the Word Weaver Writing Contest, among many other awards and scholarships. Additionally, she is the Editor-in-Chief of Seshat Literary Magazine, a Prose Reader for Apprehension Magazine, a Poetry Reader for Frontier Poetry, and a singer and musician for The Angelic Family Choir. Visit Maribel at http://therollinghills.wordpress.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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Joe Jukes "Asexual insight on the male homoerotic body"

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Joe Jukes "Asexual insight on the male homoerotic body"

When articulating thoughts regarding asexuality, discussion often centers on those processes, structures, and politics which “other” us, as does this essay. This isn’t to locate myself and fellow ace-identified people definitively as a singular “Other”, but rather to interrogate far-reaching politicisations that cause us all to individually, as well as collectively, become marginal. Indeed, asexual writing can and does centre asexual experience(s), and learns “from” them. In this instance however, I place the starting point of this argument as the asexual experience, insinuating that such writing is contingent on an asexual involvement with the subject matter. An exploration of the asexual body requires appropriate understandings of the makings of sexual bodies. Attuning writing to marginalisation, ahead of experience (though the two are simultaneously linked) lays bare potential pathways for asexual reimaginations and liberation. This essay therefore attempts to unpack gay male sociality through critical markings of ‘desire’ and description of ‘markets’, amongst other observations, in order to highlight the profound entanglement of sex within gay male communities.

Bodies, it seems, are not as individual as one might assume. Moving through space, they sit within and disturb various threads that form a spun web of meaning pertaining to - for the purposes of this essay - the body, and whose effects play out there. One may refer to this web as “culture”. The body lies across it, and therefore is delineated by narrative threads of class, race, gender, ethnicity, normative ideas of ability, and the list goes on. It is informed by and transforms their influential threads in its very materiality. That is to say we internalise, consume, and embody a culture saturated with meaning and sex. Sex mediates in part through desire, which is both a product and a driver of the cultural capital afforded to/through race, class, gender, ability (...). Desire nests itself within bodies, and is also enthusiastically taken up and reproduced by them, such that it structures sexual inequities psychologically and socially through an interpersonal, intercorporeal ‘gaze’. The body is at once a canvas of desire - sexual, aesthetic, classed, raced (...)- that is detailed and coloured by an erotic gaze, as well as the locus from which desire might, and does, emanate and (pro-)create, and where desire is readily received. To elaborate, the individual acquires desire(s) out of sexed-culture, which connect the individual’s body to other bodies psychically through erotic gaze. Desire, administered by socio-sexual gaze not only subjects the body of an(-)other but is also readily taken up by a subjected body in acts of conformity which too, are desired.

The web of culture that bodies hold themselves within and traverse is, then, spun from (sexual) desire itself and along the lines of social inequity that hold together a perilous, yet resilient, norm. However, placement and performances of bodies in relation to this context vary, as does a corresponding, corporeal value. A pursuant political economy operates, then, according to certain sexual-cultural laws. The asexual body - nonetheless sexed, classed, gendered, racialised (...) through extrogenous gazes and one’s own performances - is denied the socio-sexual capital that desire dictates. By way of repetition: despite an erotically-driven plurality of sexualisations within (Western) culture, which is acted out of and upon bodies, those bodies which do not engage normatively with sexual conventions and attractions, if at all, are marginalised and valueless.

Culture is of course not singular. The contours of significance within economies of social capital fluctuate with context. Inequities are still reproduced or altered, like smaller or separate webs in reference to the aforementioned entanglement. Within the gay community, the context from which I write, such a thought proves useful. (Neo-)Liberalism and individual freedoms do little to liberate bodies from the meaningful strands that they operate along and across, rather, they engage in internalising and reproducing these strands. Masculinity remains cooly dominant, whiteness retains its assuredness, disability continues to be largely overlooked, and class, to name some examples, is exoticised or fetishised. Shifted, yet similar, powers within gay culture operate, by and for ‘desire’ - a desire still heady from recent decades of newly permitted sexual autonomy, freedom, and visibility. Desire thus, crucially centres on the appearance and practiced behaviour of a ‘body’, and from a point of cultural specificity pertaining to the desirability of certain class(es), race(s), gender(s) (..), gazes. In doing so, desire is able to ascribe value onto gay bodies in a way that is specific to the community. The narratives that are concluded upon by and enacted out through a homoerotic gaze are taken up, learnt, repeated, practiced, and reified by those scrutinized bodies: perhaps in cathartic conformity.

Further, gay male bodily dynamics desire categorisation for consumption. Categorisation of bodies, allowing for variety in a strict production of typified figures: “bear,” “twink,” “otter,” “geek,” “jock,” et cetera., originates both from a strict adherence to sexual and social capital within the community, but also for the utilisation of that capital within Western gay male political economy, through consumption. It follows that gay male bodily politics physicalises sexual literacy. This is to say that communication becomes contingent on mutual adherence to and understanding of (homo-)erotic bodily codes. To provide an example: a body endowed with little hair, fair skin, a slim physique, and youth will be categorized as “twink” within a homoerotic desirability framework, whether the occupant of said body consents or not. Within the name “twink” lies the aforementioned bodily traits as a kind of shorthand, but also expectations of behaviour, temperament, preferences, all imbued with sexual meaning. It is also worth noting the great variety of categorisation afforded to white bodies in contrast to a remarkable homogenisation of black and brown bodies. Thus, a culture of socio-sexual consumption emerges within gay male communities. Moreover, it emerges out of a “desire to desire”, in which homoerotic desire is fundamental to gay sociability, and that operates through socio-sexual categorisation and capitalisation.

Yet, the self is an active agent in these processes too. One’s own body is not just a site of construction (gazed and desired into certain sexual types), but becomes also a site of autoconstruction. Just as one consumes and desires within the realm of the gay male sexual economy, they also consume oneself. Conforming in gay male sexual markets is survival in as much as it is control, because of the way such politics have emerged unchecked by privilege within the community. (White) gay male ‘aesthetic’ is a widespread, well-known, and importantly marketable phenomenon and practice, in which the body is the subject of homoerotic desire, as well as its host and form. The paradox of sexual politics is that one steps into being both a consumer and the consumed, the acknowledgement of which also leads the self to consume and appraise the body of the self against and in likeness to the subject/other. This is perhaps accentuated in the gay male circle, as physical likeness prompts bodily categorisation. The desire to be categorised, and thus affirmed, desired, and validated, embodies complicity in a process of bodily caricaturisation that the body, with its agency, tends to strive towards.

Consumption and autoconsumption become key themes when put against contemporary incidences of gay male eating disorder, self-harm, and over exercise (which needless to say, also overlap). The body, in being a site of homoerotic desire, is subjected (by the self) to commodification in a brutal process. These issues are too often not attended to in compassionate ways due to community-wide silence and taboo, owing to the complex structuring of gay male desire and sexual economy as a self-congratulating, self-regulating, and self-policing system that enforces and applauds conformity.

To centre the above in the asexual experience requires the acknowledgement that sexual proficiency, literacy and conformity demand to be learnt by all in the gay community, regardless to what extent they experience sexual attraction, if at all. An asexual criticism brings the powerful markets of homoerotic desire into question, and in doing so, highlights the way bodies are subjected and categorised in harmful ways. Gay and queer asexual masculinities could challenge erotic bodily regimes but at the same time exist precariously within them. What is certain is that critical asexual rigour can help to further explode and explain the wide, deep webs of sexual culture that we find ourselves tangled within.

 

Joe Jukes is reading for an MA in Sexual Dissidence from the University of Sussex, UK. Their research interests include gender and sexuality studies, cultural geography, and critical theory. They also direct theatre, and create video content to do with asexuality, academia, mental health, and more at the Youtube channel JoeeJayy (https://www.youtube.com/user/joeeJayy). 


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