I am asexual. This isn’t me coming out of the closet, by the way—most of the people who know me already know this—and if you didn’t, I’m sorry that you have to find out this way, but you have to admit this is a pretty cool way to find out, huh?
I don’t expect people to understand what this is like, but then again there isn’t much visibility or widely accessible first person accounts of the asexual experience. After reading this article from Rookie Magazine I felt so at peace and so confident to contribute and continue the dialogue about asexuality. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you perhaps are or know someone who is asexual, or maybe you just want to read more about it…or you were bored and ran out of things to read on Buzzfeed. Regardless, this is a list I compiled of the 10 things you should know about asexuals.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a sex educator, but I play one on TV.
1. Being asexual does NOT mean that you hate sex.
It’s true we don’t have it very often, if at all; but being okay with your own sexuality means that you’re usually pretty okay with everyone else’s. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable to here about the amazing hookup you had last night, and I’m truly happy that you had a great time. I would be even happier if you could appreciate that I spent last night hooking up with a Netflix marathon of Murder, She Wrote and a big bag of chocolate-covered pretzels and had just as much fun. I’m not jealous or bitter that you had sexy time—I want you to have all the orgasms you can handle as long as you are safe and everything is consensual. And if we’re friends I want you to tell me everything, including what you had for dessert.
2. Being asexual is NOT the same as being abstinent, celibate, or experiencing a “dry spell.”
I once had a friend who referred to herself as asexual on a thoughtless whim because she wasn’t currently having sex with her partner at the time as their relationship had hit a rough patch. I was on the cusp of coming out but hadn’t really used the label yet, and without really thinking about it I jumped to the defense of asexuality because it was clear she didn’t understand what the term meant. See, I don’t have sex, not because I can’t or am opposed to the idea of sex, but because my biological drive to have it isn’t very high. I feel this every single day in the body that I live in. It’s not the same as choosing not to engage sexually with others and it isn’t the same as experiencing a rift within a relationship that create a lull in intimacy.
3. I am NOT saving myself for marriage.
This practice is usually, but not exclusively, associated with a religious belief of some kind. Both my parents were raised Catholic, but they decided not to raise me with any religious background at all—I’ve only set foot in a church under the pretense of worship twice in my 26 years on earth. Nothing against people who make that choice if it’s what they want. If sex was what I wanted, I’d be doing it right now probably.
4. My lack of interest in having sex has nothing to do with having been molested or sexually assaulted.
This assumption is the most offensive no matter who it’s being aimed at; people used to assume this about gays and lesbians for God knows how long (and I’m sure some idiots still do). In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re straight or queer, or if you have lots of sex or a little; someone will always assume that something is wrong with you based on your sexual history. It’s where our culture’s discomfort with sexuality comes from in the first place. Also, jokes that imply that a person’s sexuality makes that person damaged or broken are not funny jokes; if you think they are, then you’re an asshole. Sexual assault isn’t funny and people’s sexuality should be a source of joy, not of ridicule.
5. Despite not engaging in sexual intercourse, I do participate in sexuality.
I love talking about sex and telling sex jokes and sex stories (yes, I do have them), making sexy art, and having positive sexual experiences and conversations, because, and this might be hard to believe, you don’t have to be in the act of having sex to be experiencing sex. Learning about sex in all of its diverse and exciting forms doesn’t make me feel like I’m missing out; it gives me confidence to be upfront about who I am and to be mindful and nonjudgmental of others.
6. Just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean that they don’t build relationships or understand love.
I’m not very romantic, at least not in the traditional sense. Americans have a really hard time separating love and sex and accepting the fact that you can have all kinds of relationships without wondering whether or not someone is “the one.” Romance doesn’t always equal sex, sex doesn’t always equal romance. And romance plus sex don’t always equal love. Romance is comprised of a series of gesture that are meant to express love, but you don’t need to be in love with someone to do something over the top and thoughtful for them. Asexuals experience love, get married, maintain long-term partnerships and friendships, and don’t necessarily die alone; I don’t need anyone to stand on top of a mountain and proclaim their undying love for me. But if you insist on expressing emotional feelings for me just get me a Michael’s gift card.
7. Asexuals are not sad.
So please don’t try to set me up with your brother, or your friend from college, or the weird guy who works at the co-op who you think is interesting because his hair does a thing you can’t describe and smells like hummus. I know that my lack of interest in finding a long term partner makes you uncomfortable sometimes, but don’t project those insecurities onto me. I’m not unhappy about it, so why should you be? Why would I be sad about not doing something I don’t want to do in the first place?
8. Asexuals definitely get crushes.
Just because I don’t want to have sex with you doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re special. I often joke that I have crushes on all of my friends, but I’m not entirely joking. I love how they make me laugh and bring warmth and beauty into my life. I have one friend who’s just a ray of pink-haired sunshine everywhere she goes and it brightens up my grumpy existence every time we hang out. I’m not turned on by any of these people, but I’m more than happy to hold their hands when we walk down the street together. And they can have all the free hugs they want.
9. Asexuals definitely get aroused.
Just because I don’t want to have sex with anyone doesn’t mean I don’t have a constantly revolving Rolodex of sexual fantasies like everyone else (it’s cool, my mom will never read this). I’m well aware that this sounds contradictory, but culture defines our sexuality in terms of who we want to have sex with; this is what is different about the asexual. Our sexuality is defined by the fact that we don’t have many urges to have sex with anyone. When I’ve been in sexual situations with others I honestly find it comical because I don’t see myself as “sexy” in relation to someone else. That’s not to say that I don’t feel sexy on my own *wink wink*, but add another person into the mix and suddenly I feel like I’m not there; like I’m not myself anymore. When it’s just me I feel like I’m already expressing my truest self; a self that can’t be realized by being with someone else.
10. There are more asexuals out there than you realize.
Just like every other orientation in the rainbow, asexuality is common and all around you. The reason why you don’t hear us shouting our pride and self-acceptance for all the world to hear is because we don’t see other asexuals doing it. It’s hard to be what you can’t see, and because of this it’s easy to be invisible.
If you’ve read all the way through this list and you still don’t understand, that’s okay. When I posted about this on Facebook a few weeks ago one of my friends made an incredibly unexpected and pleasing comment. She said, “I’m not gonna lie, I don’t get it. I understand the concept, it’s just the feelings behind it that I don’t get. That being said, I don’t have to get it as long as I’m not a douche about it.”
There you go; that says it all right there.