I Want to Have Sex Like… I’m Not Straight or Queer
Today, the first half of a two-parter on a special piece of modern pop-culture, the Gay Pride, that staple of LGBTQIA community that’s between activism and a victory march. Or canal parade, in Amsterdam.
The first part will focus more on how my personal identity developed during that week, the second more on how I feel more comfortable as a demisexual in public. Both increased my comfort level with encountering sex and the idea of eventually having it – as well as exploring the idea of not having it. I’ll explain that too.
A good text needs the proper words and I don’t find my vocabulary adequate so far, so here’s the key words I wish to use.
- Sex-positive and sex-repulsed are the usual words for a positive or negative attitude towards sex, I want to split them into:
- Appreciation, indifference and aversion for one’s comfort with sex in several incarnations, not prefixed with sex because you can like or dislike a variety of things, not limited to your own sex drive and feelings of attraction, others’ flirting, nudity, PDA, explicit language, sensual acts, sexual acts, solo acts and acts with a partner.
- Approval or disapproval for one’s morality, in this post mostly towards sex, but also sexualities, expressions thereof, etc. I believe this should not be confused with your appetite.
- LGBT is the “queer” community as viewed by the majority of people, namely, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, which I will use to refer to the old model still present in most people’s minds.
- LGBTQIA refers to the current and global umbrella of non-hetero communities and sexuality-centred subcultures, including the asexual community.
- Demisexuality is my sexual identity and specific orientation.
- Asexuality or asexual spectrum to include anyone who never or seldom feels sexual attraction and needs or wants sex significantly less than the general population.
- Hetero-normativity, gender-normativity and sex-normativity are the ideas that heterosexuality, binary gender roles and wishing to have sex are such normal things that alternatives are forgotten and people disadvantaged.
Are you straight? Are you queer?
I dove into AVEN’s English forums for the first time. It was a good introduction, as well as a time-sucker. I started in Identities: The Gray Area1. One question popped up again and again, who has what label: “Are you queer?” “Are you straight?” “Are ____ straight or queer?” “Do you consider _____ asexual?” “Does _____ make me straight?” “Can I be _____ and asexual at the same time?” and so on and so forth.
If you’re new, it makes sense you want to know what’s what. I bet it’s a common question on advice blogs, too. But… people sure of their words and their sexualities also participated, because they’re not sure who is what either. And there’s a larger subtext, namely, who has a right to which label.
One that hit close to home was: “Heteroromantic asexuals: are they straight?” and in the subsequent discussion, “are they queer?” Many posted what they considered themselves, or what goes into what category… and for me, this was the most important realisation: no, I’m not straight, anymore. No, I’m not queer either.
I do not behave as most heterosexuals do. I call myself hetero, after demisexual, because the handful of familiar people I’ve been casually sexually attracted to over the last two years are men.
- How I become attracted
- How often I become attracted
- To whom I become attracted
- On what levels I feel the attraction the most
- How deeply I become attracted and if it lasts
- How willing I am to act on attraction
- The likely gender of who attracts me on a sexual level.
Yeah. Same with the queer identity, except I don’t even have that last thing in common. I feel connected to them because we fall under the LGBTQIA umbrella.
Straight spaces, LGBT spaces
Only when an entire city colours pink does hetero-normativity and gender-normativity make sense. When a girl is as likely to grab a girl’s hand as a guy’s hand, when posters show all sorts of couples, when dudes are lookin’ mighty fine in their dresses. When singles, couples and families come from all over the country to experience a few days’ vacation from an invisible crowd’s gazes.
I learned that straight spaces encompass “the entire world, unless otherwise specified” and that even in a liberal country, what is “fine” isn’t “normal”. That… that’s enough to make you “the other”, which is in turn enough to make you hesitant to behave as you would were you a regular member of the crowd.
I also learned that I feel the same in straight and LGBT spaces. Accepted, unnoticed and a stranger. I am welcome, but not a member.
The difference between straight and LGBT spaces? The latter is morphing into LGBTQIA spaces. Asexuality was not at all represented at the Pride, anywhere, but enough of an association clings to it, even for outsiders, that it earned a mention in the summary of the canal parade in a public broadcast on TV that night, which earned a small cheer on the Dutch AVEN forum. There’s been occasional articles, a character on a TV program, questions in random forums.
So, though I feel invisible, times are a-changing. I hesitate on the threshold of speaking up not because I do not dare, but to savour this pre-dawn glow of hope when everything still has the soft shape of possibility. In the future, the asexual community might well be welcomed, recognised. Visible.
Hello, I am Other
When you go from “well, I guess I’m straight” to “oh, I’m on the asexual spectrum” there’s a longer road to travel than from the other two sexual orientations, homosexual and bisexual. I am still learning the vocabulary and unlearning unconscious gender-normativity and sex-normativity.
The exploratory phase, being asexual in private, anonymously, is alright. It is rarely known so it’s interesting to read up on and a revelation to find words and people that match what you feel. The next one is harder, and not one I’ve committed yet. Why? For demisexuality, the first thing I learned while googling it the first time was “oh, this is me” and the second was “yeah, there’s doubt that’s a real thing”.
Asexuality has less discrimination, more erasure. You’re more likely to feel like a walking dictionary than a walking bulls-eye when you come out. You’re more likely to find out later in life due to ignorance than live in denial because of a phobia. But… but… It makes me stand out from a crowd, perhaps even more so than by having a familiar non-default sexuality. Or, conversely, to make me invisible because I don’t belong to any group.
That in itself is enough to make you stick to acknowledging rather than exploring your sexuality. It means there’s still much to discover about how it works during dating, during marriage, during having children. How to define it independent of other sexualities. It means I need to leave my comfort zone and take unknown risks to reap unknown benefits… scarier when done for the first time during my late twenties rather than my teens.
During the Pride, a lot of material on how to have dates, sex, kissed, counseling, etc. was all lying around. At the same time, I got blocked on my next “I Want Sex Like…” post because, honestly… the last two weren’t really about sex. In media, the asexual that appreciates sex is advertised. What’s forgotten are those who are indifferent or even averse.
The Carnival of Aces2 history month posts showed me that this stems from past conflict and community formation… #21AceStories and its backlash3 are a good current example of why that ain’t a good thing. A substantial part of the asexual community does not want nor will ever have sex. A substantial part has neither sex drive nor will ever feel attraction to act on. A substantial part wishes to be free to live a life free of their own sex, but also other people’s, to not see it on TV, in ads, in public spaces. The least I can do is combat my own assumptions on the topic.
Acknowledging my demisexuality has another effect: I feel less inclined to be either appreciative or embarrassed by sexual behaviour. Having a different identity means I do not feel the need to find men’s bodies as attractive, so I do so less. And less insecurity means less shame. I can quantify what I do and don’t find attractive and that means I embarrass less easily. So, while my appreciation is dropping down to indifference, my lack of embarrassment over undress and PDA in public is rising to match my actual approval of sex in private. It’s nice to feel less like a blushing virgin.
I feel… a little more free to feel what attraction I naturally would feel.
How Does that Relate to What Sex I Want to Have?
Let’s start with the easy one, shall we? Adopting my demisexuality and entering the public domain as such, I feel free from sex-normativity. A change in identity is changing how I feel because I no longer associate with certain expectations. What I do feel is more genuine, I believe. Going forward, I wish to continue exploring what actually attracts me.
I’ve realised I’m held back from acknowledging my identity in public by the fear of being other, stranger. The only minority I’ve belonged to up until now is the Christian one and the female one, both groups that have many members and positions and a good amount of visibility. I have no idea what would happen if I end up as “the demisexual” or “the asexual”. I think I need to go ahead and figure out what I tell to who, though, or I will forever procrastinate dating, meeting people, acknowledging who I am and finding community and relationships.
Asexuality is as yet a big unknown, but has a good chance of being welcome in the future, which is great. It makes it a lot easier to risk stepping out and meeting up, speaking up and forming relationships with either other asexuals or allosexuals.
I feel neither straight, nor queer. I have no wish to be either, but want to define who I am and what I feel independent of either of those categories, not as subsets. I do believe asexuality will always be part of a complex identity for anyone, most people identify by their partner preference as well as their place on the asexual spectrum, for example, but for me… I am demisexual, and the rest of the picture I’ll figure out as I go along.
A Statement of Intent
I am demisexual. I do not identify as either straight or queer. I do not wish to have sex as a standard “straight” person. My sexual desires and the processes behind my sexuality differ from other sexualities. In fact, my desires have changed simply because I am no longer influenced by the pressure of other identities. I feel scared of entering the spaces of other sexualities, but I really don’t have a choice if I wish to move forward. There’s a good indication that, as part of the asexual community, we’ll be increasingly welcome in LGBTQIA spaces… until then, I will continue to explore what my sexuality means for me, incorporating the discoveries I’ve made this week.
- AVEN’s Forums – the Gray Area
- The Call for Submissions for July’s Carnival of Aces at Next Step: Cake
- The Asexual Agenda’s thoughts on good media representation after #21AceStories and the reactions that followed
Images: mine 🙂
Posted on August 5, 2015, in Demisexual satisfaction, Personal reflection and tagged asexual, demi-in-media, demisexuality, erasure, lgbtqia, personal journey, sex-like, sexual freedom, sexual lexicon. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.