For December’s Carnival of Aces, about staying in the closet, I’d like to write about my own struggles with my fellow Christians. Thinking I should tell them about asexuality, feeling I can’t.
I am a practicing Christian who identifies as neither hetero nor gay, but as demisexual. I’ve explored my sexuality in my mid-twenties. I’m from an open culture and a liberal church and a loving family.
Aside from a few private conversations, I am in the closet. This blog has a pseudonym. Acquintances don’t know and, mostly, don’t ask.
Part of me just doesn’t want it. Sexuality is mine, not for others to know or judge. As a woman, you’re too quickly an object anyway. I honestly love being a sexual subject, undisturbed, not much noticed because of beauty or age or behaviour. Unshamed and as such, unashamed. Not harrassed so far and yes, I’ve been lucky but I can say this for my country: people can just be people.
One drop of acid in all the honey…
I dread to speak of asexuality to my brothers and sisters in faith. At the same time, how the hell are they going to get informed, given a fair chance to be a constructive part of the discussion, if someone doesn’t speak up?
After several hours’ bible study and arguing in prayer, I can only conclude the following: the core of the Christian gospel holds for sexual natures and behaviour as it does for any part of us. In other words, being Christian, you believe you are forgiven any wrongdoing, you believe you are loved. You believe this is a base to build an awesome, joyful life and be a good part of humanity. More to the point, you believe all people are loved, equally, by a God whose say-so you’ve accorded the absolute and ultimate authority.
I felt confirmed in my own faith and practice. I felt the more puzzled by why sexuality, any (a)sexuality should be a problem. I felt the most surprised by my own troubled and continued silence.
Why can’t I come out to fellow Christians, if I believe God Himself is alright with my demisexuality?
Truth is: I’m scared.
I don’t believe most of my fellow Christians obey God. I have seen them exclude, discriminate and commit violence on people with other sexualities. It does not inspire confidence. I have found some of them to be as proud as the Israel chastised by old-testament prophets. I think them to be so far from the truth, sometimes… will I be accepted in my lifetime?
Yes, by some. Not by others. But fear speaks in black and white, not shades of grey.
I have trouble quantifying exactly what my concerns are. I can’t say what would be the correct course, for one community to engage the other. On a personal level, it’s silenced me. It may do for a while yet.
Contains non-graphic mentions of sex and desire.
I desire, more to the point, I desire someone.
It’s neither the easy, mostly romantic crushes I’ve had before. It’s not uneasy romantic-and-sexual attraction I have little experience with or even just fumbling around because I think I feel something. I want this to go somewhere.
The difference is huge. Like trying to go down the highway in fifth gear instead of first. Where before I rarely wished to go up the ramp to speed down that road, I want to now, because I feel I could just hurtle along at close to a hundred miles an hour. Sixty should not be a problem. All just because I want this now, with a person. It’s an odd sensation, and in and of itself enjoyable.
Being at this point, I can also say: I am so very glad I explored my identity.
I have words for what I want in a relationship. I can explain how I want to fulfill my desires, how they arise and how they are best satisfied. I can do this in relaxed late-night conversations because I possess the language and lack the shame.
No, I haven’t talked sexual identity. That’d need a load more trust on my end. I am still in the closet to most people.
Still, it’s good, with a specific partner, just to be able to trace out a road map of what I want with them. What I’ve wanted in general. How it matches their desires. What I’ve done and not.
At once the freedom to have sex and talk about it and the freedom to not have (had) it when I don’t want it.
You’ll notice I have omitted gender. ‘s one of the biggest adaptations I made to how I think of relating to another person in any context. Gender plays a role, to some degree, but like sexual attraction comes secondary to who a person is, for me.
The same goes for the divide between a platonic, romantic and sexual relationship… These relationships have become less… other… from each other. Rather, they act on bunches of different levels, and which levels they operate on develops. Depends on the person, the progress of the relationship, the desires of both (or several) people in the relationship.
Yes, the current one happens to be of the opposite gender, the next one likely will be. But honestly, when it could be one month or five years before I desire another this intensely, and I can’t even know whether I’ll desire them romantically or sexually or both or on another level altogether… The categories are… less relevant.
I do not… lack anything, as I was afraid I would.
I am free to be demisexual, and to me it works like this:
I am attracted to another person, in their entirety. My mind will run ahead of my body. Fantasy, before act. Friend, before lover. Mental as well as emotional as well as physical connection. When it comes, the attraction is intense, and the configuration of desire which I feel and express is unique to each person and each relationship.
After a rather intense period of self-discovery, I’ve dropped off the map and what at first seemed to be going to be a few slow weeks turned into months that I needed to invest in other parts of my life.
Having made peace with my (a)sexual self, it stopped being a necessity to research it, think on it, write about it, but.
Even back when I first started, I experienced a sense of freedom and a sense of dread. Neither has subsided. I have, however, started to reap some sizable benefits from being comfortable with and informed about sexuality.
To be honest, I want to record the progression of that, how demisexuality works as an accepted, integrated part of myself, because so far, it’s been good.
And I hope, somehow, somewhere, I can be of the same benefit to someone as other bloggers, researchers and community members of the ace community have been to me.
So you’ll see me around, though with less frequency than before.
Be warned, somewhat explicit stuff. Third part of the three-parter for the September Carnival of Aces.
A big part of my (sexual) identity’s always been what I read and imagine. Basically, all of the stories I consume and produce, all of the worlds I’ve lived in, however fleetingly. They allow me to be more than what I am in my daily life and experience more than what I’d be into in actual fact.
The first twenty-five years of my life I did not feel sexual attraction. I wasn’t actually sure of or interested in this fact until after I did experience it and became aware I hadn’t before that point. A large part of it is a rise in confidence and emotional comfort. I do believe this is due to my demisexuality, that emotional well-being affects whatever capacity for a sex drive I have and attraction I can feel indirectly. Crudely put, if I cannot put myself out there, I cannot let others in well enough to form the emotional bond that precedes sexual attraction.
I did have a very rich fantasy life. I read far and wide. I imagined all sorts of scenarios. What drew me to them, I think, was the idea of being that close to a person, a craving for physical sensations and new experiences. They did a little for me, sexually, but never gave rise to more than mild arousal.
It has deeply affected how I experience sex now that I do have a libido. Physical stimulation’s mostly window dressing. I depend almost entirely on mental stimulation. I can and have masturbated fully clothed in public without moving an inch while others presumed me to be staring out a window, bored. I’m also far more easily attracted to fictional characters because they give rise to a deep connection almost immediately, especially if they’re the point of view character.
On the other hand, discovering demisexuality and experiencing sexual attraction to a handful of real-life people has started to affect what I wish to read and fantasise about. I no longer crave the idea of being close to people now that I can be for real, even if it’s platonically. The physical sensations seem less important and few concepts are new or stimulating anymore.
Instead, I’ve started to retrace what I could be attracted to in real life. Romantic relationships rich in emotional intimacy. Ensemble stories that explore friendships and being part of a group. Crushes in which the sexual component is small or comes later or even not at all, to see what in the range between platonic and highly sexual I’d ever be interested in.
It’s made for an interesting change in reading material. It’s also made for interesting fantasies that, were they movies, probably wouldn’t even shock a five-year-old. They arouse less, but engage my interest in far more areas at once, which suits me better.
Part two of the three-parter for the September Carnival of Aces.
I could write a thousand posts about future fears or current worries concerning my religion and my sexuality. I could show you a thousand shades of theology and at some point, I will get to examining helpful ways of uniting the discourses of Christianity and asexuality.
For today, though, allow me to take you to the real intersection of those identities, where personal faith meets demisexuality, in the heart. The full measure of what the greatest command, love others like yourself, does to me.
I am human. A potential for terrible sin and a potential for awesome goodness coexist inside me, wrapped in a fragile body. In order to be the best flawed mortal I can be, at any given time, I need to be able to accept myself fully, while knowing the worst of what I am. I also strive to do what good I can without crossing my limits or forgetting to enjoy it. I love myself.
If demisexual is what I am, I should discover and accept that part of myself and work to incorporate in into my person and express it honestly.
Everyone is human. Each person a creature of unimaginable complexity and incalculable worth. Each person an agent for good and evil. Each capable of empathy, of imagination, of intelligence and stupidity. Each needing other humans to love and to be loved. Each worthy of time and expense and relationships. Each both powerful and limited by society, by their own minds, by circumstance. Each an other to be loved.
Everyone should be loved and gender and sexual identities should not limit that, as they do now. We should explore all the different ways we can love and practice those that suit us.
Everything is creation. Even the smallest slice of science highlights a reality wondrous beyond our wildest dreams. As much as we say, open-minded as we are, our perceptions are limited and limiting and the greatest and scariest thing is to walk beyond them and discover something new.
Confronted with an unfamiliar aspect to humanity, such as asexuality in all its shades and variations, the best I can do is to discover it and understand its implications.
I am a human amongst others, in a creation vaster than I know. And I know that the best I can do, here, now, is to love others as I love myself. For those I love, it means I need to love them well. For strangers, it means I need to accept them as beings with an equal worth to myself, deserving of the same empathy, the same consideration as I, whoever and whatever they are. For my enemies, it means I can wish better for them and work to mitigate whatever evil is committed.
Loving myself, loving others, is ever evolving, always a work in progress, and always worth doing, always rewarding. I can work up hate over what’s wrong in the world or work to clear the path and appreciate that which is good and strange when it comes my way. I choose the latter.
I am mortal. I cannot do as much good as should be done. I cannot love everyone equally. I have no control over the world, over each group, or even completely over myself.
I will stumble over my own prejudice and privilege, fear others’ disapproval over my sexuality and regularly be tied up into knots over whatever mistakes I made. But when I fall, and I will, there is so much to get up for and discover.
I can love myself. I can love others. I can love all of it and it’s best life I could wish for, whatever shape it takes.
I am demisexual, and if I was thus created, who am I to tell God it’s not good? The same goes for the way others are.
Another multiparter for a Carnival of Aces, this one for the September edition, about living asexuality and experience… so I wanted to share a little of my current experiences as a demisexual, and in the next two posts, about how my Christian faith and avid reading have affected my experience of my sexuality.
I identify comfortably as demisexual, as belonging to the “rarely to never sexually attracted to another person” part of the population. I have constructed a foundation. On it, I can build an understanding of my interest and behaviour towards potential significant others. I can see the consequences of my deviating desires on a personal, social, moral, intellectual and spiritual level.
Building that understanding will continue during my lifetime and beyond, since it happens within a community and orientation only now defining its vocabulary and parameters. Nevertheless, it’s boon to my mind, which demands to know itself, and to my soul, which is relieved to love itself a little more. Most though to my conscience and curiosity, pleased to understand the human condition a little better and thus improved its capacity to act and explore and dream.
I have spoken of my demisexuality to my closest family. I have spoken of asexuality to some open-minded strangers. Living life as demisexual has affected me, even in the span of a few months. I want to look at the changes it’s wrought.
Atypical – I’ve always conceived of myself as part of a formless crowd, where sexuality is concerned. The post-modern open-minded heterosexual, or something. I’m really not, now. I feel I’ve wandered out into a far field, overgrown and only crossed by a few. It’s made my exploration of my sexuality relevant beyond personal discovery, which helps to keep me writing. It’s also scary, to be other, even in a small way, which keeps me quiet for now, but also researching.
Shameless – I’ve shed the need to feel anything when presented with a sexual cue. I may or may not feel something and that’s okay. It means I feel free to act in a sexualised context as I do in any other, which will probably make me a bit weird but mostly makes me more comfortable. It also means I’m leaning more towards indifference about sex than I thought I was. At the same time, it’s allowing me to discover what I actually do like.
Aware – I haven’t felt the need to educate myself as acutely in years. Here were aspects of identity and experience essential to people’s sense of self, and I had no idea. I’m still learning and I’m loving it. All of the new words, all of the new concepts!
Lonely – The largest and most recent discovery, or more an articulation of a formerly indistinct and un-articulated desire: I want. Not sex, but I have a longing for connection and company and intimacy usually associated with sex and relationships with a sexual component. I’m still discovering how I want to fill that gap exactly.
“In five years, when we all have families, with or without kids…”
I’ve fallen out of touch with secondary school friends, as you do when you move to other cities and choose different universities and majors. Still, we’ve managed to see each other for some big life events, one of which happened this month.
After the initial stiff how-do-you-dos and overviews of the recent past, we reminisced. About the past, but mostly about the future, now that we’d all reached that limbo of adulthood between being a student and a respectable member of society.
The subject of choice this evening, an imaginary point five years in the future, when we’d see each other again, our early thirties. We’d have partners, from our gender of choice, and some of us would have kids. We’d catch up, have fun, let the kids run around. Be set for life.
But… we’d all have families, was the assumption.
Will I? I thought. I don’t know.
So far, I’ve been single and rarely bothered by that fact in itself.
What I don’t want is to live alone and thinking about it, I rarely have. All told, less than a year out of my life.
I moved out early. Then, like most people with small purses and studies to complete, I lived in rooms with family members or land ladies or room mates. Every time under the assumption it was necessary and temporary. Interspersed with regular visits to the parents to relax.
The dream always being that I’d someday reach nirvana, a salary big enough to buy my own house and a little later, support a family together with my partner. A dream dreamt by society.
I’m not sure it’s my dream.
I want to explore relationships, yes, I know that much, but I’m not sure I need or want one for the rest of my life, if I don’t meet a person I fall in love with. I do know I love company.
My thoughts turn to old stories about spinsters living together. To Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. To the many ads for room mates nowadays and how many friends end up living together for a few years after college.
What if I lived like that the next few decades, rather than starting a family?
I honestly wouldn’t mind. I’d love to find someone, preferably a family member or a good friend with whom I can share my living space.
I could be single, but not alone, not a single-person household. Not if I can help it.
I look at a concept I’ve encountered in the asexual community, and try to understand it, from this post onward with a new plan of action:
- tackle just one concept,
- find an accessible resource that explains the concept,
- try to see if I can now define the concept in my own words
- and find some more interesting sources on the concept if time allows.
With that said, on to intersectionality.
See how two aspects of identity influence each other and may cause unique communities, experiences or problems. The implications are less than clear to me, though I understand it to be a popular and useful concept to others.
Resource: video on intersectional feminism
What I’ve learned…
What I especially appreciated was the section comparing regular feminism to intersectional feminism. The latter paints issues such as the wage gap more starkly because it takes into account how women from different backgrounds may have to deal with a different wage gap.
And though I know I have privileges, sometimes I scarcely realise what impact they have.
On an interrelated note, they mention asexual women!
After diving into a few more resources, I realise intersectionality’s also a concept created to tackle not just normativities and prejudices as singular concepts, but also to study the impact certain attitudes and discourses have as the big interwoven Gordian knots that they are. Intersectionality crosses e.g. class, gender, race and sees what happen when they, well, intersect.
I’m kinda in-the-closet about being demisexual, since it’s mostly a personal exploration so far. Still, I’ve had a few conversations about it, around Pride and with some people close to me… Yesterday I had the best. By far.
We’d been talking for a while, an allosexual and I, both of us Christians, and the other suddenly says “I want to share something” which is pretty much the equivalent of “can I talk to you off the record?” and code for entering the no-judgment zone.
After they share some doubts about their sexuality and stuff, we pause for a moment, and then I ask permission to ask a few open questions about what libido and attraction they think they have and feel… and then in explaining that basically do a big info-dump: “this is my sexuality and that’s what this means, and I’ve been sort of figuring out how all this different stuff works for me…”
It leads to an open conversation about what we’ve both been feeling and how we’re now and finally it comes to a natural end.
We share a moment of silent understanding, how sexuality can twist us into big knots in our minds sometimes, relief that we shared our private thoughts and found understanding in each other. We say goodnight.
I put my head on my desk and take a few very deep breaths because, dear God, for the first time I fully came out to a person who’s not a stranger deliberately.
I hope I have more conversations like this.
I’ve a made a few promises to myself about writing on the internet. Guard your privacy. Be honest. Be constructive. Don’t sneakily take down or edit content. Don’t contribute to the ignorant bullshit out there. You’re going to make mistakes. Relax, you’re just human, so’s everyone else. And don’t feed the troll. Ever.
I went and posted unresearched bullshit in my last “Unstraightening my facts” post. This was pointed out to me with patience and tact, complete with helpful reading suggestions.
After letting my first and second thoughts pass, “Oh God, I’m really wrong, aren’t I?” and “I don’t ever want to post again” (3 AM is not a good moment for making big or small choices)…
I deleted the post and left up the comments.
Because “don’t contribute bullshit” was more important to me than “content must be genuine” and more in line with “be constructive”.
This post is in part for the reader who might going to come along and be like “wtf the empty post about?” and for honesty’s sake. Mostly it’s for me, because I do want to keep posting, and I do want to keep talking about demisexuality and asexuality and identities and relationships.
I couldn’t, with that still up there. So I’m exercising my control of my bitty corner of the internet, and talking it down.
TL;DR: Post was bad. I deleted post.