For the May edition of the Carnival of Aces: Quarantine.
It seemed, one day to the next, the queer spaces I used to go in various personas had been taken away in one fell swoop. At home, at home I was private. What did I have to express there?
I forgot, for two months, I need to express gender to myself, as well. As much as thoughts sometimes need writing down in a journal to take their full form, though they already existed inside my head.
As the shade of the plague shows the first signs of waning, I start with jewelry. Only what is ambiguous, chunky or functional I keep out. All femme decorations I pack up for the year.
Clothes are selected to leave me only what is comfortable and what crosses gender lines in my eyes. The rest I put into boxes. I corner myself on the queer end of my gender spectrum, where I’ve been hesitant to go.
For the pièce de resistance, a proper binder. It arrives in the mail on the tailcoat of May. I unroll its not-quite-too-much tightness over my shoulder. It suits me ill, a too-short crop top, until I discover I need to do some repositioning for an even distribution of squashing across the chest.
Just to try, I button a shirt over it. Perfect. I can at least experiment with this while all I can do is zoom.
It’s a highlight in what has been a dark time. While it’s hard to be horny when I’m both on the asexual spectrum and indifferent to the having of sex, my skin has ached since the first press conference announcing we needed to keep a metre and a half distant from one another.
This time has shown the sharp contrast between the fulfillment of aesthetic attraction – that draw towards a person that is assuaged by the sight and sound of them – and the more sensual, which I have no way to indulge with anyone, platonic or romantic.
It has also revealed the importance of a desire – sometimes attraction, sometimes not – for which I have no name – for the actual company of those I like and love. It is a desire that is no respecter of relationship categories. More than ever, I see why love is mostly just… love. From the first inkling for new persons to the bedrock it’s for those I hold most dear.
My contribution to the March Carnival of Aces, about physical health and bodies. Go check out all the contributions.
Explicit language about sex, though I try not to be graphic.
For twenty-five years all the landmarks of developing sexuality and romantic relationships pass me by.
I blame my impopularity, my insecurity, my anxiety, my depression.
I have a few crushes. I think those feelings are attraction.
I look at a man I have known for several years.
In disbelief I feel my lower stomach roil with heat and my groin clench. I flush.
I flee to the hallway and slide down a wall.
That was sexual attraction. Out of nowhere. Already waning.
I realise I have never, ever felt it before.
My mind explodes.
I find the word “asexual” online. I read, ferociously.
I am demisexual, I decide.
I feel highly relieved.
The general practicioner looks at me. “Are you sexually active?”
I tick the box for single on the document, on every document.
I am in Amsterdam during Pride week.
I buy a purple dress and paint flags on my hands.
No one recognises asexuality as a thing. I comfort myself with forum hopping.
Weaving through the crowds I realise the most important thing about Pride is intangible: lack of expectations.
People bring their kids to experience a place and time when anyone’s sexuality and gender can be anything and it is okay.
It is festive, but I am alone and unknown. I leave early.
On the way home I buy a black ring and put it on my right middle finger.
There, I am out.
I take a photo.
I fill out another form. Yes, I’m single, dammit.
For the first time, I want there to be a question about sexuality.
“I’ve been flirting with you for ages!”
“I honestly didn’t notice.”
“Oh my God.” Skype makes his laugh a muffled thing. “Do you like me? I mean, you were not responding, so.”
“…yeah. But. I wasn’t gonna say anything. This is online.”
“You were just gonna pine. Pathetically.”
“Well, yeah. I’m… kinda glad to be having this conversation, though.”
I discover that being in love comes with heightened awareness, especially of my body in the world.
Flirting, once I’m aware, is an addictive adrenaline rush.
I feel tender, vulnerable.
I stop blogging. This is for me.
“Your vagina’s kind of narrow.”
I glare at my doctor. What part of ‘never sexually active’ was unclear?
“You never masturbate?”
I shrug. “Yeah.”
She grimaces. “This may hurt.”
She slides in the I.U.D. Aside from a dull ache, it’s fine.
Five years’ worth of birth control, installed.
Our flirting, our conversations continue.
I am shameless. I grew up in a culture open about sexuality. I see no reason to hold back.
I find my imagination has the greatest influence over my body.
Anticipation can buzz for an entire day beneath skin.
I want touch, I crave it.
The flip side, he lives in another country.
I love the attention, the banter.
I want company. I want another body, close.
The calls become explicit too, sometimes.
I delight in the celebration of body, it is so new.
I am, perhaps for the first time, interested in manly bits.
I love the touch, even imagined, even removed. Giving and taking.
I love the gaze. I love the sounds. I love the play of talk and touch and exploration and affection.
However, as it becomes more… focused, it becomes less interesting.
Reality is less without imagination fully engaged.
The more it is about just the genitals, the less my body and mind are into it.
The popping, crackling full-body fizz as we suggested, flirted, started, settles down into a low, steady buzz in my belly, depressingly familiar from masturbating.
Now, as then, orgasm is simply an end. A sudden stop to pleasant sensation, like stepping in a cold shower.
I have learned not to let that buzz culminate and tip over, but now it does.
“Did you finish?” he asks and I answer in the affirmative.
I do not fake that, but I fake how it makes me feel.
I fear he notices.
We end that call and I curl up wanting to cry.
Orgasms do not work as advertised and I want an afterglow badly.
The foreplay is not supposed to be the highlight, dammit.
When I start counting in months, I feel his physical absence acutely.
The difference with friendship turns out to be the level of preoccupation and the territoriality that comes with it.
He is a missing limb, in my thoughts but never under my hands.
We drift apart. His disinterest grows and I become stiffer the longer I want more than I can have.
I start babysitting, for some money.
Children, I discover, like touch, especially when they can dictate it.
Since touch has always equaled affection in my family, it is very, very easy to love the kids.
I also discover babysitting can stop from one day to the next.
The first time it ends I cry for several days on the couch, I simply think I am sad.
The second time was longer, much worse, and I realise how much more territorial I was over kids than even a romantic partner. Even when I knew they were not mine.
I am preternaturally aware of my womb for several months.
After the third time is bad, so bad, I swear off babysitting.
I fill out another form. I tick single, and no, for sexually active.
A year in my new town, I finally feel comfortable to start touching the people I have come to know.
A hug, a supporting hand.
I do not realise just how much it relaxes me until I am asked what’s made me so cheerful.
I meet my new doctor.
“I am not sexually active, no. I am on the asexual spectrum.”
She gives me a weird look at my wide, wide smile.
Two years seems to be the mark for me to be settled enough to start feeling attracted to people.
A grinning woman, oozing charisma and feminity, makes me weirdly cheerful and want to stare like a creepy stalker.
At the coffeestore, to make it more cliche.
No flush, no buzz, though. No desire to touch.
Oh, oh. Aesthetic attraction, I realise. For a real, live person.
I meet a young woman, single.
She is going to be a foster parent.
It is a revelation. Many ways lead to Rome. I need not take the most common one.
My anxiety hits me over the head again, out of nowhere.
My sex drive remains. I still feel the occasional attraction, mostly aesthetic or romantic, once even the flush of sexual.
I blamed all the wrong things when I was young.
I am demisexual, and it is simply my nature, not a symptom.
I have tried to cover all the feelings that relate to my body and are encompassed by my demisexuality.
This is not a complete account, I have chosen to include the first (or only) time I felt or acted on certain attractions.
I decided to leave out times when that attraction was not directed at a real person but a fictional character, especially since sexuality seems to function very differently in imagined and real scenarios.
I’ve stumbled into a cul-de-sac with this series, which is what this post moans about. The next two posts will be a two-parter for this blog post series about the Gay Pride, because it was a rather life-changing event.
I think the joke’s on me… I started “I Want to Have Sex Like…” with the honest intention of discovering what sort of sex I’d want, if I ever came to the point where I chose to have any. Yet in my analysis of Captain America and Sherlock Holmes I find myself focusing on characters’ relationships, emotional engagement, treatment of each other, whether consent happened… Which are related to sex, but don’t exactly help me discover what I’d like between the sheets… Not to mention that what I find attractive in fantasy or reality.
Not sexual fantasy
I have found writing about this subject, ignoring what others say I should feel, very helpful. I’ve spent a lot of time going through forums and articles and videos and blog posts, and find that I’m starting to get a grip on demisexuality, at least as an identity I’m comfortable wearing. So I will continue this series.
But I’m muddying the waters if I pretend it’s all sexual fantasy.
Why’ve I called it that up until this point? Well, because I wanted to know what I have in the place in my mind where most have the thing labeled “sexual fantasy”. What you might use during masturbation. What hits you on a visceral level when consuming media. What people trying to get a date salivate over. Why selling things related to sex, or selling things by pretending they are sexy works at all. This thing I do not understand.
Besides, this exercise was not meant to flesh out what I’m supposed to think, but what I actually feel and imagine to be attractive. So. What does that mean for the future?
We’ll continue the analysis of items of pop culture as planned. From this point forward, I’ll focus on attraction on different levels consciously. I believe this broader focus accurately reflects how I experience that which is attractive, what I would desire and what I’d want in a (sexual) relationship. Sex is just… a potential part of it, and has no priority.
Different levels of attraction will be distinguished. For example, what’s gorgeous is aesthetically attractive. What I want to touch is sensually attractive. A person whose mind I want to assimilate like a Borg… intellectually attractive. Romantically attractive is a bit vague to me… so I’m probably going to mix that up with calling people emotionally attractive.
A second distinction which I’ll hope to get across is between that which I might fantasise about, and that which I would wish to do… or at least try. So, the distinction between what is attractive and what is desirable. The former is a far larger category than the latter.
Strands shift between my fingertips when they slip behind the shelf of your ear. Sunlight makes its veins red accents in gold, this close. The lock slides between my fingers like time, almost silver where light bounces in its darkness.
Warmth cups my hand and your head. Shoulder dips when I lean, a quarter profile in the glare of your screen, dimmed by the window. Calluses rough where they grasp my palm, squeeze and release.
I bring it back up and am caught before I reach your shoulder again. I smile. You sigh. I straighten up.
I stare while you turn back to work, itch crawling down my palm.
Hair comes loose and I have to have it again, you the balloon to my excited child. Your fingers release the keys and you pause, before inclining your head towards my hand.
Trying a different kind of exploration 🙂