As I delved deeper into the topic, I came across Angela Chen's book, 'Ace,' which became a guiding light in my journey of understanding. Chen herself shares her own experience, stating, "But learning the term did not change how I viewed myself..." (Ace, pg. 5). This resonated with me deeply. I had always assumed that asexuality meant a complete lack of sexual desire, but this revelation challenged my preconceived notions.
"...I didn't know what it felt like to want sex without a specific person in mind. To think about sex at all when I was alone." (Chen, p. 3)**
Discovering Myself Through Others:
Coincidentally, as I prepared to delve further into the topic, (giving a speech at Decon 2023), I realized that Angela Chen, the author who had unknowingly sparked my awakening, was the same guest featured on the podcast I had listened to three years prior. This funny connection further emphasized the significance of her work and the impact it had on my personal journey. But also? It shows that there are not ENOUGH Acesexual activists, or even spokespeople as Chen's work is often what comes up again and again. It is another reason I speak out. To make sure more of our experiences are out there. As we are not univoca. However, I love Angela Chen and her work, I take a moment to express my gratitude for her insightful exploration of asexuality and acknowledge the synchronicity that led me to her work.
As I read further into Chen's book, 'Ace,' I encountered information that challenged the misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding asexuality. The book illuminates the multifaceted nature of asexuality, going beyond the absence of sexual desire to encompass various forms of attraction, including romantic, emotional, and aesthetic connections. It was through Chen's words that I began to unravel the complexity and diversity within the asexual spectrum.
The Complexity of Asexuality:
Asexuality, as I discovered, is not a one-size-fits-all experience. It is a rich tapestry of identities, encompassing individuals with different levels of sexual
attraction, desire, and experiences. Some asexual individuals may still experience romantic or emotional connections without experiencing sexual attraction. Others may identify as aromantic asexual, meaning they experience neither romantic nor sexual attraction. The spectrum within asexuality is vast and beautiful, encompassing a diverse range of orientations and experiences.
"You don't have to be identical to another person in order for your experience to count." (Chen, p. 52)**
Navigating my Identity:
Coming to terms with my asexuality was a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. It required unraveling societal expectations and norms around sexuality and embracing my authentic self. Understanding that my lack of sexual attraction was not a flaw or a problem was liberating. It allowed me to reject the notion that I needed to conform to societal expectations of sexual desire to be considered "normal" or "healthy."
Throughout this process, I found solace in the stories of others who had gone through similar experiences. Their narratives provided me with a sense of validation and reassurance that I was not alone in my journey. This solidarity became the cornerstone of my own self-acceptance.
Alas, this was a moment in the podcast where things really came together for me. I was listening to Angela and relating as she described her frustration and not being able to understand what exactly it meant to be horny, why people knew they ‘wanted to have sex’ before even knowing WHO they wanted to have sex with. And in hearing it explained like that, it finally made sense. You never find me going to the bar because I want to find a partner for sex. But you WILL find me going to a club because I have the desperate bone deep urge to dance.
After I allowed myself to really open to breaking apart what the world told me I should expect to be normal, and instead started focusing on what I wanted, verses what I thought was expected of me I have found a new path in my life. I don’t know what that means just yet. I know that I am still in want of a relationship. I know that if the right partner comes and they are more sexual than I? Then I will want them to be happy and would not be averse to having sex with them. But now I feel freer from the shame that used to plague me when I was with my LTR ex. I used to beat myself up for not feeling attracted to him ALL the time, I felt I was living a lie. I stayed because I loved him, so how dare I not be attracted to him.
Had I known then what I known now, it would have been a different relationship. Instead of feeling like I didn’t love him enough to be attracted to him I could have realized I loved him SO MUCH that I was willing to connect with him in ways that don’t come naturally to me. I could have expressed this to him and had words to describe it from the beginning, instead of slowly growing to resent him, and us, for not being the couple I thought we were supposed to be. (We would have broken up eventually for a multitude of other reasons, just to make that clear).
Asexuality challenges the societal narrative that equates sexual desire with happiness, fulfillment, and personal worth. Asexual individuals often face misconceptions, invalidation, and stigmatization, as our experiences do not align with the mainstream understanding of sexuality. It is crucial to debunk these stereotypes and educate others about the diverse range of human experiences.
One common misconception is the belief that asexual individuals are simply "going through a phase" or that they haven't met the right person yet. These assumptions undermine the validity of asexuality and perpetuate the erasure of asexual identities. By challenging these stereotypes, we can create a more inclusive and accepting society that acknowledges the existence and worth of asexual individuals.
For example, I am not truly sex repulsed or what may pop in to the minds of allosexual people. I am greysexual, specifically fraysexual. I DO have sexual attractions, but they are limited to a certain environment instead of being driven by a constant biological clock (for lack of a better term). Separating the difference between desire, attraction, physical drive, and aesthetics is important for everyone. To do this takes true examination of what makes you tick and who you are in the world. Because not only are those all separate topics, they also have onion like layers within them. Micro-labels if you will.
This is why visibility on the issue is important. The very fact that interpersonal relationships thrive when people are more equipped to explain their wants and needs effectively. And of course, to pursue what makes them happy instead of trying to strive for the mold of what society says about happiness.
Building a Supportive Community:
One of the essential aspects of embracing my asexuality was finding a supportive community. Connecting with other asexual individuals and participating in online forums, social media groups, and local meetups provided a sense of belonging and validation. It was empowering to share experiences, exchange resources, and learn from others who understood and accepted asexuality.
In these safe spaces, I encountered individuals who had similar struggles, hopes, and dreams. We formed bonds based on understanding, empathy, and shared experiences. Through these connections, we found solace and strength, creating a network of support that allowed us to thrive in a world that often fails to recognize or comprehend our experiences.
Asexuality as a community is something people consider semi "new". The way we think of it now is really from a movement born online. Asexual people finding themselves in the year 2000 drawn to like minded people with similar experience. Think about that for a moment! Our understanding of what it is, has all came in the past 20 years. Simply by people on the ground floor speaking up, sharing their experience, and clarifying their needs versus wants. For this reason in think posts like this one are important for anyone questioning their sexuality. Asking that time old question, "Is it normal if I don't feel attracted to...X" or, "Why can't I fit in with my friends when they talk about wanting sex"?
Or now that we are more present as a group hopefully even the straight forward question, "am I Asexual?".
In the process of unraveling the complexities of asexuality, I discovered a part of myself that had been hidden for so long. Embracing my asexuality allowed me to redefine my identity, challenge societal norms, and find a community where I belong. Through education, empathy, and open-mindedness, we can foster a world where asexuality is acknowledged, understood, and respected.
As I reflect on my journey, I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose—to advocate for asexuality awareness and inclusivity. By sharing my story, I hope to reach others who may be questioning their own identities, offering them support and reassurance that they are not alone. Together, we can create a society that celebrates the beauty and diversity of all sexual orientations, including asexuality.
TL;DR? Here are the key points discussed:
Misconceptions: Asexuality is often misunderstood as simply the absence of sexual desire. However, it is a complex spectrum that encompasses different forms of attraction, including romantic, emotional, and aesthetic connections.
Personal Awakening: Through listening to a podcast and reading Angela Chen's book, 'Ace,' I realized the depth and diversity within the asexual spectrum, challenging my preconceived notions and allowing me to uncover my own asexual identity.
Complexity and Diversity: Asexuality is not a one-size-fits-all experience. It is a rich tapestry of identities, with individuals experiencing varying levels of sexual attraction, desire, and experiences.
Navigating Identity: Accepting and embracing one's asexuality requires unraveling societal expectations and norms around sexuality, rejecting the notion that lack of sexual attraction is a flaw or problem, and finding solace in the stories of others who have gone through similar experiences.
Deconstructing Stereotypes: Asexuality challenges societal beliefs that equate sexual desire with happiness, fulfillment, and worth. It is important to debunk misconceptions and educate others to create a more inclusive and accepting society.
Building a Supportive Community: Finding a supportive community of other asexual individuals provides a sense of belonging, validation, and strength. Connecting online and offline allows for sharing experiences, exchanging resources, and thriving in a world that often fails to recognize asexual identities.
In conclusion, acceptance and understanding of asexuality are crucial. By debunking stereotypes, fostering empathy, and creating safe spaces, we can build a society that acknowledges and respects asexual individuals. It is through education, openness, and empathy that we can celebrate the beauty and diversity of all sexual orientations, including asexuality. Let us strive for acceptance and inclusion, ensuring that everyone's identity is recognized and valued.
** If you want to pick up a copy of Ace by Angela Chen. I HIGHLY recommend it. You can find that here: https://amzn.to/448Zkg6
Add to the thread! Post your personal takes and experiences, or if you have a personal question you can always ask me anonymously on the Q and A side of FIVE.