Be propelled by passion, not invest in outcomes.

This entry overwhelms me a little; it’s difficult to write.  This is the entry where I take on my own subtitle, where I rethink the labels entirely, and wonder who exactly will still be compelled to read when the perspective offered is not that of a potentially-asexual-lesbian, but rather… simply… mine.

Changing the presentation of a blog several entries into writing it, just as I’m growing comfortable, starting to make friends, and starting to draw readers frankly puts me a little on edge.  And helping to push me over said edge is my uncertainty that I’ll be able to properly explain why I feel compelled to do this, why – to flat out say it – I don’t particularly consider myself asexual now, after what feels like eons of agonizing over the possibilities (sexual, asexual, sexual, asexual).  It doesn’t help that Elephant, my dear and lovely Elephant, is at the center of it, and that miscommunication on my part might unfairly implicate him, might make it seem as if he talked me out of a viewpoint that was helping me feel more comfortable in myself, more secure, more like I knew where I was coming from, and less like a lone freak in the sexual mainstream.  The last thing I want to do is mislead even my most distant reader about someone so close to my heart, especially when the truth – although a bit more complicated than this – is that Elephant flat-out encouraged me to explore the possibility of asexuality, suggested that I dress myself up in whatever labels or identities felt worth trying, and understand that such exploration is healthy and normal and all that other stuff I strive to be.  (Ok, so I don’t entirely strive to be normal, but I do make an effort toward avoiding clinically abnormal, at least when the DSM definitions aren’t thoroughly pissing me off.)  He was, however, concerned – as he initially thought I was telling him I didn’t consider myself relational at all, which – given that connection and relationship are basically the most important things to me – thoroughly freaked out the both of us.  I can see it irritating asexuals to hear that this sexual friend of mine immediately connected disinterest in sex with disinterest in relationships, period, but honestly, I don’t think he intended offense.  I think, from what he wrote to me, that he simply has a very broad definition of sexuality, one that starts with the fluttery excitement of crushes, spans the spectrum all the way into cuddling, kissing, and sex, on the timeline of the individual and… if said individual doesn’t progress all the way across the continuum – (“progress” is a poorly chosen verb, as it implies that sex is somehow superior to crushing and cuddling and so forth, which – as someone who three days ago was leaning toward an “asexual” identification – I’m certainly not going to argue; cuddling all the way!)  – that’s their experience.  Let’s take a walk through Alanis Morissette’s utopia and exist sans judgment, shall we?

I know that, as asexuals, certain people will not want to have their nonsexual relational experiences framed as sexual, and I totally understand that because, more often than not, I wouldn’t either.  Still, something about the broadness of Elephant’s definition clicked for me.  I liked the lack of dichotomy involved, the total grayness so in keeping with the spectrum I see sexuality existing on, and I liked having him articulate my position on that spectrum as fluid, because I (personally) feel it to be so as well.  This was somehow different than being told I will grow out of where I’m at, that it’s “just” a phase (what isn’t, seriously?), and so forth.  It was basically him suggesting that I’m not as different as I think I am, regardless of how I identify, and that I can use whatever terms I want to describe myself, as long as I’m not using them to be self-critical.  (If he sounds bossy, he only sort of is.  He’s straight-forward and super-opinionated, but for years now, he has consistently proven himself to have no other agenda than to see me thoroughly myself and happy, and so, while I don’t always adopt his opinions, I do tend to weigh them pretty heavily.)

I’ve never considered my (potential) “asexuality” self-criticizing.  In fact, I’ve felt freed from self-criticism (and social criticism) by adopting the term.  It was a word I could offer to explain why I was not “how I was supposed to be” in sexual terms – why I didn’t have the proper desires, respond to sexual jokes in the proper fashion, or engage in the proper sexual acts.  It was an alternative to the post-traumatic pathology I had feared for years was the (only available) explanation.  It really has been a blessing to me for discover this.  And yet, I realize now that it may be time for me to adopt a different identification – if only temporarily, again – because although the term itself was not something I flagellated myself over, it was – largely – in response to such flagellations, both from myself and from others.  If I hadn’t so often received the message that there was something wrong with my method of connecting with people, with what I felt and didn’t feel, wanted and didn’t want, I don’t think I would have felt the need to seek out an identifier like “asexy.”  I don’t think I would have felt the need to explain myself.  The root of this descriptor, then – if only technically – is the criticism.  It’s the brother who tells me, (as a joke that unintentionally grazes a sore spot), that I’m a “bad lesbian” because I respond to the swimsuit calendar as an outraged feminist instead of as an aroused lesbian.  It’s the gay-straight alliance meetings that devolve into still more pressure to go to the lesbian bars my friends themselves refer to as “meatmarkets” with the implication that it is past time I jump on the sexual bandwagon.  And at this point, at least, I need – for my own sake – to refuse the outside insistence that I’m not who I’m supposed to be (and my own internalization of these messages) and just go back to being myself.  Myself, the dorky queen of crushes, the girl who aspires toward cuddling, who is slowly growing comfortable enough around the discussion of sex to find it fascinating (if not so much worth trying), and who is free from the binding expectations of others – sexual, asexual, or otherwise.  I don’t like this idea of sexuals and asexuals.  These are not nouns in my world; they are adjectives.  A sexual person, an asexual person, and sometimes the same person skating back and forth between definitions, as I have been these past oh-so-many months, as I will probably tend to continue doing in the future.  So, while I’m hoping to be able to continue writing about asexuality and sexuality, to continue exploring something that fascinates me, I’m not setting out now to do so as an asexual, a sexual, a gray-a, a demisexual, or any other such thing. 

For the moment (at least), I’m just going to call myself me and let that be enough.  Here’s hoping some people are still along for the ride.

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2 Responses to “Be propelled by passion, not invest in outcomes.”

  1. pretzelboy Says:

    To me, being asexual isn’t about not being sexual. While some asexuals strongly feel that they aren’t sexual, I don’t really have that feeling. I have a sense that I’m definitely not hetero, homo or bisexual, and I consider myself asexual more out of identifying with other asexuals than with disidentifying with sexuality. When other guys would talk about who was hot or why they thought this or that person was attractive, I couldn’t relate—I just didn’t feel whatever it is that they felt. And as a young male there is this expectation that I’m supposed to have these strong desires to have sex, and I just don’t have them (a vague sort of curiosity, but that’s about it.) I felt confused for a long time because I had never heard of anyone like myself. After learning about asexuality, I felt that this is the only thing I’d heard of that came close to my own experience.

    For me the difficulty of knowing if I am ‘sexual’ or not is that’s it’s hard to know what sexuality is. Here’s my definition: “Sexuality is about sex and related stuff.” Everyone thinks of ‘related stuff’ differently so some can have very broad understandings of sexuality and others narrow ones or any in between. Asexuality is compatible with a variety of these. I also feel a bit uncomfortable with the distinction between “asexuals” and “sexuals” (or asexual people and sexual people) and sometimes have used instead “asexuals” and “nonasexuals” because I divorce “asexual” from its meaning of “not sexual.”

  2. willendork Says:

    It’s comforting for me to read that there are asexuals who don’t feel particularly non-sexual. I completely understand relating to the community; that’s sort of when I felt myself taking up the term also, when I realized how much I had in common with other people who had. My problem with it comes from just what you were saying about the difficulty of defining *sexuality*… since – at least etymologically – asexuality is no(t)-sexuality knowing what sexuality is seems somewhat required. But the definitions are so varied. If we’re going with “Elephant’s” – which involves (and can be “limited” to) my silly, dorky, “asexual” crushing, then I qualify as sexual. If we’re going with the media, for whom lesbian “sexuality” looks more like The L Word… I’m very much outside the norm. I can see holding the term for the sake of holding onto the community because in my experience it’s a pretty awesome community, but I also want a word that really does fit ME… even if that ends up being something simple like… my name.

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