I am asexual. This means that I do not enjoy or have any interest in sex. There are different identities within the asexual ‘umbrella’. Some asexual people have a little interest in sex and others – like me – find it revolting.
Apparently there is research to show that asexual people are the least likely of any of the LGBTQIA+ identities to be ‘out’. The stigma around asexuality is significant. Asexual people, or ‘Aces’ are often seen as being sad and pathetic. The film ‘The Forty Year old Virgin’ sums up this perspective. Not having sex is seen as a bit sad and that a person is somehow missing out.
It took me a long time to accept and embrace my asexuality. For many years I believed I must be a lesbian. I had a sexual encounter with a man when I was 16 which wasn’t entirely consensual. I thought men were icky and women were well, slightly less icky so I figured I must be a lesbian. However as a lesbian I still found sex revolting. I had relationships because I thought that was what you were supposed to do but I didn’t enjoy any of it.
It took me until I was in my late thirties before I realised I was asexual. Even then it took me a bit longer to embrace the identity.
As an autistic person, being asexual is a bit fraught, The stereotype around sexuality and autism is that we are all asexual and if we are sexual then we are are hreteosexual. This of course is nonsense. Autistic people are often interested in sex and are often gay, lesbian, pansexual, polyamorous or and number of other sexualities. I don’t like fitting a stereotype but I can’t help it! I suppose I am not responsible for the stereotype but it still bothers me. This view is also prevalent in the broader disability community and particularly in the intellectual disability space.
Another issue around asexuality is people thinking I must be a prude. I am actually a long way from being a prude. In fact I am very sex positive. I think if people are enjoy sex and they are consenting adults then by ask means let them go for it! Sexual activity between consenting adults is just – or so I am told – and they should do it to their hearts’ content! I am far from prudish.
I am also aromantic (or ‘aro’) – and as an aside, my spell checker diesels think aromantic is a word – we evidently have a way to go! I do not have any interest in having relationship. When I was younger I thought I had to have a relationship. That was what people did so I thought I should do it too but it turns out relationships are not for me. I have not had a relationship since 2003 and that is actually just fine. In fact it is much easier. I am not lonely or sad. I like my own company and it means I can do a load of interesting things which make the world a better place (well, I hope they do!) I do have what I would call aesthetic attraction to people. This is not sexual attraction and I don’t want a relationship with them. It is when I like to look at someone. My aesthetic attraction is to androgynous-looking folks and women police officers (long story…) The lovely thing about not being interested in sex or dating is that I don’t need to be in a relationship in order to be happy and fulfilled. I am absolutely OK for it to be just me at Yennski HQ with my work and my friends. I have no issues around being single. Single is absolutely fine.
One thing that I want to clarify is the difference between asexuality and incels. Incel means involuntarily celibate. This is men who cannot find a partner and are often ideologically anti-women. This is very different to asexuals / Aces. Aces are usually comfortable with not having sexual partners whereas incels are not. I view the attitude of incels as being epitomised by the concept of ‘I need to get a girlfriend’, as if a partner is a possession. I have had incels on my social media in the past and I find their approach to women very problematic. Incels are very different to Aces.
My own Ace identity properly started a few years ago. I had known I was asexual for some time but hadn’t really identified with it publicly. I thought it was almost a negative thing, a negation. How could I have an identity based on something I didn’t do? Eventually I came around to seeing my Ace identity as part of what made me who I am and as being just as important as my other identities. I became a very out loud and proud Ace. I now talk about my asexuality quite a lot. I think it is good to share not with the world so that other Ace people can feel proud to be themselves.