For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Archive for the ‘Demisexy’ Category

The gay agenda- it’s not just for straight people any more!

From the sinister and teal-clad minds of the Evil Fellowship of Aromantics (ie, Sciatrix and I) comes a new and terrifying game. Tiers of Queer, a game of privilege and plummeting, where the stakes are your lives. Wanna play?

This is based, by the way, on the beautiful last line on this post about asexuality, which was clearly not written by non-libedoists, bitter that we’d stolen their word:

Generally speaking, in terms of sex drive and desire, the homosexual and the asexual could not be further apart

(read the rest of the article. It’s short, but… informative)
This quote suddenly made staggeringly clear to me the hidden inference behind this. People like simple lines. Asexuals and other 2nd dimensional creatures, can mess up a linear world view. There’s us and them. And, for the more refined, there’s moderate us, between two thems. It’s how a lot of people view sexuality, and the tiers look something like this:

1.Celebate
2.Asexual (dragged down slightly because the word has been stolen by gay sympathisers. You know who you are!)
3.Decent folk.
4.Deviants (BDSMers, mostly. The definition is left usefully flexible)
5.The Homosexual (male. If you’re a lesbian, or homoromantic woman, congratulations. You’ve broken the game)
6.The Transsexual (not quite sure what these people are, but they must clearly be like the homosexual, but more extreme)

This is why asexual and homosexual are more opposite than, say, asexual and straight. Because being gay isn’t defined by what it is, attraction to men, but by the level of sexual deviancy that the quality posesses.

Sexual Deviancy is a single-score game. Maybe you fit into more than one category? Tough. Pick the biggest number that applies to you, and that’s your score.

And this is where it got to me. I’m 5 on that list. I am a homosexual. I’m not sure if I’ve directly typed that on this blog, before, but I’ve said several times that I used to think I was demihomosexual and realised I was more than demi. I don’t use gay, because I’m really not. I find it difficult not to identify in some way as asexual, even if there’s no technical asexual left about me. Because I’m an asexual blogger, because I’m aromantic, because to invalidate asexuality is to invalidate whatever the heck I am.

I’ve been trying to introduce myself not as asexual, and it’s killing me. Outings are suddenly fifty times more painful than even asexual outings (which aren’t fun). I end up with people having no idea what I am, when what I want is to spread visibility. I want to be proud that I’m asexual. Without being asexual.
And if that happens, if I go back to the word asexual, without the doubt every time I introduce it, without the ‘so what’ of “Um… I used to identify as asexual?”, then guess what? I’m a homosexual, pretending to be asexual. I’m a repressed gay, dispite the fact that I think I’m doing pretty well at not being repressed. Dispite the fact that the biggest force ever repressing me was the fact that I knew I could be used as evidence that asexuality is invalid if I ever admitted who I was.

So now I want to say; yes. I am homosexual, and I will identify as asexual. I’m the betrayer in your midst. The wolf in sheep’s clothing. What’re you going to do about it?

Enough bitter not-quite-sure-which-bits-are-sarcasm for tonight? You’re probably right.

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"I sometimes think no poetry is read…

…save where some sepultured Caesura bled.”
A letter to a living poet, Rupert Brooke

So I found an ancient (given as a gift in 1944) copy of the complete works of Rupert Brooke in a charity shop for 50 pence. And oh my god.

Because up until now, I’ve only read one poem of Brooke’s. I think it was his last, before he died in his early twenties, in World War 1. “If I should die, think only this of me…” (watch as I completely disobey that instruction). The poem is pompous, patriotist, and famous. In my opinion, it’s one of his worst works. The poetry of Brooke seethes with passion and life, even as the things he agonises about are melodramatic, teen poetry.

Here’s the one I’d like to discuss today:

Thoughts on the shape of the human body:
How can we find? how can we rest? how can
We, being gods, win joy, or peace, being man?
We, the gaunt zanies of a witless Fate,
Who love the unloving and lover hate,
Forget the moment ere the moment slips,
Kiss with blind lips that seek beyond the lips,
Who want, and know not what we want, and cry
With crooked mouths for Heaven, and throw it by.
Love’s for completeness! No perfection grows
‘Twixt leg, and arm, elbow, and ear, and nose,
And joint, and socket; but unsatisfied
Sprawling desires, shapeless, perverse, denied.
Finger with finger wreathes; we love, and gape,
Fantastic shape to mazed fantastic shape,
Straggling, irregular, perplexed, embossed,
Grotesquely twined, extravagantly lost
By crescive paths and strange protuberant ways
From sanity and from wholeness and from grace.
How can love triumph, how can solace be,
Where fever turns toward fever, knee toward knee?
Could we but fill to harmony, and dwell
Simple as our thought and as perfectible,
Rise disentangled from humanity
Strange whole and new into simplicity,
Grow to a radiant round love, and bear
Unfluctuant passion for some perfect sphere,
Love moon to moon unquestioning, and be
Like the star Lunisequa, steadfastly
Following the round clear orb of her delight,
Patiently ever, through the eternal night!

I think it might have been the second poem I read. I loved it from the moment I read “who love the unloving and the lover hate.” Such a simple illustration of the cruelty of human relationships.
To briefly explain where I think Brooke is coming from, he was part of a movement which abandoned chaperones, went on long, mixed-sex walks, slept naked under the stars (he went skinny-dipping with Virginia Woolf), but never had sex before marriage. You can kinda see it in his poetry, it’s all about attraction and kissing and mystery- part of what I like about Brooke is that the beautiful, classical language flows from a guy who is seriously horny quite a lot of the time, and willing to talk about it using a form often reserved for true love.
Brooke was also incredibly pretty. Half his friends, by most reports, were friends with him not because of his amazing wordcraft but because he was devilishly handsome. I want to know what would happen if Brooke took up modern day feminism, because a lot of his poems contain, between the lines, this cry of the objectified male. The objectified male who is so, so scared of growing old because all he has are his looks, because he refuses to validate desire when it doesn’t come from someone classically good-looking.

And so we get back to this poem. “Kiss with blind lips that seek beyond the lips.” We try to know people through sex, through intimacy, the act is never the act but some frustrated attempt to connect, to feel like you really, truly know someone when it is truly impossible to. The body is a clumsy metaphor, its own isolation unit.
“Who want, and know not what we want, and cry,
With crooked mouths for heaven, and throw it by.”
Don’t tell me you’ve seriously never felt like this? Me and Brooke can’t be the only ones.

“we love, and gape,
Fantastic shape to mazed fantastic shape,
Straggling, irregular, perplexed, embossed,
Grotesquely twined, extravagantly lost
By crescive paths and strange protuberant ways
From sanity and from wholeness and from grace.”
Here, he’s describing the body as imperfect, monstrous, an illusion of what we truly are. And it’s so fucking queer. “Grotesquely twined, extravagantly lost.” Since reading this poem, I’ve genuinely considered replacing my ‘questioning’ label with that phrase. There is something I find so beautiful, so human, in imperfection.
The imagery here is astounding. Last year, I was doing art (as I think I mentioned), and for his final piece, one of the guys took close-ups of people’s faces and then zoomed in so much on the corner of a nose, the fold of a brow, that they became abstract, hauntingly beautiful patterns of sumptuous flesh. Reading this poem, those photographs are what burn themselves into my mind.
“By crescive paths and strange protuberant ways,” the human body, coming to terms with it, loving it, is a journey. You can literally lose yourself.

And then he goes a bit crap and wusses out and says that it would be better if there were no such things as bodies, these perfectly imperfect forms of wonder and delight, because it would be better if we all connected spiritually, throw in a random classical reference, bob’s your uncle, another Romantic poem churned out.

Which is where I get annoyed with Brooke, because he always has such great potential. He definitely wasn’t afraid of breaking the rules of his day, and his poetry seems, when it’s really flowing from him, so transgressive, so full of fire and change, that even a century after he lived, the world still trembles from his vision.

And then something pulls him back. Whether it’s the fact that he’s essentially writing emo poetry about the latest girl to dump him, moping around in his room at the age of 16, or the fact that he’s stuck in the Romantic framework, where there are easy answers and you have to prescribe to them, or because it was Edwardian times, and there simply weren’t the words, or because he was so young that he never got to realise that he could be more than an object, that desire isn’t something you have to justify.

Poetry changed, months after he died. Possibly the most poetry has ever changed. It became about raw power, emotion that could cut through the heart, mockery of those in command, it became a tool for radical critique of society. Brooke died in the old system, and is remembered by it. He is remembered by silly poems about the honour of death and the romance of war, couched in pretentions. Had he lived even three years longer? I think the world could be very different today.

Operational definitions: Where things get technical

First- time for a short squeal of delight. A personal first: Someone I know mentioned the split between romantic and sexual attraction without being asexual or, to my knowledge, knowing an asexual. This made me fiercely happy. It also gave me the perfect conditions with which to bring up asexuality for the first time with my LGBT, but various people interrupted and the topic moved on to something different.

Anyway, I’ve been stumbling across a new way of defining myself for a while now, and I think I’ve finally got it sorted. It reconciles asexual and homosexual in a way that demihomosexual never did for me.
It’s based on the idea that sexuality has a number of ways of defining it, subtly different in ways that normally don’t matter. The three which I’m largely thinking of are:

The social constructionist:
Sexuality is defined by identity, feelings, belonging. It isn’t prescriptive or intuitive. Whatever labels fit, stick. It’s also very generic and vague, offering absolutely no definitions of what sexuality is, how important sexual attraction is, etc. In being open, it is blurred and unspecific. According to this definition, I’m asexual.
The asexual:
A definition of sexuality created by people who were told about sexual attraction in the assumption that they’d already know about it. A logical, thorough image of sexuality, like painstakingly painting around something invisible. Very much based on the word attraction. Compartmentalised, due to the difference in the romantic and sexual feelings of many of its creators. I’m guessing I’ll get a bit of flak for saying that asexuality doesn’t reflect reality, but my point is that nothing does. Not completely. I think the asexual theory is utterly awesome because it’s the only one that really looks deep into the complexities of what orientation means. Under the asexual definition, I’m homosexual.
The behaviouralist:
Defined entirely by how you act/want to act. A pretty sucky approximation for orientation, but it has in its favour the fact that it’s actually more important than orientation, in a real-world kinda way. In this sense, I think I’m bi.

The nice thing about this is that it gives me a reasonably succinct description of my sexuality that invites dialogue and hints at the complexities involved, while referencing all the identities that are important to me (my preferred label, my technical label, my behaviour). It’s way better than the “Don’t know, not sure how to say it” that I’ve been trying for recently, which is so difficult to make not sound defensive. Instead, I’ve got “depends on what definitions you use. From a general understanding, I’m asexual. From an asexual understanding, I’m homosexual. From a behavioural understanding, I’m bisexual.” Which is- well, it’s the most compact I’ve got it since I gave up being asexual, and it makes me feel so much happier than any partial label.

Quick post-freshers week update

Hi, all. Little internet access, so this’ll be short.

Apparently, the uni LGBT is both vaguely transphobic and probably asexophobes, too. I’ve not had any first-hand experience of them because I accidentally fell in with a small and awesome splinter cell who are much more accepting.

Also, I’ve decided not to label myself as asexual anymore. This decision happened more than a month ago, but I somehow never got round to writing the long-winded explaination. Basically, if the label fits, it’ll come back to me. However, I’m still aromantic, I’m getting more and more sure of that. So:
-I still feel like part of the asexual community.
-I should still have a lot to write on here. Whether and when I do depends on how busy my life is.

My society went out to a trans resources centre, and they had forms which actually had an asexual option on them! I ticked them, partly because asexual is the option I most identified with, and partly because I didn’t get a single asexual tickbox when I actually was asexual, and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity.

The lures of the feminine- bloomin’ quests

Recently, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been having the tiniest bit of sexual attraction to women. I tend to over-minimise my attraction on this blog, so ‘tiny’ tends to mean ‘minor’. In this case, it means ‘less than tiny’. It’s not even got to the stage of being sexual attraction yet, it’s like… increased responsiveness. Like before, I went looking for the bit of my brain that stores my gynophilia and there was just a wall there. Now, the room is still empty, but the wall has disappeared. There’s a room in my brain that I’ve never been into before, waiting to be filled up.

I use this metaphor because that’s what it feels like when this feeling strikes. It’s that physical sensation when you open a door in pitch black, and somehow, you can sense the open space in front of you.

And I’ve been thinking about why this is, and what this means. Neither are easy to answer. Neither, I know, are strictly neccesary to answer, sexuality can be what it is without cause. But I think it’s useful to look deeper.

When I was younger, I used to think that girls were off-limits. I used to surpress any proto-feelings I developed for girls, and encouraged the ones for boys, because I’ve been raised in a culture where heterosexuality is destructive. Where it is a metaphor for destruction heaped on the female by the male. Fires which, as they kiss, consume.

I’ve been going on a bit of a journey on that front, recently. I’ll write about it when I have time. Knowing internally what I knew academically- that heterosexuality isn’t wrong. Giving myself permission to feel things. When I do, now, it’s interesting, exciting, not shameful or confusing. I feel like I’m on a new, a wholesome, adventure. And that could be the reason for my feeling of newfound space.

Also, and I’m less sure about this one, I’ve hinted before that my attraction to men may be as much about who I want to be as who I want to be with. Now I’ve come to the horrific realisation that I’m moderately attractive, I feel like that whole issue is coming to a close, and leaving me more mentally healthy.

So, it appears I have a flexible sexuality. And, what’s more, it appears that my sexuality is often tied into whatever issues I’m dealing with at the moment. So, here I am, the perfect example of a late bloomer who deals with repression to fully accept themselves and suddenly open new vistas of sexuality. Yes?

Well, no, not really. The important take-away message I have about asexuality and flexibility here is that it really works both ways. As someone like me goes on a journey, their sexuality will change to reflect that journey, in subtle and unexpected ways. All too often, in our society, coming into a sexuality is seen as maturity, openness, a good end goal. But coming into asexuality, a restriction of sexuality, can be just as much of an emotional blossoming. It can stand for maturity, contentment, refinement of personal knowledge. So there is such a thing as a late bloomer. Right now, I feel like I’m blooming quite a lot. But asexuality is just as much a bloom as sexuality.

The demi closet

So, quick recap:

In the last post, I promised my next few posts would be short. I then wrote a post that I thought would be really short, and it ended up the same length as the others.
In the post before that, I promised to make things less asexual-based, or at least more wired towards a readership that I don’t assume to be asexual. That’s also notably been failing.

Today, I hope to meet promise #1, if not promise #2.

I’ve been thinking about how little I really mention the sexual side of my demisexuality on this blog. A lot of what I write about is written from the ‘asexual perspective’, and I almost seem to be trying to aviod the part of me that’s, well, normal. Seriously. Second-guessing how sexual everyone really is makes my brain hurt, but I reckon there’s happily sexual people out there with the same level of sexual attraction to me. I know that my feelings are the only ones I can comment on, but the more I let them be what they are, the more they seem to mark me out as subversively on ‘the other side’. It doesn’t mean I’m not asexual, the label is still the most useful to me without getting complex (like demihomosexual), but maybe that I’m less asexual than my deliberate persona.

I think it’s a matter of bravery. I don’t want to stand up and say “This is who I am” because it goes against the idea of the Ideal Asexual. Or maybe, if the Ideal Asexual is the asexual sexuals want to see, the Pure Asexual, the one who’s as asexual as possible, who has earned their place at the table of the sexless.

And then there’s the excuse. The excuse being- we live in a society with screwy notions about sex (especially queer sex), and I know that I can never rely on this blog to be anonymous. I want the worst real-life experience I can come away with to be “Yes, I blogged about asexuality for several years. God, I was privileged, time-wasting and self-obsessed back then” and not to be “You’ve read my blog? Oh, great. Now you know way too much about how I think about sex.” I draw the line very high so I have a little further to slip.

And the problem is that it’s quite a good excuse. The chances aren’t all that remote, especially as I remain openly asexual, if someone just decides to google asexuality and do a lot of reading on it. I’m probably blowing the effects out of proportion, I’d never planned to be any sort of graphic sex blogger. After all, that would isolate some of my asexual audience (see promise #2, above) and be practically impossible, considering I’m not reckoning on having a sex life to write home about any time soon.

But anyway. What’s courage and what’s foolishness?

And, looking back, I’m less convinced that I’ve met promise #1, or that I’ve not met promise #2. The moral of this story is- I always break my promises (must be because I’m an evil demisexual aromantic).

Shout it from the rooftops

(warning: stream of consciousness approaching)

I am demi-homo-sexual. And I am proud.
That’s the first time I’ve ever said that. Ten minutes ago was the first time I ever thought that. This is my story. And asexuality has a place in that story. But it isn’t everything any more.
Before I found AVEN for the second time, I had a range of theories of what I was. I bounced mostly from straight to gay and back again, but neither fitted. I had some theories about why my crushes on men weren’t as a gay person should have experienced, firstly that homosexuality was tied to masochism in my personal sexual view, and lastly, right before I became asexual, that I was sexually attracted only to straight men. It’s true I probably do have homomasochistic and straight guy fetishes, which overcomplicate my sexuality horrendously by being right in the blurry bit between a fetish and a sexuality (I may talk about fetishes and asexuality some other time, at which point I’ll go into these in more detail).
On the whole, I’ve always been reluctant to admit that I have any homosexual feelings whatsoever other than these fetishes. I’ve been refusing to let myself think this, but part of the reason is possibly because of how homosexuality is considered in society. I’m not afraid of it, since a couple of my friends came out, guys dating has been the most natural thing in the world, but maybe those who exist between the binaries, bisexuals and asexuals, often find themselves going with the ‘right’ sex, to satisfy their ingrained homophobic socialisation.

However, there is a larger and more sensible part of my reluctance to own this sexuality as anything other than aesthetic attraction. I’ve always struggled to see what purpose coming out as homosexual would serve. I certainly couldn’t come out as gay, since I’m either hetero- or a- romantic.
My sexuality towards men is pretty much gazing at them and sighing a bit, described excellently on this blogthese two posts particularly. I don’t want to have relationships with them. I don’t even want to have sex with them, as actual sex would definitely not satisfy this attraction.
But I have to admit that there is a sexual element. It’s not the primary element, by any means, but men in sexualised situations generally spark my attraction easier than men in non-sexualised situations, where the attraction is (unless they really are incredibly pretty) often more passive.

The problem is that, up until now, I’ve ignored these feelings, shut my ears and said, “I can’t be thinking this because I’m asexual, and I’m asexual because I can’t be thinking this.”
I ignored the fact that many people who happily call themselves gay or straight probably just have my level of sexual-aesthetic attraction, but pointed in the same direction as their romantic attraction. How can I claim I’m different from them?

So I’m not doing. I’m going to call myself demisexual (well, I’m going to introduce myself as asexual, still, but you know what I mean), and when I say it, I’m going to know that the grey area is between asexuality and homosexuality, even if it’s still mostly asexual. I’m going to do this because calling myself asexual homoaesthetic took too much effort censoring myself from all the feelings that didn’t quite fit.
I’m looking forward to using a more open-ended term, because now I can accept everything I feel, without having to worry about recategorising my sexuality every time I feel something new.

If you’ve read this far, I applaud you. I’d like to finish with two morals to this story, one a warning to asexuals, and the other a warning to asexophobes.

To asexuals, and demisexuals, I would say that it is, indeed, very easy to leap at the asexual label, because it (and we) makes so much sense, when nothing else ever has to you. It’s very easy to assimilate, slot yourself into the asexual boxes and cut off the corners that don’t fit. But someday, you need to face your sexuality and decide if it really does fit absolutely. That’s why we have labels like demisexual and grey-a, they’re basically asexual with the boundaries taken off, where you can be who you really feel you are.
I always used to say that I’d be happy changing my sexual label if I got any evidence that I was sexual. It was true, but the evidence would basically have to be writing in the sky, and the fact that I was throwing myself on everyone with a pulse. I wasn’t looking for evidence that I was just a little bit away from asexual.
It’s important to let those little things in, even if it means you’re one step away from the asexual label. In the words of the asexy flowchart: Sorry, you’re not asexual. But you can still be a cool person.

To asexophobes, who often have the idea that asexuality is somehow confining, that you adopt the label and rigidly stick to it, you’ll have read this (if you do read asexual blogs) with glee. But I’ll happily join Venus in saying that asexuality has been the greatest help to me in coming to terms with my exact identity.
Without asexuality, I had the choice of only straight, gay or bisexual. The discourse within the asexual community opened my eyes not just to the possibility of not having attraction, but of all the different types of attraction available. Asexuality has given me a label which I still use, and will probably feel comfortable using for a long time to come, but, in the year since labelling myself as asexual, I have questioned myself far more thoroughly and gained more of an insight into my sexuality than in all of the other years of my life put together.

I have things to figure out, but I have a space to do that in, and a community that will support me no matter what.

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