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Beyond Straight and Gay - Why Asexual Visibility is Important

Freedom Requires Wings | by on




#1 reason why asexual visibility is good
Well hello there again! I am back for a short while to present this (hopefully good) rant about all things sexuality for all our wonderful friends!

This whole past week was dedicated to you, lovely aces! So now, to round things up a bit, let's talk about more general things and why asexual visibility is important in the overall context of LGBT rights. When we talk about the LGBTQIAP(...) community, gay rights usually are the center of attention, with gay marriage and adoption being the two issues that people talk about the most. While it's great that these issues are getting so much attention, they don't represent our whole community. So, absence of desire as opposed to desire for something socially unacceptable - why is it so revolutionary in our society, why do we need to talk about it, how can we talk about it? How could raising awareness about asexuality change society and help everyone? In other words, what's in it for everyone and why everybody should join this ace-positive revolution?

Let's get one thing straight (ha) - we live in a hyper-sexual society, and the things that other people think and say about you often mean more in society than your own interests and how you see yourself. When I discovered asexuality for the first time, I actually thought long and hard about whether the label applies to me (and still think about it). I don't consider sex all that important in my life, and I don't feel that I'm missing out on anything, but if I would ever feel like it, or if I would meet a person with whom I would like to share that intimacy, I think I would be up for it, but, generally, I'd prefer a good concert, an interesting night out, and a nice conversation. And yes, some delicious cake! So I don't even know, maybe I fall somewhere in the ace spectrum? Maybe not? In the end why should a person even rush to apply a label to themselves? You can't compartmentalize people that easily. What's the hurry? It only affects your life, so you should be able to evaluate and re-evaluate your sexuality as many times as you want, so you could be comfortable, honest with your partner, and know what you want. But we often find ourselves in situations where we are constantly pressured to report our lives to everybody around us - that our desires are socially acceptable, that we are in relationships, etc.. We have to decide on a label, not because we discovered ourselves, but because we need a word to define ourselves in front of others. And especially when it comes to the backbones of our society - sex and money. If you don't have sex for too long, something about you becomes "strange" and "socially unacceptable". I mean, when was the last time you saw a movie about a college student who really didn't care much about sex, so he/she continued to get good grades, got an education, then made some discovery, and then met a really lovely significant other who also really didn't care much about sex, and they spent lots of nights in front of the fireplace cuddling and eating cake?

Yep, I don't remember that movie, either.

Instead, the people around us constantly tell us to be socially acceptable and conform, saying that "this is for our own good" - whether it's the countless situations about nerds/geeks made into sexy popular kids, or just little quirks. But whose good is it for, really? People often seem to forget the interests of the very person they are trying to help, and completely push aside their needs and wants. Just like truth and taste are relative, our likes and quirks are what makes us. There is nothing wrong with liking or not liking something, so the only reason why you should change that is if it you actually want to, and/or if it directly harms you. However, I don't know about you guys, but I just can't think of any ways that the lack of interest in sex can harm a person. Of course, if it causes them a fair amount of distress, that's a different topic, but then the person wouldn't embrace asexuality as an identity in the first place. Other than that, I can only see asexuality as the least harmful thing imaginable.

But when it comes to norms, it's not difficult to see how hard our society is trying to cling on to antiquated ideas and values. Too much sex? Disorder. Not enough sex? Disorder. You don't wear gender-appropriate clothing? Cross-dressing. Disorder... The way we view the world is moving forward very, very slowly, and we still have countless stereotypes and antiquated beliefs that seem almost unchanged. From birth, children are forcibly thrown into roles, despite their own interests. The world is having a hard time moving out of the gay/straight, male/female boxes, and just lumps everyone who isn't straight and cisgender under one, big "gay" outcast umbrella. Bisexuals and pansexuals still have to constantly remind that they exist, and no, they're not just greedy sluts, and yes, it's possible to be attracted to more than one gender. And the transgender community keeps hoping that someday people will learn that sex, sexuality, gender, and gender expression aren't the same thing, and no, we're not all "just really gay". Sigh... It's depressing, really, that humanity still only knows 1 and 0.

Alright, almost rambled off a little too far... But it's Sunday, and I'm sitting in a robe, munching cookies and cupcakes (sadly no cake though), so please excuse me.

Back to asexuality and asexual visibility! So, what's so special about asexual visibility? No sex, big deal, huh? Well, in my opinion, it can actually make quite a bit of progress for all of us, even for people outside the LGBTQAP community. Well, it's because sexuality stops being as homogenous as just "what you like", and becomes far more complex when you throw in absence of desire. We are used to thinking that sex is a universal desire, even to the point that people who don't experience sexual attraction are considered "disordered", "abnormal", supposed to be "converted". It seems something like a final frontier. Everybody's heard the same old - it doesn't matter what you like, everybody likes something! That's where we arrive to things like consent - and while the vast majority of people understand that attempts at "correcting" gay people are bad and harmful, what about pressuring asexual people into having sex? So yeah, in my opinion, asexual visibility would mean a whole new era of sex positivity for everybody. If and when sex would become a non-universal thing, less people in general would have sex "just because it's the thing you're supposed to do", and there would be more space to actually find out what you like, instead of just doing what society expects of you.

In fact, some time ago, a young man who was thinking about his sexual orientation wrote me, and I tried to explain to him that just having sex doesn't make you straight, bi or gay, and it's the attraction, it's how you define yourself. And he didn't seem to understand it... :D It really shows how our sex-centric society makes things difficult for people. You can't just say "I am who I am", there have to be actions behind your words that prove who you are. It reminded me of the term "Gold star lesbian" from the L Word (a lesbian who has never had sex with a man). But human sexuality is too complex, sometimes it changes. You found yourself, that's great. Something you did in the past doesn't make your identity less legitimate. And anyways, often people just look for reasons to delegitimize unacceptable identities - "you're too young, it's a phase", "you're too old, it can't be legitimate", "past trauma", "disorder", "you had sex with so and so", "you're too feminine/masculine", "you're not feminine/masculine enough", "you're just really gay", "you're just a prude"... Etc., etc... It's like you can't win.

And I am quite impressed how far you guys have come, because like a year or two ago I had no idea what the term even meant, and now I see more and more people identifying as asexual! A fast Google search told me that the first asexuals marched in San Francisco in 2009, so the progress seems really great so far! And, thanks to the internet and the rise of social networking, more and more young people are discovering not only asexuality, but all kinds of different labels that older generations weren't familiar with (such as "genderqueer" or "pansexual"). It is obvious, that people will continue to make more and more new labels to define themselves, and we will continue to move away from out antiquated, binary models of gender and sexuality, and embrace a new model that truly encompasses the complexities of human sexuality and gender!
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