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Freedom Requires Wings FRW The #1 QUILTBAG opinion blog on the web. We aim to open minds and help the queer community. News, blogs, video, worldwide suicide prevention and more. Worldwide

I Needed to Share and so... a Memoir

Freedom Requires Wings | by on




Cover by Barbara Kellam-Scott
Somewhere around a year ago I finally began to come to terms with my own non-sexual nature. Shortly thereafter I saw the movie (A)sexual and learned that not only was I not alone but that there was a name for that part of myself as well as a community made of like minded individuals. Thus began the greatest moment, and the most positive year of my life. Now, I'm an excitable person, I can get all worked up in an instant and because of a deeply ingrained work ethic I seek outlets for that excitement. The warmth of the ace community, the un-abashed sharing, is what struck me last winter. My heart told me to share back, and I did, I joined Apositive and AVEN and began posting about everything ace I could think of. When someone on AVEN posted about Freedom Requires Wings needing writers I went and checked it out. Instantly I recognized a chance to join the larger conversation of sexuality and therefore a way to reach out to other asexuals who may not be aware of the rest of the community. It was a no-brainer and I applied for a chance to join the team. I promised to write something once a week and to do so for "more than a couple months". Unfortunately, after a couple months I did begin to falter in my attempts to uphold my promise. I had an old computer that struggled and then failed and so I began to upload my posts from the local library. That worked ok until my job, which is very physical and demanding of my time, began to wear away my ability to post at all. I was also going through some strife in my personal life. Both of my grandfathers died at the beginning of the year. I was also in desperate need of a new place to live. I had been going through addiction recovery for the last couple years and the shared house I lived in was beginning to hinder that process. My posting on FRW slowed to a halt. But, my desire to share back had not abated.

For years, as part of my way to try to understand myself better, I had been trying to pen my memoir. It began while I was still in total denial about my alcoholic behavior and my asexuality. I wrote with exclusive focus on the only positive elements of my life at the time, my obsession with traveling by foot and bicycle. As one can imagine it was a very brief and inconsistent collection of stories. When I finally admitted to myself that I was in fact, an alcoholic, I began to revise what I had written. I searched backwards through my life looking for the signposts of addiction in my life. Of course, I was able to see them everywhere, all the way back past my teens to my single digit years. So, my book got a bit thicker. It was still woefully incomplete and inconsistent though. As I got more sober I became aware of a niggling background psychic ache. A self doubt, perhaps the core of the self loathing that had led me into the blind oblivion of addicted substance abuse.

Quitting booze happened all at once, it was an immediate and necessary imperative. If I hadn't I feel certain that I would have been dead within a year. I stopped borrowing time and instead I tried to own it. This background ache however, was something that I had to approach slowly, gingerly. Everything in early recovery happens slowly, if one is not careful it can all collapse. Luckily, in some ways, I was unable to quit cigarettes and I relapsed, not with booze but with weed. Marijuana may have it's own pitfalls but it is a considerably less destructive drug than alcohol. Relapse is often a major part of recovery, as long as one stays focussed on getting sober there are lessons to be learned from every fall. It helped me to look more deeply at my life, to turn inwards in an effort to examine not just when I began to abuse substances, but why. I began to work on my physical health by exercising, making charts and lists and studying nutrition. In that mode I put up on my bedroom wall what I saw as my three biggest problems. Quitting cigarettes, quitting cannabis and what I termed "external sexual stimuli".

That last one confused me but it also felt right. I had no addictions to anything sexual. I hadn't dated in years, it never interested me, and I didn't use pornography. It became clear to me that perhaps my issues surrounding sex were the root cause I was looking for. With that thought in my head I first responded to a sexual question from an acquaintance by saying that I was "not a sexual person". That was the first time I had said something on the subject of sex that felt totally honest and true. During this tumult my work on my memoir had slowed to a trickle. I put work on it aside and just lived instead.

That brings us back to last spring, and my new joyfulness and need to share. I was examining my attempts thus far and saw that they were good and should continue. Outside of FRW I had also begun making youtube videos. I was engaged in a discussion with a young woman on Apositive about making an asexual youtube channel. She was also working on a compilation style book of stories of asexual experience and had asked if I might like to contribute. I was intersted but unsure and left her hanging. I had also begun to look around for books already published on asexuality and was surprised that there were so few. I realized too what had been missing from my own memoir. I had penned tales of all sorts of adventures but left out so much else. I saw that there were no memoirs by asexuals, and so I got up the gumption to complete my book with the truth of my experiences as an asexual in the closet. I got so obsessed that my participation in the ace community dwindled down to comments on the posts of others on AVEN. I had also left my destructive living situation, making myself semi-homeless. I am still in that situation.

I did finish my memoir however. I couldn't believe it! I had never finished such a project, throughout my life as a creative person I have consistently left things incomplete. Being in such stiff denial of a crucial part of who I am had left me without the confidence to appreciate the value of my own output. To counteract that lingering self doubt I made a pre-emptive strike. I decided to self publish on Amazon, it was free and I couldn't be rejected. I was only able to bring myself to post briefly about it on AVEN. Self doubt is a hard thing to shake and so I have since sought to combat that. Even after I sold a couple copies I doubted my work. A stranger made a post about the book on AVEN and I was embarrassed. Because of that post though I found myself joining my local ace meet up group, New England Aces, and having the amazing experience of being in a room surrounded by folks like me for the first time ever. It was so wonderful that I was nearly speechless for the duration of that initial meet up. One month later and asexual awareness week was coming up, that old self doubt, coupled with social anxiety, reared it's head. I couldn't bring myself to participate. The flu kept me from the meet up at the top of the week but fear kept me from sharing my book or the posts I made here. Making this post is the first real attempt I have made towards advertising my book. Hopefully too, it will be the beginning of my return to FRW. I do too want to try to find a real world publisher and let the greater world know that my book exists.

Some of my desire to get the book, My Life in Hetero: An Ace in the Closet, out to a broader audience is of course quite selfish. But, I also hope that it will act like a trail of breadcrumbs through the wilderness of information about sexuality. I hope that perhaps another ace in the closet will stumble across it and realize that they aren't broken and alone. I also hope that it will inspire other asexuals from across the spectrum to get to work on their own memoirs, to share their own stories.

This last point, to me, is the most important. I of course realize that I do not speak for all aces, not even all aromantic aces. My life has been about so much else that in no way could I have encapsulated the experience of everyone. There is such diversity in our community and only by sharing that will asexuality be finally normalized. We need voices of every type and timbre to issue forth. We need fiction too, not just memoirs. Although, I did fictionalize my story, only names were changed, the meat of the thing is truth as I recalled it. In the forums, every couple months or so there will pop up a thread seeking out asexual characters from the world of literature. The list is almost always full of only guessing and assumption. We as a community can't sit around waiting for the sexual world to give us our place in the greater lexicon, we must make that place for ourselves!

I do see a sort of parallel between my own struggle to be a more confident person and the greater ace community's quest for visibility. We seem to be an invisible nation of introverts. It does seem too that the sexual world, has a hard time hearing what we're saying. In my own attempts to come out I have come across the standard disinterest and disbelief, but some folks have listened. But most of that actual listening has come about through my insistence and repetition. I initially told many people in my social world via facebook. I posted the first of my youtube videos on the subject, described myself as asexual in the "about me" section and have "liked" asexual content there. But still, even close friends seem totally unaware. So, to mirror the cacophony that we as a community need to create in the greater world I am trying to post more and more about my own asexuality. People never remember songs after just one listening. It is through repetition that a song worms it's way into the memories and daily lives of people. I am trying with every ounce of gusto that I have to speak more openly and in more venues about asexuality. When I first experienced the true joy of self acceptance I could not hold it in and told everyone in my closest social circle. If there were consequences to be had, I did not care. I have since discovered that even those who heard me found it hard to understand what I was saying. But, the more I say it, the easier it has been for them to hear it and for me to say it. I find my friends trying to talk about it with me of their own volition. My mother even regularly reminds her LGBT friends of asexuality in their discussions of the world beyond the heteronormative experience. She hasn't read my book, she has simply listened, trusted, respected and loved me enough to make it part of her lexicon. I know that what I have with my mother is special, its a relationship separate from the world in many ways. However, it is a perfect example of what lifting one's voice to the ears of the world over and over can do. When I came out, I was determined to make my asexuality normal in the world immediately around me. The more I look around though, I see just how big that world really is. I have said it before and I will keep saying it, coming out as often as possible is a necessary part of life for every ace who is comfortable doing so. The more we tell the world about what life is like for us, the more the world will understand. People can't listen if we don't speak up.

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