This author wishes to remain anonymous.
[Featured Image: Asexual flag – the flag has 4 equally thick stripes in the colours purple, white, grey, and black. Source.]
I applied to become a contributor at the Clandestine because I wanted to amplify underrepresented voices and help break down stigma. Asexuality is not well represented in media and is generally misunderstood, which is why I wanted to do this interview.
I’ve linked some resources at the end of the interview with some definitions and statistics for anyone who wants to learn more. The interviewee wanted to remain anonymous because they have people in their personal lives who are unaware of their sexuality.
What is asexuality?
The simplest definition of asexuality is the lack of or partial lack of sexual attraction to other people. Asexuality sites on a spectrum of different sexualities. People who are asexual do not experience sexual attraction to anyone, and aromantic people don’t experience romantic attraction to anyone. A grey-asexual person might experience sexual attraction very rarely, and demisexual people don’t experience sexual attraction unless they have developed a very strong emotional bond with the person first.
When did you realise that you are asexual?
I think it’s funny looking back at it now, but I had no idea that I was not straight until I developed a crush on a girl. I just couldn’t stop thinking about her. It was a very confusing time for me. I didn’t know what it meant at all. I started to look up different sexualities and definitions and after a while came to the conclusion that I was asexual. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I started questioning my sexuality and romantic attractions, so it took quite a while before I recognised it in myself. And even longer before I accepted it. I did not want to be asexual. But it makes sense that I am. For the longest time, I thought my friends were exaggerating when they would talk about their crushes or the guy they hooked up with that weekend. I now know that they weren’t. At least now I have an explanation for my lack of interest in sex that makes sense to me and to those of my friends who know. It helped when I found out what asexuality is. It gave me comfort in knowing I was not alone, that I was not weird and that I was not broken.
How does hook-up culture influence your self-esteem?
That is a complicated question in my opinion. I don’t want any of these answers to come across as judgemental or anything. I fundamentally believe that everyone should be able to do what they want with who they want as long as it is consensual. With that being said I’ve felt a lot of pressure from certain friends and family members, who talk about my sex-life in a very prying way. That might not be the right word, but they tend to comment on and ask about my sex-life and relationships in a way that makes me slightly uncomfortable. That sex and hook-ups are a constant conversation topic sometimes make me feel isolated or like I have to lie to fit in. It is exhausting really. Media and pop culture seem to have the same focus and message. Even advertisements use sexual language or images to draw people in. Society as a whole puts a lot of emphasis on sex and whilst I agree that everyone – and I do mean everyone – should have the freedom to sleep with whoever they want as long as it is consensual, I think we should normalise not wanting to have sex as well as normalise not pressuring people into doing things they don’t want to do.
What misconception hurts you the most?
There is this tendency to equate asexuality to celibacy which is not the same thing. Asexuality is a sexuality like any other. Celibacy and abstinence are choosing not to act on sexuality for religious reasons or for periods of time. I am aware that this is not necessarily maliciously intended but it is a hurtful misunderstanding. It feels invalidating.
Other than that, I find the misconception that asexuality is a result of physical or mental illness incredibly harmful. It is firstly factually incorrect and secondly feels like the person believes that there is something more or less seriously wrong with you. It implies that my life is lacking or that I am broken or ill. Again, this is not the case at all. Asexuality is a real and valid sexuality not a result of illness or an attempt to get attention.
Have you seen a change in representation during the last few years?
I have actually. When I found out that I was asexual a few years back, I didn’t see any representation of it in media at all. Representation of people with minority backgrounds has grown exponentially in general, which I believe is a very positive development. But particularly during the last year or so, radio-interviews, tv-interviews, mini-documentaries, and asexual characters in pop-culture have started to appear more and more. Everyday people have become aware that it is indeed a real thing. You start to feel normal and seen. I remember watching a seen in Netflix’s “Sex Education,” where a character confesses that she doesn’t feel sexual attraction and feels broken because of it, which the show tackled with a level of decency and understanding, that generally made me sob. The sentence “Sex doesn’t make us whole, so how could you possibly be broken?” is ground-breaking for a sexuality that is constantly invalidated. This is the kind of representation we need for all sexualities and minority groups as well. Of course there is still room for improvement but it is a step in the right direction.
I hope this interview was as enlightening for you as it was for me. As mentioned above, I’ve added some additional resources, if anyone should want to read more about asexuality.