Turning up an ace
You know… it really shouldn’t matter what anyone’s sexuality, or lack of it, is, unless and until they start looking for a partner. It shouldn’t, but for some reason it does. People do like neat categories, which is rather unfortunate when you start trying to apply that to either sexuality or gender, because the world doesn’t always work like that. And this is why I’m “out and proud” about my asexuality, not because it should make the slightest bit of difference from anyone else’s point of view, but because it does in practice. And wherever something does make a difference in practice, anyone who has difficulty classifying hirself can run into problems… and it’s pretty common for asexuals to have difficulty classifying themselves. If there’s one thing I hear again and again from people who have recently realised they are asexuals, it’s that they didn’t quite know what they were until they realised.
So the whole idea of being generally up front about my own asexuality is to help other people who may be asexual and not yet realise it… and, yesterday, that actually happened. And it was awesome.
Cut back to New Year for a moment. I’d gone down to London to hear a friend sing in a concert, and almost everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, from the travel arrangements going awry to the friend turning out to have a nasty head cold and therefore have to be replaced by a substitute at the last minute. (The substitute was OK, but knocked off no socks. My friend is a stunningly good singer. Fortunately it didn’t take him too long to shake off the cold afterwards.) There was only one really good thing about this ill-fated trip to London, and that was the fact that I met J for the first time. I liked J as soon as I met him; he’s very much a people person and a tremendous mine of information of all sorts, and he made up for a lot of the angst.
J and I kept in touch afterwards on Facebook, and I must admit that once I realised I was asexual myself, it soon crossed my mind that J might be likewise. He’d been talking quite freely about his life, which has been an interesting one, but never once mentioned any romantic relationships; family and friends, yes, but no partners. This hadn’t particularly struck me at the time, because I never grew up considering that in any way unusual. (I am convinced there is asexuality in my family, which ties in with some scientific evidence that apparently exists, but that is a whole separate topic.) It was only when I looked back that it occurred to me.
So yesterday I posted a link on FB to a recent Guardian article on asexuality which covered the subject rather better than most (with the usual “don’t read the comments” proviso – seriously, I do wish people would stop being so dismissive of stuff they don’t understand and just listen to other people’s experience for a change), and J was really interested. He said he thought he identified with the article, and did I think he was asexual? I replied that that was for him to work out, and pointed him to the excellent FAQ on the AVEN website (www.asexuality.org, for anyone else who is curious). I think he must have read through the whole lot, and after that he popped up again on chat and said, yes, he reckoned he was asexual.
It was just lovely to see him going through exactly the same experience as I did and having everything fall into place for him. Because of the differences in our upbringing, it was an even better realisation for him than it had been for me, since I’d tended to the theory that the rest of the world was a bit weird, whereas he’d always thought he was the one who was weird (despite also having relatives who had been happily single all their lives). He also said he’d often been labelled gay due to his lack of interest in women – not that he thought there was anything wrong with being gay, but he knew it didn’t describe him. So next time anyone tries that, he’ll be able to tell them what he really is.
It’s great. He’s delighted, and I feel like some kind of Ace Auntie. 😀