By Kendra Holliday | October 23, 2022
Four years ago, I thought asexuality was a myth, an excuse, a weird misunderstanding between a person and their genitals. Then I met my asexual friend Shelley, who patiently taught me the facts. This week (Oct 23-39) is Asexual Awareness Week. Asexual means a person who does not experience sexual attraction. Let’s learn more from Shelley in this interview, and be sure and catch some other asexual interviews happening over at Sex Positive St. Louis blog.
How old are you?
29 now, four years after our original interview. Old enough to know that I’m not just a late bloomer.
What’s the difference between celibate, abstinent, and asexual?
Celibacy and abstinence are choices. Asexuality is innate, not a choice, but a part of someone’s life that they cannot choose. It is the same as gays not being able to choose who they are attracted to.
Does being asexual mean you are not physically attracted to male or females? For example, I identify as bi-sexual. Do you have a sexual identity? Are you straight?
Though asexuals only make up 1% of the population, asexuality is NOT a narrow definition. Like sexual people, most asexuals do experience attraction in a wide spectrum. When I say attraction, I do not mean sexual attraction, but rather the appreciation of someone who looks good, or has a great personality. I am attracted to men, that is to say, some men are cute to me. The difference between sexual people and asexual people is that asexual people simply do not want anything to do with the Sex part of a relationship, although other areas of a relationship may be okay – it is different for every person as to their comfort levels. Does that mean some want a relationship with another person? Yes. We all have connections in our lives. Friends, family. People who are sexual wish to have a connection of friendship Plus sexual chemistry with a person generally. Asexuals would like that Friendship, Plus nothing. But it is still more than friendship, Asexuals can have an emotional, deep connection with another person, but do not need sex as part of that as well.
Is being asexual a big part of your identity?
Yes. There are a few “I AMs” in my life, things that I am sure I am, and while they may waver, they never disappear. Asexuality is one of them.
Have you always been asexual, or were you ever interested in sex in your past?
I have always been asexual. Nothing happened to me (that I remember) that would cause me to become asexual. If there was, I would not be asexual, I would be celibate. All throughout high school I shied away from any sexual conversation. It has caused some tension between my friends and I in the past, before I discovered that there was a term for what I felt, and that I was not alone.
Do you think you will be asexual for the rest of your life?
Yes. Currently, I am beyond happy with who I am. I tried a relationship for two years with a wonderful man. He was very cute (meaning those who think “You just haven’t found the right person” should be bitch-slapped – that statement is untrue and a lack of understanding, but way too often mentioned to asexuals) and we had the same thoughts on a lot of stuff. He waited patiently as I tried to open up to new experiences. But the pressure of a relationship and what he would expect in the future, continued to make me extremely uncomfortable. After two years, I could no longer take it and I broke off the relationship. Four years later, I did try an asexual relationship but it did not last, I broke it off too. Something with me and relationships just don’t seem to work out well, at least for the two I have tried. I am still open to having a relationship with an asexual.
Have you ever had sex?
No. I couldn’t get past heavy petting and kissing. Even those are too much for me, although I was at first uncomfortable just holding hands. Of course, quite a few of us asexuals have tried it, and found themselves worse off emotionally for the experience. Some tried it, but simply are indifferent – it was not any different or special to them as going to the store would be. There are a few types of asexuals – Indifferent, repulsed, Grey-A as a few more common examples. I used to be repulsed, although this has changed slightly towards more of a Grey-A variety. I am currently of the belief that sexuality changes over time, and it is no different with asexuality.
Are you on any medications?
Yes, as of more recently, and yes it does affect the small amount of sexuality I have suddenly gained in the past year. It is funny that by taking the medication, I am closer to being my normal “repulsed” self, and when I am not, I am slightly more Grey-A. So I take medication to be my normal self, not to become like a normal person, and also the medication takes away other symptoms not related that would cause a health problem if I did not take it.
What are your interests/passions?
I grew up with cockatiels and a dog as pets, so I love animals, especially birds. I have 2 cockatiels. I love color and design, which is why I run my own interior house painting company. I enjoy playing World of Warcraft for fun, and I love weird instruments – I play Piano, and the Hammered Dulcimer and Ocarina (badly).
Were you abused as a child, sexually or physically?
Not that I remember. My family was great to me, and I have no inclination that anyone in my family may have abused me.
Are there any animal species you know of that are asexual?
Yes. Mice are one rather large animal species that have been through some general testing and the results are that a large population of mice are asexual. Other species are being looked at as well. Four years later, asexuality has been noted in Pandas and Rams along with other animal species.
Are there any online resources for asexuality?
www.asexuality.org is the biggest website with the most information. There is a book almost out, and also a documentary that was recently released. People from the website have been on TV – The View, Montel Williams, and multiple news stories. I have done three lectures to two of the largest colleges in our area to increase awareness in the GLBT groups at those colleges.
What do you think about nudity?
Appropriate in the shower. ::laugh:: In general, I would say it’s natural to be nude, however I am uncomfortable with being nude any other place than in the shower. I don’t believe nudity should be shown in public only because I don’t want to see it. I’m not a fan of artistic paintings, so I don’t want to see it there either. But that’s just me and I know that’s placing way too many specifications on a society in which *I* am the weird one.
Do you have a romantic partner/boyfriend/girlfriend? Do you want one? If so would you want them to be asexual too?
No. Yes, and yes, he would have to be asexual. As I mentioned, I did try a asexual partnership for a while but it just didn’t click with me well.
Would you ever get married?
Yes. I wouldn’t mind that particularly, although I don’t have much in the way of dreams about a perfect wedding. Still to this day, after being a Maid of Honor and attending many friends and family weddings, I still cannot even fathom me being the bride in a wedding.
Do you ever want to have children? Do you like kids?
I hate babies, they annoy me. I would never want to have my own. However, I would love to be a foster parent to older children like teenagers.
Do you ever think about sex involuntarily?
I usually only think about sex when something around me reminds me of it, like accidentally turning to a “women’s movie” in the wrong place, or seeing one of those damn Viagra commercials.
Do you ever have dreams about sex?
Unfortunately. Thankfully they are rare. My dreams tend to send me lessons, so any dreams about sex are not necessarily a “hidden desire,” but a lesson I must figure out.
What do you think about sex? Does it make you uncomfortable? What aspects of sex do you find distasteful?
The physicality of it. I’m sure the emotional part is great, but the physical part makes me extremely uncomfortable and rather sick. Some of us however are indifferent, they simply don’t care about it.
Do you get annoyed by all the sex in media, ads, movies, music?
Yes, but I have learned to block a lot of it out. I don’t watch or listen to sexuality-driven songs/videos. Sexual-specific commercials (viagra, personal lube types) annoy the hell out of me.
What do you think of porn?
I always remember one quote I heard: “No man has ever died from a semen buildup”. That quote did cause me to think that it isn’t necessary to have porn. I think it’s a society thing more than a human necessity to need things like porn to “get rid of the tension.” I can’t even offer a woman’s perspective in this case really.
Do you appreciate the human touch?
Yes, touch is great! Massages are great (although non-sexual for me, more of a medical necessity as my back tends to freeze up) Cuddling is wonderful. That’s as far as I go though. I must mention though, not every asexual is the same. Some are very touch-aversive, some are okay with just about anything but the sex part. It is definitely a spectrum that differs with each person.
Do you wish more people were asexual?
It sure would be easier to find an asexual guy. I have a feeling that if we didn’t have so much sexuality in our culture and it was not almost a requirement for living in our society, more would be.