Question of the Week: August 23rd, 2016

Has asexuality or aromanticism ever helped you identify with something else?

This question was inspired by a recent tumblr discussion, in which people said that asexuality helped them come to terms with same-gender attraction.

That happened to me too.  I first identified as asexual, and that’s what finally allowed me to identify as gay.  There are a lot of stories in the media about men realizing for the first time that they are gay, but every single story involves them being smitten with some other guy, or perhaps the character realizes that what they thought was friendship was actually attraction.  That could never happen to me.  I have never experienced anything so obvious.

What it actually took was realizing that I felt no attraction to women.  I needed to realize that people with no apparent attraction to men could also feel no attraction to women.  Once I was there, once I was already identifying as queer, I finally had the space to consider whether my attraction to men was really zero or not.

People may deride stepping stone identities, but having used a stepping stone myself, I think they’re great.  Stepping stones are better than walls.

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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6 Responses to Question of the Week: August 23rd, 2016

  1. Sciatrix says:

    Yeah, actually–IDing as ace gave me space to figure out what it was that I wanted, long term, in terms of–of having a family for myself, I guess. Which also gave me space to figure out that my daydreams about friends were a) a measure of the kinds of things I wanted in life, and b) eventually figure out that I was pretty exclusively having those daydreams about friends who weren’t dudes. Not pushing myself to think about and look for evidence of sexual attraction really freed me up to actually listen for what I was really yearning for and go out and seek those things.

    • This is very similar to myself. It wasn’t so much identifying as asexual – because I had known I was something matching that description for a very long time without having a name for it – but finding ace communities and ace discourse, learning about things like queerplatonic relationships and different attraction types, and so on. Literally within a few months of learning about queerplatonic relationships and realizing that was a possibility, I started thinking that I really wanted to have this type of relationship specifically with another woman.

      I also feel that it was only as I was beginning to discover ace communities and come to a broader sense of my own identity that I was in a place emotionally to develop and notice squishes (though as I’ve written elsewhere it took me a long time, even after I was aware of my relationship preference, to notice that all of my squishes were on not-dudes).

      At a past time I had thought, “I’m not attracted to men, so maybe I’m a lesbian” but I didn’t seem to be attracted to women either so I ruled that out. I’m very definitely both ace and aro, but apparently I was right about the same-gender inclination after all.

  2. queenieofaces says:

    I identified as bi before I identified as ace, but identifying as ace and being in ace spaces definitely made me a looooot more comfortable with the fact that I’m primarily attracted to not dudes. In hindsight, it was really obvious, but at the time I was definitely trying to ignore anything anomalous I felt for women (unless it was so obvious that I couldn’t possibly ignore it).

  3. luvtheheaven says:

    Realizing I was probably ace was the first step to realizing I didn’t actually need monogamous dating in my life, and that being poly was a real option out there even for someone like me. I also did not realistically consider the possibility of dating non-men until after I realized I wasn’t straight (but rather was ace) and then was forced to think about my romantic orientation. Finally I had a much easier time classifying and understanding my sex aversion as soon as I really tried it thanks to the ace community having words commonly in use like “sex-repulsed” and if I wasn’t already pretty sure I was ace spectrum, I have a feeling I’d lack any words to describe that part of myself.

  4. 8faces says:

    In terms of helping me to accept my other newfound identities, no. In terms of accidentally leading me to info on the web about nonbinary genders, yes – massively!

    I got through the whole acceptance thing with kink decades ago, and as it turned out that would make it dead easy for me to accept myself as ace and nonbinary (which, it turns out, I have always been but didn’t know it). What I’d been lacking was the knowledge. I found asexuality by accident first, and via lots of blogs including this one, that led me to nonbinary…

  5. Rachel says:

    Somewhat similar to Sciatrix, discovering asexuality and aromanticism has given me a ton of clarity. This self-understanding has helped me figure out both what I want and what I can reasonably expect in life. It’s helped me sort out my thoughts on “relationships,” those things that everyone is supposed to want and pursue, and helped me grow comfortable with the thought of being permanently single, as opposed to what I was doing before: liking relationships in the abstract but not having the drive/interest/instinct to actually try one out and wondering when it would finally “click” and the “right person” would show up. Now I know better than to get wrapped up in that and know that I can (and need to) pursue happiness purely on my own terms. Relying on other people to provide you with happiness is foolish.
    Discovering asexuality and aromanticism also introduced me to a bunch of stuff about gender. While that is taking a fair bit longer, it is helping me sort out my complicated feelings toward gender and how I relate (or rather don’t relate) to it.

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