I’m an alien. I’m from planet Asexual. Many of us are sent to Earth in human form and raised in Earthling families who all suffer a form of amnesia about the whole alien thing— and there’s no way to get back to planet Asexual from here.
There’s an entire dimension of the human experience that just doesn’t apply to me. I’m not missing or missing out on sexuality any more than a circle is missing out on corners. Sexuality, to me or my life, is simply not applicable. I interact with people, navigate around the social world, and have relationships that are sometimes intense and committed— all without sexuality. These elusive sexual attractions and desires that Earthlings keeps talking about, and the sexual acts they seem so eager to partake in, just don’t figure in to my experience. And that works for me.
But Earthlings often don’t understand that. I’ve been out as asexual for a good 5 years… and with interviews and educational advocacy, petitions and pride parades, I’m pretty out. Everyone around me knows that asexual people exist. And yet… Earthlings worry that because I don’t date, I must be lonely (I’m not), and they feel like they’re doing me some special favour by acknowledging the most important person in my life because said person is “just a friend”. Apparently, they understand that I don’t want sex— they’ve just missed the rest. It’s also tiresome when people don’t believe that while I’m not in fact gay, I’m darn well not straight.
I can understand Earthlings’ confusion when they encounter their very first Asexual. I have to be patient, not because the onus *should be* on me to explain everything, but because we live in an imperfect world where it is. It sucks, but until our existence is widely accepted on Earth, we can either stay in our space-ship closets or spend inordinate amount of time and energy coming out ad nauseam. I deal better with nausea than with small spaces, personally. Apparently that makes me a perpetually-on-call public educator. But since asexuality is one of those complex, multidimensional things, even when people do come to a basic grasp of asexuality, they won’t necessarily understand what it means to be asexual. Yes, we’re all from the same planet, but just as all Earthlings are different, so are all Asexuals.
Now, people who know about asexuality rarely accuse me of faking my asexuality— but other asexuals face this accusation, particularly those with mixed heritage, with weak ties to the homeworld, or who come from the grey zone where some people do cultivate various flavours of sexuality in well-defined fields. But when it comes to other things, I befuddle Earthlings and some Asexuals alike. It might be easier if my existence were safe and didn’t challenge any of their other assumptions. If I had a romantic orientation (or even was completely aromantic). If I had a gender, beyond what other people are constantly (inappropriately) trying to assign me. If I could take two steps without stumbling upon something personally political— if I wasn’t for instance passionately feminist and sex-positive. The problem is that I *experience* my asexuality, my lack of gender and my politics all together.
I realised I was asexual the moment I realised that the rest of the world wasn’t, and that helped me understand that sexuality really is important in most people’s lives. I didn’t understand that before— asexuality filtered that out without my knowing, the same way it shielded me from much of the gendering process of this misogynist patriarchy. Really accepting asexuality means accepting that some people just don’t want or need sexuality in their lives, and that being asexual isn’t about submitting to some sexual morality. Believing in *asexual* people means believing in *sexual* people. It means accepting that most people *do* want and need sexuality in their lives, and maybe— just maybe— empowered sexuality and shameless desires are *not* about sexual depravity or corruption.
But the politics don’t stop there. I happen to be a queer asexual in the midst of asexual / queer controversy. Are asexuals queer? All asexuals, even the straight ones? How about the ones who don’t want to be associated in any way with LGBT movements? Personally, I think “queer” goes beyond simply being a “sexual minority”— queer is self-consciously political, even when it isn’t intentional. It’s about reclaiming the mark of outsiderness and using that unapologetically to shake things up. I’m a queer asexual, but it’s not my asexuality per se that makes me queer— it’s not about being from another planet, it’s about not belonging in this one. No reason why both Earthlings and Asexuals who don’t fit into heteronormative-sexualnormative Earth culture can’t all be queer together. There’s room on this planet for all of us—Earthlings and Asexuals, queerfolk and everyone else. We just need to shuffle some things around.
In the meantime, everyone will be well aware that I’m an alien, and I’m okay with that. After all, there is an entire dimension of the human experience that just doesn’t apply to me.