(A)sexuality: The Making of a Movement

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Oct 23-29 is Asexual Awareness Week! That’s right now!

To celebrate, SEX+STL refrained from all sexual activity this week.

Just kidding.

Actually, we hosted a screening last week of the new documentary working the nationwide film festival circuit: Asexuality: The Making of a Movement.

I like to joke that I’m the opposite of asexual. Does that make me zsexual?

I used to think asexuals didn’t exist, that they were like Bigfoot or the Tooth Fairy. Four years ago I met my friend Shelley, who kindly edified me on the whole concept. Since then I have met a few asexuals, or “Aces” for short.

Since only 1% of the population is asexual, I was really excited to watch this film and learn about the growing awareness movement. More and more people are getting a chance to talk and connect with people who share their differences, so very cool.

The leader of the asexual movement is David Jay, who was featured in the film and founded the most popular asexual resource website, AVEN. Amazingly, Jay’s mom was able to join us for the movie – she lives in St. Louis! She told us he just started dating a nice asexual girl a couple months ago. She is extremely proud of her son.

Sex educators Carol “Sex-Positive” Queen and Dan “Doubting Thomas” Savage were interviewed in the film. I favor Carol’s accepting approach more so than Dan’s speculation that people who say they are asexual are really closeted gays. It does make me wonder – how many asexuals are mentally healthy, and how many are “messed up”? Probably the numbers are proportionate to the rest of society. I have to say, I know way more mentally unhealthy folks than I do Aces.

The film was a fascinating mindbender with a surprise twist at the end, but the talk that followed was even more thought-provoking.

I am not asexual. I am zsexual.

I learned the term QUILTBAG, a more inclusive alphabet soup than the old standby, LGBTQ, which always made me think of BLTs.

The film brought up a correlation to asexuality and Asperger’s Syndrome. That was interesting, because I know quite a few people with Asperger’s and they are horny as hell! But they have the challenge of being socially awkward, which leads to a lot of frustration.

In the film, a group of asexuals marched in the San Francisco Pride parade, where they encountered ignorance and intolerance. Watching them march in the parade, they seemed out of place there, and it made me wonder:

Have we outgrown Pride movement?

Does Pride need to be replaced with Sex-Positive, a more inclusive and embracing concept?

My friend Shelley and her fellow asexual friend answered our questions. I asked if it was annoying to be constantly bombarded by sex in the media, comparing it to vegetarians having to deal with all the meat billboards, or alcoholics with all the booze ads.

Shelley replied that at first it used to annoy her, but she has learned to tune it out, kindof like hemorrhoid cream commercials – she doesn’t have hemorrhoids, so it doesn’t apply to her.

Our resident Aces reiterated something stated in the film, that intimacy does not equal sex. However, most people have trouble wrapping their head around that and see them as one and the same.

In fact, many asexuals who are seeking partners or companions have to deal with this issue. Frustrated at the end, David Jay states, “No one forms intimacy on their own terms.” I disagree with that, but then again, you are creating a relationship with another person, and that tends to require some degree of compromise – I mean, would you date a clone of yourself?

My favorite lightbulb moment of the evening was realizing the similarities between being polyamorous and asexual – two very different lifestyle orientations, but both often grow up feeling weird and different, and only after discovering a term or community do they feel relief and that things make sense.

Again, it really comes down to being sex-positive – accepting people for who they are. Embracing differences. Respecting others.

Shelley has volunteered to be SEX+STL’s resident asexual representative, so if you have any questions about asexuality, contact us and we’ll connect you/get your questions answered.

PS: Here’s a little Asexual humor for you in the form of comics by Poly in Pictures. Enjoy!

PS2: My closing question to you: the Peter Pan guy in Florida, Randy Conston – do you think he’s asexual?

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2 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you guys screened this documentary!

    In regard to how many aces are healthy and how many are messed up, there’s a research paper by Lori Brotto called Asexuality: A Mixed Methods Approach (which is temporarily available on my site as part of some curriculum I put together: http://asexualsexologist.wordpress.com/aaw-curriculum/readingwatching-assignment/) but I’ll save you some time, here’s a quote from the conclusion: Similar to the proposition by Bogaert (2006), the
    findings suggested that asexuals are a mentally healthy group
    who continue to seek out and engage in rewarding, emotionally
    connected relationships. Brotto does address that there seems to be a correlation between Aspergers, autism and asexuality but no causation – obviously we don’t all have Aspergers or autism and if people with aspergers and autism are allowed to be gay or straight or bi, without their aspergers or autism being the cause of their orientation, then why does it have to be the cause with aces?

    As far as poly and ace being wo very different lifestyle orientations… they aren’t actually mutually exclusive. One’s a relationship-orientation and ones a sexual-orientation. I’m ace and poly and while I’d guess it’s a minority of aces who are poly, I think it’s a higher percentage of aces who are poly than the percentage of the general population. I suppose not all aces get into their first real relationships and respond to advances with well… couldn’t you just have sex with someone else? but that always made sense to me 🙂

    I’m also super glad to hear that you’ve got Shelley as Sex+STL’s personal Ace contact, she’s great!

  2. …apparently this doesn’t recognize quote marks? I definitely used them at least twice and they didn’t show up either time. But here’s the quote from the Brotto paper set apart:

    Similar to the proposition by Bogaert (2006), the
    findings suggested that asexuals are a mentally healthy group
    who continue to seek out and engage in rewarding, emotionally
    connected relationships.

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