actuallyacespectrum

I’m glad I haven’t recently encountered much in the way of people dividing asexual people by romantic orientation. What bothers me most about people doing that is that it leaves me completely uncertain about where I stand. None of the few most popular labels for romantic orientation – heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, or aromantic – seems to apply to me satisfactorily, and I don’t think I can ever unreservedly choose one of them. When asked about it I tentatively describe myself as grey-panromantic. But the truth is that I don’t know, nor do I think I’ll ever know, what romance or romantic attraction is, or whether those are things that I experience. And I’m in a relationship that people sometimes assume is romantic from our behaviour, but just what parts of our relationship appear romantic I’m not sure.

It’s especially frustrating when someone makes a clear dividing line between homoromantic, biromantic, and panromantic asexual people on one side and heteroromantic and aromantic aces on the other, to claim that, say, people in the former category can claim to possess a queer orientation while people in the latter category cannot. Because then there’s a Schrödinger’s cat sort of phenomenon whereby if I count as panromantic, then my orientation passes some test of queerness, but if I count as aromantic, there’s nothing queer about me, and since I don’t know and probably never will know whether I count as panromantic or aromantic, I have to conclude that my orientation is simultaneously queer and not queer.* But in my actual day-to-day life, whether or not I can call my orientation queer has little bearing on the way I actually experience things. Either way my passing as straight relies on me concealing certain aspects of my relationship with my partner. Either way it’s really awkward for me when someone assumes that I have a sexual interest in women (and usually also that said interest is among my top concerns). Either way I spent my adolescence and the first years of my young adulthood completely baffled about my sexuality.

* In practice, I avoid referring to myself or my orientation as queer, partly because of my perpetual uncertainty about whether it’s a word I can claim for myself and partly because I want no part of any debate over the precise demarcation of the community of people it describes.

Grey(A)ness subsets

idk if defining more subsets of grey(a)sexuality is. even useful, for folks, because yeah the safety and comfort and accuracy of grey vagueness. i chose “grey” for a lot of reasons

but as an exercise, to counter the “grey means low frequency” and demisexual as the only subset identity (which isn’t even always considered a subset but an overlapping set)…let’s explore some possible identities that might fall under a grey umbrella:

quoisexual / wtfsexual:

  • similar to how quoiromantic/wtfromantic often means romantic orientation and/or romantic attraction do not make sense for a person, instead sexual orientation and/or attraction does not make sense as a concept or an experience
  • can also mean someone for whom the experience of sexual attraction is confusing, someone who cannot tell if they experience sexual attraction or if what they experience is indeed sexual attraction (except, perhaps, through extensive abstract analysis, or through abstraction of a pattern of data sets acquired only through experimentation)
  • can also mean someone who disidentifies with the concept of sexual attraction altogether, as a social construct or as not applicable to themself or otherwise
  • can also be used instead of “questioning,” which indicates an ongoing search for a better term; quoisexual or wtfsexual instead indicates a troubled history with sexual orientation words/identities, and perhaps a frustration with searching, or finding such a search unhelpful; instead using quoisexual/wtfsexual as a more permanent, stable, unchanging, fixed point.  ((this is the one that applies to me))

semisexual: ((i’ve seen this one around, like on the Demi Grace forums, but never a proper definition? the tags also seem small and undefined.  so if this contradicts previous ones, or what people who identify as semisexual use it to mean, please disregard!! but this is my understanding and what i think would be useful, albeit still broad))

  • someone who may “qualify” as “technically” allosexual, but who finds asexuality and/or greyness a useful, integral, and/or relevant concept/identity, enough to warrant a word.

hyposexual: ((again, seen it around, mostly on Demi Grace, but never defined, and here is my interpretation)

  • most simply, someone who feels “less” sexual, enough to warrant a word.
  • perhaps someone who experiences sexual attraction with low frequency, or with low intensity, or at a level that could “technically” be allosexual but coupled with such a low sex drive and/or motivation/interest in pursuing it, that they find asexuality and/or greyness a useful, integral, and/or relevant concept/identity.

the key points for all of these are:

  • enough to warrant a word ((the key to addressing the “but this describes XX% large amount of people who don’t need this word” and “isn’t that already allosexual/etc” imo))
  • finds grey(a)ness and/or asexuality relevant, useful, and/or necessary to explain before explaining their sexuality

because that’s how these words work, is that they’re useful tools and they build on / modify / add to / rework current understandings

discussion!!

Greyness: 301

Okay. I am finally sorting through my notes from the SF Ace Unconference, and we had an amazing discussion at the Grey/Demi/Semi Caucus. I hope to expand more on this later, and have bolded the parts that resonate most with me. For now:

- Greyness as confusing. As not being sure whether sexual attraction is happening or not, has happened or not, will keep happening or not. This aspect hardly ever gets mentioned in 101s, but almost always in my convos with actual grey folk. The “wtf?? maybe?? is that what this is?? I can’t tell?” factor.

- Ace/Allo is not a binary OR a spectrum. There is no linear way to map greyness between ace/allo.

- Conceptualizing “who am I / would I be sexually attracted to” based on a database of past experiences. Not abstract fantasy, not being able to fantasize about a generic or cobbled-together figure. Being able to deduce patterns from past experience on a cognitive, analytical level (eg “they’ve all been brunettes”), not a visceral one. “Type” as a statistical probability model.

- Repulsion as a clearer experence than attraction. Still confusing sometimes. Building a database of repulsion and analyzing for a pattern, again. Not knowing in advance if an act with a person will be attractive/repulsive/indifferent, because again, abstract fantasy (even with a specific person, if a certain act you haven’t done with them yet).

- Not being able to use past experience before identifying as grey and using the grey lens, because can’t be sure of misinterpreting or reinterpreting to fit a theory. How to tell if your sexuality shifted, or was fluid? How to tell if you were simply unaware? How to tell if you were processing things differently than you are now?

- What is curiosity, versus attraction? How to tell the difference, and how to explore responsibly? What is “using” people, what is okay? (What needs to be disclosed, and when, and how do you when it’s unclear in the first place?)

- Sexual attraction as a social construct, like biological sex or gender. Useful for many people, but…limited? Weaponized, harmful, albeit not innately? Overapplied, compulsory?

- Greyness as privacy. Umbrella terms as comfortably vague, ala queer. So personal, may not even want a “clear” identity. What to disclose to who and when.

- Layers of unconscious, subconscious, conscious. Where is sexual attraction? When it’s buried at the bottom of the ocean, is hauling it up worth the effort? What about when it keeps slipping away before you can get a good look at it? What if trying to look at it makes it disappear?

- Lock-down mechanisms, being able to turn off sexual attraction based on context, inappropriateness. In a public setting, or if someone is unavailable (monogamously committed, asexual, not into you, etc). Is that repression? Is it inherently bad? Is it useful? How do you unlock, if context changes? Certainly this experience seems alien to media, which is often about unstoppable attraction. Can allo people do this? Do they notice? How conscious is it anyway?

- What about having the opportunity to be sexually attracted? What if you’re into non-binary people and there’s no one out near you? What if you’re at an all-girl school and you like boys? What if you’re homeschooled? What if you’re disabled and don’t get out much?

These are the grey conversations I want to have.

Hey Aces!

Want to meet up on omegle at 7:30 pm EST? (appr 1 hour from now)

Enter ‘asexuality’ as your interest and do video or text chat (personally I prefer text, but there might be some on video)

Maybe for our “code word” we’ll write the “type” of ace we are?

ie: ace of spades = aromantic; ace of hearts = romantic; ace of diamonds = demisexual; ace of clubs = grey-a

Add any suggestions you want, and maybe like this post if you’ll be there!

Thanks

goddamn i always feel so refreshed after chatting with ace folks.

like. i’ve been through this circumtuitous-as-fuck journey. i legit had a sex phobia. i legit was repressed queer. i was influenced by dysphoria and by ocd/depression and by scary violent sexual intrusive thoughts and by anti-depressants/psych meds and by religious upbringing.

i’ve been concern-trolled by so many people. my ex was questioning-grey/ace and was chill with the waning of my sex drive / attraction feels, until i speculated about the psych meds influencing it – then it was horrible and needed immediate fixing, even though i wasn’t distressed by it. (i’m sure it helped that said ex was going off psych meds, too.)

many times i’ve revisited and worried if i “should” id as ace-spectrum – as grey-a, as grey, as umbrella-term ace. and lately as i’m becoming able to identify (and allow myself to consciously feel) more and more sexual attraction, and as i reconceptualize myself as really-low-sex-drive-with-tons-of-hangups… i’ve started revisiting that question. that, and whether it’s useful to describe myself as ace to potential sexual partners, or whether it is a stalling/distancing tactic or is unnecessary/more confusing than helpful or is too vague.

but dang. all of two sentences about ace stuff with ace folks, and suddenly, of course it’s okay that i’m super wary of and uncomfortable with describing myself as allosexual. how obvious that that’s both true and valid. and wow, instant recentering of “is it useful?” as the only important question.

i mean, obviously i do need to parse through whether i’m using it as an avoidance tactic. so far my progress with being present in body and deprogramming and figuring out my actual desires, has been amazing. and i don’t want to stop, even though it’s massively hard.

but it’s my call, and my word to use. more and more i’m coming to love the dual definition, how it acknowledges that sure we can try to cover what people mean by it (and that’s often about sexual attraction–although i am thinking, now, about the ‘low intensity’ clause and its relation to sex drive and to me), but also the word is for anyone who finds it useful. even if they don’t fit the exact definition. if aceness, in all its broadness, is relevant to your explanation/understanding of your grey/a/sexuality, you get to call yourself ace-spectrum if you want.

so damn empowering.

haha i literally, like. even as i notice attraction to people more, and even as i get better ideas of what i might like to do. there’s this giant hurdle of “wow effort, not worth it” like, activation energy or something. “ah yes, that person draws my attention. ah yes, i would probably enjoy doing xyz with that person. well that’s sure good to know” guh even with people who are interested in me and pursuing me. a lot of the time i’m just like. “communicate? and be in the mood? frick. seduce me maybe?? good luck” goddd i just. sometimes i’m even irritated by this, i’m like “self i know you like this thing with this person, they would like to do this thing with you, what is the problem” but i just. can’t make myself interested and this is why i’m p sure my sexuality is highly kink-centric and involves music and often homestuck