a grey area of asexuality

Warning: This post discusses general paraphilia, fetishes and sexual deviation. There are no specific details, but if this could be upsetting for you, or is not your cup of tea, please don’t continue reading.  There are also mentions of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Again, please stay safe and exercise discretion. 


A few months ago, I came out as ace (asexual), and I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking and researching since then to figure out exactly how I feel and where I fit on the asexual spectrum.

For anyone who doesn’t know, asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction to anyone. I will assume that those of you reading this know a bit about asexuality but if you aren’t familiar with it, please read my coming out post, explore a bit around AVEN, or read this article as I think it’s a really relateable discussion on how it can feel to be asexual.

1. Grey-asexuality/ Greysexuality

grey-asexual playing card

grey-asexual playing card

Grey-asexuality is an umbrella term used to cover people who identify pretty closely with asexual, but feel that this term doesn’t quite describe them accurately. This could be because someone does feel sexual attraction sometimes, but it’s usually so rare, or of such low strength that they feel they may as well not experience it at all, or feel that they fit better with the asexual community most of the time.

It could also be because they need very specific criteria to be met, or they need to get to know someone very well before sexual attraction is possible (see demisexuality).

2. My situation

The issue I have with my identity is that I can confidently say that I do not experience sexual attraction to anyone, ever. I’m led to believe this is pretty uncommon in asexuals because, if you’ve never experienced something, how can you confidently say that you don’t experience it? But I can say that I don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone, because I experience sexual attraction to specific circumstances, situations and events. It’s odd – I believe the official term is fetish or paraphilia. (Edit: Check out this great discussion on paraphilia).

I won’t get into specifics, but the issue is, I don’t really feel 100% happy with the label asexual, because I do experience some form of sexual attraction. I also don’t really feel comfortable with the label grey-asexual though, because grey-asexuality still refers to intermittent sexual attraction towards people. My paraphilia involves people by nature, but the people are unimportant. Their age, gender, appearance, personality, etc. doesn’t matter to me at all. ( They probably don’t even have to be people – they could be aliens.) I am not attracted to the people involved, they are just required tools for the situation to occur.

According to the definitions, I technically am asexual, because I do not experience sexual attraction to anyone. Equally, I am not grey-asexual, because I don’t intermittently experience sexual attraction to anyone – I never do. But I am different from what I believe is a large portion of the asexual community.

3. Pansexuality

pansexual flag

pansexual pride flag

For a while, I identified as pansexual, because I felt sexual attraction, and the genders of the people involved didn’t matter. But the moment I discovered the term asexuality, I realised that I wasn’t really attracted to the people involved in my paraphilia, so much as indifferent. I dont really think I can say I’m sexually attracted to someone if I don’t really care who they are.

4. Autochorrissexualism

autochorrissexual

autochorrissexual flag

Autochorrissexualism is a disconnection between oneself and a sexual target/object of arousal. It may involve sexual fantasies, or arousal in response to erotica or pornography, but lacking any desire to be a participant in the sexual activities therein.

This is a category that falls under the asexual umbrella. The argument for this is that someone who is autochorrissexual experiences arousal and not attraction, as the person does not want to actually do anything with the object of their arousal. For me, this is another label that kind of fits, but for me, it focuses too much on the willingness to participate. Like before, whether or not I actually participate is irrelevant for the attraction/arousal. It is the situation that matters.

5. Why is it difficult to find a label for this?

I seriously doubt I am the only person who is in this situation. The problem is that the topic of paraphilia and fetishes is very taboo.

For many people, their sexual fantasies cannot ever realistically be realised because they would be harmful, or illegal, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have these feelings. But because the very topic is so taboo, not only can these people never realise their deepest sexual fantasies, but they now have to live their whole life repressing their desires for fear of being discovered. They have to carry this huge socially-taboo secret, and bear their own disgust and self-loathing their entire life in secrecy because of who they are and how they were born. These people are probably the ones who need most someone to confide in, to talk to, to share the burden. But they never can.

Looking back, I can clearly remember being unusually interested from as young as four years old. I didn’t link it with sex becuase I had no idea what that was, but the feeling was the same. It wasn’t something I chose – it was something that came naturally. Just like being gay, or straight, or any other orientation. I was born like this. 

Do I have a disorder? Officially, not unless my paraphilia causes me distress or causes me to harm others. (which it doesn’t).

Am I weird? Probably. But not just because of this.

Am I broken? Again, probably. But because of this? No. This is just a part of who I am and I can’t imagine being any other way because I never have been.

That being said, I was extremely worried as a teenager that I was broken. I knew only what society and the media had taught me – people with unusual sexual interests were bad. They were scary. They were dangerous. I had unusual sexual interests, therefore, I was bad, scary and dangerous. I knew I would have to repress my desires – probably forever – and I knew from tv that people who did that inevitably slipped up one day and spilled the beans, or went crazy and took out their repressed desires on someone else – hurting them in the process. I was utterly terrified that I would end up like that. I actually sat down and promised myself that, if I ever felt like I was going to hurt someone because of my paraphilia, I would kill myself to make sure I never could. But I was still scared that I wouldn’t see it coming – that it would sneak up on me and I would hurt someone before I knew what I’d done. I was scared for my parents finding out that I was a monster, some horrible freak. I was deeply and truly afraid of myself and I seriously considered committing suicide to save the world from me.

It was actually a speech at a school assembly that pulled me through that low. The principal stood on the stage and told us that all our lives we’d been learning, and it was kind of like a loan. We’d been given all this knowledge for 15 years of our lives, so that when we came out of school we could use it to put something back into the world and make a positive difference.

At first, I was angry. I was furious! I had something unfinished, a debt unpaid, that I’d had no choice in. I hadn’t signed up for anything, and no one had told me. But after I thought about it a bit, I realised that if I was willing to check out of the world in order to prevent something bad,  it meant that I was passionate enough about what happened in the world to be able to make a positive difference. I could confidently say that I wanted to make a positive difference in the world, so I decided that was what I’d do. Once I’d repaid my debt and added something good, I could revisit my debate about whether or not to check out. And that’s how I made it through.

So I can understand why people don’t want to talk about these things. It’s a painful and a scary topic to approach. But we can’t help what we are and how we work. Being unusual does not automatically make us dangerous. What can be done about it though? I don’t know.

6. Asexual Fetishists

asexual furry

asexual furry flag

I literally just came across this discussion with an asexual sneeze fetishist who describes their experience as very similar to mine. So it seems that asexual fetishist is a term that, theoretically, is in use and describes my feelings. (Yay!)

I can see why it’s taken me so long to come across this term though. It’s not exactly something that I would be comfortable openly identifying as.

“Hi everyone, I’m Q and I’m an asexual fetishist.”

-silence-

Yeah. It’s accurate, but… kinda crude. So I guess for now… I’ll stick with asexual-not-disclosing-more-info. That was a long rant just to arrive back in the same place that I started… Thanks for reading all the way through if you made it this far!

What are your opinions on the topic? Have you experienced something similar or related? I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Q

the mental toll of long-term illness

It has been 5 years since I got sick.

People get sick all the time, so this shouldn’t be a big deal or an important event. I was a pretty healthy kid, got my yearly dose of the flu-like virus that was going around for that year and that was all. I haven’t been hospitalised since I was a toddler who snuck away to jump on the bed and foolishly fell off (something I’m sure most toddlers do at some point… it’s kind of a rite of passage). My point is that any form of prolonged or drawn out illness was a completely foreign concept for me.

For anyone who is jumping to conclusions, no, I didn’t get cancer or some terminal illness. Nothing as devastating or serious as that. I got glandular fever. Mononucleosis. One little virus. Again, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. But it was.

I was in my final year of high school, and it was an important year for me. I was taking subjects centred around science and maths and was to sit four scholarship exams. I didn’t have time to be unwell. So when my throat swelled to the point that I could barely hear, eat or drink, I went to school regardless. I would heal, I assumed. The doctor said it was strep throat (even though I told her I didn’t think it was). She gave me anitibiotics (which didn’t work and gave me a rash), and the tests came back negative for strep.

Eventually the swelling went down (mostly, I still have lumps in my throat though) but I didn’t fully get better. I was tired all the time, and I would get pains in my joints, mild fevers and just general unwell-symptoms regularly at the slightest overexertion. Emotionally, I was numb. I couldn’t feel anything at all. I just stuck to my routine of get up, school, sleep. Someone suggested I exercise, so I went for a swim and was bed-ridden for a week afer. Coincidence? I tried it again months later with the same result. I stopped going out with friends with the explanation that I just didn’t feel well, but people started to question it because I couldn’t be sick all the time, could I?

After about six months of my parents and my doctor telling me I would be fine and I was overreacting, I got a full blown flu and couldn’t leave the house (or my bed) for two weeks. I remember one morning, very clearly, lying in bed and hurting every time I tried to breathe. Suddenly I was completely convinced that I would not get better from this. I was certain right there in that moment that I would die. It was like I could actually feel Death standing in the doorway, considering me, deciding whether to take me now or come back later. I was utterly terrified and… sad. Sad, that I wouldn’t get to find out what the world had planned for me. I looked at my life and realised that I hadn’t really planned anything for my adulthood anyway. I could never really picture myself living beyond adolescence, and this just seemed to convince me further that I was about to die. It calmed me a little, thinking that this was how it was always meant to be. Clearly I was wrong about that, but it helped me at the time. My mum walked through the doorway around then and said that she would take me to the doctor. I remember clearly that the sun came out from behind a cloud. The doctor took one look at me (I had lost almost 10kg in the two weeks I had been housebound) and sent me for a blood test at last (what I had asked for at the beginning).

Glandular fever had effectively killed my immune system. The flu I’d caught as a result had taken down my thyroid. This meant I was burning energy faster than I could put it in. There was not much they could do, I had to wait to heal, but it was good to finally know that it wasn’t all in my head and that I wasn’t overreacting. I felt justified in my silent struggle. I picked up a few more symptoms to add to the list – heart palpitations and panic attacks – but I stopped losing weight. And as long as I didn’t exercise, or go out, or do anything that remotely resembled a life outside of my room and my classroom, I didn’t get sick. I dropped all my extra curricular activites, even those I had stuck with for ten years. It probably should have hurt, but I didn’t feel much. It was necessary.

My grades ended up being really good. I found that I was too tired and empty to care much at the time. (I am incredibly proud of my achievements now though). I wanted to study medicine, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to. I’d had a year to become very familiar with what I was no longer capable of. I was very careful in my first year of engineering at university. I didn’t drink, I didn’t exercise, I didn’t go out. I went to uni, then I came home and studied. I got good grades, I liked what I was doing, I could live with that.

Then part way through second year, two and a half years after getting sick, I started to feel again. And if I thought I was emotionally repressed before all this happened, that was nothing compared to how it felt to have two years worth of feelings suddenly start to stir. There was a lot of anger and feelings of injustice, a lot of regret for the time that I had lost and all I had missed out on, regret at my loss of fitness, hobbies, friends. There was a lot of feeling misunderstood, because I would try and try and try to explain this horrible mess of feelings to people, to help them to understand, but there was just nothing there for them to comprehend. It was all “Yeah, we know you got sick. That happened like two years ago. But you’re better now.” It seems that being sick and out-of-action for so long isn’t really something you can understand well unless you’ve experienced it. Even though my body was finally starting to pull itself together physically, the mental damage of being taken down so suddenly and for so long ran so much deeper than the physical sickness.

So I coped the only way I could. I started drinking so I could forget. I was an engineering student, it was expected of me. That’s what I told myself anyway. After a year and a half of that, I was beginning to realise it was getting out of hand. It got to the point where I was having at least one drink every day, I was showing up to classes and tests moderately intoxicated and I was struggling to remember what I was supposed to be learning. I can’t actually remember what it was that triggered this epiphany (which probably says enough in itself) but from one day to the next I decided to stop. Which wasn’t very fun. And the fact that it wasn’t very fun was the most frightening part. I hadn’t realised that I was dependant. Mood swings, shakiness, paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations. I lastest a month, maybe two, before I caved and just about coma’d myself with a bottle of wine. I was so violently ill that night. Apparently that was what I needed though because I haven’t needed to get drunk like that since. I still drink, on occasion, but it doesn’t have nearly the same attraction for me as it did, I don’t crave it, and I don’t lose control like I used to.

I started running last year.

It seems insignificant, but it really isn’t. The fact that I can do this, without getting sick, that I can actually start to work on bringing my fitness levels back up, that I can actually do something to get physically healthier is a massive achievement and a huge weight off my shoulders. I’m not a fitness freak, but I was always active, and I absolutely hate it when I can’t do something, so this was a huge deal. I was taking back control. I would be all right. And a couple of months after I had started running, I woke up one morning and I realised… I felt content. I could face the world today, and I wouldn’t just be tolerating it. I felt as though I could begin to participate in life again. That morning, I looked at my ceiling and I decided, finally, that I was better. Almost four years after I got sick, and I was telling myself that I was fully recovered now. I was okay. And I was.

A year later, and I’ve hardly thought about the time when I was sick. The experience has definitely changed me and perhaps made me a harder person than I was, but I have learnt so much about my body and how people cope with illness. This post is really just for me to express my gratitude that I did finally get through that mess even though there were many times that I thought I never would. I hope that it can help someone who is struggling to hold onto the hope that there is an end to the pain, even if it’s a long journey away.

But really, the most important lesson I’ve learnt from all of this is to take care of yourself and listen to your body.

Q

just a word of thanks

I was (finally) writing my About page yesterday, and realised something quite important. Although I built this blog with a desire to help others find people like them and come to terms with who they are, the simple act of writing about my deepest thoughts and feelings has already started to help me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

After only 2 weeks, a handful of posts, and a little time each day browsing other wonderful blogs, I feel as though I have become a completely different person. I have opened up about things that I have kept locked inside since I was about seven years old (or younger! But I only remember actively locking them inside from seven…) and I could never have imagined how free I now feel as a result.

Most of the time I feel calm and at ease in my own skin, truly and deeply accepting of who I am on the inside once I finally admitted it to a small and wonderful section of the world. But more importantly, I’ve now noticed that I’m actually beginning to really feel things again. Anger, frustration, sadness, joy – they are all so much sharper to me now, almost as though I’ve allowed myself to feel them properly now that I’m taking steps to properly accept myself. And it feels good to properly feel again.

And so I wanted to thank you all for being receptive to my posts, my rants, my stories. Thank you for making me feel welcome, and for giving me somewhere safe to express and accept myself. I hope you all find similar peace and support in your own blogospheres.

Q

a word on darkness

Warning – this post discusses dark and dangerous topics, especially suicide and its motivations. I urge you to carefully consider this warning and not to read if this could upset you.


The thing about life, is that it is supposed to hurt. If it doesn’t hurt you aren’t doing it right. Or rather, if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong, but you’re learning from your mistakes, which is what life is about.

But so many people get caught up in pain, because it’s such a strong and overpowering feeling at times. It’s terrifyingly easy to forget that there is much, much more to life than that! Life is an eternal balancing act. And when you get right down to it, what do we live for but the paralysing beauty that is so powerful and moving that our faces crumple and we are reduced to tears? The world in which we live is so full of this unending beauty that I fear we could surely die just from exposure to it! And that’s the precise moment when I know that I’m broken, that I’ve had too much to drink, too little sleep. When I just sit and cry for the perfection of the world and fear that I’ll shatter against such a bright light.

This is what my mind is like – at it’s good end.

It is irrational and it is beautiful and it is terrifying.

And I cling to it in complete terror and in the knowledge that such a wondrous feeling of clarity will soon be gone, stolen for who knows how long? Replaced by darkness, the other end of the scale, the polar opposite to joy, clarity, understanding, peace.

What comes after is pain, fear, self-doubt, anger. What comes after is a raw desire for the end. A complete conviction that the world conspires against you, that you are not meant to be here, that you are nothing, worthless. It takes effort – more effort than imaginable – to hold on, to stay in the world.

And then there is numbness. You’ve burnt all your joy and wonder, you’ve burnt all your despair. There is nothing left and you are hollow. There is no colour and there is no motivation. There are only whatever routines you have built for yourself, whatever safety nets you have put in place. You are utterly alone and only your past self, the version of you who took it upon themself in a moment of a clarity to look out for this version of you they knew would come, is keeping you alive. Only they are guiding you through the day. Without them you would surely fall.

Every iteration of this cycle is a terrible risk. I can only pray that the cycle will not collapse or become too unbalanced. I have no control, only the best safety measures that I can put in place. I know in my heart that if the cycles were to spiral out of control, my safety measures would not be enough, and I fear so much that this eventuality will come to pass.

People often say that they do not understand the motivations behind suicide. That is because sometimes there are none. Sometimes, people simply lose the battle with life. And sometimes it is a horrible choice, between that and something worse. I think, what if my cycles between joy and misery fluctuated instead towards hatred and violence? If I was afraid I could hurt someone, if I could lose my head and kill someone? I would take my own life over that risk. I would rather die a selfish coward than a monster, and a murderer.  When proper control over your actions is a luxury you were not granted in life, I cannot blame anyone for taking control in the only way they can.

I went to a funeral for a young man who took his own life and I couldn’t get over the fact that everyone was so angry. Yes, I agree that the loss of that young and brilliant life was indeed sad, that there was a lot of potential for good from him! But, if he was in the process of losing a losing battle with himself, if he was on the brink of deviating from that brilliant and good path that he had set himself on, I simply could not see his decision as a waste. If the bad that he prevented outweighed the bad that he caused by his actions…

Yes, life is precious and a wonderful gift and it should be fought for and preserved! But we should not be blind to situations where life should be relinquished. We should not blame and shame the people who have to make the decisions without considering their unvoiced struggles. Life is so individual. And we must all individually face our own battles and make our own choices.

My heart breaks for everyone who is brave enough to be true to themselves.

Q

silentlyqueer: Who am I and why am I here?

Well to begin, my name is Q, and I’m a white 20-something year old just trying to make my way through life. In a lot of ways I’m pretty content. I have a great family, a great education, and I live in a peaceful little paradise at the bottom of the world.  So what could I possibly have to blog about?

Well if you’ve been lured here by the title of my blog, you might have some clue. Yes, on the outside I’m incredibly privileged (and extremely grateful for everything life has just handed to me!), but on the inside I’m a little bit different in a number of ways.

For starters, I was raised to not ask for things and to make the most of everything that I had. Yes, I was one of those kids who used the pencil right down to the last few centimetres, and kept a treasure trove of tiny pieces of eraser that my friends couldn’t be bothered with anymore. I never throw out paper if there is still a side that can be written or drawn on, and I take great pride in appreciating and caring for everything I own. I learnt from a very young age that I really didn’t need the latest gadget, or toy to be happy. In fact, I never had to worry about losing or breaking toys I didn’t have and I saw this as a huge plus! The only thing I really wanted was a gameboy color and a pokemon game when they came out. But of course, I couldn’t ask for this. So I saved. At $2 pocket money a week, I saved up for over a year to get that gameboy. I still have it today.

But this is all a digression. The point I’m trying to make is that I don’t tend to really talk about the things I want in my life. I’m extremely introverted when it comes to my personal opinions and feelings, and in social situations I tend to focus on other people’s lives and problems. But there are things I’ve wanted through my life that are pretty unconventional. That I haven’t told people about. Hence the ‘silent’ part of my blog title. (Yes, its an ironic title. I am breaking my silence simply by having this blog!)

So really, the aim of this blog is simply to share my story. A perspective on a slightly unusual life that otherwise wouldn’t have been heard. Why am I doing this publicly? Because I know from first-hand experience (by living life!) that things can be tough and stressful in general, and we (as people) tend to get through the rough patches by talking to each other. But there are some things that are very hard for people to talk about. And if you feel you can’t talk about something, it can make everything seem so much harder. I want to show anyone out there who is a little like me (or not like me at all) that you can be happy, that you can be an amazing person, that things can work out, even if you’re a little (or a lot) different. I have learnt a lot through growing up silently queer – beautiful things and horrible things. I’d like to share some of these things with anyone that they could help.

So, in summary:

  • I’m a bit odd and I’d like to share my story with you
  • The purpose of this is to help others to understand and figure things out in their lives, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to chat about something I’ve brought up.

Specific topics that I’d like to cover include:

  • sexuality
  • gender identity
  • perceptions, assumptions and labelling people
  • different forms of intelligence
  • mental health and mental illness
  • physical illness and death
  • substance use and abuse
  • different kinds of relationships
  • sprituality and a higher purpose
  • general happiness and wellbeing

And that’s the end of my first post!

Q