I identify as asexual. That's an easier way to explain it, as I'm actually really more a grey-A/grace, specifically demisexual. Human sexuality, guys. It's complicated.
The point is, I don't ever feel physically/sexually attracted to someone... unless I've known them a while and I've formed a strong bond with them. And even knowing them a while and bonding with them isn't a guarantee. That's a lot to explain to people, so I usually just say that I'm asexual should the topic ever come up. It hasn't come up all that often.
For the record, I'm hetero-romantic, so I tend to form romantic bonds with men.
I've copped a lot of flack from people close to me when I've told them this. I've gotten everything you might expect from people who haven't really bothered to educate themselves about human sexuality. The most annoying opinion I've ever received was, "Maybe it's just that you've never had a good experience."
It's true. I haven't. But I highly suspect that that's a symptom, not the cause.
I'm not going to get into all the shitty ways people erase asexuality. That's not the point of today's post. The point of today's post is that I got an email from someone who had read Human and knew of my sexual identity. I'm paraphrasing, but the email basically said this:
"I really liked Human. And Phew! Those sex scenes! Are you sure you're asexual?"
Yes. Yes, I'm sure.
I spent a lot of time - most of my life, in fact - thinking that I was broken, that something was wrong with me, that I was a freak. Sure that there must be a way to fix the thing that was broken in me, I started researching. A lot. More than you could ever think possible. I was determined to fix myself.
Turns out, I'm not broken at all. I'm just atypical. The story of my frakkin' life!
Now, despite being annoying - when someone tells you they identify as something, it's not your job to question it. Your job is to nod your head and say, "Okay. Cool." or something similar - it was actually very flattering. Why?
Well, I touched briefly on it yesterday.
It means that I successfully portrayed something that was outside of my own lived experience. I wrote convincingly about something I really don't know all that much about, and I did it so well, that the reader who emailed me thought that my sexual identity was in question.
So, yay me!...?
Granted, it's not that hard to get at least a little knowledgeable in the field. Societal obsession with sex is frakking everywhere.
Still, the mark of a successful writer is to convincingly write from a perspective not of their own. This is why I get really pissy with people who give a free pass to male writers who so poorly depict female characters. "Women are complicated" isn't an excuse. If a male writer is unable to convincingly portray a female character, then he isn't a good writer.
If a female writer isn't able to convincingly portray a male character, she is not a good writer.
If an asexual cannot convincingly portray a sexual character, they are not a good writer.
And so on and so forth.
So, as irritated as I was with the questioning of my identity, I was also quite flattered. It means that I am, at the very least, an adequate writer.
And that's not nothing.
Now I'm off to paint.