Hello. Thank you for agreeing to do an interview with me. What should I call you?
Where are you from?
A small town in rural South Dakota.
Tell me about yourself.
I’m a 28-year-old math teacher. I’m asexual and aromantic. I live with my two cats, Mirage and Macduff.
In your experience, what is it like to be asexual in your culture?
I’m actually going to go on a little bit of a tangent here to talk about a specific part of culture: religion. I come from a strong Catholic family, went to Catholic grade school for six years, still attend Mass regularly, and even teach first grade religious education at my church. Broadly speaking, the Catholic church as a whole tends to have two prevailing (and somewhat conflicting) attitudes regarding sexuality.
It’s bad. Sex is bad, sexual thoughts are bad, everything about our (admittedly over-sexualized) culture is a sin, and we need to abstain from literally everything regarding sex until marriage.
Once you hit marriage, though, it’s all good. Required, even. I was recently a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding, and I’d never realized just how much is said about children. Being open to the gift of children, raising them in the faith, etc. They don’t even have kids yet. It’s just expected. It’s accepted as a given. The stereotype of huge Catholic families has at least some grounds in reality.
Growing up with these two ideas, I initially just assumed I was doing the first one right. Abstaining from sexual activities was never an issue, because I never had any desire to do those things in the first place. It wasn’t until I was able to put a name to my own sexuality that I realized I wasn’t just better at resisting temptation, that other people actually had those thoughts and desires on a regular basis.
Really, this just contributes to the idea that asexuality is just celibacy. I’m not just waiting for the “right one.” I’m not just being a “good Catholic” by waiting until marriage. There is no end date, no point at which this is suddenly going to change. It’s part of who I am.
Have you come out to people? How were their reactions?
I’m out to my siblings and cousins, as well as an aunt and uncle … but, notably, not my parents.
My sister was the first person I came out to, and I benefited from the fact that she already knew what asexuality was; one of my cousins had previously come out as asexual. My sister’s reaction was something along the lines of, “Yeah, that makes sense.” I’d never been one to gossip with her about a crush or how “hot” someone was. I hadn’t been in a relationship since high school, and the sole relationship I did have in high school had consisted of my boyfriend and me eating lunch together and going to one school dance. So it didn’t exactly come as a shock to either her or any of the other people I’ve come out to.
As for why I haven’t come out to my parents, the simple truth is that I don’t need the drama I know will follow. I can already hear the response of, “Oh, you just haven’t met the right person yet.” It’s a conversation I don’t need to have at this point. Which is also the reason I don’t make a point of coming out to people at work, around town, etc. I live in a small, conservative community where everybody knows everybody else’s business, and I don’t need to have that conversation with everyone.
On social media, I’m what I’ll call semi-out. I regularly post stuff from ace pages, and I’ve used an ace frame for my profile pic during pride week, but it’s not something I’m especially vocal about if you’re not looking for it.
Tell me about your relationships.
Aside from the aforementioned boyfriend in high school, I haven’t been in any relationships and don’t really have any interest in one.
Let’s talk about representation in the media. Are there any characters that you can identify with?
No canon ones spring to mind, but my favorite ace headcanon is Bilbo Baggins, mostly because he’s not the sort of ace character we usually see. So much of the time, ace characters are socially awkward, nerdy, cold, distant, or even literally robots or aliens. Not that it’s bad to have some ace characters like that, (I’m a socially awkward nerd myself) but if that’s all people see, it leads to some pretty strong misconceptions about the community as a whole.
So Bilbo’s a breath of fresh air. He has healthy relationships with other characters. He raises his nephew Frodo, and no one bats an eye at the fact that he lives to a ripe old age and still doesn’t settle down and find himself a nice Hobbit-wife. On top of that, he’s the protagonist. (Well, of The Hobbit, at least.) He’s unambiguously heroic to the point that he willingly gives up the One Ring, and he gets a pretty satisfying happy ending to boot. That’s the kind of representation we need more of.
(Of course, it’d be nice if his aceness were canon, but in fairness to Tolkien, that’s not really a word anyone would have used sixty-plus years ago.)
Anything you’d like to see more (or less) of in the ace community?
Selfishly, it’d be nice to have some sort of organized group near where I live, but considering I live in the absolute middle of nowhere, I’ll just have to make do with the internet community for the time being.
Are you doing anything pride-related during Asexual Awareness Week 2018?
Considering where I live, there’s not a lot of pride-related stuff going on near me. I updated my Facebook profile pic with a nice ace frame. That counts, right?