Hello. Thank you for agreeing to do an interview with me. What should I call you?
My name is Tara.
Tell me about yourself.
I am a 30-something Jewish American wife and mother. I am a heteroromantic asexual. I am hard-of-hearing and have worn hearing aids since the age of 3. I also have anxiety. I love baseball in a way/to an extent that most people don’t understand. I am a Myers Briggs ISFJ, and it is the most spot-on description of myself that I’ve ever seen. I am a dog person. Music is the language of my soul.
Do you feel like parts of your identity are conflicting?
Yes. I’ve known I wanted to be a mom since I was old enough to know what a mom was, and when I realized I was asexual, it took me a long time to figure out how to reconcile the two. I feel like people who encounter me first as a mother or wife assume that I have sex, and that has always made me uncomfortable.
Have you come out to people? How were their reactions?
I have come out to most of my family and close friends directly, and am also open about my asexuality on facebook. People have generally been pretty accepting and reacted positively (my husband’s family and our friends are very diverse when it comes to the LGBTQIA spectrums, so most of them have encountered someone coming out before, although I am the first openly asexual person many of them have known), although I do get a LOT of misguided questions about my “reasons” for not having sex. I’ve heard a lot of “have you had your hormones checked?”, “you’re just scared”, and my personal (non-)favorite, “were you sexually abused as a child?” I got that last one from people including my mom AND my gynecologist. I was not abused as a child, and asking me that is offensive both to me (invalidates my sexual orientation/identity) and to people who have experienced childhood abuse/trauma (who may or may not be asexual, as the two are not related!). I have not come out at work, and don’t plan to. It doesn’t seem relevant and has never really come up.
What would you say are some advantages of being asexual either in general or for you personally?
I feel like my relationships (both romantic and platonic) are more stable, because they are based on emotional connection and strong communication, and they aren’t threatened by sexual attraction or lack thereof. I also feel like being asexual in a world where most allosexual people have never heard of asexuality has made me a better communicator, and given me the ability and the language to verbally express my needs.
What are some disadvantages?
I think it’s very confusing going through puberty/high school/college and never really feeling like you fit in. It took me until well into my 20s to figure out that I was asexual, and a lot of that was because I didn’t know it was a thing. I think kids today are lucky, because there is more awareness and access to resources that allow them to discover that they are asexual at an earlier age, so they never have to wonder if they are broken, or wonder if they’re missing out. Those are all things I experienced a lot because the information just wasn’t available at that time. Another disadvantage I’ve experienced is the dismissal of asexuality by people who aren’t educated about it, especially in the medical field. I’ve been belittled and treated like there was something wrong with me just for being asexual by gynecologists, nurses, and other medical professionals. It’s getting better, but especially when encountering someone from an older generation, it’s tiresome to always have to explain myself. I also struggled a lot with figuring out how to have kids. I’m so thankful for my friend who suggested an option that could actually work for me! But being asexual was a major roadblock for me in that regard, and pushed my timeline later than I would have preferred it to be.
Tell me about your relationships.
I have been married to my husband (who is allosexual) for 7 years, and we’ve been together for 12 years total. I was 22 when we met, and he was my first real relationship. I didn’t realize that I was asexual until several years into our relationship, but we have always had very open communication about sexual activity (he actually asked me if he could kiss me at the end of our first date). For a while, we were working towards trying to make sex work, but it never did. We stopped working on sex to start focusing on making babies, although I did leave the door open to potentially try sex again once we’re done with that process. He’s been very understanding, and he has a relatively low sex drive anyway, but I have always worried that someday he’ll get sick of waiting for me and leave. Those fears were somewhat assuaged once we got married, but they still float up every now and then. I’ve still never successfully had sex, and I am 100% okay with that. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, and my asexuality was definitely a roadblock to that. Since sex wasn’t an option, we turned to alternative methods. We ended up using a variation of the “turkey baster” method, but with a smaller instrument. It took about 6 months before I was able to even get it in far enough to have a chance for it to work. Finally, a year and a half after we started officially trying, we conceived our daughter, who is now 3 years old and is my world!
Prior to my husband, I was in a long-term unrequited love situation with a friend (I was in love with him). We met in college, and after he graduated, we continued our friendship online and occasionally on the phone. It was sometimes friends with benefits (via webcam), and one time I went to visit him and we kissed (he was my first kiss, I was 20 years old). He tried to do some other stuff, but I didn’t feel anything, which confused me. I wish I had known about asexuality then, although my experience with him was one reason it took me a long time to feel like I could fully identify as asexual, because I WAS physically attracted to him, but when it came time to actually do stuff, my body had zero interest. It was only after I learned about the different types of attraction (specifically the differentiation between sexual and sensual attraction) that I was able to reconcile my experience with my otherwise obvious asexuality.
Before him, I had a long-term crush from 8th grade all the way through high school. I guess you could say I’m a serial monogamist. My crushes have always started with personality, and later I grow to appreciate their looks.
Let’s talk about representation in the media. Are there any characters that you can identify with?
I honestly never thought about it until very recently. The first character I remember relating to as far as sexuality was Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. The creators of the show have said that Sheldon is not asexual, but the way he approaches sex and sexual relationships speaks very strongly of asexuality to me. More recently, I heard about the Netflix series BoJack Horseman, and that they had a confirmed asexual character. I started watching it a few weeks ago, and when I got to the part where the character (Todd Chavez) comes out, it actually made me kind of uncomfortable how relatable his storyline was. I guess when you’re an introvert and kind of just assumed that you’ll never see anyone like you in mainstream media, it’s a bit of a system shock to see it displayed so openly for all to see. I would like to see more representation, especially in books (I’m a big reader)! But I feel like there have been significant strides toward more ace visibility in mainstream media in recent years.
Anything you’d like to see more (or less) of in the ace community?
I’d like to see more acceptance of everyone who identifies under the ace umbrella. Gatekeeping, questioning, and shaming can be so harmful to someone who is simply trying to get more information and figure themself out. We all know that as well as anyone, so there’s really no excuse for us to do it to anyone else! I’d also like to see more educational outreach – let’s try to get more visibility with younger people, in schools, and in the community at large, so that people know that asexuality is a thing that exists.
Are you doing anything pride-related during Asexual Awareness Week 2018?
Every year for AAW, I do a series of educational posts on my personal facebook page throughout the week, so that my friends/family/acquaintances can learn more about asexuality, what it is, what it’s not, and also my own personal experience with it. I’ve gotten great feedback in the past, so I’m already gathering my list of articles and infographics to share this year!