Ace = Asexual

Pierre Troubetskoy, SummertimeOne of the letters sometimes added on the end of LGBT is A for Asexual. Here I am in our sexual culture, somewhat bemused. So often on the telly I see people go into bars to pick someone up- usually of the opposite sex, occasionally of the same sex, and it is quite alien to my experience. I read that men think of sex however many times it is an hour or a minute, and feel some relief. It sounds really distracting.

Now, on “Masters of Sex”, for the first time I see an asexual couple, portrayed as that. He is unable to sustain an erection. She suffers vaginismus, which I understand from the programme means that her muscles tighten and she cannot be penetrated. This seems to have arisen from incest when she was around twelve: she first remembered that her brother had forced himself on her, but then he told her it had been her idea, because she had not wanted him to go and play with someone else. Together they watch cosy American rom-coms, where nice people who really like each other also fall in love, and European art films where unlikeable people who hate each other smoulder then have violent sex.

Being Asexual seems to make life simpler. Perhaps the grass is not greener for the Normals. Then there are self-named “demi-sexuals”, who cannot get aroused with another without a romantic attachment. Some say they desire a romantic relationship, but not a sexual one. I don’t know how normal “demi-sexual” is, but not being like that seems horrible to me: the thought of having a physical appetite and just using someone to scratch an itch, picked up in a bar or dating website, repels me. And seems quite normal.

Winterhalter, Feodora zu Hohenlohe-LangenburgThe lovely Sarah Harnetty followed me. She says while asexuals want the others to empathise, we have to empathise with the range of sexual intensity. It is not “us” and “them”, it is a range of sexual response. Religious rules on sex are silly because there is one rule for all, such as that a Mormon should not be alone with a person of the opposite sex. For some, that would be an unbearable temptation.

Most of the time I am not aroused, but I am not entirely over my obsession, three years later. I chatted to a visitor at the Quaker meeting, really enjoyed it, and proposed a hug. We hugged, and I felt a sudden sharp sensation in my crotch. It was nice, I think it was reciprocal, and I feel wistful about her. I remark on this as it is very rare and surprising for me. Then I met a bloke who is as keen on backgammon as I am, and since I have not had a serious partner- backgammon partner- for yonks, I asked for his phone number. He drove me home, and proposed cooking for me then having sex. He finds me “really attractive”, he said. What good taste he has.



ImageAs the internet is insecure, you should write nothing on it you would not write on a postcard. So says a guide to net use written in the 90s, shared on a yahoo group this year. That was never my way.

I like the lesbian blog Nothing Nice, Nothing Sweet. Some of her pictures I find bizarre, but this entry I find a complete turn on. Since seeing it I have returned to one website source of her photos, and been overwhelmed, and wept with the shame of it more than once. There’s another truth of the internet, it assuages the most recondite tastes.

ImageThough not particularly unusual in my case. It is recognised in lesbian culture in the words “butch” and “femme”, and generally with heterosexual couples in the phrase “she wears the trousers in that relationship”. When I was seeing C we referred more than once to the relationship of George Sand and Frederic Chopin.

ImageIn the conservative circles I come from, it is not admired. It is a guilty secret spoken of in mocking whispers. I have imbibed that, and so it is only now, aged 46, that I say, this is who I am. This is what I desire. This I know.

I thought myself asexual for a time, and now believe I was in denial rather than asexual. My shame was so strong that I repressed my sexuality. I experience no sense of choice in the matter, if I could change it I would, and being unable to change it and only suffering pain in the attempt to deny it I now try admitting it, which can hardly be worse. If my sexuality is not innate it is created by unconscious forces on which my conscious resistance has had no effect. I find ridiculous the new age reincarnation theory that we, as angels, choose the life experiences we will learn from in this particular journey in a body, but it has the value that it helps one to accept what must be accepted.

A gay friend who died years ago told me that he had been both masculine and feminine in his semi-permanent relationships- I am not sure which words he used- and he found that moving from one role in one relationship to the Imageother in another, he felt changes in his personality, and in the location and effect of erogenous zones on his body. Anyone who has experienced that or knows how common it is please leave a comment. I do not think that is my inner self. My attempts at expressing conventional male heterosexuality might have worked better if it were.

I am 46, and making the kind of realisation that a lesbian brought up in a conservative Evangelical household in Texas might make in her early 20s. I don’t know what to do with it, apart from that resistance does no good. I come out to myself.

I have had two cuddles in the past month- cuddles rather than hugs, with friends- where I have just dissociated and stiffened. Just possibly, acceptance might make a cuddle a pleasant thing. You might just see a Truffaut gamine in that last picture, but I don’t.