With our TV shows sliding into obscurity (it seems even a bus-stop marketing campaign couldn’t save the wretched Playing It Straight from its graveyard timeslot destiny), a new contender for quirky sexuality of choice has emerged -“ and it’s all about not getting any.
New Scientist magazine is calling it an asexual revolution and, like all modern revolutions, it comes with T-shirts and online communities. No surprises there. Without sex to occupy one’s mind, there is plenty of time for printing T-shirts.
Stranger than the Asexuals Party Hardest and I’m Asexual, And So Is My Significant Other T-shirts -“ not to mention the uneffable lunchboxes and Frisbees -“ is the idea of asexuality as a cultural struggle, compared to the gay rights movement of the 70s. The asexuals of the world are coming out. They’re here, they’re not queer (but they’re not not queer either) and they’re thinking about gardening. Or something.
Oddly, members of the self-affirming asexual community, those who buy and wear the T-shirts and chest-thump about their asexual identities, position themselves side-by-side with the gay community. They argue over the inherent queerness of asexuality and state that asexuality exists within those romantically (but not sexually) attracted to the same sex, the opposite sex or both sexes. The website asexuality.org talks about the benefits of coming out as asexual, like no longer having to pretend to enjoy looking at a colleague’s legs in a short skirt to fit in with the office mates.
The difference between being queer and being asexual, according to asexuality.org, is that asexuality is not an oppressive state so the asexuals of the world haven’t sought each other out. Until now. There are online communities of leather spinster asexuals, Japanese asexuals and asexuals who just want to celebrate non-sexual friendships.
I reckon everyone has asexual impulses from time to time. Sometimes we feel tired. Or bored. We’ve come out of bad relationships or had a horror one-nighter. And I’m sure a lot of gay men have left a SOPV thinking they might not do that again. But, as representatives of a sexual minority we must give our asexual brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt. And next time a relationship looks like it’s heading to bed death, do a quick Google search on asexuality. Your partner might just be having some coming out issues.