Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 29 January 2011

Asexuality, the LGBT Community and Visibility

I’ve been thinking a lot about visibility, partially because I’ve been reading a few blogs about it over at Writing From Factor X and partially because of the way I handle my asexuality in my life. I consider myself part of the LGBT community because I’m panromantic, so I could very well end up with a same-sex partner, and I’m gender-neutral so some trans issues affect my life (plus of course, I live with a Transgender Woman). So for a long while I did the whole LGBT club scene, since my LGBT friends were going and I wanted to hang out with them.

The thing is, though, that the club scene is really not for me. Besides the fact that alcohol flows very freely and I don’t drink at all, everything in the clubs is based on sex, sex, sex. It’s a rather odd place for an asexual to find hirself, and I constantly feel out of place there. For a while I could kind of “pass” as sexual because I enjoy puns so I’ve caught on to the art of making sexual jokes, and I fantasized about being called up on stage at one of the drag shows and answering, “Neither” to the question, “Are you gay or straight?” or “Are you a top or a bottom?” I never got called up to the stage, which was just as well, because even though I wanted very badly to do that, I also was nervous that the drag queen hosting the thing would react with some variation of, “You’re shitting me. Of course you have to be one or the other.” I mean, they tend not to acknowledge bisexuality at the clubs here. So what made me think they would care to be educated about the existence of asexuality?

In addition to the clubs, Hadassah and I very often hung out with friends at local restaurants or bars. These friends were very sexual, constantly flirting and touching each other, making sexual references every other second. (I’m putting this all in the past tense because I don’t see myself going to these gatherings anymore.) I wasn’t quite able to keep up, and I’d generally sit and listen and try to observe these people, try to figure out what made them act the way they did, try to imagine what it would feel like to be super sexual. It was interesting for me, although of course I was not turned on by any of their antics. They all seemed to know that I wasn’t into sex and didn’t approach me, so it was all good, except I felt awkward and out of place there. I didn’t and don’t hate that I am asexual, but when everyone around me is talking about nothing but sex… well, I felt kind of like a freak because I didn’t “get it.”

Anyway, the last time I went to one of these parties, this girl came up to me and I could tell she was looking for some kind of sexual contact. I kind of… froze. She asked if I was nervous and I wasn’t nervous, I just didn’t know how to react, so I told her I wasn’t. She offered me her butt to spank. I declined as politely as possible.

But that was kind of the culmination of my awkwardness in this group, and it made me realise that my days of observing and trying to empathize were over. I just really don’t want to go back to those kinds of parties. I already knew to avoid certain events that were fetish based or sex based — Hadassah helped by telling me sometimes, “This is one I’m going to by myself” or “You wouldn’t enjoy yourself here.”  But once I realised how awkward I felt at that last “safer” party, I realised that even though I openly admit that I am asexual and talk about it if asked, and even though I’ve advertised that I have an asexual character in Shades of Gay and intend for her to have her own book later on, I was… well, trying to pass as sexual. And I couldn’t do it, not at all, and I just never knew what to say or do around these people.

I don’t believe that I always have to hang out in purely asexual groups, but it’s becoming more and more obvious to me that I need asexual friends as well, and that even though I might like osme of the people in this sexual group, I don’t really have a way to connect with them. So I started a meetup group for Aces in Raleigh.

I’m really nervous about this because I keep thinking, what if there just aren’t enough Aces in Raleigh to have a group? Plus I’m not really good at organising this kind of thing, although I’m doing fine at co-organising the book signing party Hadassah and I are having.

So far one person has joined and is looking for others who identify as asexual so she doesn’t feel alone. So this is a good thing, and hopefully more people will join as well.

In the meantime, i feel very conflicted about the LGBT community. I’m part of it, but I’m not. Kinda sad, really.

But I won’t miss having to explain that no, an asexual is not a person who “enjoys doing themselves”.



  1. The “T” is and has been silent in LGBT. Probably no room for an “A”! Unless the group sees a chance to add phantom power.
    I enjoy your blog!

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