Greyromanticism 301

The Thinking Asexual:

This is a really excellent post on grey-romanticism that I highly recommend everyone read. There’s so little writing out there about greyromanticism, despite the fact that plenty of people on the aro spectrum are grey! Greyromanticism covers such a wide variety of experiences, and this post lists a lot of those possibilities.

Originally posted on The Asexual Agenda:

When I was putting together my linkspam on greyness, I don’t think I managed to find a single piece on greyromanticism.  That was a little strange to me, ‘cause I know a fair number of greyromantic folks!  But if you look online, there are a couple of people writing about demiromanticism and a fair number writing about wtfromanticism, but for some reason, nobody’s really talking about greyromanticism.  When I tried to start talking about greyromanticism more on tumblr, I started getting a lot of questions along the lines of, “Hey, can you tell me more about this greyromanticism thing?”  So I figured that it was probably time to write a post about greyromanticism that I could link people to when they asked.  Plus, I think it’s time to have a larger public conversation about greyromanticism.  (To that end, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section!)

Thus…

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The Outlier

February’s theme for Carnival of Aces is “cross-community connections.” I wasn’t planning on writing a contribution for it, but now I’m inspired to write a very informal and largely personal post that happens to qualify.

I’m an asexual who is committed to lifelong celibacy, despite having an active libido and (as far as I know) next to no sex-repulsion. I don’t understand or empathize with asexuals who have sex they don’t want to have, who think that they should be willing to get fucked for romance and love, who buy into sexual society’s message that wanting/having/and liking sex is the only way to be normal and liberated. I’m of the opinion that if you’re at all uncomfortable with sex, even if you aren’t repulsed, you shouldn’t do it. I think there should be far more sexual people going celibate in mixed romantic relationships with aces than there are. I think there should be far more aces who challenge sexual people they date to become celibate, instead of folding to the expectation that it’s the ace who’ll be making the sexual sacrifices without question. I think there oughta be more romantic aces who choose to stay single until they meet someone willing to have a nonsexual romantic relationship than there are and an active, community-wide interrogation of the idea that romantic relationships are the end goal into which aces should be pouring all of their social energy into.

I’m aromantic. I’m romance-repulsed. But I also want long-term, domestic friends I can have committed, intentional relationships with—friends who don’t date other people because they too are perma-single aromantics. I’m an aro who wants a lot of sensual, affectionate, physical intimacy in my close friendships: someone who loves to cuddle, who would like to kiss my passionate friends sometimes, who likes skin to skin contact and hugs and general physical closeness with people I’m emotionally attached to. I’m an aro who is capable of very deep, intense love and emotion, however rarely it happens.

I refuse to date romantic people in order to access love, intimacy, affection, attention, and value. I don’t see anything appealing about romantic relationships at all. Romance and people whose lives revolve around it are irritating at best. At their worst, they make me want to buy an island in the Caribbean and live there alone. It doesn’t matter if they’re sexual or asexual. It doesn’t matter if they’re monogamous or poly. It doesn’t matter if they’re fucking or not. Romance supremacy is romance supremacy, and nothing is more repellant to me. I don’t feel the need to play nice with romantics, whether in ace spaces or the world at large; I’m not going to tip toe around them to keep them comfortable in their assumption that they’re the normal ones and their way of organizing and creating relationships is the default because it’s natural or objectively the best. I’m never going to let them rest easy in their shitty friendship practices or their narrow-minded worldview concerning the nature of human relationships, behavior, and feelings.

I’ve seen romantic aces demonstrate romance supremacy in their words and actions, in education and visibility efforts as well as in online ace spaces. I’ve seen them express beliefs and feelings about romantic relationships as compared to friendship that are no different than what I typically expect of romantic-sexual people. Aromantics may make up one quarter of the asexual community—a pretty damn high number—but we’re still ignored, dismissed, misunderstood, and disrespected. In the end, it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is, when it comes to being an asshole in the name of romance. And even putting the assholery aside, there just doesn’t seem to be much about romantic aces that I can relate to. I’m years past figuring out the complexities of sexuality and making peace with my own asexuality, so all the basic level shit that new asexuals often talk about isn’t personally relevant to me. And all the noise romantic aces make about dating, living in dysfunctional or challenging romantic relationships, breaking up with romantic partners over sex, longing for their dream romance isn’t just irrelevant to me, it’s annoying. As annoying as it would be coming from sexual people.

Even politically speaking, I’m at odds with most of the asexual community once we get past the message that asexuality exists. For a long time, I’ve observed in the asexual visibility movement a certain degree of wanting sexual society to validate us, wanting to be accepted as “normal,” wanting to assimilate into their world without changing it much. I realize that once romantic aces get basic education about what asexuality means out of the way, their goals amount to finding romantic relationships that work for them, often with sexual people. They use romance as a way to normalize themselves in the eyes of sexual people, just as some try to win acceptance by reassuring sexual people that aces can still fuck (for “love”). I’ve got absolutely no stake in any of that shit, nor am I on board with the messages themselves.

I’m a relationship anarchist who doesn’t fuck or do romance. If polyamory is a lifestyle on the margins of American society, relationship anarchy is in the margins of polyamory—especially my nonsexual, nonromantic relationship anarchy. I’m happy to report that some polyamorous romantic-sexual people acknowledge the validity of nonsexual love and include nonsexual relationships in their own polycules. Some romantic asexuals are poly, and some aromantics (sexual and ace) are poly. But it seems that most poly people are very sex-centric. Furthermore, my relationship anarchy is a far cry from polyamorous romantic-sexual couples in open marriages who often practice a kind of hierarchical poly and categorize their romantic relationships vs. friendships just as normatively as monogamists do. Romance and sex are still the king and queen of most poly people’s lives, and nonromantic/nonsexual friendship is still an afterthought.

I’m a butch, but not a lesbian. I’m also a genderqueer nonbinary person who’s trying to sort out my complicated feelings about my chest while deconstructing any internalized femmephobia I may have. I’ve recently started to think about the fact that I, like so many others, have been attempting to break out of the gender binary while continuing to observe its rules. I want to be read and respected as masculine, as butch, as nonbinary, but I don’t think I want to have to bind my chest or make all feminine markers off-limits on my body. I don’t want to buy into the farce of masculinity as the neutral default. I don’t want that to be my androgyny, but I don’t know if any other androgyny can exist in the world at large where the gender binary is everywhere. Mostly, I’ve decided that this conundrum is less about my gender identity and more about learning how to let go of the desire for other people’s validation. Good to know that’s still something I have to work on.

Whether or not asexuals and aromantics belong in the LGBTQ community for their asexuality and aromanticism (not their corresponding romantic and sexual orientations) is a question that people still debate and fight over. I’ve long felt like asexuals specifically don’t need to latch on to an LGBTQ community that is sexual at its core, made of people who aren’t much different than heterosexuals in this regard. I acknowledge that there are homo-, bi-, and panromantic asexuals, many of whom will date LGBTQ sexual people and even fuck those people or marry them. But the way I see it, asexuals as a group have very different needs, experiences, and goals than queer sexual people do as a group. I acknowledge that there are aromantic queer sexual people, but how welcome they are in the LGBTQ community that is dominated by romantics remains to be seen on a grand scale.

I was around to witness the firestorm of anti-asexual hate explode out of the LGBTQ community online during its first wave, and I guess that encouraged and solidified my own aversion to unifying the asexual community with the LGBTQ community. I know that there are plenty of LGBTQ sexual people who welcome asexuals and aromantics into their own lives, personal communities, and spaces as fellow queers, and that’s cool of them. But I’m still not sold on the idea of lumping aces and aros in with the LGBTQ romantic-sexual people of the world. When sex and marriage are increasingly centralized in the mainstream LGBTQ/Gay Inc. political movement and in the lives of the more privileged (read: white, cis, middle and upper class) romantic-sexual queers, it’s hard for me to see what the average asexual or aromantic person has to gain from inclusion in that movement and the queer community itself.

Furthermore, I’m never going to allow anyone to forget that LGBTQ sexual people, the same as their heterosexual counterparts, are the abusers and rapists of asexuals who try to connect with them romantically. They are also fueling the engine of amatonormativity in our culture, drinking the Kool-Aid of romance fantasy no less than straight people and abandoning the truly queer family configurations and lifestyles that used to be all LGBTQ people had as a source of love and support, before they had the option to get on the straight path to the nuclear family. They can herald the empowerment and liberation to be found in fucking freely as queer people (disguising compulsory sexuality as sex positivity), then in the same breath turn around and slut shame aromantic queers who don’t want to date them, marry them, or fall in line with the homonormative image of the monogamous, romantic same-sex married couple that puts straight people at ease.

On a personal level, I’m in a strange position because the world and even my own queer friends usually look at me and see someone queer. My gender makes me queer, my relationship style makes me queer, my sexuality makes me queer, my politics and beliefs make me queer. It’s not even so much a conclusion they reach after running an in-depth analysis. It’s more instinctual: even if strangers can never guess that I’m an aromantic asexual genderqueer person, they can often tell I’m not heterosexual. There’s something very not-straight about me, even just visually. I think that they usually just mistake me for gay; after all, most people only know about straight and gay as categories, forgetting about other queer sexualities, being ignorant of asexuality and aromanticism and gender identities other than cismale and cisfemale.

But I don’t feel queer. I don’t see myself as queer. Not really. Queerness seems to be all about sex and romance, about desires and dramas that I will never experience, about lifestyles that don’t include people like me and relationships like the ones I want. In my eyes, the world is divided into people who center romance and people who center friendship, and most queer sexual people, being romantic, fall into the first group no less and no differently than the vast majority of heterosexuals. Friendship doesn’t factor into heterosexuality or homosexuality, into being straight or being queer. Even friendship that goes far beyond what it’s supposed to be relative to romance. Even friendship that is physically intimate and emotionally passionate.

In terms of my queer qualifications, it doesn’t matter who I love, who I live with, who I make commitments with. It doesn’t matter if I kiss, cuddle, and caress people I love, and it doesn’t matter who those people are or what their genders are. It doesn’t matter that I reject monogamy, marriage, and the nuclear family. It doesn’t even really matter that I’m a nonbinary butch that can confuse strangers regarding what my gender is. If I’m not fucking and falling in love, if I’m not claiming the labels “gay” or “lesbian” or “bisexual,” if I’m not taking steps to change my body into one less gendered or at the very least doing everything I can to hide my assigned sex, I’m not queer enough to be queer.

And beyond the fact that I don’t need or want partnered sex to be part of my life, I also don’t have much in common with other asexuals, 75% of whom are romantic. In fact, I feel closer to aromantic sexual people than I do to romantic aces, even the aro sexual people who need to be sexually active pretty much all the time. It’s funny: I don’t relate to most asexuals who spend most of their time in ace spaces moaning about romance and how hard it is to date when you don’t like sex, and I also can’t personally relate to aromantic sexual people when it comes to the particular difficulties of having a sex life while avoiding romantic relationships. Fortunately, aromantics seem to share a lot of common feelings about friendship as the most important and appealing thing in life, regardless of sexual orientation, but the fact is, in aro spaces, there is a certain division between aces and sexual people. In many ways, it’s easier to be aro and ace, than it is to be aromantic and sexual. There are struggles that sexual aros live with that I will never have to deal with. And there are some sexual aros who would still like to center sexual relationships, even if nonromantic, in their lives rather than nonsexual friendship. It’s easier for me to feel connection with aros generally, including aro sexual people, than it is with romantic aces….. But ultimately, it’s only other aromantic asexuals who I fully belong with. And even there, it’s the aro aces who aren’t dating, who embrace their aromanticism, who want queerplatonic friendships and won’t bother trying to masquerade as romantic.

I’m the asexual in a world full of sexual people, and I will not fuck you. I’m the aromantic in a world full of romantics, and I will die before submitting to normative romantic relationships as a way to access love and priority. I’m the genderqueer person who doesn’t fall into the male-female binary, the butch with big tits who occasionally wears nail polish or leggings or eyeliner. I’m the relationship anarchist who centers friendship in my life.

I’m an outlier, any way you slice it. And to some degree, it’s the intersection of all these different identities—asexual, aromantic, genderqueer, butch, relationship anarchist—that places me in the margins of each individual community. It’s easy for me to see the fractures in these communities, easy for me to recognize that there isn’t any cohesion or unity across the board, that there’s more internal rifts than anyone wants to own up to. I do feel a sense of kinship with people who are LGBTQ and people who are asexual and people who are polyamorous. But ultimately, the community I want for myself is a community of permanently single aromantics whose lifestyles and value system reflect the same prioritization of friendship that I feel. Their sexual orientations and gender identities don’t matter much to me, in comparison to their singleness and their aromanticism.

I feel like an ally, a supporter, of all these different groups of people that I share certain traits with. But I don’t feel a sense of complete belonging with any group, except the aromantic asexuals who are like me.

The Romance Monopoly

On the long list of things that romantic people do and say that piss me off, the following has long been near the top of the list:

“I married my best friend!”

“I’m in love with my best friend!”

And any other expression of the idea that one’s romantic partner is also one’s “best friend.”

I acknowledge that friendship can be part of someone’s romantic relationship, and depending on how you look at it, a romantic relationship can actually be better off if friendship is a part of it. I also think that successful, long-term romantic relationships actually do evolve into a kind of friendship over time, shedding much of its romantic energy, and that this is often an inevitable consequence of being close to someone for many years. It’s not that I think there’s a problem with seeing your romantic partner as a friend.

What’s so annoying and sometimes even offensive to me about people who claim that their romantic partner is also their best friend comes down to the common social model of Romance Monopoly.

Merriam-Webster defines “monopoly” as: exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action; exclusive possession or control; a commodity controlled by one party. Usually, this is a term or phenomenon used in economics, and in the American economy, monopolies are frowned upon (and even illegal) because if you can only purchase a necessary good or service from one provider, that provider can overcharge their customers and still successfully turn a profit. Introducing a competitor in a particular market means that every company in that market has to keep their prices within range of each other; obviously, if you charge twice or three times as much as your competition when providing the same product or service at comparable quality, you’ll lose buyers. If you have no competition, you can charge whatever you want, you can under-produce which makes your product a limited resource that not everybody can access, you can get away with producing a product or service of lower quality, etc—because no matter what you do or don’t do, people are going to buy from you. There is no incentive to improve your product or service, to meet consumer demand, or set reasonable prices. Prohibiting monopolies is a way of preventing unethical or unreasonable behavior on the part of businesses.

So what do I mean by “The Romance Monopoly”?

The concept behind the romance monopoly is essentially:

By restricting access to commonly desired experiences, both behavioral and emotional, to romantic relationships, romantic people create a social system in which a person’s well-being and happiness is often dependent upon their participating in romantic relationships. The consequences of this are twofold: people often have a bullshit threshold in romantic relationships that is astronomically high, making it easier for abuse, unhappiness, and general dysfunction to continue unchecked or much longer than it would otherwise, because people are willing to put up with the negativity for the sake of maintaining access to those emotional and practical resources they can’t get anywhere else; second, the restriction of desirable resources to romantic relationships makes it possible and logical for romantic relationships to maintain its position at the top of the relationship hierarchy (both on an individual basis and on a broad, cultural level) regardless of how well that organization of relationships actually serves people involved. When romance monopolizes positive social experiences, friendship automatically has little value in comparison.

The Romantic-Sexual Relationship Hierarchy is intimately connected to amatonormativity. Let me remind you that amatonormativity is “the assumption that a central, exclusive, amorous (romantic) relationship is normal for humans, in that it is a universally shared goal, and that such a relationship is normative, in the sense that it should be aimed at in preference to other relationship types,” and that this is not just a personal attitude but a cultural paradigm, like heteronormativity. In fact, romance supremacy (the belief that romance is intrinsically superior to and more valuable than friendship and should be treated as such) and amatonormativity depend on each other for survival. Amatonormativity makes romance supremacy possible and vice versa, and if you destroy one, you inevitably destroy the other.

So here’s what society brainwashes you into believing: you should want and have romantic relationships, because that’s the only way to be “normal,” and you should see romantic relationships as superior to all other types, because romantic relationships are the one and only source of everything positive you need and desire to experience interactively with other human beings. All the affection, connection, intimacy, quality time, touch, trust, support, attention, sex, and commitment you might want or need to feel fulfilled, secure, valuable, etc can only come through romantic relationships, so if you reject romantic relationships, you reject all of those resources that you want and need for happiness and well-being. Because romantic relationships are the exclusive wellspring of these desired and necessary experiences, you should consider them significantly better and more important than any other kind of relationship, and if you don’t act like it, you’re a bad person who doesn’t deserve romantic relationships.

Then, we have pop culture’s messages about romance. The Romantic Happily Ever After Fantasy. Your One True Romantic Love is the only person you should want, the only person you should need, the only person who can or should satisfy your every physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual need and desire. And if the romantic partner you’ve got doesn’t meet those standards, you’re not with the right one. It’s wrong to want or need more than one romantic partner, and it’s wrong to want or need anything from anyone who is not your romantic partner. That’s part of the fantasy, after all, part of what makes the True Love story so romantic: the idea that once, you were an empty, incomplete, sad excuse for a person who was tortured with unfulfilled desire, and along came your One True Romantic Love, who had the sole power to complete, fulfill, and satisfy you, and with them, you experience a joy that is not otherwise possible.

That shit falls totally flat if you have more than one romantic partner that pleases you—or God forbid, you can find joy and fulfillment without romance. As it goes in economics, exclusivity and scarcity increase the value of a particular product or service. One way we determine specialness, whether we’re talking about a person, a diamond, or a type of relationship, is by how rare the thing in question is. The more common a thing, the lower its worth. Your average romantic monogamist can have 20 so-called “friends” but only one romantic partner, and that contrast increases the perceived worth and specialness of their romantic relationship. Notice how monogamous skeptics of polyamory often challenge poly people by asking, “Doesn’t adding a second (or third, etc) romantic partner to your life make your original romantic relationship less special?” The same sentiment is often taught regarding sex: “You should only have sex with someone you’re in love with, so that the sex is special. It’s not special if you’re screwing around with multiple people.” The rhetoric of romantic relationships, monogamy, romance supremacy, ideal sexual conduct, etc is more reflective of economics than anybody cares to acknowledge, but it should come as no surprise to you, considering how closely intertwined sex and romance are with capitalism in American culture. Sex sells, after all, and so does romance.

Romantic people who say their romantic partners are their best friends piss me off for a variety of reasons. First of all, this is the ultimate expression of romance monopoly: not only do these people reserve the vast majority of positive social experience to their romantic relationship but they take it so far as to bleed romance into friendship territory, creating a situation in which their romantic relationship quiet literally takes away most of the potential that their nonromantic friendships might have to provide desired experiences and resources. They don’t need or want anything significant from anyone on planet Earth besides their romantic partner, because they place both romantic and best friend expectations onto the same person, and by comparison, everybody else they know or might know is worthless. As a friend, you have nothing to offer someone who subscribes to romance monopoly, because everything they perceive as valuable comes only through their romantic relationship. You could offer all the love, care, affection, attention, trust, and intimacy in the world, and it will be met with indifference and ingratitude.

Second of all, naming your romantic partner as your best friend is a cop-out. You don’t have to actually do any of the emotional or practical work to create and maintain a real, nonromantic best friendship with someone because you have your romantic partner working double duty. You isolate yourself on a sort of emotional island with your romantic partner, so that nobody else can engage with you in meaningful ways or experience real intimacy and connection with you, maybe even out of the insecurity that if you or your romantic partner form friendships with other people equal or almost equal to your romantic relationship, that will somehow detract from the “specialness” of your romantic relationship. It’s a kind of emotional and social greed, mutually shared between romantic partners. (And there’s a lot of overlap between this and monogamy.)

Third, the idea that your romantic partner and your closest friend can or even should be the same person is a major reinforcement of romance monopoly on a functional level. Where there could be and once was a division of social roles in a person’s life, a distribution of emotional and behavioral functions amongst a network of lovers, friends, and family members, now there’s just this concentration of everything into one person, one relationship. That funneling of all positive experiences, responsibilities, and functions into the romantic relationship basically renders friendships and familial relationships superfluous. Unnecessary. Disposable. Easily neglected. And the flipside of this is, if your romantic relationship fails, you’re fucked. You lose not only the innate benefits of romance, but all those other emotional and practical resources that could’ve been reaped from friendship and family.

What does it say about you, if the only “best friend” you ever have is your romantic partner? You can only manage to create a best friendship with someone if you’re fucking the person and causing them to experience romantic feelings? Do you even know how to be close friends with another human being, in a nonsexual and nonromantic context? Do you have anything to offer someone in friendship, when you take the sexual and romantic elements away? Are you actually capable of loving another person, for nonsexual and nonromantic reasons? Are you yourself lovable nonromantically and nonsexually?

Because here’s the thing: romantic and sexual attraction often skew a person’s perception of someone else. It distorts your judgment of someone else’s character, their behavior, their treatment of you, their overall attractiveness and desirability. Sex and romance fool people into thinking that their lovers are better than they are, convince them into accepting treatment and behavior they would never otherwise accept. Friendship does no such thing. Nonromantic, nonsexual friendship is built on reality, not fantasy. We see our nonromantic, nonsexual friends for who they are, not who we want them to be. Sex and romance have a neurochemical power to build a kind of instant and/or pseudo-intimacy and closeness between people, people who don’t actually know each other; that intimacy and closeness are not earned, the way they are in nonromantic, nonsexual friendship. So, if you can only build intimacy and connection with someone if sex and romance do all the heavy-lifting for you, if sex and romance are necessary causes of someone else loving you and feeling attached to you, you’re probably not someone worth being close friends with, frankly.

One of two things must be true of people whose romantic partners are also their best friends:

1. They can’t actually form a best or particularly close friendship with someone in a nonromantic, nonsexual context—or they simply don’t value friendship, of the nonromantic and nonsexual variety. (Maybe both.) They only value romantic relationships, and calling their romantic partner their “best friend” is really just a nice way of saying that their romantic partner is the only person they have a close, meaningful relationship with.

2. They had a nonromantic, nonsexual best friend prior to getting married or pairing up with their romantic partner, and upon entering their romantic relationship, they basically demoted their ex-best friend to a lower friendship status, so they could rank their romantic partner at the top of both their overall social pyramid and at the top of their friendship group.

In either case, these people are not ones you want to get mixed up with if you’re looking for serious, meaningful friendship and if you actually highly value and even prioritize friendship in your own life. They’re a major waste of friendly love. They’re acquaintance material, and that’s all.

People who are guilty of the second scenario are especially vile, in my book. If you subordinate a best friend—who your probably knew much longer than you did your romantic partner, who invested their time and energy and emotions into your friendship, who is more likely to outlast your romantic relationship than vice versa—to a romantic partner, even to the point of throwing the best friend out of their role amongst your friend group just to place your romantic partner in BOTH slots, for no reason other than your romantic partner is your romantic partner, you are a traitor of the highest order. You’re trash. You don’t deserve good friendship. Fuck off into your romantic relationship and leave friendship to people who actually value it as important.

If romance is only “special,” meaningful, and satisfying when it monopolizes positive social experience and degrades friendship, then at its core, romance ain’t shit. And in all likelihood, if we could ever live in a world where all the positive emotional and social experiences we desire were available in friendship and family relationships, romance would no longer be the ultimate fairy tale to obsess over, but just one option on the buffet table. We wouldn’t see romance as the ultimate prize; instead, the prize would be love, in whatever form it takes. People wouldn’t have to feel so dependent on romantic relationships for happiness or love or companionship or sex or family or anything other than romantic feelings and romantic expression. Friendship would matter just as much, if not more, as romance to romantic people—something I can hardly imagine.

TV Show Recommendations for Friendship Fans

I’m adding a page with a list of TV shows and movies I recommend, in which friendship or sibling relationships are central to the story and particularly satisfying by my standards. These are my favorite shows and films. I’m adding descriptions of the TV shows here in this post, but on the page, I’ll only list the titles. I know it’s hard to find good TV or movies that are heavy on nonromantic/nonsexual friendship and light on romance/sex, so I figure I’d offer up the ones I know to be good for anyone in need.

**Disclaimer: My taste in media falls primarily into the crime drama camp, as you’ll see. As such, none of these shows are particularly light-hearted, and they all involve some degree of violence, obviously crime, and dark themes. There is a fucking shitload of angst in these stories, but also plenty of love and gold nuggets of friendship too, which make it worth watching to me.

Every show on this list, except Elementary and True Detective, can be streamed on Netflix. TD can be streamed on Amazon or HBO Go. Elementary can be rented via Netflix’s mail-in DVD service, if you have that subscription.

Enjoy!

 

Awesome Friendship-Centric TV Shows:

 

Supernatural – Sam and Dean are brothers and nonromantic/nonsexual soul mates. Their relationship is primary in the show and in their lives. They live on the road together. Their love is epic on a cosmic level, and I’m being literal, not exaggerating. Furthermore, all the other strong relationships in the show are nonromantic and nonsexual: Sam and Dean’s relationship with friend and surrogate father Bobby Singer, Dean’s friendship with Castiel, Sam and Dean’s friendship with Charlie (a girl!). In this universe, it’s fraternal love that is the most significant. Sam and Dean have sex with women, but sex is relatively unimportant in their emotional and social lives.

(For the record: I read Sam and Dean’s relationship as a queerplatonic primary partnership, Dean as an aromantic-spectrum character, and Dean and Castiel’s friendship as queerplatonic. And it is really easy to do so.)

Warning: torture, body horror, death, rip your heart out angst.

Sons of Anarchy – This is a show about a biker gang involved in criminal activity. It’s also a show about family and friendship. The MC members are all pretty sexual guys, there are traditional marriages and romantic/sexual relationships, but the friendships are equally as important, emotional, affectionate, and involved. These men work together and spend much of their free time together, they treat each other like family and protect the community they belong to made up of MC wives, children, romantic partners, etc. Protagonist Jax Teller has an ongoing love affair with his high school sweetheart Tara Knowles, but his relationship with his childhood best friend Opie Winston is just as important, maybe more important, to him as his romantic relationship with Tara. And all the other friendships in the club have ample moments of emotion and affection too. (These guys say “I love you” to each other on a regular basis. No lie.)

Warning: graphic violence, tragedy, sex crimes, death, rip your heart out angst, etc.

House MD – Dr. Gregory House is the protagonist of this medical drama, and the most important relationship in his life is the one he has with his long-time best friend Dr. James Wilson. These two work together, lunch together, live together more than once throughout the show’s eight seasons, and ultimately, the show’s conclusion rests in their friendship. Both men go through failed romantic/sexual relationships and their own friendship sees hard times. But they love each other enough that they always find their way back to each other and their friendship outlasts their romantic relationships.

Warning: drug abuse, gross body stuff of the medical variety.

BBC Sherlock – The BBC’s most recent adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories is set in the 21st century but stays true to the friendship between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson immortalized in the 19th century stories. These two men live together during the first two seasons, spend most of their free time together, and John rides on Sherlock’s coattails as they solve crimes together in London. Their relationship is the most important one in their lives through the first two seasons, during which John Watson’s romantic/sexual entanglements with women are fleeting. (Sherlock Holmes, as always, is unofficially asexual, aromantic, and celibate. Canonically, BBC!Sherlock is a thirty-something year old virgin who shows absolutely no interest in sex or dating.) Even in the third season, when Watson gets married, it’s made clear that his friendship with Sherlock is equal in his eyes to his romantic relationship, and Mary Morstan-Watson is actually a fan of the men’s friendship, encouraging their closeness and winning Sherlock’s affection. Sherlock is also friends with Detective Inspector Lestrade, his landlady Mrs. Hudson, and Molly Hooper. At least for the first two seasons, friendship is central to this show, and even in season 3, Sherlock remains a main character who is voluntarily single and depends on his friends for emotional connection.

Warning: violence, death, tragedy, drug abuse.

Elementary – Another adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories set in the 21st century, this show is unique in that it cast Watson as female (Joan Watson played by Lucy Liu is fabulous) and placed the story in New York City, rather than London. Holmes and Watson have a beautiful cross-sex friendship that is damn near revolutionary for TV: they live together by choice during the first two seasons as Watson transitions from being Holmes’ drug recovery sponsor to his apprentice, assisting the NYPD in solving crimes. So far, there’s a refreshing absence of romantic relationships, though there’s been some sex and casual dates and a complex plot twist concerning Holmes’ one and only romantic love of the past. When the show doesn’t focus on the Holmes and Watson friendship, it gives attention to other friendships in their lives: Holmes’ relationship with Detective Marcus Bell, his relationship with Captain Gregson, and in Season 3, a very touching friendship with his second apprentice Kitty Winter. This show has done so many things well, but its crowning glory is the cross-sex friendship between Watson and Holmes that, among other things, shapes Holmes into a better person.

Warning: violence, death, history of drug abuse.

BBC Luther – This crime thriller drama set in contemporary London follows DCI John Luther, a complicated man who is a brilliant detective but engages in some questionable conduct on the job. Only three short seasons, the show presents Luther as a man who, while clearly romantic and sexual, relies upon the friendships he builds with men and women alike. His friendship with DS Justin Ripley begins in the first episode and continues to the series end; these two men clearly care deeply for each other. Ripley is the one person on the police force who is loyal to Luther unconditionally. Luther, in turn, openly acknowledges his love for Ripley. Another stand-out relationship on the show is also established in the first episode: a titillating and complex friendship between Luther and psychopathic killer Alice Morgan, who comes to admire Luther and helps him in moments of need. Other friendships take up less screen time but nevertheless add to the presentation of Luther as someone who appreciates friendship as much, if not more, than romantic-sexual relationships.

The show is spectacularly good, and if you like crime shows or thrillers, you should watch it for that reason alone.

Warning: graphic violence, torture, murder, death, tragedy, rip your heart out angst, sex crimes, etc.

True Detective (Season 1) – Only eight episodes, this HBO drama is part police procedural, part noir, and the relationship between partners Detective Marty Hart and Detective Rust Cohle is front and center. The story spans seventeen years, as the two men talk about the first big case they worked in 1995 during interviews in 2012. After a ten year estrangement, Marty and Rust reconcile to finish solving that big case they mistakenly thought they’d closed in ’95. Throughout the story, they butt heads professionally and personally, and they can be harsh toward each other. But their friendship and the affection and concern they have for each other are undeniable. These two deeply flawed and damaged men share a bond that ultimately sees them through one of the toughest and most horrific experiences of their lives, and in the end, it’s the one thing they have to hold onto. The show is incredibly well-done in so many ways, and if you like crime dramas or noir, you’re likely enjoy the hell out of TD S1.

Warning: graphic violence, sex crimes involving women and children, murder, drug abuse, everything that could go wrong basically does, alcoholism, terrible people doing terrible things to each other.

Longmire – This police procedural crime drama is based off of the Walt Longmire mystery novels written by Craig Johnson (which I highly recommend). After three seasons on A&E, the show was cancelled by the network, only to be picked up by Netflix, where season 4 will air later in 2015. Walt Longmire is the aging sheriff of Absaroka County in rural Wyoming, and along with his very small staff of deputies, he is responsible for solving the crimes in his sparsely populated county. Walt is recently widowed when the show starts, and the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death is an ongoing subplot in the show. One of his most important relationships is with his oldest and best friend Henry Standing Bear, who he’s known since they were in grade school. Henry and Walt share a deep bond, and throughout the show, it is very clear that they love and care about each other quite a lot. Their friendship, like most aspects of the show, is understated and subtle—but there’s a great deal of substance there.

Warning: violence, death, murder.

Sleepy Hollow – This supernatural/historical drama puts a cross-sex friendship between Abby Mills, of Sleepy Hollow PD, and Ichabod Crane, a military man who died during the Revolutionary War and resurrected in the 21st century, front and center. Their friendship is funny, sweet, affectionate, and by the end of this first season, important enough that Crane affirms to Abby his loyalty and their bond as his long lost wife looks on. The other important relationships in Abby’s life are also nonromantic/nonsexual: the relationship with her sister Jenny, her friendship with the mentor and eventual supervisor who saw her grew up, and her professional relationship with her commanding officer Captain Irving. Abby Mills has stayed single thus far, and even when Crane’s wife becomes more present in Season 2, his friendship with Abby remains equally and sometimes more important than his marriage.

Warning: violence, death, supernatural horror, suicide, murder.

The Black Donnellys – This short-lived TV drama that only survived for one season is about four brothers living in 21st century NYC, who end up pulled into a conflict between the Irish Mob and Italian Mafia. Narrated by the brothers’ long-time, close friend who “always wanted brothers like that,” there’s a lot of nonromantic love in these thirteen episodes, love that is important enough for Tommy Donnelly to choose brotherhood over romance when he’s forced to make that choice.

Warning: violence, murder, drug abuse.

Carnival of Aces January 2015: Nonbinary Asexual

January’s theme for the Carnival of Aces is “nonbinary gender,” so I’m going to quickly write a submission. I think most of my gender-and-asexuality-intersection thoughts have already been explored in my post about femmephobia, but I’ll see what I can say here.

I identify as a nonbinary butch. What this means is, I fall under the genderqueer umbrella as a person who doesn’t fit into the “male and female” binary of gender. I am neither male nor female. I’m also not both or a combination of the two. Being nonbinary really does mean that I feel located completely outside of that “male or female” framework. The butch part of my identity is about my masculinity: I strongly prefer to have a masculine gender presentation, which encompasses my clothing, my hair, my makeup or lack thereof, my body’s appearance, etc. However, even when I’m presenting in a more gender neutral or even feminine of center way, internally, I feel more masculine than feminine or neutral. The “butch” term originated in the lesbian community, describing very masculine women who identify as women and who have sexual and romantic feelings for other women (often, but not always, their femme counterparts). But butch is also a gender identity unto itself that doesn’t have to be connected to lesbianism. I use it to describe my gender because it feels right and also necessary. “Nonbinary” is a very broad concept, like genderqueerness. Specifying that I’m butch is an acknowledgement of my feelings and preference for masculinity, which is important to me.

(That said, I do use she/her/hers pronouns. I might like they/them/their, but I’m so used to she/her and don’t have much of a problem with them, that I don’t think I’m going to start asking the world to switch over to they/them/their anytime soon.)

As for being a nonbinary asexual–and a butch nonbinary asexual in particular–I’ve already jumped into a detailed analysis in my femmephobia post, but I will say a few new things:

1. When it comes to my body, being both nonbinary and asexual makes me feel like my sexual and reproductive organs are very much pointless and useless. I do have an active libido and appreciate feeling genital pleasure on my own, but being someone who doesn’t identify as either “man” or “woman” and who also doesn’t want to have partnered sex or care whether other people find me sexually attractive gives me this sense that any body parts that exist solely or mostly for sexual and/or reproductive purposes shouldn’t really be part of me at all. If I could snap my fingers and have any body I want, I would choose to be a Ken doll, basically: a really fit cisgender man with no genitalia. Obviously, that isn’t possible, but it would be kinda nice to have a body that’s as similar to that model as possible.

2. Which brings me to the fact that physically, it’s kinda obvious and unmistakable that I’m female-assigned-at-birth. I’m average height, my facial features are definitely more feminine than masculine, and I’m very, very busty. I feel ambivalent about my chest: part of me wishes I were completely flat so I could look more masculine/androgynous, and part of me wants to challenge the bullshit idea that the only way to be genderqueer or gender neutral is to lean heavily toward traditional masculine images. That rebel side of me wonders why we should see breasts as “feminine” at all. I do what I can to minimize the appearance of my chest, mostly by wearing compression sports bras and masculine or neutral clothing loose enough not to hug my curves, but at this point in time, I’m not anywhere near sold on the idea of having top surgery just so I can appear more traditionally masculine or less traditionally feminine. It would be really nice to have one less physical feature that straight men or sexual people who are attracted to women can sexualize, and it would also be great to have a body that looks and feels more masculine….. But like I said, there’s a part of me that’s very aware of the gender binary and masculinity-as-default and doesn’t want to buy into that framework at all. I’m also aware of cultural femmephobia that I’ve probably internalized to some degree, and I want to make sure I do what I can to disengage from that, even while continuing to embrace my masculinity and butch identity.

So I’m not going to put my tits on display or go around wearing super feminine clothes that accentuates them, but I also have no plans or even any strong desire to have them removed. I know I can feel masculine with the chest I have, because I’ve felt it before, many times. I think I’d like to find a place inside myself where I always feel completely myself, where I am fully expressing my masculine energy, where I feel as butch as I can possibly be, while having the chest nature gave me.

Genderwise, my chest is somewhat at odds with my identity, but sexually speaking, it’s just plain useless. I’m never having partnered sex, and I have no wish to attract sexual attention from others because of my chest, nice as it may be. I’m also never having children, so the only real purpose that breasts serve–feeding said offspring–is also never to be realized by me. I don’t experience body dysphoria, but many times, I’ve looked at my chest and thought about what a total waste my breasts are. They look great filling out a cocktail dress, but I may never wear one of those again, or if I do, not for years to come.

3. Is there a causal relationship between my gender identity and my asexuality? I don’t know. It’s possible. There’s a very high number of genderqueer people in the asexual community, particularly people who ID as agender, neutrois, androgyne, or just plain genderqueer/nonbinary. Then again, there are plenty of aces who are not genderqueer at all, who are either cisgender or binary transgender. And there are a lot of sexual genderqueer people out there too. So there’s definitely not an interdependent link between asexuality and genderqueerness.

If we’re talking specifically about my identities: I figured out my own gender identity years after I started identifying as asexual. Going from a feminine cisgender female to a butch nonbinary person was a process for me, something that happened over time and is still happening. I’ve grown into it, rather than discovering the identity fully-formed in one moment, the way I did with asexuality. I don’t think I’ve become more asexual over time, nor do I think it’s possible to do so. I have, however, become more masculine over time and I’ve traveled further away from the gender binary over time.

I think being celibate actually serves my nonbinary gender identity quite well, by reducing the amount of gendered attention I receive from others. Getting naked in front of someone else and letting them touch the parts of you that tether you to one of the two binary genders must be likely to cause some degree of cognitive or emotional dissonance for a genderqueer or nonbinary person like me. It’s harder to ignore how the other person perceives your gender, when they’re fucking you or you’re fucking them, and gender obviously has something to do with their attraction to you in the first place. I have no idea how I’d feel about my body or sex, if I were a nonbinary butch person and sexual. I feel like being asexual smoothes out the experience of being nonbinary, by default, at least for me.

4. If my gender and my sexual identity share anything in common, it’s the fact that they are more about me and my feelings and my way of being in the world, than they are about other people interacting with me or viewing me in a particular way. I’ve been loudly coming out as asexual (and aromantic, more recently) for years, but I’ve been quieter about my gender identity, not because I’m uncomfortable being open about it but because I don’t feel any great need to convince people of it. If I stop and imagine what other people see when they look at me, then of course, I can say I would prefer it if they all saw a nonbinary butch person instead of a woman, but usually,  I don’t think about what other people think or see when they look at me. My gender identity is a very personal, internal, emotional, psychological, and yes, physical thing for me–and I care much more about how I experience it from the inside out than I do about how or if it comes across to other people.

And when we’re talking about my asexuality and aromanticism, it’s still more about how I feel and what I do and how I move through the world, than it is about what other people think or believe or want from me, regardless of the fact that my sexuality has a greater impact on my social interactions than gender does. I think that spending so many years living as an asexual–and a celibate asexual, no less–prepared me to embrace my nonbinary butch identity in a way that doesn’t concern other people. At this point, I’m a pro at ignoring the world’s expectations, ideas, desires, and opinions, and I got most of my practice through asexuality. Adding on genderqueerness has just given me one more place to get comfortable with being apart from most of the species and with feeling totally confident and rooted in who I am, without looking for others to validate me.

I know that there will always be people who read me as a woman, no matter what I do or say. I know that when strangers look at me, they assume I’m sexual and romantic, and even people who get to learn about me may be skeptical of my asexuality and aromanticism–either because they don’t believe in these identities at all or because I don’t fit into their idea of what an aromantic asexual is. And I’m cool with that. I feel no need to convince anyone to see me the way I see myself. My identity is not for you. My identity is for me. These labels I’ve chosen to pick up are a way of naming myself, for myself. They are tools I use to better know and understand who I am and my feelings and how I experience my body, my relationships, the psychic space where I am a distinct and individual entity. I’m not here to make you understand or accept me. I’m here only to understand and accept myself, to know myself as deeply as I can, to express my freedom and uniqueness with honesty.

That’s why I don’t feel strongly motivated to ask people to use gender neutral pronouns when addressing me. I recognize that I don’t need anyone to see me the way I want to be seen, in order to see myself as I am. The reality of my feelings is not dependent on outside confirmation, and it’s how I feel that is everything.

How Many People Are Aromantic?

Based on the 2014 Asexual Community Census data provided here:

25.9% of asexuals are aromantic.

If we run with the studies performed on self-reporting asexuals currently on the books, approximately one percent of the human population is asexual.

This means that in the United States alone, there are approximately 3,161,000 asexuals.

The number of aromantic asexuals in the U.S. should be about 818,699.

There are 73 million asexuals in the world, which would be 1% of the 7.3 billion+ global population.

Given the 25.9% stat we have representing aromantic asexuals, this means that there are roughly 18,907,000 aromantic asexuals worldwide.

(The one dilemma we have in arriving at accurate numbers is that we can’t know if the 1% of people who are asexual includes demisexuals and gray-asexuals or not. The 2014 Asexual Census reports that 25.9% of asexuals are aromantic; 9.1% of gray-asexuals are aromantic and 3.5% of demisexuals are aromantic. When dividing the entire asexual spectrum by romantic orientation, aromantics make up 19% total, so if gray-asexuals and demisexuals would be part of the 1% of “asexuals” in the human population, then the number of aromantics would be lower than what I listed above. But if they aren’t part of that 1%, then the numbers would actually be higher.)

 

Now, the data collected through the 2014 census from sexual people (anyone who isn’t asexual, demisexual, or gray-asexual) is obviously tough to accept as accurately representative of the real sexual population because sexual people who completed the census would obviously be a specific type who has exposure to the asexual community online and therefore is aware of romantic and sexual orientations and information that most people in the world at large don’t have. But just for the hell of it, let’s consider the numbers that come of the data.

Of the sexual people who took the census, 4.3% identified as aromantic.

So if 4.3% of sexual people are aromantic (which might at first seem high but then again, maybe not), that means there should be around 13,456,377 aromantic sexual people in the United States.

Add that to the more reliable stat we have for aromantic asexuals, and there are roughly 14,275,076 aromantic people currently living in the U.S.

Again, this is assuming that 99% of human beings are sexual, excluding demisexuals and gray-asexuals. If we were to lump in demisexuals and gray-asexuals as part of that 99% of everyone who is not asexual, then the number of aromantics rises because we add the 9.1% of gray-aces who are aro and the 3.5% of demisexuals who are aro to the 4.3% of sexual people who are aro.

These numbers do not include anyone, asexual-spectrum or sexual, who are demiromantic, grayromantic, or WTFromantic. Those are just the aromantics.

So the bottom line is, even though aromantics are a small minority in the human population, there are quite literally millions of us, in the United States and all over the world. We may not all use the aromantic label, there are certainly many aromantics who don’t actually know that they’re aromantic, but even so, there are possibly more aromantic Americans than there are people living in countries like Cuba, Bolivia, Belgium, or Greece. If we talk about just aromantic asexuals, worldwide the number of us is about equivalent to the entire population of Chile, and we outnumber the individual national populations of the bottom 186 countries in the world (listed here).

 

So when I say that you, individual aromantic person, are not alone–it’s an understatement.

A Response to Blueberry Overlord: On Cupioromanticism

So, I see that a self-identified cupioromantic took the time to respond to my post protesting the cupioromantic identity. I have some things to say, in reply to their defense of the concept.

I appreciate that in this instance, the person identifying as cupioromantic openly acknowledges that in fact, amatonormativity is behind their desire for romantic relationships. I understand where they’re coming from, in terms of the emotional and psychological struggle to accept being aromantic, especially with a coinciding desire for loving primary relationships/partnerships. I understand, better than perhaps people have previously realized, the way being aromantic and wanting love and living in this aggressively amatonormative society all come together and interact in emotionally explosive and/or cognitively dissonant ways.

It occurs to me that all the emotional and psychological suffering that many people experience upon realizing they’re aromantic, I experienced through the lens of asexuality instead. I’ve been identifying as asexual since I was 15, but it took me until about a year ago to finally accept my aromanticism, after going through a transitional phase of not specifying romantic orientation at all. I grew up thinking I was romantic, but in retrospect, I doubt that was ever true. At best, I might have been grayromantic in childhood and in my teen years. See, when I was younger, I made the mistake of believing that it was my asexuality–not aromanticism–that made me want passionate friendship and value nonsexual love so much. I thought I was going to be alone forever because I was asexual and didn’t want to have sex, not because I’m aromantic and want passionate friendship instead of romance. By the time I got to aromanticism, I’d already spent all my social deviant misery chips on the asexuality portion of my identification journey, and frankly, I’d already become someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about being part of the Normal Crowd and having my existence and choices validated by total strangers. Picking up the “aromantic” identity was easy.

I know what it is to be in deep psycho-emotional agony caused by my own deviant desires and nature, and to be beyond anyone else’s ability to help or comfort. I grew up living with untreated, intense depression that was constant for about 11 years, and there was always a strong connection and interaction between the depression and my desire for love, the love I actually felt that was almost always unrequited. I used my asexuality and my unique relationship desires as fuel for the fire of my pain and grief. I was the most pessimistic kid you could possibly imagine–and in true depressed, pessimist fashion, I was spectacular at twisting anything and everything into doom and gloom, into the worst case scenario, into more reason for misery. “Nobody loves me, and nobody will ever love me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” That was my story.

I spent most of those 11 years being profoundly, passionately suicidal. I wanted to kill myself so much that I thought about it daily, wrote about it endlessly in diaries and poems and social media messages, fantasized about dying and about my funeral, which I planned in some detail when I was still a high school student. Suicide became my default response to anything painful that happened to me: “If I were dead, I wouldn’t have to deal with this. If I kill myself now, I’ll never feel pain again. Death is the only solution.” I got as far as choosing a method and window shopping for the tools, but I never made a serious attempt. I think the reason for that is, as strong as my desire to die was, all of my other desires were stronger, and maybe because I was a kid or a repressed optimist, part of me never quit hoping that if I stuck it out a little longer, life would eventually get better. I was in a wrestling match with the Universe, and maybe if I made it very clear that I was going to commit suicide in lieu of being happy, it would finally cry uncle and throw me a bone.

I wanted love more than almost anything, when I was growing up. I spent all those years writing love poems to people who weren’t even my friends and sometimes to people who were, crying on a fairly regular basis because I always loved and wanted someone somewhere who didn’t reciprocate or because I wanted to meet somebody I hadn’t met yet and didn’t know if I ever would. I went to college, and it didn’t get any better. In fact, that first year was horrifically devastating on an emotional level. I had meltdowns over my own deep knowing that my oldest friendships were all going to disintegrate in the near future, because my romantic-sexual friends were going to get sucked into the black hole of romantic relationships and marriage. I got my heart broken by someone I loved who didn’t understand me or what I wanted in friendship, not for the first time or the last, but it felt more like a nuclear bomb had gone off and left me with nothing but a burnt soul.

After that, when I turned 19, I reached a point where I realized that I couldn’t keep living the way I had been for so long. I couldn’t keep being that depressed, in that much pain all the time. I had to find a way to feel better, or I had to die. So, I decided to feel better–and slowly, gradually, I did. I didn’t see a therapist or get on medication or use recreational narcotics. I didn’t suddenly meet the perfect person for me with whom to share my ideal friendship. The world didn’t change, there wasn’t suddenly millions more asexuals and aromantics, people around me did not suddenly understand me and support me. I changed. I did everything I could, on my own, to feel relief mentally and emotionally. Somewhere during this process, I developed a real self-esteem, I really got to liking myself and loving myself, and life did improve.

So I understand, clearly and intimately, what it feels like to be a major outcast living in a society that completely opposes who you are and what you want at every turn. I understand what it feels like to have no one in your life who is like you, to not know anybody who understands who you are and what you want and why. I understand what it feels like to be the weirdo in every room, to not see yourself anywhere: in TV, movies, music, books, commercials, magazines, or the radio. I understand what it feels like to be totally turned off and fed up with all the crap that the rest of the world considers “normal” and to want nothing more than to go live on a deserted island somewhere cut off from mainstream media and 99.9% of mankind. I’ve been alone with my pain and my sorrow too many days and nights to count, and I’m sure there’s more of those moments in my future: where I cry in private over shit that I can’t change or control, then eventually pick myself up and keep going because ain’t nobody here to call on for comfort, and even if there was, I never really liked empty platitudes. I understand the deep, simmering rage and frustration. I understand loneliness. I’ve had my times of asking God why they would create someone like me and then put me in a world like this one.

I’m going to be 25 this year. I know exactly what I want, relationship-wise. More clearly and specifically than ever before. I am at peace with my asexuality and my aromanticism. I’m proud, actually. I am at peace with being permanently celibate and permanently single (romantically). I know who I am, and I like who I am. I haven’t been depressed in years, and I rarely angst about being who I am in the context of this romance supremacist, sex-normative world. I’m mostly hopeful about meeting the right people for me and having the kind of friendships I desire. I realize I am young and I have most of my life ahead of me. I’m trying not to be in a hurry for any particular relationship, especially because friendship is slow to build.

I gave you all that information so that you know I’m not ignorant or inexperienced with whatever pain and turmoil that you felt in the past or feel now, which contributes to your choosing of the cupioromantic identity or the desire for romantic relationships in general.

Now, I’ll respond to specific points in the post.

“The thing is, the people I become close to are not necessarily going to be aromantic.  The things they want out of a relationship may be things that I can’t give them.  Yes, I have an intense friendship with someone I value with everything I’ve got.  But it’s platonic, non-exclusive.  Whether I like it or not, amatonormativity does exist, and we exist alongside it, so when she begins to go out with someone, and maybe someday marries them, that will be the relationship that society prioritizes, and potentially the one that she and I will prioritize as well, because we both grew up in a society that values romantic relationships above all others.  It’s just how our society works, and it’s not likely to change drastically in the next several years.”

Well, if I were you, I would make a decision to seek out perma-single aromantics who you CAN count on in friendship. That’s the decision I’ve made, and I’m convinced that it will change the course of my life from what it would’ve been were I just going to passively make friends with whatever individual I happen to bump into. If you don’t actively look for and reach out to other perma-single aro people, if you don’t make noise about the fact that you are one of those people and want a certain kind of friendship, well, then no shit your odds of meeting a whole bunch of average romantic-sexual people are much greater than meeting people you can actually have satisfying, reliable friendships with. When you’re part of a very small minority, as aros and aces are, you have to be exponentially more proactive than just about any other group of people, about meeting and connecting with others like you. Heterosexuals can’t walk a fucking block without meeting each other, but that’s not how it is for aros, aces, and permanently single people. We have to look, we have to advertise, we have to talk about ourselves, we have to go to meet-ups and the right online spaces. We have to try. And no, it’s not as easy as flushing a toilet, but trying does increase your chances of meeting other aros/perma-singles.

And not only do you have to take initiative and seek out the right people, but you also have to be willing to set boundaries and stick to your standards. You are not obligated to be friends with romantic people. You are not obligated to get close to someone who’s regularly in romantic relationships. You are not obligated to emotionally invest yourself into a friendship that realistically doesn’t have a future beyond the standard, shallow, meaningless, inferior “We’re just friends, let’s hang out once a month when my romantic other is busy and can’t be with me” scenario. If you choose to spend all your emotional energy and all your social hours on ordinary romantic people, that’s your choice, but don’t pretend that it’s the only option or that you’re the only aromantic person on the planet. Because none of that is true. You choose who to spend time with, you choose whether or not to set standards in your personal relationships, you choose whether to continue or terminate any given friendship, and you choose what kind of treatment you’re going to accept in your friendships. Society may set the environment and rig the game, but you’re not some helpless robot lacking the agency to deny your programming. You’re responsible for your life, your relationships, and your choices. Now that you know what amatonormativity is, you’re also responsible for the beliefs you hold about relationships.

“And here is exactly why I disagree with the charges raised against cupioromanticism: amatonormativity exists whether we like it or not.  It’s not something that exists in our pasts, it’s something that exists in the present, in the society we live in on a day-to-day basis, and probably in our futures.  To say that we have been affected by it would be inaccurate: we are being affected by it, and we almost certainly will continue to be affected by it.  But we didn’t set it up, and there is absolutely no reason we should be responsible for tearing it down in a way that denies the effect it has had (and continues to have) on our identities.  Do not ask us not to identify as cupioromantic because that identity shows the effect amatonormativity has on us.”

Here’s where you lose me completely. What the fuck is this, “that’s just the way things are” bullshit? Is that the attitude we should adopt about all the unacceptable norms alive and well in our world? By this logic, we should all resign to racism and sexism and transphobia and heterosexism. By this logic, everybody guilty of those -isms get to excuse themselves because they’re just products of their social conditioning, and there’s nothing they can do about it because they have to live in this racist, sexist, heterosexist, transphobic society and can’t single-handedly dismantle those harmful paradigms.

We shouldn’t be responsible for tearing down the systems of oppression that affect us on a daily basis? Oh, really? Who should be responsible, then? The people who benefit from those systems? Yeah, I’m sure making the world a better place for other people by abdicating their own privilege is at the top of their priority list.

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but white people are not the ones who originally wanted the end of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow laws. Heterosexuals are not the ones who originally wanted to throw gay pride parades in city streets and legalize same-sex marriage and feature queer characters in media that don’t die at the end of the story. Cisgender people are not the ones who first started to push for justice, equality, safety, and medical care for trans people and other gender nonconforming individuals. Men did not come up with the idea of allowing women to vote and go to college and own property and work any job they wanted.

Every social justice movement in the history of the fucking world has been led by the people who have the most to gain from it. Every improvement we’ve achieved as a society since 1900 happened because black people and women and queers and transgender people and other people of color put themselves on the front lines, showed up and demanded that they get their rights and representation. Nobody handed that shit to them. They died for progress, they went to prison unjustly for progress, they got beat up by cops and people who opposed them for progress. Whites have never given black people anything out of the goodness of their hearts, and men didn’t suddenly quit treating women like cattle because they had an epiphany in the night. There is not a single nice or fair or just thing that LGBTQI people or POC or women or any other disadvantaged group have secured for themselves that they didn’t have to fight for, tooth and nail, for YEARS. And they’re STILL fighting. They’re going to be fighting the rest of the century and most likely the one after this and the one after that. Even after all the progress made, they still have to combat the system, and they’re not done getting what they deserve.

So, why you think it would be or should be any different for aromantics is beyond me. Romantic people aren’t looking out for us. They’re not the ones who are going to tear down amatonormativity and trash their romance supremacist movies, TV shows, books, and music. They’re not the ones who are going to create legal support and protection for nonromantic/nonsexual relationships. They’re not going to become better friends of their own volition or turn their backs on traditional romantic relationships because they just randomly feel like it. They’re not going to hand us anything on a silver platter, at their own expense.

If you want the world to be better, if you want things to be different, you’re damn right you have to do something about it. Somebody has to. If you want to sit back and let other people like me do the hard labor of accomplishing change by sheer force of will and being an unrelenting pain in the ass of everybody who stands in my way, so be it, but don’t think for one second that amatonormativity and romance supremacy and all their manifestations are going to spontaneously evaporate one day or that the romantic population is going to experience enlightenment and correct the system themselves.

“I may be cupioromantic because of amatonormativity, but that in no way invalidates my identity as a cupioromantic person.”

Actually, yeah, amatonormativity invalidates the cupioromantic identity in general. You don’t have to deny that you’re someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction yet desires romantic relationships–because that’s a fact–but you don’t need to create a new category, a new identity, to accommodate a fucked up head space that’s more a condition to be resolved than a place to set up camp and nest. I’ve said elsewhere on my blog that I think if you don’t experience romantic attraction but desire romantic relationships, you can and should use the grayromantic identity, which already exists and predates “cupioromantic” and covers a wide variety of experiences fitting in between the aromantic or alloromantic categories. The danger in legitimizing “cupioromantic” as its own unique identity is allowing people to believe that wanting romantic relationships for fucked up reasons is a state of being that can and should be permanent, accepted uncritically instead of worked through.

I’ve already acknowledged that there are valid reasons why someone aromantic would choose to get into romantic relationships, but ending up in them because of extenuating circumstances–like being sexual and fucking just one person at a time, or not knowing you’re aro, or not wanting to disappoint a friend who asks you out, etc–is very different than having an abstract, ongoing desire for romantic relationships that can’t be satisfied by anything else and is purely for your own happiness. It’s the difference between an asexual who has sex because they have to do it for the sake of dating, and someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction but actively wants partnered sex for their own personal satisfaction (which I consider to be a type of gray-asexuality).  So we’re not talking about participating in romantic relationships as aromantics; we’re talking about wanting romantic relationships for their own sake, as people who don’t actually feel romantic attraction, love, etc. The motive is what we’re discussing, and motive is important.

“We cannot fully reject amatonormativity anyway until society also does, because regardless of whether or not we acknowledge it, it affects us every day, so saying that people shouldn’t identify as cupioromantic because the orientation reinforces the idea of amatonormativity is very much not ok.”

False. If we all waited for society to get its shit together on all fronts, nothing would EVER fucking improve anywhere. I reject amatonormativity, here and now, every day. I reject it when I call it out for the bullshit it is. I reject it when I criticize romantic narratives for being toxic, ridiculous, and unrealistic. I reject it by choosing not to date. I reject it by choosing not to get married and advocating for the abolition of marriage. I reject it by not consuming romantic media whenever I can avoid it. I reject it be rejecting the bullshit conduct of romantic people in friendship, letting them know that it’s bullshit or otherwise rejecting them as friends completely. I reject amatonormativity by believing in the core of my being that my ideal friendships are beautiful, desirable, possible, real, and valid, and that I am a human being who is intrinsically worthy of the love and joy I desire, even though I am aromantic and permanently single and asexual and celibate. I reject it by writing about friendship in my creative fiction, not romance. I reject it by trying to be the kind of friend I want to be and forming the kind of friendships I want to form, even if there’s always a chance I’ll be misunderstood or misread or turned down. I reject amatonormativity by saying to the world, “No! I’m not the one who’s the problem here, you are!” I reject amatonormativity every day of my life, and I will continue to reject it until I breathe my last breath. I don’t care whether I do this alone forever or not. I’m doing it.

“Yes, amatonormativity sucks.  But when we have been conditioned and conditioned to value romantic relationships and then eventually find out that we’re aromantic, are you really going to tell us that the desire for romantic relationships that we’ve been conditioned to have our entire lives should just…stop on a dime?  That we can’t want romantic relationships anyway? That they’re Not For Us because of something beyond our control and anyway honey, you can always have something else, even while society is screaming at us in a hundred different ways that non-romantic relationships just aren’t quite as good?”

Stop on a dime, no. Personal development is a process. It does take time. But actively engaging in the process of deconstructing your internalized poisonous beliefs is something you have to choose to do, not something that magically happens all by itself. Acknowledging that you’ve got a problem isn’t enough; you have to do the work. And if you do the work, yeah, eventually you will think and feel differently.

This is probably not going to be helpful to you at this moment in your life, but I need to say it anyway because it’s true: you really need to get over caring what society thinks. Easier said than done, sure, but it can be done. That’s the real problem here, with cupioromantics in general, along with most people: caring more about what society says instead of what you feel, caring more about what other people think you should want instead of what you actually want, looking out instead of in. Society doesn’t give a fuck about you. Society doesn’t care if you’re happy or unhappy, if you’re well or unwell, if you’re living with authenticity or not. Society only cares about using you as a tool to perpetuate its systems of power and control, for the benefit of the ruling classes. Society only cares about profiting off of you. Other people care more about using your conformity to their rules to makes themselves feel better about what they’re doing than they will ever care about you. Everybody’s out for their own personal gain, and their telling you how to live, what to think, what to feel, etc is virtually always motivated by their own selfish desires.

So the sooner you dedicate yourself to liberating your psyche, to watching less TV, to spending less time monitoring what other people are saying, the sooner you can start paying exclusive attention to your true self, which you may not yet know because you haven’t bothered to get in touch.

“Yes, there are lots of other kinds of wonderful relationships out there, and objectively they’re worth every bit as much as romantic relationships, but don’t you dare tell me I can’t wish I could just introduce somebody as my wife or my girlfriend.  Don’t you dare tell me I can’t feel a little twinge of hurt when the only words I can use to explain how I feel about someone are all related to romance, or when I introduce the people closest to me as my “friend,” the same word you might use to introduce an acquaintance, because nobody outside the internet has a goddamn clue what queerplatonic means.  I don’t want to have to give a vocabulary lesson when I want to explain what someone means to me.  I just want to spend the rest of my life with someone in a loving relationship that I don’t have to explain or justify.  I don’t want to make a statement with the way that I love people, or to see my relationships as secondary over and over and over again.  I just want society to value my relationships the way I do.  And for that, I would need a romantic relationship.”

You don’t want to have to do the work to make the world a more hospitable place for people like you, and you don’t want to deal with the shitty reality of being outside the privileged group in society. You want to have been born into a life where everything is easy for you, and you’re part of the “normal,” dominant majority. You wish you were an ordinary romantic-sexual person who wanted traditional romantic-sexual primary relationships, so that you could live your live oblivious that anyone unlike you exists or has problems because of the very culture that you directly benefit from and fit into without even trying.

And I’m sure every person who isn’t a white, cis, heterosexual male has felt similarly at least once in their life. You think people of color want to devote time and energy to fighting racism? You think women want to devote time to fighting sexism and putting up with bullshit from men? You think queer and trans people want to spend time and energy fighting against queerphobia and transphobia, socially, culturally, and legally? Don’t you think all of these people wish they could just live their lives in an environment where they are respected, supported, secure, and equal by default? Of course, they do.

Instead, we live in a world where not being a white, cishet man means you’re going to have issues. We live in a world where being aromantic and wanting a long-term, stable, loving friendship with someone who is committed to you, prioritizes you, and treats you like a partner is harder than being any kind of romantic-sexual person who wants a conventional romantic-sexual relationship and a conventional romance-centric lifestyle, harder even than being asexual and romantic and dating conventionally. If you want to pretend to be something you aren’t and try to find happiness within the bullshit system that rejects who you really are and what you really want, that’s your choice. You can be aromantic and pretend to be romantic and date and get married, just like a queer person can pretend to be straight or a trans person can pretend to be cis or an asexual can pretend to be sexual or have partnered sex for the rest of their lives just to appease someone who doesn’t love them enough to stay in a nonsexual romantic relationship. Nobody’s going to stop you, and sure, on some level, you’d benefit from living life like a member of a privileged group, a group that is considered acceptable and normal. Instead of being single and unpartnered for who knows how long as you look for a compatible friend, you could ride the dating merry-go-round instead and have <50% chance of living happily ever after in a long-term monogamous romantic relationship. You can get together with your romantic friends and bitch about being single or bitch about that recent breakup or bitch about how your current romance is no longer satisfying. You can get married just like all your romantic-sexual friends and then get divorced at least once like half of your romantic-sexual friends. You can turn your back on friendship and all the alternatives to traditional romance completely, not even bother looking for anything else, write off queerplatonic partnerships as mythical pipe dreams, and pretend that the Romantic Fantasy really is the only thing you’ve ever wanted and could ever want and you would be incomplete without it.

And at the end of the day, you’re just one more person feeding amatonormativity, one more person perpetuating The Way Things Are, one more person standing in the way of all the permanently single aromantics who want to be respected and supported in our own right and do relationships our way and have our primary or domestic or committed friendships respected–not because they’re like romantic relationships but because friendship fucking deserves equality for being what it is.

You want to spend the rest of your life in a loving relationship that you don’t have to explain or justify? Great. So do I.

And I’m not going to fold to Romantic Society’s gospel of romantic relationships just to get it. I’m not going to date a bunch of romance supremacists and pretend to like it, to compensate for a lack of faith in friendship and the possibility of the kind of nonromantic relationships I really want. I’m not going to close myself off from other aromantic people who want the kind of friendship I want, by burying myself in romantic relationships.

I’d rather die alone.

You do what you want. But “cupioromantic” is an unnecessary term.

Queer Christians: Celibacy and Sexuality as Choice

I stay relatively out of touch with mainstream media, including TV, movies, and music, but recently, I heard about this upcoming reality TV show scheduled to air on TLC called “My Husband is Not Gay.” Apparently, it’s about Mormon families in which the husband acknowledges that he experiences sexual attraction to men, but has chosen to live in a heterosexual marriage because of his religious beliefs. A lot of people are upset about the show and want it cancelled, on the grounds that it presents negative messages to LGBQ people about queer sexuality and endorses the idea promoted in most Christian churches that homosexuality is a choice.

I’ve been thinking about writing a post on voluntary celibacy as a valid choice for sexual people to make, especially in the form of choosing a nonromantic + nonsexual primary relationship, ever since I discovered the blog A Queer Calling. The writers of this blog are two self-identified lesbian women who are also Christians and feel that they are called to celibacy; they’re also a couple, whether romantic or nonromantic. They do not support gay marriage because it is, in their eyes, at odds with the Biblical definition of marriage. They wouldn’t marry each other even if they legally could. I’ve read through several of their posts, and I really appreciate their perspective on celibacy, friendship, family, etc. I myself am not Christian and don’t participate in organized religion, but I am spiritual, have religious family members, and am familiar enough with Christianity that I can find it truly fascinating such people like Sarah and Lindsay exist.

Most Americans, whether they’re straight or queer, don’t expect anyone from the LGBTQ population to be Christian. It’s common knowledge that Christianity is, for the most part, very anti-queer and holds a lot of false, toxic beliefs about queer sexuality and gender. Christian parents have done a lot of terrible things to their queer children: disowning them and throwing them into the street while they’re still underage, sending them to straight conversion camps, bullying them, abusing them, etc. So the story everybody expects to hear is that a queer person born into a Christian household grows up having a terrible experience, becomes an adult (if they’re fortunate enough to survive youth), leaves the religion and their family, and basically becomes an atheist or as good as—because Christianity and queerness repel each other.

But in fact, there are queer adults in this country who are Christian because they want to be, because they choose to be, because they really do believe in the Bible and Christ. There are queer youth who are Christian and have no wish to give up their faith, even though they know that they aren’t welcome in it as openly queer individuals. It may completely baffle nonreligious queer people, and obviously most straight Christians, but it’s true. You can have or want queer sex, and still have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Go figure.

There’s not a whole lot of resources or support for queer Christians. Anywhere. The Church mostly condemns queerness and otherwise ignores or politely dismisses queer Christians who go looking for inclusion in the Christian community while living a queer life. The secular world and mainstream LGBTQ population doesn’t acknowledge that queer Christians exist, or if they do, they can only question why anyone would want to be associated with a religion that hates queerness. Basically, the Church says: stop being queer, and the LGBTQ population says: stop being Christian. Queer Christians are left to figure things out alone, whether they choose to live as heterosexuals or live as queer people and still find some kind of acceptance in their religious community.

What I’ve noticed in comments left on news articles and links about this reality TV show is a whole lot of what I expected from the average, nonreligious sexual person: a lot of criticism about how the straight wives of these non-straight men are in denial, how could they want to be married to someone who doesn’t desire them, the husbands are just sexually repressed victims of their religion, it’s inevitable that they’re going to have gay sex outside their marriages, nobody should have to deny who they really are and pretend to be something they’re not, etc.

And the mainstream (nonreligious) LGBTQ population has made it very clear that they think choosing to live like a straight person when you’re gay or queer is a horrific catastrophe that’s only happening to these men because they’ve been brainwashed by religion to believe that homosexuality is sinful, and nobody should support or promote that idea, when a lot of queer people are still struggling with queerphobia, homophobia, transphobia, etc. As far as they’re concerned, these men never should’ve married women in the first place, and the only way for them to be free and healthy is to divorce their wives and have all the gay sex their hearts desire.

As an outsider to all of this—I’m not straight, I’m not gay or bisexual, I’m not romantic, I’m not Christian, I’m not an atheist, I’m not sexual at all—my opinion is at odds with both the heterosexist Christian community and the secular LGBTQ population. I find Christianity’s condemnation of queer sexuality and gender extremely toxic, oppressive, irrational, ridiculous, and devoid of any reason or even sufficient Biblical backup. I think it’s a travesty when Christian parents treat their own children like garbage just for being queer, and I think that Christianity’s political vendetta to make this country as legally dangerous and hostile toward queer people as possible is totally fucked up and inexcusable. However—I also disagree with secular LGBTQ people who are so quick to criticize and condemn the choices of these queer Christian adults who choose either to be celibate and single forever or to enter heterosexual marriages, based on their religious beliefs. I think that if you’re an adult who is independent of your parents and you choose to not only believe in your particular God and religion as it is commonly practiced but also to make lifestyle choices that honor your faith, there is nothing wrong with that, especially if it doesn’t cause you constant distress and you aren’t campaigning to get all the other queer people in the world to do the same.

I believe in freedom. Period. I believe that every person should get to pursue their own joy. Even though I’m not religious and disagree with a lot of what Christianity teaches, I can’t tell anyone that they should abandon their faith because they would be better off without it. I don’t know that they would be, and neither does anyone else. Spirituality is a very personal, intimate thing, and nobody can know what’s best for another person when it comes to spirituality, or anything else. While organized religion and Christianity in particular does a lot of damage to people, it also does a lot of good. You don’t have to look hard to find someone, even a queer Christian, who feels convinced that they are better off for having their faith than they would be without it. And it is a fundamental right of living in this country to believe in whatever God—or no god—that you choose.

I’m very skeptical of anyone who tries to simplify something so complicated as the relationship between religion and sexuality. A lot of nonreligious sexual people, straight and queer alike, are adamant that if everyone would just turn their backs on Christianity or any religion that seeks to control and deny sexuality, that their problems would be solved, and they would be exponentially happier, more at peace, etc. All these Mormon husbands have to do is give into their homosexual desires, and they’ll live happily ever after as liberated people. If Sarah and Linsday, the couple behind A Queer Calling, would just have hot lesbian sex all the time, they would be so much happier and more satisfied with their lives and each other. Throw off the yoke of oppressive religion, march in the gay pride parades, fly your rainbow flags from your car antennas, fuck anyone you want, and you’ll be happy!

I don’t think denying your sexuality for the wrong reasons is ever positive, but I’m not buying all of that. Forcing someone to be in the closet or to deny their sexuality is a violation of their freedom. But forcing them to have sex that they don’t feel comfortable with or to live a lifestyle they don’t even want is a violation of their freedom too.

You can’t pretend that you care about the health, well-being, and happiness of a person while ignoring or trying to excise a part of who they are that is extremely important to them: their faith, their relationship with God. Trying to convince them that their religion is bullshit and that being an openly and sexually active queer is the gateway to eternal joy isn’t actually the help they need. What they need is support in reconciling these two parts of them, these two identities they have.

The following are observations I’ve made in response to both A Queer Calling and My Husband Isn’t Gay:

1. You can truly love someone that you aren’t attracted to, even if it’s nonsexually and nonromantically, in a couple relationship and experience happiness and fulfillment in that context. I don’t know what the hell all these romantic-sexual people who criticize the gay Mormon husbands married to women are smoking, but I’m not seeing a whole lot of evidence that living happily ever after is as simple as coupling with someone you’re fucking and romantically involved with and pursuing a normative primary romantic-sexual marriage. That shit fails a lot. It makes people miserable, in fact. Why you think these gay men would have any more long-term, stable happiness by pursuing romantic-sexual relationships with other men than they might have in their straight marriages is beyond me. Furthermore, just because these men are not sexually (or romantically?) attracted to their wives, doesn’t mean they feel nothing at all for them. This goes back to romance supremacist bullshit that suggests friendship is innately inferior and unloving compared to romantic relationships: these men have very real friendships with their wives that likely include feelings of emotional attachment, warmth, appreciation, caring, love, etc, and none of that is invalidated by the lack of sexual and/or romantic attraction.

Throughout most of history, marriage was not about Romance or spending your life with somebody you’re hot for; it was about money, politics, raising children, and creating a stable, efficient work relationship between two people. Yeah, you had sex, but only because you were supposed to procreate. Nobody cared if you were attracted to each other or not, and nobody cared if you were in love. It’s an entirely modern notion that marriage is supposed to be some kind of paradise of romantic love and lust that completely fulfills both people emotionally, sexually, spiritually, and psychologically forevermore. Maybe that’s why so many people have fucking failed at marriage since 1900, and for every person who’s in a happy, long-term, monogamous romantic-sexual relationship in this country, there are at least 10 other ones that aren’t and can’t find any lasting happiness or satisfaction in romantic sexual relationships whatsoever.

Maybe people should consider the possibility that a gay Mormon man choosing to live in a heterosexual marriage has priorities and desires other than fulfilling his sexual fantasies. Maybe he cares more about his children or about experiencing the kind of nuclear family he grew up dreaming about or about belonging to the community that he is attached to. Maybe he is satisfied by having a partner and friend he can depend on, who loves him, and giving his children a two-parent home and seeing them happy and thriving. Maybe he is satisfied by the sense that he’s doing what he thinks is right and that he’s pleasing the god he believes in.

Would gay sex and gay romance be able to replace all of that in the big picture? Would it make up for all the struggle and pain he would inevitably create for himself and his family, if he decided to leave the Church and leave his wife and leave his kids and leave his community to go be an openly gay man? How can anyone know that, except for him?

Romantic-sexual people, whether straight or queer, are very attached to the fantasy they have of that romantic-sexual happily ever after, and they cling to it even when it fails them continuously over the course of decades, even though they all know several people who have also had no luck with that fantasy. They perpetuate the idea that this fantasy is the only way to be happy and that if you can find it, you’ll be all set for the rest of your life. But if half or more of you can be well into middle-age and still obviously have no idea how to make that fantasy a reality that works for you in the long-term, why should anyone follow your advice on choosing a lifestyle or building relationships?

2. Celibacy is a valid choice. Long-term celibacy is a valid choice. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, or asexual. Celibacy is a valid choice. You are not obligated to have sex. Ever. Even if you experience sexual attraction, even if you have a sex drive, even if you feel a physical desire for partnered sex. Celibacy is always a valid choice. It is monumentally important that society starts to understand and accept that, because the well-being of asexuals and sex-repulsed gray-asexuals and sexual people such as queer Christians depends on it. Without the freedom to be celibate, the freedom to have sex is meaningless. It isn’t freedom at all. It’s compulsory sexuality.

And you have to ask yourself on a regular basis: who are you having sex for? Yourself? Or society? As far as I’m concerned, queer Christians having queer sex to please the secular LGBTQ population is no different than asexuals having sex to please sexual society: it’s all disingenuous, self-denying, approval-seeking bullshit. If you aren’t fucking for the joy of it, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Or at the very least, you’re doing it for flawed reasons. And the reward, if there’s any at all, is sure to be fleeting and hollow.

Sex is not a guarantee of happiness and satisfaction in life even if you’re allosexual! It’s not a guarantee of a happy romantic relationship, it’s not a guarantee of a successful marriage, it’s not some magical cure-all for your problems. And celibacy, if freely chosen, is not repression. There are a million reasons why a sexual person would choose to be celibate, and religious persuasion is one of them. I can’t imagine that anybody who experiences sexual attraction and desire on a regular basis would choose to become celibate lightly or impulsively, especially at this time in history. People who make this decision put a lot of thought into it over time, and they usually do it because they have a goal that is very important to them.

3. Which brings me to a significant point: some people care about God more than they care about sex, and there’s nothing wrong with them for that. They have a right to prioritize their spirituality, their religion, their faith, their relationship with God over their sexuality, over romance, over their lifestyle. You don’t have to agree with it, understand it, or like it, and you certainly don’t have to follow in their footsteps. But that decision to put their religious convictions over their sexual feelings is extremely personal and within their right to make, for whatever reasons they have. If you don’t support their right to choose celibacy or even to choose heterosexuality for faith-based reasons, you don’t support true sexual freedom, and frankly you’re not a true ally or friend to queer people, even if you’re queer too. A true ally and friend of queer people supports all of them regardless of how they live their lives, how they do relationships, what they value, and what their sexual practices are. Only supporting the LGBTQ individuals who routinely fuck people in queer situations doesn’t make you any better than only supporting the LGBTQ individuals who live like Normal romantic-sexual monogamous married with kids straight people. Doesn’t make you any better than the straight, homophobic Christians who only support LGBTQ people who renounce their queerness and live like heterosexuals just to please the Church.

Freedom for all really does mean freedom for all. Not just for who you agree with. Not just for the people who live like you do.

 

In my post on political lesbianism, I argued that sometimes a person can choose to build relationships contrary to their romantic and sexual orientations because that’s actually the path that serves their well-being the most. It’s the path that actually gives them the most happiness, not the least. I stand by that argument here, when it comes to queer romantic-sexual Christians.

If your heart tells you to leave the Church and live as an openly and sexually active queer person, then you should do that. If your heart tells you to be celibate or to choose a heterosexual partner, then you should do that. In any case, you’re the only person who can know what’s right for you, because you’re the only person who can feel your feelings. If it feels right, it is, and if it feels off, it is. Make your decisions accordingly.