Thoughts about Same – Sex Marriage and the Christian Gay Debate from An Asexual Perspective

NOTE: Just want to give credit to blogger Paul J Bern and thank him for allowing me to critique his post.

 

Now, just so we’re clear, I want to point out what this post ISN’T:

Same – sex marriage has been hot topic that people have been talking about since the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) officially legalised same – sex marriage across all fifty states on the 26 June this year.

Christian blogger, Paul J Bern wrote about the ruling in the US, which you can read here. Very well written post. There was one thing that struck me, though, and what my post is based on:

I don’t usually associate with gay people. I don’t know any, and I personally don’t approve of their “lifestyle”.

I’ll say from the outset, I think Bern’s heart is in the right place. And if you read the post in full, he is actually warning against spewing hatred toward LGBT people in light of the SCOTUS ruling. There is a small problem I have with it. I think he’s focus (at least in the quote) is the exact thing that is wrong with the whole gay debate among Christians and the LGBT community, as well as the driving force behind LGBT+ discrimination in general.

Now, I get that Christians are divided on same – sex “acts, but I want to be clear. This isn’t just what this arguments about. For one thing, legally in the US, it’s about non – heterosexual couples having the same legal protections as opposite – sex couples. Now, notice I did say “heterosexual” but deliberately said “non – heterosexual couples”? Reason? Because this ruling affects more than just the gay and lesbian community for starters. I haven’t heard that the couple have to have sex to be protected, which brings me to my second point.

I think we need to start looking at LGBT+ people more holistically. I get that some people morally oppose same – sex acts, I get that. However, being gay, straight, bi or asexual or whatnot is more than just about acts. It’s about attraction, for the most part physical and emotional. The whole term “lifestyle” in regard to the LGBT community, I believe overly simplifies the experiences of the LGBT community and has been the reason, quite frankly, why the LGBT have been mistreated for so long. It’s why the “ex gay” industry, most notoriously, Exodus International was able to operate for over thirty years, leaving lives damaged along the way. Why? Because they focused on the “acts”.

But what about homoromantic asexuals who want to get married? What about the legal protections of same – sex celibate relationships? Yes, they do exist. A brilliant blog, A Queer Calling is written by a Christian lesbian couple Lindsey and Sarah that do that. They also talk about the SCOTUS ruling and how the marriage restrictions have affected them legally, even though they are not  married themselves.

 

On a more personal level, somewhat, this equating sexual orientation and sex has also negatively affected the asexual community. From the ridicule in the media to discrimination and even sexual violence, I believe that these have occurred because the sexual minorities as a whole are only labeled in terms of their supposed “lifestyle” or “acts” (or, in the case of asexuality, a lack of).

 

Sexuality is so, so much more complicated than that. Even scientists can pinpoint what causes someone to be of a paritcular orientation, but the mainstream experts now agree that, for the most part, sexual orientation can’t be chosen, nor altered through will. Needless to say, that, despite this, yes, a person can remain celibate, but that does not make them a different orientation.

 

So, can we please be a little more mature about this? Can we look at people as whole beings rather than such a narrow lens? This does affect people’s lives. And it’s time it stops being so negative.

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Privilege and the LGBT

So, according to Mamamia, actress Cate Blanchett admitted to having a number of same – sex relationships off – screen in an interview for Variety magazine. Actresses like Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore have also admitted to same – sex experience.

According to imdb, she’s been married to Andrew Upton since 1997. Is it just me, or is it become fashionable for celebrities to admit that they had same – sex sexual experience, even if it was in adolescence, which is generally accepted as quite common anyway? Is it becoming a “fashion” if you will?

Yes, yes, some people do experience fluidity in their sexuality. Some people are not 100% straight or 100% gay, get it, get it. But does the overkill of media exposure of this sort end up over trivialising what many LGBT+ people go through? Does it give an impression that gay, lesbian, bisexual and even homoromantic and bi – romantic asexuals (and pan romantic and pansexuals I might add), can just “snap out” of their attractions? Do these people, who are already in privileged positions, actually (unintentially) somewhat trivialise what some LGBT+ actually go through in regards to discrimination, stigma, violence and mental illness that they often face?

 

Here’s the thing: one argument that, particularly the gay and lesbian community have made over the past 30 years is that they can’t choose, nor change, who their attracted to. Scientifically, there is still questions surrounding the exact cause of one’s sexual orientation. And now, bisexual people are trying to get across that, yes, they are attracted to both men and women, not it’s not a fad or phase, and no it doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to sleep around, etcetera, etcetera.

 

Here’s one thing I’ll say about being asexual, and I’m guessing it’s similar for most LGB people: I’m not asexual because it’s hip or makes a statement. I’m asexual because I simply don’t feel physical attraction to anyone regardless of gender. I cannot just suddenly “turn” my attractions on, any more than a gay person can “turn” their innate atractions off. It is an innate part of who I am. Now, if Blanchett is or was attracted to women at some point, or she was experimenting, whatever, then that’s what it was. Fine. But can the media stop fetishising the LGBT+ community and make it sound like it’s just something cool and hip? Because it’s not. Like I said, it’s a part of who a person is.

Invisible Orientation: An Introductoin To Asexuality Review – Part 2 ctd

Today, I’ll be talking about the section of the book “Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” by Julie Sondra Decker, continuing with Part 2.

After discussing the LGBT communities and discrimination, Decker talks about the asexual community and the diversity of ages in the group. Unfortunately, most data and forums that are available about asexuality are skewed to young people, probably mostly under 30. Some of these reasons might be obvious, like most of the discussion surrounding asexuality tends to happen online, something that many older people may not be involved in.

As Decker pointed out, young people have become somewhat more open about their sexuality than in the past, which in turn, has had younger people admitting or at the very least, realising that they may not experience any sexual attraction at all.

There is data to suggest that people are “coming out”, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, a lot younger than in the past. In the past, gay people didn’t come out until they left home and gained independence, around the age of 16. Today, teens and even preteens are identifying as LGBT and coming out much earlier. (I want to talk more about younger people coming out as asexual later).

The fact that asexual people who are more likely to be open about asexuality has its drawbacks; that people mistaken asexuality as a phase, something that people will “grow out of”, or will “change their mind on” once they have had sex. This is contrary to much research that indicates that many people experience  and start to work out their orientation in early to mid teens,either with or without sexual experience. http://www.case.edu/lgbt/resources/safe-zone-resources/truth/

Asexual teens and young adults can experience alienation from most of mainstream media and their peers, where sex and sexuality are often main talking points. I can relate to this personally, especially before I identified as asexual. I actually tried to avoid all conversations about sexuality at this time. That got frustrating and lonely. To be perfectly honest, Personal Development (or as it’s called in Australia, Personal Development/ Health and Physical Education or PDHPE) classes didn’t really help in Year 10 because of a no real talk about sexuality outside the gay/ straight binary, the assumption that everyone knew whether they were gay or straight by the age of fifteen (I didn’t) and no distinction made between sexual and romantic attraction. I didn’t get any real dismissive comments about my age, although some did say that I was still young. On the other hand, a lot of it was the opposite. Because I was sixteen at the time, I was expected to have worked out who I was and the fact that I hadn’t identified as gay by then (or before), some people just assumed I was straight. So, I was straight… and felt no attraction to men… yeah, it made perfect sense… not. Just to be clear, I don’t begrudge anyone about this. I come from a small town and went to high school in a small town (not the same one) and, as I’ve written before, the discussion about LGBT and the complexities of sexuality can be limited.

Just another point about teens. It can be particularly for adolescent boys to acknowledge their own lack of sexual attraction. Society bombards young men with the idea that men are supposed to be “full of testosterone” and “getting laid”. The stigma surrounding lack of sexual attraction can be stigmatised by both people who are straight and the gay community. So much of how masculinity is viewed is largely based on sexual performance or the desire to make sexual conquests. I can’t help but think that this can only lead to low self – esteem in young asexual men, and other problems.

There is a tragic paradox when it comes to older asexual people. On one hand, society likes to desexualise older people, yet older people who are asexual are often ignored. Children get “grossed out” if an older couple visibly displays affection or talk about sex. Conversely, older asexual people, especially women, are often looked down upon if they are not partnered by a certain age. Now, this is according to Decker. I know a few older people (who aren’t asexual to my knowledge), but they are single. I haven’t heard any negative comments about them. What does plague women though, especially over thirty, is the “ticking” of the biological clock. Women are told to hurry up and seek a partner/ spouse before it’s too late to have children. I find that annoying, to be honest. I get that it can be harder for older women (especially over 35) to fall pregnant, but just telling women to “hurry up” isn’t necessary going to help. And, what about men? Just saying. It takes two to tango, right? Then again, there are IVF, fostering, etc that is open to single women and same – sex couples in some States (I think NSW is one of them). Just putting it out there. I get that it’s often controversial. I’ve talked about both sides of the gay parenting/ adoption debate before.

Funnily enough, according to Decker, women in their 30’s who identify as asexual are often referred as “late bloomers”. No kidding? That’s late… except of course that as I pointed out before that sexual orientation is often (not always) discovered in the teenage years, including asexuality.

I just want ot talk about the desexualisation of older people. In aged care, it’s now expected that workers acknowledge the sexuality of their clients, including those who are LGBT. All community service workers are expected to acknowledge and respect the fact that elderly people are (often) sexual beings. It’s actually unlawful under anti – discrimination legislation to prevent couples to express affection to each other in aged care facilities. This includes same – sex couples. I hope that this doesn’t put undue pressure on people who don’t want to seek or engage in sexual activity or be partnered, regardless of whether they identify as asexual or not. I’m hoping that it’ll be discussed more in the future and, ultimately, respected.

 

There are asexual people who don’t, or didn’t realise they were asexual until after they married or entered long – term relationships. For these people, their lack of sexual attraction is pushed aside and there is a lot of compromise in the relationship; more than what would’ve happened if the asexual partner would’ve known or acknoweledged their asexuality. This has lead many people in long – term relationships to be frustraed and the asexual partner internalising harmful beliefs about them and the relationship. There does seem to be a very damaging perception that people “owe” sex to their partners (or anyone).

I get sex can be seen as an important part of a relationship to most people, but I think it’s gotten to the point where dangerous attitudes have been accepted by society, such as if a partner/ spouse doesn’t get sex, then the other partner deserves to be cheated on. I get that deliberately withholding sex in a relationship, especially out of spite is not the best idea, but the load shouldn’t all be on the asexual person either. Both parties should take part in voicing their needs and desires and work out individually what compromises can be made (if any). If a compromise can’t be met, then they may make the decision to break up. But it’s not up to everyone else to decide who should do what.

 

Asexual visibility is relatively new. It’s clear that the lack of visibilty and acceptance of asexual people has affected people across all age groups. Overtime, I hope this will improve (I’m quietly optimistic).

 

 

Sexual Orientation vs Gender Identity

I’m baaaack! And I did have a great week.

i was scrolling a blog before and couldn’t help but think that some people don’t understand the difference and the link between gender identity and sexual identity and orientation. In context, the comment I read (I have a habit of scrolling through comments when I read blogs) and when this particular com entire mentioned the term ‘asexual’, I couldn’t work out if this person actually understood what being asexual was or whether the person thought it was something to do with gender. So here goes.

Physical sex is essentially ‘what’s between the legs’ and/ or what one is assigned at birth.

Gender identity is how one identifies, either male (cis), female (cis), transgender, etc. Transgender is an umbrella term for anyone who doesn’t identify as cis gender. These include: male to female (MTF), female to male (FTM), a gender, gender neautral (nutrois), gender queer, gender fluid and bi – gender.

Sexual orientation: pattern of sexual attraction which usually starts at puberty. This is not the same as behaviour (even though most people do act on their attractions). It isn’t the same as romantic orientation, although for most people, itdoes go hand – in – hand with one’s sexual orientation.

For those who are new to the concept of asexuality, it’s a SEXUAL ORIENTATION (or lack of one, if you prefer). It is NOT a gender identity. People who identify as asexual are cis gender (like myself), or can fit under the Trans umbrella. One necessarily anything to do with the other. Sure, if someone who is Trans, they could ‘turn’ asexual after transition, but there area lot that don’t.

Now, your sexual and romantic orientation is going to be affected by how you identify gender wise. For example a straight man is generally a cis male who is sexually (and usually romantically) attracted to cis women. From what I can understand, if a Trans woman is attracted to women, then, she’ll identify as a lesbian like a cis – woman would.

Now, I admit that what I’ve just written is overly simplistic. I just wanted to point out that there is a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity, and I’ll repeat, asexuality is a sexual orientation (or non orientation). It is not a gender.

Should Asexuals Use The Term ‘Queer’?

Should asexuals adopt the term ‘queer’? Where should the term be used?

Sometimes, debate is sparked,  both within and outside the asexual community about whether asexuality should be considered ‘queer’. An online survey published in ‘The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality revealed that 41% of respondents did identify with the ‘queer’ label. So is it? First, what is the definition of ‘queer’? Simple answer, depends who you ask.

If you look historically and socially, the term ‘queer’ is most often used as a slang term for gay. However, that strict definition has become to include more people: those who are Trans or not gender conforming, people who are a gender, people involved in kink/ fetish, and people who live non – traditional lifestyles, such as those involved in polyamory and sex work. Such a broad definition has faced some fierce criticism on Tumblr and other platforms from people who argue that gay people should use the term, and not people like asexuals.

So, is asexuality ‘queer’? I never use the term myself when talking/ blogging about asexuality. It never really crosses my mind to be frank. I’ve personally don’t have a problem with using it (in a non – insulting way). I think before it is used in any context, people’s feelings should be considered. The territorial nature of some people who argue that asexuals shouldn’t use the term I think are deliberately out to be divisive and are unnecessarily antagonistic. I understand that many LGBT have been and still face persecution. I’m not denying that. But there is something I want to point out too: most of us (well the ones I’ve seen on Facebook), want to ally with the LGBT. Many do rally at Pride parades in their cities and even support gay marriage. Some asexuals are even same – sex attracted themselves; not sexually, but romantically (homoromantic, bi – romantic,etc). Not exactly the same thing, I don’t think many people, if anyone, pretends that it is. Just let those people in!

As mentioned before, some people use the term ‘queer’ to describe non – normative sexual lifestyles that is not necessarily anything to do with one’s sexual/ romantic orientation. I don’t have any issue a about it personally. I just hope debates like this don’t cause unnecessary division and hostility.

What do you think about the term ‘queer’? Host should it be used, if at all?

Causes of Asexuality: Discussion

OK, I want to point out a theory and get people’s views on it. Scientists currently think that sexual orientation is most likely determined in the womb, depending on the exposure to prenatal hormones. So, for example, a foetus that turns out to be a straight male has been exposed to more testosterone in the womb. Gays, on the other hand, are said to be exposed to more oestrogen in the womb.

Is it possible or plausible that asexual people were exposed to a smaller amount of oestrogen or testosterone while in the womb to make them asexual?

What do you think? Does anyone know any science like this about asexuality?