I Am Not Asexual, and Why I Care What Others Call Me

A reflection by Sarah

Last week, I wrote a post on some problems I see with defining LGBTQ terminology rigidly and attempting to qualify who is or is not LGBTQ. I’m thankful for all the stimulating discussions that post initiated with friends and readers, including some folks who were encountering our blog for the first time. One of my favorite aspects of blogging is witnessing how quickly a 1,500 word reflection can spark multiple conversations that take off on trajectories I never would have anticipated. In my post from last week, I had stated the following:

I am a lesbian. I experience attraction to women. Occasionally that attraction does include sexual thoughts. However, I experience sexual desire rather infrequently. I can’t even remember the last time I had a desire for sex. I am committed to sharing life with a partner whom I love, but to whom I am not sexually attracted, and who has trouble picking out which letters of the alphabet soup are the best fit.

I was surprised to see that a fair number of the resulting conversations, including one on that post’s comments section, involved suggestions that I must be asexual. Perhaps part of it was because in some of these conversations (particularly on Facebook and Twitter), I was using the example of an asexual lesbian to demonstrate that LGBTQ sexual identity doesn’t necessarily have to involve the desire for sex. But in most cases, even after I explained that I am not asexual, the assertions continued. Over the past week, I’ve been wondering what exactly has led so many readers to assume that I’m asexual, why I’m so quick to claim that I’m not, and whether the answers to these questions are even relevant to the conversations Lindsey and I are trying to initiate. After several days of reflection, I’ve come to see how important the topic of asexuality is to explorations of celibacy, so I’ve chosen to address it for the first time today.

Most of the time, I resist writing posts that delve deeply into topics that are only vaguely related to my own experience of life. I’m quick to call out straight Christians who make ignorant statements about gay/lesbian topics despite their lack of firsthand knowledge. I don’t want to do the same thing to asexuals, so let me make clear: everything I say in this post is from my own experience, and it should not be taken as a critique of the asexual community, or as evidence that all people currently embracing the term “asexual” will eventually realize that they are wrong.

My first reaction to seeing the aforementioned conversations about my blog post was, “Whoa…blast from the past!” Very early in my coming out process, I did experiment with the term “asexual” as a possible identity descriptor. There was a time, back in the earlier years of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) message boards, when I interacted regularly with the asexual community and thought I might be one of them. While most of my now-closest friends were beginning their affiliations with the Gay Christian Network (GCN), I was spending much of my spare time chatting it up with the folks at AVEN. I met some great people during my time on the AVEN boards and got back in touch with a couple of them once Facebook became a more popular way of keeping up with friends, but in time I saw that the term “asexual” was not a good fit for me and it has been years since I’ve even thought much about asexuality.

AVEN currently defines the term “asexual” as, “Someone who does not experience sexual attraction.” There aren’t many other definitions available because asexuality is not widely recognized as a sexual orientation as of 2014. AVEN’s definitions page offers other terms as well such as “demisexual” (someone who can only experience sexual attraction after an emotional bond has been formed) and “gray asexual” or “gray-sexual” (someone who identifies with the area between asexuality and sexuality). As many readers have pointed out, my description of my own level of sexual desire could easily fit somewhere within the broad spectrum of asexual self-identification. One reader referred to me as gray-sexual and insisted that this was an appropriate label for me whether I like it or not. Generally, I believe it is a sign of respect to honor other people’s identities as they understand them. I can’t think of too many things that make me feel more disenfranchised than another person claiming to know better than I do what I am or am not, or what I believe or don’t believe. Could someone with the exact same level of sexual desire as I have rightly claim a term like “asexual” or “gray-sexual”? Sure. If a person sees nonexistent or limited sexual desire as a key component of his or her identity, who am I to say that is unimportant? But it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t identify with these terms.

So does my preferred terminology (lesbian) have any relevance if I’ve chosen a way of life that doesn’t include sexual activity? If Lindsey and I are intentionally celibate, why does it matter what I call myself? Yes, I think it does matter, and two reasons come to mind immediately.

First, identifying as “asexual” rather than “sexual” would change the meaning of my commitment to celibacy. I understand my celibacy within the context of vocation. All vocations involve giving of oneself and making sacrifices for the sake of the Kingdom. Lindsey and I believe that God has given both of us the gift of celibacy, which makes certain aspects of our daily living different from that of other LGBT people who have chosen celibacy purely out of obedience. But this doesn’t mean our celibacy comes without consequence. Sometimes, a way of life that one feels called to comes naturally and is easy, but at other times it is challenging and even feels painful. There are occasions when I begin to think that the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence. As I’ve mentioned before, I felt drawn to celibacy for several years before actually committing to it. I spent a few years second-guessing myself, shifting back and forth between liberal and conservative approaches to sexual ethics, and trying to determine if being obedient to my Christian tradition would necessitate squelching my attractions to other women. As I was dealing with all of this, I didn’t even question whether possibly spending the rest of my life without sexual activity would be a sacrifice — I knew it would be. I knew that in making the decision to live celibacy I would be giving up one very important way of connecting with others, and that would be hard. Especially since pursuing celibacy with Lindsey, I’ve only seen confirmation of this. I still experience sexual attraction to other women, even though it’s rare and even though I’m not sexually attracted to Lindsey. I’ve been in sexually active relationships before, and there’s no denying that these kinds of relationships are vastly different from what Lindsey and I share. Once in a blue moon, I’ll think back on those and miss that kind of connection. Thus, the idea of identifying with asexuality just doesn’t sit well with me.

Second, I have radically different emotional associations for the terms “lesbian” and “asexual,” and I see this as at least partially related to my experience as a survivor of sexual violence. It’s erroneous to suggest that a person who is LGBTQ (or a person who is asexual, for that matter) would necessarily have been heterosexual (or sexual at all) had it not been for a sexual trauma. It’s also incorrect to say that spending time in therapy to heal from sexual trauma will make a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person straight, a transgender person identify with his/her biological sex, or an asexual person sexual. I believe that my lesbian sexual orientation is completely unrelated to my sexual abuse, but I also believe that some people form their entire concept of sexual orientation around those kinds of experiences. If I’m totally honest with myself, I have to admit that’s exactly what I was doing in experimenting with the asexual label for a season of life. During that time, I knew deep down that I had a sexual orientation; I just didn’t want one. I was fearful of what it would mean to accept myself as a sexual person, and I knew that the rare sexual attractions I experienced were toward women. In my mind, adopting the term “asexual” was the easy way out of acknowledging my PTSD and having to struggle with questions of faith and sexuality. It would also save me from total rejection, I thought. I knew that sooner or later, I would have to tell people I wasn’t straight. All the assumptions and questions about why I didn’t have a boyfriend were weighing on me heavily. I was aware that whether I came out as lesbian or asexual, everyone who knew of my being a survivor would blame my abuse and tell me that I should seek counseling to become “normal.” But I thought, “At least if I tell people I’m asexual, they can’t say I’m doing anything wrong.” At the time, the asexual label seemed like the amoral option. I stopped identifying with “asexual” after realizing that use of the term was causing me a great deal of sexual frustration. Oddly enough, I’ve never experienced stronger and more frequent sexual desire than I did during my season of identifying as “asexual.” I consider that more than enough evidence that this label is not the most fitting for me. It’s interesting how coming to identify freely as “lesbian” was part of what opened the gift of celibacy up to me.

The problem with claiming to know another person’s sexual identity better than he or she does is that no two journeys through life are exactly the same. Two people who experience almost identical levels of sexual, emotional, and romantic attraction can have profoundly different senses of identity due to their histories and worldviews. Assigning a sexual identity label to a person other than oneself privileges one’s own self-understanding to an extent. It’s overly simplistic to assume that a one-sentence definition can convey accurately how every person who uses a particular term would describe its meaning. Regardless of whose definition for “asexual,” “gray-sexual,” or any other term a person might fit, his or her own internal sense of self should be honored and respected.

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.

31 thoughts on “I Am Not Asexual, and Why I Care What Others Call Me

  1. Clarification: while I was discussing this post with a friend on Facebook, I realized that some people might interpret a couple of sentences in this post as my saying that terms like “gay” and “lesbian” are opposite of “asexual.” Certainly a person can identify as both. I don’t see them as opposites. But for me, they have very different connotations and I do see them as having incompatible meanings within the context of my own life experience. -Sarah

  2. First, I’m sorry that people were being jerks to you about that post. Second, as someone who read that post and didn’t respond because I didn’t want to be a jerk, I admit I was bothered by it. Those of us who do experience strong sexual attraction and temptation on a daily or weekly basis sometimes read blogs like this to know we’re not alone, that Christ can give the strength for celibacy even in the midst of a battle. When I read that you’re not sexually tempted (or only rarely), my first instinct was “THAT’S NOT FAIR! How come she has a get-out-of-jail free card for celibacy?”

    Of course, I stopped myself and realized how ridiculous that was, that everyone has a difficult road and that you battle sin with the same blood, sweat and tears as the rest of us on this painful earth. Just because you don’t want to jump Lindsey’s bones every time you’re alone together doesn’t mean celibacy is easy or you’re waltzing through life. But that initial reaction might explain some of the responses you got (“it’s easy for you to be a lesbian because you’re NOT”). Sorry about that, and I’m now doubly glad I didn’t respond.

    One more thing, and maybe you’ve already done a post on this, but I’ve always understood mutual sexual attraction to be the only distinction between a friendship and a romantic relationship. My best friend and I have a similar relationship to yours – committed for life, love one another deeply, serve the Lord together – but I would never have thought of calling her my partner since the sexual attraction isn’t there. What is it for the two of you that makes your relationship distinct from friendship? I’m curious because I want to deepen my understanding of both types of relationship.

    • Hi Ivy. I really appreciate your honesty and vulnerability in this comment. I’m glad you feel comfortable sharing with me that my post left you feeling bothered in some ways. I can empathize. There are other situations in my life in which I interact with other people who share similar experiences, but then I find out that in some ways our experiences of the same thing are very different. In a way, it does seem unfair. I can see that. But you’re right that having a lower sex drive doesn’t necessarily make celibacy easy. There are other aspects of celibacy as a vocation that I find quite challenging, especially the part about learning how to turn myself outward in service to the world instead of inward on myself. Self-centeredness is a sin I struggle with on a daily basis.

      I’ll try to answer your question briefly, though we could probably write a whole post on this topic. I’m attracted to Lindsey on a deep emotional, spiritual, and intellectual level that goes beyond my attractions to other people in my life, even very close friends. It seemed to both of us that doing life together forever would be a good decision. It has definitely turned out to be so. We’ve seen a lot of good fruit as a result of our sharing a household, struggles, joys, and life in general. The term “partner” just felt right to us because we believe we have work to do together for the good of others and for the kingdom of God. We are partners in the life we share–all aspects of it. The term “partner” does have sexual connotations for a lot of people. We are aware of that. I’ll admit that the way we’ve understood our relationship in the past hasn’t always been exactly the same as we understand it now. But that’s the beauty of growing together as we share a spiritual life and we try to listen for what God has to teach us about where he’s calling us. I hope that is helpful. I can add more if needed. 🙂

      Sarah

      • That’s beautiful. Wow. Thank you for sharing – I can definitely see why “partner” is the right term for the two of you, even though it can be a little confusing with its connotations. I’ve also wrestled with using the word “friend” to describe my relationship with Amanda since we’re really non-romantic life partners – but the word partner doesn’t work for us either. “Best friends”, although weak, is what seems like the best term for us. I wish English had a better one. 🙂

        Re: your comment lower down about “I wish I had your problem” – I would love to read that post! I find it really hard not to make those comparisons and it’s like poison to any relationship or discussion. It makes it next to impossible to love others. Thankfully Jesus is maturing me (slowly) and someday I hope to be free of envy and my inferiority complex. Maybe in heaven?

        • Since you and other readers have expressed interest in the topic I made reference to in my comment to Dale, I’ve added the idea to Lindsey’s and my list of future posts. Give me a few weeks to think on it, and I’ll write something! -Sarah

  3. Ok I read this. I read what you said before. I read what I said too you. I have been wondering about a question. Does somebody that doesn’t want to do much sex have trouble being accepted at church? I go to the MCC church and people that come there went to other churches and the churches told them to not have sex. If you don’t want to have sex does that mean you get free accepted at your church? Does that make you different any from a straight person there?

    • Hi Belinda. No, our commitment to celibacy does not give us a free pass to being accepted at our church. There will always be people who assume that we aren’t celibate no matter what we say, and those who aren’t kind to non-celibate LGBT people aren’t much more likely to show us kindness. I have to say, though, that our parish has come a long way in welcoming us since we first started attending. -Sarah

  4. i so relate with your comments about asexuality as a means not to acknowledge PTSD after sexual abuse. i’m a rape survivor, and for several years after the assault, i flirted with the ‘asexual’ label. it was easier to use that trauma as the reason i didn’t have any attractions to men, as at the time i was totally unable to acknowledge, let alone accept, that i’m attracted to women. whether i remain single/commit to celibacy or pursue a romantic relationship is still a matter of discernment, but i do feel it was a healthy step toward recovery for me to be able to acknowledge that i do have sexual attractions, and deep needs for authentic intimacy.

    • We’re definitely not alone in that. I know of other people who have had similar experiences with trying to figure out how to describe their sexual orientations. Glad you found the post helpful. -Sarah

  5. “First, identifying as “asexual” rather than “sexual” would change the meaning of my commitment to celibacy. I understand my celibacy within the context of vocation.”

    It seems like your discussions of vocation include marriage and celibacy (in monastic, single, or partnered contexts). If someone *is* asexual, how do they fit into this scheme? Would an asexual person have a vocation?

    From my (asexual*) perspective, the concept of celibacy as a vocation or commitment makes no sense as applied to myself, although I recognize that it does for other people.The word “celibate” itself doesn’t even feel particularly accurate to describe me — even though it’s technically correct — as it normally implies some degree of abstinence or, at the least, an actually possible alternative state. But for me there is no experience of abstaining from anything, and the idea of being in a sexual relationship with someone is unimaginable.

    * Though, of course, asexual perspectives and experiences vary widely.

    • Hello BL. That’s an excellent question. How an asexual person fits into this scheme really depends upon the person. I’m not sure of your religious background, but one of my deeply held religious beliefs is that God calls all of us either to marriage or to some kind of celibate way of life. But I don’t believe every person experiences this in the same sense that Lindsey and I do. I don’t think it necessarily has to be a clear assurance from God that this is what a person is supposed to do. Sometimes, especially with single celibacy lived outside a monastery, people just fall into certain ways of life over a period of time. I think there can be just as much meaning in this as when a person chooses a vocation. Lindsey and I wrote a post near the very beginning of our blog called “Defining Celibacy.” In that post, we talked about how we see celibacy as something much deeper and more significant than sexual abstinence or not having sex. We see it as involving hospitality, vulnerability, commitment, and a shared spiritual life. The commitment part isn’t just a commitment to sexual abstinence. You can read that here if you’re interested: http://aqueercalling.com/2014/01/18/defining-celibacy/. All vocations involve these features to a certain extent, but celibates usually live them in different ways. For example, because we’re not married and don’t have a family to look after, we’re able to open our home to friends and other folks who need a place to stay or need help with something, and we can do this much more easily than a family with children would be able to do. And we feel that because we have the ability, it’s something we *should* be doing in service to others. So even if the “not having sex” part of celibacy isn’t even a choice for an asexual person, that person might still be able to experience celibacy as a vocation. Some asexual people feel called to marriage as a vocation. Everyone’s story is different. For me, acknowledging that I am a sexual person is an important part of my vocation to celibacy. Others might not feel the same. I’m sure there are intentional celibates who do identify as asexual. Even if I did identify as being somewhere on asexual/gray-sexual/demi-sexual lines and God was calling me to celibacy as a vocation, I’m certain that vocation would still have meaning. But the meaning and the way I understand it would probably be very different if I didn’t see myself as a “sexual” person. I also believe that people’s understandings of their vocations change over time. I’d be surprised if I understand my celibacy 5, 10, 25 years down the road in exactly the same way as I do now. -Sarah

      • Sarah,

        Thanks for the reply. I appreciate it, but have not gotten around to saying so for the past few days, for various reasons.

        I have read the post you linked — and for that matter most of the posts on the blog. But, honestly, although much of what you and Lindsey write resonates with aspects of my own life, I’ve always found the way you talk about celibacy hard to wrap my mind around. When I try to think through it, something about it just doesn’t make sense to me.

        The crux of my confusion, I think, is that it’s not clear to me why aspects of celibacy as you (broadly) define it — including hospitality, vulnerability, etc. — necessarily have anything to do with celibacy narrowly defined as an absence of sexual activity. Your broader definition does make the idea of celibacy as vocation more intelligible to me, but it’s hard for me to see what those things have to do with the celibacy narrowly defined.

        The comment about the opportunities / responsibilities that come from not having a family helps some. But even then, it’s not obvious to me what that has to do with celibacy per se, as there are also married people who don’t, or can’t, have families (infertility, etc.).

        I don’t know if this adequately gets at where my confusion lies, but maybe it does… I don’t mean to criticize or argue with your conception of celibacy (hopefully that’s clear). I respect what you and Lindsey have to say; I just don’t understand aspects of it.

        p.s. My religious background is — well, let’s just say, complicated. 🙂 But I’m currently a catechumen in the Orthodox Church.

        • Hi BL. Sorry it has taken me a bit to get back to you.

          Your confusion is understandable. If you happened to look at the comments on our Defining Celibacy post, you probably saw that others have been confused as well. Traditionally, marriage and celibate ways of life (in the past, almost exclusively monasticism) have been understood as the two possible types of vocations for Christians. But historically, the lives of celibates have been about so much more than just “not having sex.” Because vocations bring us closer to God and help us to manifest the Kingdom of God (I feel like we overuse that phrase, but I don’t know of a better way to say it), they necessarily bring us out of ourselves in service to others through prayer, the things we do for others, etc. Certainly the married vocation also includes hospitality, commitment, spirituality, and vulnerability, but the way married people engage with those is almost always different than the way celibate people do. For example, I imagine a family with young children will have a different sort of shared spiritual life than most celibates do. For families, part of the shared spiritual life is teaching children the very basics of prayer and spirituality. We’re not saying that non-celibates can’t also experience all four items we list in our definition of celibacy (which, why the way, is something we consider a *working* definition).

          So what does all this have to do with sexual abstinence? Christianity traditionally teaches that sex should be reserved for marriage. If you believe in and practice this traditional teaching, you will either be sexually abstinent until marriage, decide at some point to become a celibate for life, or stumble upon celibacy as a way of life because you just never happened to get married, didn’t want to marry, etc. For Christians, there is much more to life than simply having a family or not, having sex or not. By forgoing marriage (or by choosing a celibate way of life even if you never wanted to get married in the first place), celibate people are able to serve God and the world in ways that non-celibate people aren’t. Both vocations can help a person lead a good, holy life. Both are necessary. But if you define the vocation of celibacy as simply “not having sex,” you’re missing the point of what a vocation is supposed to be in the first place.

          I hope at least some of that made sense. feel free to keep asking questions.

          Sarah

          • Thanks. It seems like the distinction ultimately being made in your discussion of celibacy as vocation is between married and unmarried paths of life — where the latter within a traditional context of course includes celibacy narrowly defined, but is not about or restricted to that.

            I think my (literally inclined) mind was perhaps just getting stuck on the word “celibacy.”I might just need to mentally translate for myself celibacy as vocation with something like “unmarried vocation.” Not suggesting that’s better terminology for your purposes, obviously, and it has the disadvantage of framing it in negative terms with respect to marriage — but as a translation for myself. In those terms, it makes a lot more sense to me.

            From an Orthodox perspective, it’s also interesting to relate this discussion to the fact that we have both married and unmarried (celibate) priests. The similarities and differences in the way these priests live might be a useful analogue to talking about the lives of married and unmarried lay people.

          • “From an Orthodox perspective, it’s also interesting to relate this discussion to the fact that we have both married and unmarried (celibate) priests. The similarities and differences in the way these priests live might be a useful analogue to talking about the lives of married and unmarried lay people.”

            Yes, I’d be interested in discussing this more too. There’s not just one type of “vocation to the priesthood” in all Christian traditions. There’s not just one “vocation to celibacy either.” So many factors play into what our vocations look like and how we live them.

            Sarah

  6. This is such a beautiful and gentle response to the hurtful comments on your other post, and your reflections on your own journey of sacred self naming are powerful and helpful to me. Thank you.

    Thank you also for the reflections on your chosen name of partner to express your and Linsdey’s commitment which insightfully answer my own question in comments at the other post about that issue. If you are comfortable sharing it I would be interested to know how widely you use the term–for instance, would you use it in your parish where people know you are a team and its sounds like they are learning to love and honor you for who you are. Or would common assumptions about partner equaling a sexually active couple make your acceptance there more difficult and/or lead to intrusive/disrespectful questions about the place of sexuality in your relationship? (Somewhat analogously to my own tendency to add “faithful and monogamous” when identifying myself as a bi woman in a straight marriage, hating that I feel like I have to, because so many people identify bisexuality with promiscuity and/or polyamory–not that a healthy holy committed poly marriage is impossible IMHO–just even more complicated than dealing with one spouse!)

    • Hi Laura. I’ll get to your other comment on the other post soon too. 🙂

      We use different terminology for ourselves in different situations depending upon how safe we both feel. For example, at church we don’t use the word “partner,” but no one has ever asked us if we *are* partners. People just assume that we are and don’t say anything. The people at our church are slowly becoming more welcoming of us, and that makes us feel really great. If it’s not a safe situation, usually we just describe ourselves as “Sarah and Lindsey.” It seems disingenuous to describe ourselves as “roommates.” When other people describe us as “friends,” we usually don’t correct them because in addition to being partners, teammates, and family, we *are* best friends. But we don’t actually use that word for ourselves unless someone else says it.

      As for intrusive and disrespectful questions, that does happen sometimes and it doesn’t matter what terms we use. Some people always ask questions that we consider inappropriate. In those cases, we just have to be firm with boundaries and tell people outright, “We consider that an inappropriate question.”

      Sarah

  7. Hey, Sarah. I’m a 53 year old gay man with a low libido due to anti-depressant medication I take. When I mention this to young men, gay or straight, there reaction may be something along the lines of, “Man you’re lucky. I wish I had your problem.”

    My advice to them would be, “Be careful what you wish for.” Sexual desire can be troublesome, especially for young adults. But any relationship can fall flat without even the hint of sexual attraction.

    I’ve noticed, particularly with young gay men who are Side B a tendency to smother all sexual feelings, in a false belief that all sexual temptation could be eradicated if only the wicked sex drive would go away.

    • Hi Dale. I do get a lot of the “You’re lucky,” and “It’s not fair,” comments. I agree with you that people tend to assume the presence of a low/nonexistent sex drive means celibacy is easy. It’s definitely not. These sorts of comments often strike me in the same way as hearing a larger person saying to a skinny person who can’t gain weight, “I wish I had your problem!” Those sorts of comments assume (usually incorrectly) that because someone else has what one thinks one wants, the other person’s life must be worry-free. Sounds like a topic for a new post! -Sarah

  8. (linked here from the Asexual Agenda)

    I have to admit, I don’t exactly understand people with strong religious leanings–I was raised sort of Christian but mostly agnostic, and I tried to find some kind of religion for a while, but the emotion wasn’t really there. I tried to feel some kind of kinship or presence of God and I couldn’t, I was just going through the motions. I’m just not very spiritual, I guess. But although strong religious emotions have always been mysterious to me, I can definitely understand the rest of this post, why you would feel drawn to one term over another, and how it feels to have others apply terms to you without your consent.

    I wasn’t going to leave a reply, but then I got down to the comments section and one thing you said in particular really resonated with me:

    “For example, because we’re not married and don’t have a family to look after, we’re able to open our home to friends and other folks who need a place to stay or need help with something, and we can do this much more easily than a family with children would be able to do. And we feel that because we have the ability, it’s something we *should* be doing in service to others.”

    As an asexual aromantic, and someone who has never felt driven to find a partner or raise children, this IS something I’ve felt VERY driven to do. And as soon as I’m no longer living in a shared space, it’s something I will do. So maybe I understand your position better than I originally thought. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective with me. I think there are probably a lot of similarities between the ways of life some asexuals lead and the way of life that Lindsey and I lead. One doesn’t have to be religious in order to see that celibacy can be a fulfilling way of life. Our religion is very important to us and does play a role in how we understand our celibacy, but that’s not true of every celibate and we have no problem with that. Thanks for stopping by today. We would love to have more conversations with you in the future! -Sarah

  9. To offer another asexual perspective, while I have no intrinsic interest in sex, I could choose to engage in sexual activities for other reasons (there can often be a lot of societal or individual pressure to do so, in fact). I choose not to, and therefore consider celibacy to be a fully conscious and intentional choice on my part. I would also like to say that the idea that celibacy is “easy” for asexual people assumes that celibacy is only about abstaining from sex. This ignores many other aspects of the celibate experience including the difficulty of finding people who are interested in celibate relationships, life opportunities that one may be cut off from, and stigma from the larger society towards people who are celibate, among other factors. I really appreciate how this blog explores many of these issues.

    I follow a very different religious tradition (Islam) from yours which doesn’t use the specific terminology of “vocation”. However, I believe that the very strong internal sense I have that sex is not right for me reflects that God has decreed celibacy as the best way for me. I seek to understand how I can best live this out in accordance with His will and to serve Him through it. So a lot of what you talk about at A Queer Calling resonates very deeply with me and I’m delighted to discover people from other traditions who have something in common with me.

    The type of relationship you have as a celibate partnership is very close to what I hope that I might find for myself some day and I am grateful that you have written so much about both the challenges you experience and the benefits you find in it.

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’m always amazed at how many different stories of celibacy there are, and how they are alike in some ways yet still distinct. Glad you found our blog, and we hope you’ll come back and engage with us more in conversation. We would be interested in hearing more about how celibacy is meaningful in your faith life.

      Sarah

  10. I have a slightly different issue as it pertains to asexuality.

    To sum it up, I suffered from major depression as a teen, mostly as the result of a great deal of harassment in my middle/high school years at the hands of girls. I’ve spent a great deal of my adult life with quite a negative attitude towards women as a result. To make matters worse, I became a born-again Christian when I was 19, and some of the sex-negative teachings of the collective Church made me associate a tremendous amount of guilt and shame with my sexuality, to the point where I pretty much repressed it almost completely out of existence. (I’d say I’ve been “95% asexual” for the better part of two decades.)

    It’s been in recent years that I feel as though God has urged me to deal with this and other issues, and He is indeed delivering me from the guilt and shame that haunted me for so long. I also feel like He may be urging me to seek out a wife; He’s used people in the past to bless me and to prove me wrong about some of my negative views of people and life at large.

    I guess I’m writing this just to get it off my chest. Prayers would be appreciated.

    • Hi Chris, thanks for trusting us with some of your story here. May God grant you wisdom and guide your steps. We hope to see you in the comments again!

  11. This is quite interesting. I have not viewed celibacy as anything other than a personal preference to avoid sinking great amounts of time and energy into finding a partner, time that I would rather spend doing other things (mostly being a workaholic in health care).

    • Hi Nancy. I think celibacy can mean many different things to many different people. For me, it’s just as much a spiritual pursuit as a physical and emotional one. For others, it might very well be nothing more than a personal preference. -Sarah

  12. I really, really admire your courage in being so honest on this blog and in this piece. Thank you. A friend today and I were discussing how so much of identifying as queer for us seems imbued with the assumption and expectation of sexual activity, multiple partners over time, or a larger-than-(straight)-life sex drive. And that just isn’t true for everyone, and such a queer culture that expects high sexual drives becomes itself exclusive.

  13. “I believe it is a sign of respect to honor other people’s identities as they understand them. I can’t think of too many things that make me feel more disenfranchised than another person claiming to know better than I do what I am or am not, or what I believe or don’t believe[…] Assigning a sexual identity label to a person other than oneself privileges one’s own self-understanding[…] ” Well said! Thank you for your thoughtful discourse.

Leave a Reply