I’ve been trying on the label of grey asexual/demisexual. . . And it fits. (1,2)
I learned about asexuality and demisexuality a couple years ago, from a friend who is demisexual. I’ve been wondering if it fits me since the beginning of this year. But it was hard to tell, because of my teen years that were steeped in purity culture. When sexual attraction, romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, strong emotions, flirting, crushes, pleasure and hormones all get tied up together and labelled into one bundle called “lust” that must then be avoided at all cost, things get confusing.
I’ve been slowly sorting through all of that, and reading more about demisexuality, asexuality and grey asexuality. Am I demisexual or is it just purity culture ghosts? Is something I’ve asked myself a lot over the past few months.
But quite frankly, I’ve always been confused by what people mean when they talk about sexual attraction. What IS sexual attraction? I still don’t really know and I’m 28.
Apparently when people watch Bridgerton and said the Duke was hot they didn’t just mean he looks good? There was something more going on with that? Apparently people got excited about the sex scenes for more than just OH DAYUM LOOK AT THE STORYTELLING GOING ON HERE? (Me, I was excited that finally it wasn’t just two people having sex; it actually moved the plot along.)
Apparently, when people say someone is hot they actually are interested in what is between someone’s legs and not between their ears? They’re not interested in what radiates from someone’s personality?
But what tipped me over from “Hm I wonder if I’m demisexual or grey ace?” into “Yeah, I’m owning the label of grey asexual now” was a work party a week and a half ago.
There were about 12 of us hanging out in one girl’s backyard, all in our 20s, all girls except for one gay guy. Basically like the demographics of my college classes (lol fashion school). And I swear literally half the conversation was sexual in nature. Who likes who at work, what they’d like to do with them. Descriptions of body parts. Talking about how hot someone is. Innuendo.
And I did not relate. I wanted to go back to talking about how brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale and canola all have the same ancestor plant, because that was legitimately more interesting to me.
I had the same roll my eyes can we get back to real conversation reaction in college to my classmates talking about sex, but back then I thought it was all because talking about sex outside of marriage was indecent and borderline sinful.
Now, I don’t really care, and I don’t consider sex a forbidden thing. The fear and knee jerk religious shame and disgust were gone. But I was having the same eye rolling reaction.
Being around so much sexual conversation made me realize how much I don’t care about sexual conversation. . . and made me see that people don’t conceptualize sexual attraction the same way I do. Like when they say someone’s hot they actually want to bone them? A complete stranger? A celebrity? When I say someone’s hot I mean they look good and I want be around them and pester them with 12 billion questions to get to know them better and maybe snuggle with them (with clothes ON).
The next night I went down major bunny trails on asexualityarchive.com and related so much to what was being said, it threw the events of the work party into even starker contrast and I thought
well. Guess I’m some sort of asexual.
(I’m still not sure if I’m actually demisexual, because again, I’m a bit mystified about what sexual attraction IS. I think I’ve experienced it in the past, and most of the time there was emotional connection first, but I’m still examining my past experiences so I’m currently using and prefer the label “grey asexual”, because it allows for more ambiguity.)
I’ve done a lot of untangling of purity culture’s harmful ideas over the past seven years. But with my new revelation of being grey asexual, things are about to get even more interesting.
Because here’s the thing. I fit really well into courtship culture and purity culture because “don’t have sex until you’re married” I just shrug and say ok, sex before being in a committed relationship sounds sketchy anyway. Gold star. A+ for following purity culture rules. In a lot of ways, I didn’t experience damage from purity culture because I wasn’t fighting my sexual urges. But I experienced damage in a lot of other ways, because sexual and romantic attraction were conflated, and then I was shamed for what I now understand was romantic attraction toward guys. I’ll be unpacking how purity culture did and didn’t affect me due to being grey asexual for a while, I think.
And then there’s the consideration that uh, I’m on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. I kind of landed there with a bump. Thankfully, I’ve unpacked and deconstructed enough of evangelical purity culture that I’m cool with people being LGBTQ+, and I don’t think God is at all against that. But it’s strange to find myself in that spectrum, that I was told for years and years is sinful. And at the same time I SUPER fit the stereotypical perfect Pure Christian Girl because of my sexual orientation and y’all that is a weird feeling.
So uh, hi, guess I’m grey ace.
- For those not familiar with these terms, asexual means someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction to other people. Grey asexual (greyace/greysexual) or demisexual are terms that fall under the broader umbrella of asexuality. Greyace people experience sexual attraction toward people only under specific circumstances, and demisexual people only experience sexual attraction toward someone if they have a strong emotional connection established.
- The language of sexuality in the Asexual and LGBTQ+ community is very precise. (Asexuality is also considered part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.) Using those terms, I would now say I’m a cisgender heteroromantic grey asexual woman. This means I was assigned female at birth, and identify as female. I’m romantically attracted towards men. And I experience sexual attraction toward people (specifically men in my case) rarely and under specific circumstances.