More Ace Visibility

A while ago I was approached by another magazine to do a story on asexuality. I’ve decided that I want to take these sorts of opportunities to do visibility work about asexuality. Raising awareness by sharing your own intimate life story is a little challenging sometimes, because it really is your own experience that you are putting out there for everyone to see. But if one person can find an article like this in a popular magazine and feel a bit better about themselves, then that’s my goal achieved.

This is the outcome of that last magazine interview. I couldn’t get a high-resolution photo, so I’m transcribing it below.

New Idea: November 5 2012.

Aussie Beauty

Proud to Be Asexual

When it comes to sex, Jo simply has no desire.

When Jo Qualmann was younger and her friends had crushes on boys, she pretended she did too. But when things turned to sex, she realised she had no desire at all.

Now she has joined a wave of people – initially united through the internet – who are proudly coming out as asexual, or a person who feels love and intimacy without sexual attraction.

‘For a while I thought I was a lesbian,’ explains Jo, 20, of Yeerongpilly Queensland. ‘I had close relationships with girls, just like most women, and I thought perhaps they were crushes. But I realised that they were just what I call squishes – the excitement of a new platonic friendship. I didn’t want to be sexually active with them any more than I did I guy.’

Around a year ago, happy virgin Jo agreed to go on a date with a friend of a friend to see if she could perhaps trigger a sex drive. But when he made a move at the end of the night, she suddenly felt trapped.

‘I ran outside and spent the next few nights feeling miserable. I started searching the internet for an answer. That’s when I found the term “asexuality.” It fitted me perfectly and I felt a huge relief to know that others feel the same. I’ve become a large part of the asexual community since.’

Jo says one of the main problems she has is being “flirty,” because she has no idea what is deemed as sexual behaviour. ‘I love intimacy,’ she says. ‘I’ll often ask people at parties to give me a back run or hug them when I’ve only known them for a few hours. Some people think I’m flirting with them and get confused. So now I have to be upfront and explain that I like intimacy but not sexual behaviour.’

Jo only recently explained to her parents about her absence of sexual desire. They were both very supportive. ‘I think mum was more worried about missing out on being a grandmother. But I have two sisters to do that and if I do want to become a mum there are a multitude of options.’

Jo says she has no desire for a companion, but is aware that many asexuals pair up and have platonic relationships. For her, the most important thing is to be accepted. ‘I want people to start seeing asexuality as a sexual orientation. I want those out there like me to know it’s ok to be different, and I want everyone to accept us just as they have gay and bisexual communities.’

The facts:

-An asexual is someone who does not feel sexual attraction. Unlike chastity, in which a person may suppress desire, an asexual has no intrinsic interest.

-In a 1994 UK study, one per cent of the 18,876 surveyed claimed to be asexual.

-A separate study in 1983 found asexuals are more likely to have low self-esteem and depression.

Overall, I am happy with the result of the interview. There are a couple of things I find a little odd, such as the last statistic. Asexuality was not seen as an orientation in 1983, so the statistics probably reflect behaviours more than identities. But I have not read the study. And, inevitably, some of the anecdotes are simplifications. If this is the first you’ve heard about asexuality, or want to see other things I’ve written on this blog about asexuality and my experience, check out my first post here and posts in the asexuality category.


13 thoughts on “More Ace Visibility

  1. Oh! That turned out well. What a great piece to have in such a mainstream magazine. Talking about identity is so powerful. I hope other people who feel pressured to be something they’re not read this and find hope.
    I think it is really awesome and brave that you did this.

    1. Thanks Holly! It’s really such a good platform, having something in a major magazine like New Idea. (Though I can’t say it’s something I usually read!) I really hope that people can read this and feel a bit less pressure to do what everyone else expects as well, even if they’re not ace.

  2. What a great article! I really appreciate that you talk about these things. Honestly, asexuality is something that I do not see much information about, and I think your talking about it is a step in the right direction for society as a whole.

  3. I posted a link in the german aven forum. The way you present asexuality is great, but the magazine… Hum, what’s the matter with them? “Aussie Beauty”?! “Gosh, it’s a miracle, with her looks she could find someone who wants to lay her, but she doesn’t want to??” And this pic of the (hetero!) couple kissing crossed out? Hum…

    1. They did that to me in an asexuality article in The Daily Beast once. They described me as “Ivy, svelte and fair-skinned with waist-length blond hair.” I didn’t mind entirely but I did feel like they were trying to suggest “Psst–just in case you were wondering, she’s not ugly!” It’s really erasing to those people who are below-average attractiveness and happen to be on the ace spectrum, because it suggests that it’s fine to assign THOSE people an inability to get laid; it’s only for people who are more or less normatively attractive that we grant legitimacy for asexuality, but only in those cases!

    1. I think this is one of the reasons that line makes me a bit uncomfortable. Firstly because I don’t really consider myself beautiful – and that’s not bad self-esteem or anything, that’s just that I don’t put all that much value on beauty as something to be. I don’t think about it in that way. But yeah, it does seem to give of the “and she’s too pretty to not be able to get laid, so it can’t be that!” vibe, which is disturbing. Another one of those unassailable ace things, I guess. But you know it’s definitely visibility. And that’s a start. At least it wasn’t House MD-like!

      And the author’s name was Lisa Harmer. (Any particular reason for wanting to know?)

      Also, I feel kinda honoured to have THE swankivy on my blog. 😀

      1. Just wanted to know the author’s name because I wrote a book about asexuality and in the resources section I plan to have a list of the publications that have featured articles on the subject (along with their bibliog information). When I saw this I just wanted to add it to the list. The book is currently in consideration by one publisher and one agent. We’ll see.

        I feel the same about being called “beautiful” and things like it. Yes, the unassailable ace thing is difficult–we don’t want to unintentionally contribute to that erasure, though of course it’s helpful for getting your foot in the door in making people believe asexuality exists.

        None of the articles I’ve been interviewed for have ever had a picture attached, but that will apparently change on the next one. Photo shoot scheduled next week. I hope it doesn’t get spun the same way, but it may, and I guess there’s not much we can do about it.

        Also, I always think it’s funny when people talk about me like I’m famous. ^___^

      2. That’s great news on your book, I hope it all goes well! Have fun at the photo shoot too, it’s definitely an interesting experience. And kinda exhausting. Hopefully your article turns out well. Do you get a read-back or anything? This one was read back to me and I was able to get some things changed a bit, but I didn’t know what the headlines etc. were going to be.

      3. I’ve never had a readback for anything I’ve been interviewed for, so boy, that would be nice. No shoot yet–they had to postpone.

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