Hey everyone. How’s it going?
Anyway, I’m asexual.
I’ve known it for a long time now, but I’m just now getting around to telling people about it. So, yeah, there you go.
Alright, so that’s that then. That was easy.
For those of you who may not fully know what I’m talking about, asexuality basically means that I don’t feel sexual attraction to either sex, men or women. It’s not incredibly common, but it’s also not completely out of the norm, either. About 1% of the population, give or take, identify as asexual, or are at least more asexually leaning than other orientations. It can run the gamut from people who don’t want any sexual, or even physical interaction in their lives whatsoever, to people in committed relationships who do have sex, but do so with their partner with the understanding that it’s not a persistent need for them. I’m more on that end than the other. It’s known as ‘Gray’, or ‘grey-sexual’, meaning I don’t rule it out entirely, but it’s something that I don’t really have a desire for currently. Not saying never again, just being truthful about where I’ve been and where I’m at right now.
I’ve always known there was something a little ‘off’ about the way I viewed relationships and sex. I never experienced any trauma or shame about it, but I had the suspicion early on that perhaps other people viewed it differently than I did. I saw people become far more interested in it far quicker than I did as a kid. I have distinct memories of middle school and high school, telling myself “Okay, if anyone asks, (Random Girl X) is who you have a crush on”. I’d like to take this moment to thank the various Random Girl X’s I’ve had for being dandy placeholders when I needed you.
I grew up to be a bit of a weird kid, and along with that came the basic assumptive traits one would put on a kid like me. A little awkward, shy, most likely straight but probably just looking for the right person. Probably.
I entered my 20s, and largely viewed these parts of growing up as going through the motions. Lost my virginity, had a small handful of failed relationships, pretty much the usual. I always knew it mattered less to me than it seemingly did to others. I’ve never really had a serious long term girlfriend, and it never really bothered me. Other people were losing their god damn minds about sex and relationships, and I considered myself lucky that I only had garden variety anxiety and depression to deal with. I got along with everyone, and figured with time the ship would right itself.
Then, about five years ago, things were pretty dim. Creatively, I was in a rut. I was lonely, working a job I hated (the Smut Shoppe, which I’m sure some of you will assume was not a coincidence), feeling very unfulfilled, and not really sure what the problem was.
So I quit that job, went back to a better job (yay, Archangel Fireworks), wrote my first one person show, and promised myself that I’d never let my self worth drift that low ever again. To give myself a new thing to focus on, and I got to making One Sheets. A brand new creative pursuit that not only resulted in bad ass looking art, but also reinvigorated me. I loved making stuff again. I started loving stand up again. I wrote another Fringe show. I made bigger things. Crazier things. Sold them all over the country. Now, it’s my job. My terrible paying, time consuming, stupid job. Oh, how I love it, so.
Multiple people have told me over the past year that I’m been more fun to be around. I changed for the better, and I’m hopeful that will continue. There was just one little thing that I thought I still had to hide from people. Around the same time, 2012-2013, I began to realize that I was asexual.
Admitting I was asexual, at first, felt like a small defeat. I was tired. I was so tired of all the things I had convinced myself I needed to be in order to be happy. As I chipped away at them, the more I let go of that stress. Still, giving up trivial things like material goods, notoriety, and jealousy were all things that I took direct action to change. It took work. The asexual thing was different. It was something that I knew was true the whole time, but I still acted the way I felt other people expected me to.
I didn’t feel normal. I felt like I was lying to people, and in a way I was. It’s difficult to put into words, but I was constantly running everything I said and did though a filter. A kind of “is this what a straight man with an averagely active sex drive would say and do?” filter. It may not sound like it would have that drastic of an impact, but I felt it every time I did it. Every time I talked with other men about women. Every time someone would ask me about my sex life. Every time my mom would ask if I had a girlfriend. Every time I had a conversation with a single woman I could potentially have asked out.
Oh, God. To every woman I’ve ever met in my life that applies to, I owe you all a coke and an apology. Before knowing the truth about myself, I put a lot of women though a hell of an awkward ringer. Most of you still talk to me, too, which is commendable all by itself. Have you ever tried flirting with someone you don’t want to have sex with because you’re afraid you’ll hurt their feelings if you don’t? Ever called someone the day after a party to apologize for NOT making out with them the night before? Ever known you’ve screwed up a social interaction so bad that you’ve put someone into a position where they feel they need to reject you, and you have to act hurt even though you’re actually relieved? Ever make someone hate you, because you think them assuming you’re an asshole is an easier thing for them to wrap their head around?
These situations were so awkward, so pointless, and on my end so manipulative, that I gave up on them altogether. I knew how I felt, and I didn’t need to hurt other people in order to prop up the idea that I was presenting as having ‘normal’ levels of attraction to people. It didn’t feel right to try and be with someone without being up front about how I truly felt about not only them, but sex and relationships as a whole. It not only felt good to distance myself from it, it felt right.
So, that, coupled with focusing on my art, comedy, and getting my head together, I entered 2016 feeling pretty good. Things were looking promising, and I felt miles away from where my head was at four years ago. Then, I turned 30, which even though I celebrated with minimal fanfare, I knew was kind of a big deal, considering where I’d ended up. I had made the right decisions (at least a few), and I could see the results. I was happier. People could tell I was happier. I was optimistic. Plus, I didn’t feel like entering a new decade of my life under false pretenses. Coming to terms with it in my own head was one thing, it was time to let other people know.
Before I went public, I knew I had to tell my mom. She deserved to hear it from me directly, and not through some long, drawn out blog post. Plus, she’s always had my back through every weird decision I’ve made, so I was only a little nervous telling her. The only thing she asked was “Are you happy?”. When she could see that I was, we hugged it out and all was good. I love you, mom. She’s a little bummed that she’s not likely to get any grand-kids from me any time soon, but thankfully my niece took care of that a little while ago. Thanks for that, Blair and Jacklyn. Sorry I didn’t say it directly to you two, you were busy spinning Quinn around in circles and whatnot. Give her a hug for me for taking some of the edge off.
I then rolled it out one on one to a few people I knew I could trust. Close friends, people I could confide in, and a few people in the LGBT community who I sought for advice, all of whom I can’t thank enough. Melanie, for being super supportive and being along for a long, long ride of conversations about our misadventure before this. Lara, for you words of encouragement, your bravery, and for making me feel hope when I was still having reservation. Lindsay, for you joyful excitement when I told you. Tim, for being the first person to make fun of me, which was exactly what I wanted from a person who gets me better than anyone. Chantel, who took me to a lesbian hackey sac party in a hotel room to celebrate (not kidding). And, lastly, Paula, for always being there, for kind of knowing it all along, and for officially becoming the Archie to my Jughead.
I’ve been very fortunate to have surrounded myself already with a lot of very cool, interesting, funny, thoughtful and smart people. I’m lucky, and I feel like I owe it to you all to be who I really am around you. I would have kept this inside forever if I didn’t feel like I had people around me know I know would love and respect me no matter what. So, truly, from the bottom of my cold dead heart, thank you.
If this changes your opinion of me, or if you take issue with anything I’ve said and want to ask me more, I’d be happy to talk about it. Privately, I’d prefer. The internet is not known for it’s ability to create intelligent and concise discussions. Just know, I’m not asking for any special consideration or commendation for this. You don’t need to act any differently around me, hold back anything you’d normally want to say around me, or feel you need to tip-toe around the issue when I’m around. I can take a joke about it, I’ve already begun taking the piss out of it onstage. All I ask is the same level of respect I’d give to you. I can’t compare what I’ve gone through to anyone who comes out as gay, bi, or transgander. I know that now I fall under the queer spectrum, and I’m proud of that, but that I’m sure people on both sides of that rainbow have differing opinions about where I stand on it. I have immense respect for people who soldier on when faced with everyone else’s dumbass comments about who they think they are. Everyone I’ve told thus far has been very supportive, so I’m not exactly sure what to expect going full-on public with it. I’m not naive enough to think that it won’t change some people’s view of me, but I feel like I’m prepared for it. I suspect some people will either not know what asexual means, might try to poke holes in the whole ‘grey’ thing, I might get mis-labeled as celibate (different thing, look it up), I’ll get asked a bunch of questions about my private life that nobody ever cared about before, or some might just think I’m making this up for whatever reason. Again, I’m a huge fan of civil discussion. If you’re not, but choose to talk to me about who you think I am anyway, I’m prepared to educate you. Or tell you to fuck off. Whatever speaks to me in the moment.
And hey, if you don’t feel like taking about sex with me at all, that’s cool too. I’m asexual. I’m super into that. So, yeah. Sweet.
The good news is, now that this is out in the open, I’ve been pretty relieved. You’d be amazed how quickly something stops bothering you once you just come right out and say it. Most people I’ve come out to quickly realize it’s something that suits me, and we fall right back in to our old dynamic. It’s not something that I think shakes people’s opinion of me to the core, but rather fills in a missing piece that maybe some people were curious about me.
I’m happy. I’m in a better place than I’ve been perhaps my whole adult life. I’m excited to solidify friendships with people I already know, and meet new people with a totally honest attitude.
It’s pretty awesome, you guys. Thanks for everything.
– J.D. Renaud, April 14th, 2016