This article was cross-posted on The Asexual Agenda.
Recently, there was a very short documentary entitled “I’m Graysexual”
(NSFW), featuring a man about my age, and using the same identity as I
do: gay and greysexual. He does nothing more than briefly explain his
personal experience, which is somewhat different from my own, and as I
said, it’s very short.
What was particularly significant to me was not what was said, but
what was unsaid. Specifically, the documentarian chose a stream of
clips that imply close interaction with urban gay culture. He walks
around what appears to be West Hollywood (the gay neighborhood in Los
Angeles). He hangs out at gay nightclubs, watching go-go boys. He
looks quizzically at packaged dildos, racks of porn videos, Grindr.
This is all incredibly familiar to me.
I often feel like I’m the only ace who interacts with that kind of gay
male culture. This is not surprising: this is only one of many gay
cultures, the ace community is dominated by women, and not all ace men
are homoromantic, gay, or bi. But even among those in the right
demographics, I often hear that ace men simply aren’t willing to put up
That, too, is not surprising, and can be explained in one word:
S-E-X. I don’t need to explain the stereotype, you already know it.
Gay culture… is not really what I would have created if I were
dictator. But because of my disposition, I find it tolerable. I even
find benefits to it, since a space where people openly talk about sex gives an opening to talk about asexuality.
And to be honest, I’d take it over straight culture any day.
Straight people are space aliens. They think that the only way to
proceed in life is to get married and have children. They think men
should have initiative, and women should just be receptive. I don’t
understand it, and I feel sorry for all the people who have to live in
it, particularly the non-straight people. Other people have lamented a
lack of older single role models, so I should mention I’ve known plenty
of older gay bachelors. I’m in a stable relationship so I’m not going
in that direction personally, but it wouldn’t feel odd to me if I did.
So here I am, choosing to deal with a very sexual culture, rather
than dealing with that other heteronormative one. I’ve been to gay
nightclubs packed full of sweaty men. I’ve had awkward encounters with
rice queens, and then befriended them because what else are you going to
do? I’ve wandered the Castro many times, where inexplicably the best
place to get beer is the wine bar. And I’ve sat through a million
conversations about Grindr (a popular hookup app), and seen a million
more online articles about it, from the many online gay websites that
are basically like teen girl magazines, except for older gay men.
People argue back and forth about Grindr the same way that they argue
back and forth about looking at smartphones during social outings. It’s
the same argument, really, because what else do you use a smartphone
I spend a lot of space talking about Grindr, because that represents
the amount of attention it gets in reality. Eh, it’s more amusing than
talking about sportsball, another aspect of space alien culture I don’t
In gay culture, I blend in fairly well. Acquaintances assume I’m gay
until otherwise noted. It eventually becomes otherwise noted, as I
haphazardly come out to people as ace. At that point I become an
oddity, that one asexual guy that people know. They’re puzzled how that
works, why I’m bothering to be here, and what I do with my boyfriend,
but they rarely ask such questions directly. I wonder if this is how
bisexual men feel.
If there’s one advantage of heteronormative straight culture vs
hypersexual gay culture, it’s that heternormativity can be opposed.
Sexual culture cannot be opposed, because at least superficially, it has
some decent justifications. There is an ongoing discussion
about the level of sexuality in gay culture, but it’s not a discussion
that aces play any role in. The discussion is about Grindr, about
hookup culture, and about assimilationism vs liberationism.
I don’t give a shit about assimilating, but I would like it if there
were more public concern about sexual assault, or even the social
capital placed on sexual desirability and ability. Sadly, such concerns
are more typical among feminists, who are typically women. I will be
waiting for a long time for the gay male feminist revolution.
So that’s the social life I have, and it’s okay. There are some
problems, but nobody is pressuring me to follow a fixed life
trajectory. Dropping heteronormativity is great, I recommend it.