by

This article is part of Mochi’s Summer 2022 issue, highlighting the Everyday Asian American. Media often covers Asian Americans who are exceptional and defying odds (hey Chloe Kim!) or, sadly, when tragedy strikes the Asian community. In this issue, Mochi is switching things up and celebrating what the everyday Asian American enjoys, what’s on our minds, and what life looks like for us. Check out the rest of our issue here! And if you like what you are reading, please support us by buying us a boba through Ko-fi.

Although I had heard of the term asexual, I thought it did not apply to me because despite lacking an interest in having sex like the rest of my peers, I still loved the idea of love and romance. I watched rom-coms, read fan fiction (from fluff to smut), and had short-lived infatuations with fictional characters. In fact, the first time I found out about the term was while scrolling through fan fiction, which is really where I got my sex education growing up; after all, sex ed at my school was lacking and Asian parents do not typically talk openly about sex with their children. I didn’t understand that asexuality was a spectrum until I came across a webcomic by Courtney Wirthit titled “Confessions of a Demisexual.” Although I immediately felt a connection to the term demisexual, I also thought it couldn’t apply to me because I loved reading about and imagining romance. However, I have since learned that emotional intimacy is subjective, that many asexual people enjoy the romance genre, and that infatuation and romantic attraction are not the same as sexual attraction. Sex wasn’t something I wanted in high school at all, but I did want movie-style romance with bouquets of flowers, giant teddy bears, and fireworks.

I think my peers would believe that, but my conservative, Christian mother wouldn’t. People usually assume I’m the “shy, quiet Asian kid”; to my mother, I’m a bad, terrible, and no-good kid no matter what I do. My mother is influenced by both the internalized sexism and purity culture of toxic Christianity, as well as conservative Asian values. She shames women on the street for wearing tank tops and shorts in the summer, and she’s relentless in her judgments on my style, whether it’s wearing black lipstick, leggings, or skinny jeans. Growing up, it was not encouraged for me to date at all. Strangely, after I graduated college, my mother kept making comments about how I should get a boyfriend, get married, and give her grandchildren one day, no matter how disgusted I was with the idea. Growing up as an ace Asian American who was assigned female at birth, my comfort and desires did not matter to anyone, and everyone tried to thrust their ideas of what I should do and whom I should be onto me, whether it was because of racist stereotypes or conservative values.

Photo credit: Anna Shvets/Pexels

I’m sure no one could’ve suspected that I had an interest in boudoir, burlesque, and pole dancing, and that I would pursue them when I was of age. I’m sure people would be even more surprised that I do all these things while being on the ace spectrum, where one lacks feeling sexual attraction and/or has no desires in sex — just like how I’m sure people like my mother cannot fathom how clothing or activity does not equal someone’s sexuality. Take Marilyn Monroe for example: one of the biggest sex symbols in Hollywood history is simultaneously one of the biggest ace symbols too, because her therapy sessions and diary musings show that she fit all definitions of a sapphic ace perfectly. Sex appeal might’ve been applied to her by other people, but it was not something she felt; in fact, she hated sex.

Asexuality is an umbrella term that covers a range of feelings and desires all under the common theme of lacking sexual attraction (even if only sometimes). It’s a sexuality that’s been symbolized by things like the ace of spade card, wearing a black ring, and cake because cake is always better than sex. Celibacy is a choice, but asexuality is not. It’s a sexual identity defined by a lack of sexuality. Asexuality is a broad spectrum and may be known by other terms such as ace, aspec, gray scale, and graysexuality. Most people use “ace” as a catch-all term for the asexual spectrum; other terms can include aspec, gray area, gray-a, and asexual as a baseline descriptor. I personally use “ace” and “nonbinary” for short when I introduce myself to people when I don’t feel like explaining that being a demisexual — someone who cannot feel sexual attraction without an emotional bond — demigirl best describes me in its specification. Asexuality is a spectrum where one could fall anywhere on the scale or move around in it. Some people are sex-repulsed; others might be okay depending on certain factors, and while others are sex-charmed. There are multiple terms to describe where you are on the asexual spectrum.

My real research on asexuality began on a visit to Bluestockings Bookstore, a bookstore and cafe that prides itself as a queer, trans, and sex worker-run bookstore. From its wall of anonymous sticky notes offering store credit or gifts to strangers, to selling zines and art from independent artists, and its little free mutual aid store, Blue Stockings Bookstore is home to a community and representation of solidarity. At this exact bookstore, I noticed a beautiful book on display titled “Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex” by Angela Chen. I would then read essays, books, and follow asexuality advocates like Yasmin Benoit. I also purchased “A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality” by Molly Muldoon and Will Hernandez. It took me a very long time to even whisper to a friend that I was on the ace spectrum.

Demisexual flag

There are some people who question if ace is queer, when there’s already a lack of discussion on what queer means. The term “queer” is already controversial: some might use “queer” as a catch-all term for the LGBTQ community, but others might not, and it can mean different things to different people. Queerness to me means something that opposes capitalist patriarchy and cisgender roles. Asexuality, the so-called “invisible spectrum,” has caused riots while radicalizing love. One of the most banned books in the United States is “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” an autographical graphic novel by Maia Kobabe (e/em/eir) who tells and illustrates eir life growing up nonbinary and asexual. The ace and aromantic communities have also given name and identity to the radical love of the “queer platonic relationship” (or “QPS” for short), the platonic kind of love that is so much deeper and intimate than an average friendship. It’s a bond that takes commitment (perhaps a lifetime), carries deep emotional intimacy and trust, and might even be seen as passionate or romantic, but with a lack of sexual desire. Society and media might extol romantic love as more important than other kinds of love, but queerplatonic love is unique. Built and expanded upon by asexual and aromantic folks, it’s a revolutionary love where people, especially marginalized folks, find belonging and community.

That’s why asexuality is absolutely queer. Being ace does not mean someone is a prude or does not desire love. Activities like pole dancing, boudoir, burlesque, and reading romance or erotica may be sexual to others, but it’s only been affirming for my asexuality. There was a time I thought it was only worth openly admitting queerness for the sake of love. However, even though I have no partner, being honest and open is ultimately for my own sake. Although I may be putting myself in a more vulnerable position for discrimination, the funniest thing is that I feel more at peace on the inside. I guess that’s what it means to live in your truth. I wish everyone got to live that way too.

Cover photo credit: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Author

  • Born and raised in Lenapehoking, also known as NYC, Kai Xing Mun (she/they) is Malaysian-Chinese American, and an ace and nonbinary actor and writer. Kai is a freelance writer whose essays focus on intersectional feminism and Pan-Asian American issues. Their writing has been published in HelloGiggles, Mochi, April, and Here You Are. Their original monologue “Anna May Wong: PERSONA” was published in "In Full Color: The First Five Years Anthology."

    Follow Kai Xing Mun

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Close Search Window
Close