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What Now?

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Up until I was about 25, I moved every three years. Kindergarten through 12th grade saw me at six different schools, including three high schools. During my first few years of uni, I changed my major every semester. I’ve had a long list of interests that I was really into and I’ve worked in all sorts of industries. The only thing that’s been constant in my life is change. Oh, and the fact that I never quite fit in. Fitting in and relating to people has been a journey in its own right. I am ____. When you meet another person who can also say that, you’re already in communion. It’s a great thing, but I’ve always been uncomfortable with labels. Things are bound to change. My circumstances, my aptitude, my feelings. They will change.

Tattoos, painted walls, branded apparel, graphic tees, dyed hair, promises. I will get tired of them. So I avoid things that are difficult or costly to change. Labels are the same. Regardless of how into something I was, I also avoided calling myself whatever the fanatic/participant term was. Even if I liked it, people’s perception of what the associated term meant always included some aspect that I wasn’t co-signing. So labels always felt like an ill-fitting shirt. They have their place and they do make interacting easier because they work as short hand for a laundry list of presumptions, but, generally, I prefer not to wear them. I’ve loosened up over the years, but I still feel that, with labels come expectations and the only thing I dislike more than expectation is obligation.

I am ____.

That said and in case you missed my impromptu broadcast on Tumblr, I am asexual. Since it hit me, I mean, really hit me, I’ve been cracking up. In the shower, on the drive to work, opening the freezer, turning on my laptop. It will come back to me and I’ll laugh. What also comes back to me are the signs that have always been there. Leaving aside the fact that I said I was asexual in 6th grade–I did; it was my way of turning guys down–there have been conversations and thoughts and motives throughout my life that just make sense now. Or rather, more sense than, “that’s just the way I am.” Even if that is essentially true.

Asexuality is like that shirt I liked and bought, but that’s been in the back of my closet for-e-ver since and I’ve only now decided to put it on.

“I am asexual.” I find myself saying this out loud every now and then. It’s a trip. I’ve always felt different, but I never factored my sexuality into that. There are a lot of attractive people alive right now. I’ve known a lot of attractive people in my life, dated some, too, but I’ve never looked at any of them and thought that I’d like to have sex with them. I thought I might be gray-a for about two days, but, though my reasons for having sex were many, sexual attraction was never one of them. So, I am asexual.

I used to believe I was panromantic because I could imagine myself in a romantic relationship with any gender and I’ve tried to have a few, but, with the exception of my super ex, the feelings I was expecting to develop never manifested. Now that I’ve opened the door, I thought it’d be a waste not to consider this aspect of myself as well. And I haven’t really settled, but suppose I’m either demiromantic or lithromantic or somewhere between.

Signs

I had a conversation with my mother some years ago and I think we were talking about cheating or something. Whatever it was, she was saying how people feel in the heat of the moment and I called bullshit. I told her that I can’t understand being so attracted to someone or so worked up that I just have to have sex with them, right then. Like I’m powerless to stop myself or them. I still don’t get that. My thought was always, “it can wait.” It can wait until there is a bed, privacy, a bathroom to attend to hygienic matters, no significant others, et cetera, et cetera. She maintained that it was a thing.

There is a type that is aesthetically pleasing to my eyes, but I’ve only dated or involved myself with three people that align with that look. Being able to look at them up close was nice, but that was not why I was with. Other than my only long-term relationship, I agreed to get involved with people for the experience. A wrestler, an astrophysicist, two musicians, Prince Albert, one of the most popular guys at school, one of the hottest guys at school, a basketball player, a motorcycle enthusiast, and three chronically average guys. I thought it would be interesting. I needed fodder for my writing, actors for my scenarios. It took me a while to realize it, but once I did, I stopped dating.

When I write fiction, the sex part is the most tedious part. It’s not hard–I have the vocab, the experience, and the finesse–it’s just not a lot of fun. And because of that, many the sex scenes I’ve written are decidedly not sexy. For example, I had Kagami and Kise (Kuroko no Basuke) matter-of-factly discussing penis size, and the mechanics of certain positions in the middle of sex. Things like that are usually left to narration or glossed over. But it’s the mundane and the unsexy that interests me most. So, I’ve decided to leave them out, unless I’m really in the mood.

When reading, especially manga, I find myself accepting the attraction between two characters more often than actually believing or understanding it. I know me buying whatever the author is selling is part of the game, but I’m rarely ever totally satisfied with my purchase. I can’t even count how many times I had to think really hard to remember if a couple had sex in the book.

I would like to read a story where the couple finally gets together and they hug it out even though they are alone and the bed is right there. I don’t even mind the sex…usually, but I am disappointed that they seal the deal with it more often than not.

I like it quite a lot, but I’ve never claimed friends-to-lovers as one of my faves, but it really should be because there’s a connection in place that I can totally get down with as a foundation for a romantic or otherwise relationship.

When I write reviews, my comments about the sex rarely qualify as a proper paragraph or are absent altogether. I don’t mind reading it and I enjoy it most of the time, but when I remember the book, the sex, regardless of how good it was while reading, is generally an afterthought.

The consumption of sex as entertainment registers very low on my list. Even though I know from other people’s comments about things I’ve read that it’s common to highlight those parts, I never thought it strange that I was not all that interested in doing so.

I’ve never made the effort of trying to connect any of these things that I’ve mentioned until now. So…

What Now?

There a number of forever changing reasons why I’ve felt different or detached over the course of my life, but my sexual and romantic identity, even though I didn’t truly understand it and have actually avoided looking too deeply into it, has been there the whole time.

And it’s because of that–all of it–that I have to wonder what I’ve been doing all of this time. In between the spontaneous laughter has been moments where I’ve asked myself, repeatedly, “What now?”

Ace?Demi?Lith? So, why am I talking about this on my book blog?

Well, I suddenly feel that I’m not exactly qualified to review the things I love to read. BL and M/M aren’t the only genres I read, but they’re around 60-70% of my library. When I’ve considered my reviews as something people know me by, I’ve always felt that I probably come off as a pretty harsh critic. Even in the best stories, I somehow find something that I don’t agree with. But that’s my style, that’s the kind of reader I am and I don’t make a habit of letting authors slide, particularly if you want me to pay for it. So I’m sure I come off as nitpicky, too. But now I think that there’s just something–things–I’ve been missing all along. Things that most readers get that I have no way of processing, so my perceptions of some of the stories I’ve read are horribly skewed.

Even with all the things I experienced with my ex during our 10 years together, he was only one person and my life was different then, so what I could have experienced was limited in some ways. And I’ve had other relationships. And a part of me knows that even if I haven’t experienced somethings, the nature of those things are close enough to what I have that I get it. Yet I now firmly grasp the notion that there are some feelings and motives and whatnot that I just won’t get. And that bothers me.

I’m not going to “take back” my reviews up to this point because some characters and stories are boring and some characters do make stupid, pointless decisions and some stories are simply bad, but I do wonder if I should continue on. I have to ask myself if I’m in any real position to judge the stories I tend to read and review?

Yeah, I’ve gotten excited and raved about some titles, but, even without counting, I’m pretty sure that much more than the passion and sex and physical attraction that was laid out, it was the development of the characters’ relationship and believable bonds they formed that got me. It was the author’s ability to write characters that were vulnerable, but not doormats; characters that were jaded and hardened, but not cruel. And the crying. I love the crying! But not the sex. With the exception of manga, because, man the art!, I don’t reread stories for the sex.

So, is it fair to the author if I’m incapable of understanding what may be a significant part of their story? Can I honestly do their efforts justice if there are some things that I just don’t get?

I don’t know.

Will I stop writing reviews for BL and M/M?

I feel like I should, but I really don’t know.

  • klkAlexar

    I’m pretty sure you know me well enough by now to know that I really like my sexy times in fiction, and that I have tons of fetishes. But I have a kind of divide between rl and fiction in regards to sex, so I understand you a bit.

    Honestly, unless you’re reading erotica (or most BL), I don’t think sex is really that important. So if you still enjoy reading and reviewing BL/mm, why should you stop? I’ve been around long enough to know that not everyone will get the same thing from the same story, and that’s fine. I don’t think you should feel guilty if a story doesn’t work you because that’s normal.

    Did I ever get around to recommending Alexey Dyed in Red? It’s a fairy tale-ish m/m/m where one of the characters is asexual. I’ve also recently enjoyed a manga called Yuureitou, and the relationship isn’t that sexualised, although it feels a bit gfy.

    • I want to be fair to the authors. If I’m not their audience, then nothing I say would really carry weight. Like with The Straight Line and Adonis, I am definitely not EAB’s audience. If I continued to read things that weren’t written for me and I reviewed them and did nothing but complain, it would just turn into noise. So I felt guilty, like I was not staying in my lane. But after reading your comment (thanx) and being encouraged by people who know me and my writing, I don’t feel like that anymore.

      So, I’ll keep doing my thing.

      Alexey Dyed in Red is new to me. Sounds interesting, but are they, when described, human-like or beast-like?

      I looked up Yuureitou… The one I found is a seinen/gender bender, nine volumes? Is there another one? Gender bender is a little… I like what Bikke is doing with it in Ame, but on the whole

      • klkAlexar

        They are humanoid, but the sex is basically fade to black so nothing squicky anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if all they did was kiss and cuddle. As for Yuureitou, one of the mc is trans and the other one ends up having to crossdress hence the gender bender. The story is interesting and I liked the romance, but some of the ideas most characters have are kinda gross and sometimes even sexist.

        • Okay, I’ll put Alexey on the list and Yuureitou on the back burner. Alexey is a series, so I’ll have to get in the mood for that if it’s not finished.

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