Forty Seven Years
Or: A guest post on The Novel Approach (with giveaway) celebrating the release of Blue Steel Chain–
When False Colors came out in 2009, I still thought I was straight. I remember the furor that was kicked up by the marketing campaign for that book, which was released as part of a four book attempt to take m/m romance to the mainstream under the ill advised marketing slogan “m/m romance by straight women for straight women.” The four authors involved were somewhat startled by this because they were Erastes, Lee Rowan, Donald Hardy and me. That’s two bisexual women, a gay man, and an asexual person who really still isn’t quite sure about this whole gender business.
I’ve digressed. My point was that at the time I didn’t know that asexuality existed. I thought I was the token straight in that group. I’d always been aware that I’d never been very good at being straight. I’d always felt that there were vast areas in our culture that I just wasn’t getting. The whole business with sex, for example. What was the attraction? What was the point? I could see that it seemed to be a huge driving force in human interaction, and yet for me it was a blank space. Did that mean I wasn’t human? I sometimes felt that way.
I defined myself in negatives. I wasn’t a woman but I wasn’t a man. So I probably wasn’t trans. I wasn’t gay or bi or poly, but I really wasn’t very straight either.
How could a person who was so nothing ever actually exist at all?
That may not sound like an important question, if you’re the kind of concrete realist who can then go on to say “and yet I do, and my existence is valid.” But as an artist and an INTP, I’m a pattern maker by nature, and when I didn’t fit into any of the available patterns it did tend to lead me down the road of “then you must be a mistake. If there’s no space for you in this world, perhaps the world would be better off without you.”
An interesting thing that happened to me recently was that I began to go to a therapist (for non-writing related reasons). On one occasion I said to her “My depression hasn’t been so bad the last three years.” Another time I said “I found out about asexuality about three years ago, and that cleared up a lot of questions I’d had.” She was the one who said “You don’t think the timing of those two things is significant?”
I think it probably is.
I’m supposed to be talking about Blue Steel Chain, aren’t I? But this backstory is relevant to that book. By the time I discovered that asexuality was an actual thing, I had already lived for forty seven years. I had lived for 47 years not knowing that I wasn’t simply a failure at being a human being.
Asexuality is known as one of the ‘invisible orientations,’ because there is so little awareness in society that it exists at all. Asexual people can go their whole lives asking “what’s wrong with me?!” and never get an answer.
Naturally once I’d found this out, I knew I had to do something about it. I had to spread the news and let other people know that they too were not as broken as they might have thought. So I wrote Blue Steel Chain, a romance in which one of my main characters is asexual.
I thought I was writing it mainly for me – mainly for the thrill of thumbing my nose at all those people who assumed that I was writing romance for the sex. “I’ll show them what I really think about sex!” I thought. “That’ll teach them.”
(Because I’m clearly a very mature person these days.)
What I didn’t anticipate was that the moment I said I was writing a book with an ace main character, so many people would start saying “Yes! I feel represented. I can’t wait!”
I really hope I don’t let you down. There are as many different ways to be ace as there are people, and Aidan can’t be all of them. But I hope those of you who are ace can recognize something in him and go “Ha! Yes! It’s just like that.” And I hope those who aren’t will find it fun anyway, and useful for knowing how to deal with the Aces you meet in your life.
Judging from the latest surveys of slash writers/readers I think there are a disproportionate number of us amongst m/m fans. So the chances are you will meet one of us sooner or later. Be prepared!