Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From Left to Write: Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron

This post was inspired by the memoir Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron as she shares her journey raising a gender creative son. Join From Left to Write on September 5 as we discuss Raising My Rainbow. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a fairly easy read which I appreciated considering how sick I've been. Lori started off blogging about her son before she wrote the book, which I obviously think is awesome because bloggers are cool. It also means that their story doesn't end with the book, with C.J. going into kindergarten, because I can just follow her blog right now!

As far as my own story goes, I think I'm going to share with you today something I've never really talked about with anyone - not even my husband. Like C.J. I grew up different, although thankfully I didn't realize how different until I was an adult married to my husband. It's generally believed that sexuality is a spectrum with gay on one end and straight on the other. What most people probably don't realize is there is a second spectrum, one that determines whether you are even sexual at all. On one end I suppose you'd have people who are attracted to a vast array of people, who feel the need to be in romantic relationships all the time, and may or may not enjoy casual sex. On the other end are people who aren't attracted to anyone, who have no desire to be in a romantic relationship, and would rather remain celibate their whole lives. People like Sheldon Cooper, for example. People at one end are called sexual and people at the other are called asexual. I'm sure most of you can see where this is going.

I am in a romantic relationship with my husband. Historically this blog has focused on our quest for children, so yes we do have sex. I am attracted to him, although I think my attraction is much different than that of "normal" people as it doesn't have much to do with how he looks. He does have some amazing eyelashes though. Because of this and the few other men I've "like-liked" (as the kids used to say) I'm not sure I'm comfortable labeling myself as asexual. Since I've learned about this concept I've refused to label myself. I suppose maybe because by thinking of myself as asexual I become The Other rather than just weird. It opens me up to possible backlash. Now that I'm married and plan to stay that way, does it really matter? I am about 99% sure had I known about this distinction as a child I would have been thankful for the label. As Lori says in the book, regarding an incident on the playground where another child tried to make fun of C.J.:
When Chase [C.J.'s older brother] didn't react the way Kyle expected, when he gave C.J.'s behavior a legit name and then not a second thought, the power shifted back into our favor. When we unabashedly own our differences, we shed our weakness and cloak ourselves in power.
 Thankfully I did not grow up with the kid of bullying a homosexual, gender nonconforming,  transgender, etc child would face. For the most part people care more about who you love than if you love at all. Mostly I just felt left out and got accused of lying, at least in elementary and middle school. Girls would get together and discuss who they had a crush on or which celebrities were super fine. I had nothing to add to these conversations. Over my whole life the people I had a crush on could probably be counted on one hand. I've had a total of one celebrity crush, Sean Biggerstaff who played Oliver Wood in the Harry Potter movies. I'm already a shy introvert so feeling left out of the group didn't help any. When I was included I was often accused of lying and not trusting my friends as much as I should. They told me who they liked, why I couldn't I tell them? My friends were often offended by this seeming lack of trust. They couldn't wrap their heads around the idea that no, I really didn't like anyone. There were a few instances where I did lie to them, by pretending to have a crush on someone so they'd get off my back.

Once I got into high school things changed somewhat. Some parents had rules where you couldn't date before then so me not having a boyfriend was more accepted. In high school it's harder to use that excuse to turn down suitors. I got teased more and I still had friends who thought I was lying and didn't trust them. Occasionally I even had people call me asexual as a slur. Not because they knew there was a name for not being romantically/sexually inclined, but to insinuate that I was less than human and could asexually reproduce. To say I was a freak. I also had people both in high school and before say I was a lesbian and that's why I didn't want to tell people who I had a crush on.

It was upsetting, especially since I didn't know what was going on myself. I kept waiting to be normal, like my brain hadn't gone through puberty the same time the rest of me did, like I was just behind the rest of the kids and not different. I got better at pretending, as if practice makes perfect. I might never see a guy walking through the mall and think he has a cute bum, but I could kind of figure out what features my friends were attracted to and play along.

There were a handful of people I did develop a crush on over the years, but they all had one thing in common: I was friends with them first. I valued their presence in my life and it seemed like they accepted me for who I was. I dated a couple of them and even thought I was in love once, only to realize I wasn't really after truly falling in love with my husband. It's kind of funny really, because it seemed like me being romantically involved made some of my family and friends uncomfortable. I'm glad they became okay with me not being interested for the most part, but it was still kind of frustrating. I remember hanging out with three or four male friends, and somehow they started talking about hymens and how it hurts and bleeds when a woman loses her virginity. I pipped in saying that's not true for everyone and you should have seen their faces! They looked at me like, "who are you and what have you done with Tasha? Because she most definitely knows nothing about sex and is probably going to be a nun." It was like them thinking I may have had sex completely destroyed their world view. In reality I was a virgin and have never been with anyone but my husband, but I knew that I and a few other friends had broken our hymens other ways such as horseback riding and swimming.

Anyway now that I'm married it's not much of an issue. I still feel left out of some conversations pertaining to celebrity crushes, but that doesn't happen often. My husband thinks it's quite weird that my attraction to people or lack thereof has basically nothing to do with looks, but we don't talk about it often. I'm glad to know now that there isn't anything wrong with me. I may be different, but this is a real sexual preference that approximately 1% of the population identifies with. If you would like to learn more about it, there is a documentary called Asexual that at one time was on Netflix and may still be. I'd also be open to answering any questions you may have, or at least attempt to!

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