Ace? Graysexual? Demisexual? What’s With All These Stupid Labels?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 10.854% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

There’s a ton of new vocabulary for people to absorb these days when it comes to dating: asexuality, demisexuality, aromantic, graysexual, saposexuality, and so forth.

And people who are unfamiliar with these labels often mock the abundance of labels: “Everyone’s a special snowflake now!”

It’s just the opposite, though.

The problem with labels is that they never fit properly. I’m polyamorous, but what do I have in common with the preening couples who date “secondaries” callously, vetoing other beloved partners for trivial needs? I’m Christian, but what do I have in common with those people who send their gay kids to electroshock therapy?

Those labels always have some ugly overlap. There’s always going to be some idiot claiming they’re “demisexual” in ways that make you retch. Cue fights about the One True Demisexuality… which nobody ever wins, because sexuality is so personal that no label common enough for people to have heard about it could ever apply.

But all these aces and graysexuals and sapiosexuals aren’t trying to be special snowflakes – those labels are, in fact, the opposite.

When someone clasps a label to their chest, they’re often clinging to it like a liferaft.

Because they’ve had these feelings for a long time – feeling like a freak, because they don’t see their emotional reality reflected anywhere. They don’t find it in movies, they don’t see their friends doing it, they’re wandering alone wondering what the hell all these weird emotions feel. Why are they so different?

Then they stumble across The Label. And you know what The Label means?

Somebody else feels this way.

And in many ways, the label’s not them trying to be a special snowflake, it’s them being so fucking relieved that enough other people felt this way that somebody had to make up a name for it.

There’s an abundance of labels these days. That’s because the Internet makes it so easy to have like call to like. In the old days, you may have been the only demisexual person in your town – but now you can find enclaves of them helping each other, informal communities answering questions. And ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s not that these people chose a label because it was trendy, it’s because they finally got to look around and see someone like them.

They don’t want to be special.

They just want not to be alone.

And in those cases, the label is not a label. It’s a sign left behind by friendly trailblazers, a post sticking up saying “SOMEONE’S BEEN HERE BEFORE.” And even just knowing there’s a pathway is encouraging, because it means that someone got to happiness from here and you can too.

The label’s the beacon.

And it’s not perfect, but by god is it better than wandering alone.


  1. Gayle
    Dec 9, 2016

    … it’s kinda dusty in here. Who’s cutting onions?

  2. Rye
    Dec 10, 2016

    You know, I once “labelled” myself as asexual, not because I was interested in the topic or wanted to connect to others “like me”, but because of my sister.

    I was maybe sixteen or seventeen when she asked me if I masturbated. I didn’t and I still don’t, and I still haven’t slept with anyone. She found this odd and was very concerned over me and kept harping about it while I found the whole topic boring because what I do or don’t do isn’t what other people do and what other people do or don’t do isn’t what I do.

    So I googled about this and my googling lead me to the term “asexual”, and I thought that sounds kinda like me, and I then called myself that to my sister in the hopes it would shut HER up about it. Ironically, she then started harping about the whole asexual thing which she knew nothing about and was apparently unable to read up on by herself.

    Funny enough, I was forced to basically defend asexuality in our subsequent chats, not because I particularly identified as such or was interested in the topic, but because she didn’t get it and just couldn’t shut up about it.

    I guess what I’m trying to say that sometimes superfluous labels can create problems of their own. If it’s not a medical condition that hinders you from living a full life then don’t unnecessarily label yourself. Just be yourself because it’s not like you are a character in a fiction who is type A nor are you just one aspect of your person.

    (Generally, once something gets a label it becomes a brand.)

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