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Asexuals at the Pride Parade

Asexual marchers challenge society to accept their lack of desire.

The San Francisco Pride Parade is wild, exuberant -- and it's all about sex. How could it not be? The pride in question involves matters of the flesh and heart: of practices, partners and passions. That's why its tens of thousands of marchers range from the motorcycle-gunning Dykes on Bikes to leashed-and-gagged S/M "bottoms" to gay Christians to gay grandparents to "furries" (folks who like to wear animal costumes) to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: guys who cross-dress as nuns.

So it's interesting that this year, for the first time ever, an asexual contingent will march in SFPride.

I love SFPride. It's a glorious annual rite in a gorgeous city.

A few months ago, I wrote a post here at PT about asexuals, a subculture seldom heard from amid the modern world's hypersexualized babel. Admittedly, I'd never heard of this subculture or given the idea much thought before reading an interview with British asexuals in the UK's Independent. What would it be like to be asexual in a Western world obsessed with sex and with identity? Society's obsession with sex pretty much tells asexuals to be silent and ashamed. Yet society's obsession with identity pretty much tells asexuals to march, bearing flags.

An asexual "does not experience attraction," explains Shawn Landis, who began writing asexual news for the San Francisco Examiner "after getting into an argument with an editor" over the notion "that having no sex drive was not a problem that required medical or psychiatric attention." Hoping to help "sort out the bafflement some of my fellow relationship examiners have encountered when discovering that there are people who simply do not want sex," Landis savors "ace" as the nickname for asexuals such as himself.

"Gay Pride parades are not the first place you'd expect to find asexuals marching," Landis writes. "Some people who identify as ace fall under the GLBT umbrella while many others do not. Members of the queer movement have reached out to asexuals to include them in their community. The acronym for this has now become GLBTQA (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and asexual)."

Most other groups represented in this year's parade "will have more floats and more representatives," but the inclusion of an asexual group this year is "historic," Landis writes, hoping that the innovation "will make more people aware of this relatively small segment of the population. Little can be done to get people to stop thinking that people who simply do not want sex suffer from medical or psychological problems that causes this lack of desire." And although "some people that identify as ace feel they do not belong to the GLBT movement ... the asexual community wants recognition of their orientation" nonetheless.

The asexual presence at next Saturday's SFPride will test the tolerance of viewers worldwide. Sure, accepting basic same-sex sexuality is hard enough for some. For some, accepting gay marriage is a milestone, a point of pride and self-congratulation. Ditto group sex, horse-costume sex, and sex involving razor blades and blood. But tolerating no desire for sex?

Society: I dare you.

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