For 25-year-old Josh Coty, being part of the one percent is not all it’s cracked up to be. At least, when it comes to being part of that one percent… You know, the percentage of the population that identifies as asexual, or “someone who does not experience sexual attraction,” as defined by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.
For Josh, who identifies as “gay and asexual,” life can be a bit complicated. When he’s not creating comedy YouTube videos or cuddling with his cat, the Buffalo, NY-based resident can be found going on (sometimes bad) dates, working in the beauty industry and figuring out how to navigate as asexual in an often sex-crazed world.
We recently interviewed Josh about his life, dating and what he has to say to all those people who question asexuality…
QUEERTY: You identify as gay and asexual. What does that mean exactly?
COTY: I suppose people would say I am “asexual homoromantic” but I don’t necessarily feel like that label fits me. I’m gay–I like guys, just like anybody else who is gay, but not necessarily in a sexual way. I have an aesthetic attraction (who doesn’t like a nice butt?), sensual attraction, and a romantic attraction to men. If I have a strong emotional bond I may form a form of sexual attraction as well. Asexuality exists on a spectrum.
How do people usually react when you tell them you’re gay and asexual?
People tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about, that it’s impossible, or they don’t know what asexuality is, and all they can remember is [learning about asexuality] in middle school science class. I feel like the latter believe I’m some sort of plant, and that I can reproduce asexually. Which honestly, would be really cool, but it’s not the case. Or I’m told that I’m lying. I actually get that a lot.
How has your asexuality affected your relationships?
It definitely impacts them quite a bit. I do have sexual relationships with my partners because I want to make them happy, it’s just not enjoyable to me and I’d honestly rather be eating a cheeseburger. I always give my partners a full disclosure about my sexuality before I start dating [them], but I don’t think the majority of people understand what it means. In the beginning, it is a lot easier to have a sexual relationship with my partners, or when things are going well, but when the emotional connection fades, it really impacts my willingness to do anything sexual.
A lot of people view sex as a way of being intimate or feeling close to the person they love. How do you achieve intimacy with a partner if not through sex?
Physical touch is a big thing for me. Like, I do have a sensual attraction because I’m not some kind of unfeeling monster. I like kissing, cuddling, holding hands, et cetera and just generally being close with someone both physically and emotionally. It’s just not sexual for me; it’s more sensual than anything. Some people define intimacy as something purely physical, but it goes deeper than that for me.
Do you ever feel pressure to be sexual?
Every day! If you’ve ever gone on a date with a gay male, you most likely know that they’re craving one thing and it’s definitely not on my menu (all out of sausage guys, sorry). It’s frustrating to feel like in order to even get a date, I have to pretend that I’m someone I’m not, or play down my asexuality. You tell a gay guy you’re not really into sex and he looks at you like you just said Beyoncé was an untalented hack.
Have you had any particularly good or bad experiences when it came to living your identity?
I did have one guy I dated and when I told him about it he just said “Hey, that’s cool man! I totally respect that.” and it was never an issue. He would always ask for consent before doing anything sexual, and in general it was just very refreshing. On the other end of things, I’ve had exes tell me that I’m lying about my asexuality because I’ve had sex before. Even after explaining that it’s not a medical condition (all my organs work perfectly, thank you) and it’s just my sexuality, they still don’t get it. You could have sex with a woman if you wanted to, but you don’t because you don’t enjoy it, just like I don’t have sex in general because I don’t enjoy it.
What is the biggest misconception about people who are asexual?
The biggest misconception about people who are asexual is that it’s a choice or that it is an excuse. I’ve been told that people who are asexual are just ugly or they aren’t able to “get any” and that’s not the case. I’ve been told I’m broken or have a medical condition. I’ve had my hormones checked, my thyroid checked, and I’ve even seen a urologist and everything is perfectly normal. I’ve gotten a lot of backlash from the LGBTQ community saying that I don’t belong and shouldn’t identify with it, which is absurd for a multitude of reasons.
Were those medical tests a result of people saying you were broken or had a medical condition?
Yeah, it definitely was. Especially because I wanted to be normal and have a healthy relationship, I wanted to fix whatever was “wrong” with me. I hate doctors with a passion and don’t even like to talk to them about mundane issues let alone sexual ones. It took me awhile to find the right doctor. After everything had been said and done, it was a relief but also a disappointment. I accept myself and embrace myself for who I am, but still wish to be “normal” sometimes. I’m an absolute control freak so not being able to fix a “problem” was something I had to come to accept about myself.
Some people in the LGBTQ community say that asexual people are simply “afraid of sex” or “just haven’t had great sex yet.” How would you respond to people who say that?
I find it extremely sad that the people in the LGBTQ community say things like that because it’s the exact same thing they hear from people that oppose their own sexuality. “You just haven’t met the right guy yet, you’re not really a lesbian,” “Being gay is a choice,” or “It’s a mental condition.” What is the difference between that and saying, “Being asexual is a choice you’ve made,” “Your hormones must be off or something happened to you when you were a kid,” and “You haven’t found the right sexual partner yet?” Absolutely nothing. People who behave that way are imposing the exact kind of negative and close-minded behavior they face and vehemently oppose onto another group, simply because they don’t understand. It’s a hard concept for a lot of people to understand because they experience sexual attraction everyday, and they can’t imagine not feeling it, or not feeling it as often as the average person.
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