Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rolling With Role Models

"Remember, lovers never lose."
--David Bowie

Ages ago (or at least it feels that way), I was going somewhere with friends. We were riding in a car piloted by a mysterious frat boy. He was playing David Bowie on the stereo, and explained to us that Bowie was the person who allowed him to become comfortable with the fact that he was gay. I don't remember the exact words he used, but it was clear that he considered Bowie to be his gay role model. At the time, I hadn't yet realized I was asexual, but that concept stuck with me nonetheless.

As I think about it now, it seems like role models are integral. When we deviate from "the norm" in some way, we are often afraid to be ourselves, as we're not sure how to do so with grace and honesty. You can reinvent the wheel, sure, but it's pretty painful. I realized, not too long ago, that I'd never fully accept my non-standard sexuality unless I had asexual role models. So I've been on a mission to find some for myself. And it's really hard. Here's the list I have so far, and notice that only one of these people is definitely asexual:

  • My grandmother's cousin. She must be about 80, and she's been living with the same woman for as long as anyone can remember. As far as I can see, totally old school Boston Marriage.
  • One of my mother's best friends. She's in her 60's. Since she's never married, I guess you could call her a "spinster", but I never would, as she's totally awesome.
  • Certain AVENites that I won't name for risk of embarrassing them.
  • Harvey Milk. Sure, gay as can be, but he lived in a time when homosexuality was in a similar situation to asexuality today. He knew he might be killed for expressing his views, but even that didn't stop him.
  • Kate Bornstein. Uncompromisingly queer, she educates people on the transgender movement-- a term she apparently coined. What she does for trans people, I'd like to do for asexuals.
So, that's who I came up with. Does anyone else have role models they'd like to share? (Note: Although I guess you can have a fictional character as a role model, I really don't think they work well, as their creators solve all their problems for them. They don't really have to deal with the same problems we do, especially if they have superpowers. And yes, I think Sherlock Holmes' intellect is in that category :-)


fluffy said...

Incidentally, Bornstein later decided/figured out that she's agendered/neutrois, and that's a perfectly okay thing to be. So she's something of an asexual role model too! (at least among those of us who identify as neutrois)

Ily said...

Thanks for commenting! I can imagine that finding agender role models ain't easy either!

Mary said...

My role model ever since I was in my early teens has been Diana Trent, in lots of ways. (
She's uncompromisingly unmarried but just as uncompromisingly sexual--she's had everything from flings to long-term affairs, and when she takes up with Tom, she makes it clear to him that she's not looking for a man to fill the role of Husband. This is all part of my feminism and whatnot, of course, but in terms of sexuality, I've always loved that Diana pretty much does whatever she wants, accepts the consequences, and worries naught for what other people will think.

Mary said...

Doh, stupid HTML. Link from previous comment is here

Ily said...

Diana sounds like an awesome character! Was the show ever on in the US? I've never heard of it before now, but I've put it on my Netflix queue!

Mary said...

They showed it on my local PBS affiliate, and I watched it religiously. I could do without the laugh track, but it's otherwise an fantastic show.

Anonymous said...

D.J., from AVEN. But that's the obvious one.

Chris Coles said...

What about NZ Booker prize winner and out asexual Keri Hulme? The lead character in her 1985 book "The Bone People" was asexual.