Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yet Another List of Famous Aces

NNDB (is that anything like IMDB?) is a website that aims to "track the entire world" by establishing connections between various famous people. The site is comprised of biographies of these people, and their sexual orientation is often included. NNDB has a list of people presumed to be asexual. I have no idea how they got this information-- they probably just guessed, like the rest of us. Most of the people listed were definitley "married to their work". But here it is:

J. M. Barrie
9-May-1860 19-Jun-1937 Peter Pan
Jorge Luis Borges
24-Aug-1899 14-Jun-1986 The Garden of Forking Paths
Emily Brontë
30-Jul-1818 19-Dec-1848 Wrote Wuthering Heights
Paul Erdos
26-Mar-1913 20-Sep-1996 Loved only numbers
Glenn Gould
25-Sep-1932 4-Oct-1982 Canadian pianist, Bach soloist
Immanuel Kant
22-Apr-1724 12-Feb-1804 Transcendental idealist
Karl Lagerfeld
Fashion Designer
10-Sep-1938 Chanel, Lagerfeld
Ralph Nader
27-Feb-1934 Unsafe at Any Speed
Isaac Newton
4-Jan-1643 31-Mar-1727 Father of modern physics
Florence Nightingale
12-May-1820 13-Aug-1910 Established nursing as a profession
Paula Poundstone
29-Dec-1959 Abrasive, asexual comic
Sun Ra
Jazz Musician
22-May-1914 30-May-1993 Jazz musician from Saturn
Cliff Richard
14-Oct-1940 England's most famous Christian
John Ruskin
8-Feb-1819 20-Jan-1900 Greatest Victorian art critic
Erik Satie
17-May-1866 1-Jul-1925 Messe des Pauvres
Nikola Tesla
9-Jul-1856 7-Jan-1943 Invented alternating current
Samuel J. Tilden
9-Feb-1814 4-Aug-1886 Lost the stolen 1876 US election
Otto Warburg
8-Oct-1883 1-Aug-1970 Effect of oxygen on cancer
Simone Weil
3-Feb-1909 24-Aug-1943 The Iliad, or the Poem of Force
Jemima Wilkinson
29-Nov-1752 1-Jul-1819 The Universal Friend

Here's the original page.
A few days after reading this, I was in Shoe Pavillion with my family. There was some sort of Karl Lagerfeld fragrance on sale, and I proudly held it up and said, "Look! He's asexual!" It was nice to be able to do that.

[Below: Sun Ra. Even if we are both asexual, that doesn't mean I understand him in the least. I saw a video about him in a class once, and...whoa...]

Space is the place!


birdnerd said...

This list (assuming it's true) makes me even prouder to be A. Borges... Barrie... Kant... Nader... joy.

Anonymous said...

I know it's a big thing in the asexual community to make lists of "possibly asexual people" - I saw several threads about it when I was still visiting the AVEN boards. I must confess that this makes me really uncomfortable. One of the things I loved about the asexual community back when I was trying to figure out my orientation was the repeated claim that "we can't tell you if you are, only you know how you really feel so only you can tell if you are asexual or not". This is the thing that made me really comfortable with being asexual - it wasn't a label that people imposed on me, it was a label I could choose to wear if I felt comfortable with it.

This type of list is totally the opposite of that principle that I've always found so comforting. Now we are putting labels on people. What on Earth gives us the right to do that?

I've always thought that asexuality, like any orientation of identity, was something the person chose to identify with, or not - that no-one had the right to point a finger at them and say "you are that way" even when many little details about them made us think that they were indeed that way.

Many people refuse to believe that we exist, and find other explanations to how we feel, imposing other labels on us, including "you're gay" or "you must have been abused as a child". And now we try to prove we do exist by saying that famous people, many of which died before anyone started to use the word "asexuality" in the way we do, were or are like us. I understand that having some famous asexuals out there would be wonderful for asexual visibility, but putting the label on them ourselves without knowing how they would feel about it is not going to help. In my opinion, it's only making things worse.

Mariya said...

I've been following your blog for a while, and am absolutely enthralled.

I've always been aware of asexuality, but I did not understand the width and scope that this sexuality encompasses within it.

I now find myself telling others of this, and other, more obscure sexualities, whether that is pansexual or asexual or...(oh, how the list goes on!)

Thank you for the privledge of reading such a blog, for the activism that you do.

Though I may not be asexual and am actually very heteronormative, my philosophical views, social conscience makes me especially prone to acceptance and activism. I write for a university paper in Moscow, and my recent editorial was based on the ridiculously narrow definition of sexuality that is employed today, even by specialists.

Thank you,
Mariya Osadchy

Madeline said...

i definitely didnt hear you say that at the shoe pavilion ha...but that is really interesting about all the famous aces

Ily said...

Rainbow Amoeba-- I understand what you're saying. The reason I like to speculate about famous aces is because I find it so important, for my own mental health, to have role models. (I did a post about this called "Rolling with Role Models".) I take it as a given that folks will gossip about famous people no matter what, and I see whatever conjectures asexual people make as relatively gentle compared to the "OMG AMY WINEHOUSE IS PSYCHO" stuff . But thanks for not making that assumption.

Birdnerd-- Yay! I was surprised that Edward Gorey, who's a self proclaimed ace, wasn't on there.

Mariya-- Thanks so much! Keep reading and telling others!

Madeline-- We'll just have to go back and buy more shoes.

pretzelboy said...

I've never really been sure what to make of lists of famous asexuals. On the one hand, we can never really know what these people's reason was to be celibate. On the other, there is always the issue of anachronism in any attempt at talking about historical figures of any sexual orientation. Still, something that bothers me is that we don't have any highly respected public figures identifying as asexual. While I imagine that there are some who could, it does get disheartening. There are definitely some figures in that list I would gladly have seen among our numbers.

Ily said...

It bothers me too, Pretzel...but I'd like to think it's because those highly respected individuals just haven't heard about asexuality yet. Because I try to do a lot to advance visibility, it's always kind of surprising to find out how few people still do know about us. I'm sure there's a very famous person or two who's lying awake at night, wondering what's "wrong" with them. (I know, so dramatic!) But public figures still get some degree of crap for being gay, let alone something more obscure. I hope that will change.

Anonymous said...


You are dead on. Your comment struck me with such stark clarity. What a highly intelligent, deeply insightful and wonderfully mateur individual you are. Kant would surely be proud if he were alive to see how you have applied the Law of Universality to such an intimite concern.

Freya Aswynn said...

Hi, I am Freya. Aswynn and I am asexual, I ve never been aware that there are others on the Internet.
I am also a occultist, working in a variety of traditions bu committed to Wodan. I am 62 and have been celibate from 1992.
I am a little bit famous A biggish fish in s very small pond. However feel free to list me.