Tag Archives: asexual

Just because…

So I am back to all the normal routines: getting up, walking the dog, eating, working, walking the dog, catching up on all sorts at home, sleeping, getting up, walking the dog… Just because Summer School is over, does that mean I should go silent on this blogging thing again? No, you aren’t going to silence me that easily!

Something has changed. I have renewed energy and motivation and even vision. Client work this week has taken on a fresh feel. I have a ‘special offer’ for the summer months of up to 6 weeks counselling at half the usual price. That has drawn some new work. I will offer the same from September to Christmas for GSD (gender and sexual diversity) clients, in order to gain some experience in that field. As I always say, there is only one way to get experience. I feel I have begun to find my voice too. Writing each day last week provoked me into deeper reflection. I’m still not sure what I have to say, so please bear with me while I discover.

A couple of months ago I began to ask myself (and others) what sex is for. I mentioned that last week on this blog. For so many years it was all so clear to me… sex (and by sex I mean intimate sexual behaviour between two consenting adults) was a particular kind of intimacy reserved for one particular relationship, and no other. At best it was something for two people who had made a life commitment to each other, and nobody else. Perhaps deep down I still think that is the best. However, that is not how 95% of people see things, and something has shifted deep down inside me. I don’t any longer want to be someone who tells others what they should and shouldn’t be doing. That is for them to decide. I do want to be someone who listens and helps others live life to the full. I want to hear how others do life, and enjoy the diversity and variety that is this world rather than be the thought police. In that sense being sexual  can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean.

Some of you might not agree. Some of you may be saying ‘hallelujah’, ‘at last’!

I guess too I am looking at this almost from the outside. Being asexual gives me a different perspective. I hear what others say rather than experience it first hand. I imagine, and observe, and see the enormous variety in meanings that people make for themselves. I am in awe of the richness of it all.

I am on a journey. Perhaps I should rename this blog ‘talkingaboutthejourney’? No, it is what it is. I am who I am. You are who you are. To remain unchanged is to be dead.

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Summer School Day 4

Ok so no preaching this morning! Day 4 was as inspiring and challenging as were days 1-3. We spent the morning considering sex and sexualities; how do difficulties with sex present in relationship counselling? What happens when a couple no longer has sex? What else might be happening for them? What happens when one no longer wants sex and the other does? Might it be different for gay couples, straight couples, polyamorous groups, bisexual people, asexual people? We did a fascinating exercise in triads, where two were asked to play out a scenario as a couple in counselling, and a third act as their therapist. We were given almost half an hour for the ‘session’ with our clients, and so it was possible to see movement and change happening even within the role play. I had the privilege to ‘counsel’ a gay couple in a 4 year relationship where their sex life had never quite got off the ground, and one of them was thinking he might be asexual but homoromantic. A third party had become involved for the sexual partner to have a ‘f*** buddy’. It was a profound experience for me to appreciate the dynamics and sacrifices involved for both men.

In the afternoon we had a visit from a consultant psychiatrist who works with children and young people struggling with gender dysphoria, that is, that they are unhappy with their gender and want to change. She explained to us the complexities of systems involved, from family, school, medical professionals, psychologists, to social services and counsellors, not to mention the young person themselves, with all the emotion and distress on all sides. I am glad to understand the process much more clearly, and both the safeguards and the empathy of the professionals.

So I am left with one big question.

What is the meaning and function of sex for an individual or a couple? Is it the same for everyone? Should it be? Any thoughts?

The ended with my first visit to a shop selling sex toys for women. We played!

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Summer School Day 1 continued…

So how was the first day? Now I have had a chance to sleep on it, to process things a little it is time to write, while heading south once more on the 8.51 train for Day 2.

Well, it was almost overwhelming. 12 participants from 11 nations (now why does that feel so familiar?) identifying as almost every diversity of sexuality and gender under the sun: asexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, men who love men (but don’t identify as gay), polyamorous, transgender (female to male), kinky, queer, oh yes, and one straight woman. I am so grateful for this opportunity to meet and become friends with, to learn from such fabulous individuals.

For the obligatory and necessarily useful ‘introduce yourself to us’ half hour at the start of the day, we wrote our name on the board since a great deal of what we are processing this week has to do with identity, and then we shared as much or as little as we wanted of the meaning or origin of our name. It afforded the chance to see and hear each individual as a person, as an assortment of identities, rather than merely sharing information.

Most of the remainder of the morning was given over to small group discussions with a plenary report back based on these questions: What do I want for my ‘self’ from this week? What do I want for me as a therapist? What do i want for society this week? Anything else? Rich discussion followed.

In the afternoon we had a lecture from Dominic Davies the founder of Pink Therapy, on the origins  of what started out as gay affirmative therapy, developed into LGBT therapy, then Gender and Sexual Minority Therapy, and is now becoming known as Gender and Sexual Diversity Therapy. We learned that linking together the vast array of sexualities and genders that can be identified, there are two common themes that emerge: hypervigilance to others’ reactions and prejudices; internalised shame and anger about being different in a hetero-normative world.

The teaching finished at 5pm and we had a optional ‘social’ programme, which yesterday was a visit to 56 Dean Street, an LGBT sexual health clinic run by the NHS in Soho, and a chance to experience gay and lesbian bars in the area, and to note their differences. I was intrigued that one lesbian bar has the usual loud music playing, but upstairs was a quieter lounge for women to sit and chat and get to know one another more.

I realised just how cloistered I have been and in some ways how naive and inexperienced I am. But during the course of the day I noticed a subtle change in myself, reminiscent of my first trip to Central Asia. “They” went from being labels, categories, types to being “thou” in the old use of the word, someone I know, respect, and identify with, a fellow human being with a whole lifetime of a story to tell, and with whom I have far more in common than I have different.

I feel rich.

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