You're about as sexually attractive to me as a turtle: Coming out as asexual in a hypersexual culture

The author of a new book on asexuality talks about growing up without desire and dating without physical intimacy

Published September 16, 2014 11:00PM (EDT)

Julie Sondra Decker
Julie Sondra Decker

At age 14, Julie Sondra Decker found herself delivering the cliché line “It’s not you, it’s me.” Only, really, she meant it. She wasn’t attracted to her first boyfriend but kissed him anyway “because I was expected to,” she says. People told her, “One day you’ll like it" -- and she believed them.

But by age 16, nothing had changed. “I simply had a complete lack of interest in sex and anything related," she writes. "I’d just never been sexually attracted to another person. Not my boyfriend, not the hottest people in school, not the heartthrob movies stars. I wasn’t interested. Period.” Her high school boyfriend nicknamed her "Miss Non-Hormone" and she began referring to herself as “nonsexual.” That's when people started offering their opinions -- things like, “That’s not normal. You need to get checked out," "You're going to die alone with a houseful of cats" and “Shut up and admit you’re gay.”

Shortly after Decker graduated from college, David Jay founded the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network in 2001 and media attention soon followed. "I started describing myself as 'asexual' instead of 'nonsexual' to connect myself with the awareness efforts," explains Decker, a 36-year-old author living in Tampa, Florida. Now she's taken it a step further, writing a book, "The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality," to demystify the overlooked orientation. She spoke with Salon about our hypersexualized culture, masturbation and what non-asexuals have to learn from asexuals about love ...

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