You know that thing people do when they use someone else’s genitals to pleasure themselves? I believe it’s commonly known as “having sex.” Conceptually speaking, it seems kinda bazaar. I had always figured sexuality and attraction together were inherent and definitive parts of everyone’s life—wherever they identified on the sexual spectrum. But a few years ago I learned that’s not true, when I heard the word “asexual”.
I first heard it from a friend, and had no idea what it meant. The notion that there could exist someone who did not experience sexual attraction, or experience different forms of attraction without sexuality at all was fascinating. After some internetting, I eventually came across a documentary from 2011 called “(A)sexual.” It primarily followed ace activist David Jay.
However, I felt a sense—from various people online to asexuals I had met in person—that a new documentary could shed light on the new generation of aces working to raise awareness within various spaces, such as university campuses, and within the lgbtq communities of big cities in North America; cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Toronto.
The story of different people of various ages and races and backgrounds all identifying as asexual finding their place in our world was very interesting to me. Weaving their stories into a single strand for an audience was the basis of my idea for a new feature documentary film about asexuality.
I attended the Asexuality Conference in Toronto during the summer of 2015 to try and meet the main coordinators for meetup groups in those big cities. But before I asked them if they would be interested in a film, I simply tried to get to know them. They are all amazing people with great personal stories, all united by some sense of feeling apart from the sexual-normative society we live in.
We kept in touch into the fall, when they began making plans for attending the Creating Change Conference in Chicago the following January. I figured this would make a great event to kickoff filming. For four days in the Windy City, I following them around the conference with a camera, filming their two official sessions, and interviewing every one of the ace organizers there.
I figured afterward, I would continue to film more of them in their respective cities. However, as I reviewed the footage, I began to realize the group’s time in Chicago could serve as the focus. I had a ton of footage already; to reduce that to five or ten minutes as the opening for an 80 minute documentary seemed like a waste. The conference itself offered a lot of educational and enlightening moments of interaction between the ace attendees and general conference-goers, who themselves obviously tend to mostly be LGBTQ people. Though we’ve needed to film a little more in the intervening time since then. I should also add that two of my co-producers are on the asexual spectrum and actively involved in community building in their cities.
A main point of conversation not just in the film, but in the general public discourse of asexuality, at least within the US, is the need for diversity in representation. Because of various socio/economic/technological factors—some of which are beyond the ace community’s control, the public media representation of asexuality has not been too diverse; focusing mainly on white and cis-presenting individuals. But the real world asexual community is just as diverse and colorful as any other community. And so that discrepancy is something that not only I became aware of while filming, but is something nearly the entire ace community is aware of and are actively addressing in a multitude of ways, including discussing it within the film.
I think producing this documentary allowed me to analyze and reflect on what sexuality, attraction, and an orientation even mean in society and culture. However, my first aim is to tell an interesting story. The topic and the people I met were interesting, which helped me develop an idea how I could visually and cohesively tell that story. After editing, we hope to find a place for people to view it, preferably aided by online and offline screening opportunities later this year. Beyond this, I would say my goal is to enlighten people about something they may not know much—if anything—about; allowing them to develop a more thorough perspective, adding to existing conversations, or building new ones.