In between gorging on bad television and family gossip this Christmas, I realised something pretty great. My family - all of them, even the most religious of aunts, now accept my sexuality. I’m not even a curiosity anymore - questions about my girlfriend slip in easily in between holiday and baby chat. Society’s pretty ok with it too. Lez soap plot lines are two a penny, gay fashion is ubiquitous and now Europe even has gay retirement homes. I’ll probably be in one in fifty years, catching up on vintage L Word episodes and knitting rainbow jumpers. It’s therefore pretty frustrating trying to explain asexuality to certain twits when they ask about this project. Suddenly I’m back in 1994, watching that famous Brookside lesbian kiss with my parents and knowing that not only do they feel awkward - but every mum and dad around the nation does too.
As recent sitter Joe pointed out to me, even the oft-cited Kinsey scale mentioned asexuality. While most people lie on the 0 - 6 scale (0 being exclusively heterosexual and 6 being exclusively homosexual), some also fall into the “X” category - Kinsey labelled this “non-sexual”. And yet, over 60 years later many fail to have make the small leap of understanding that Kinsey made in 1948.
Anyway, I digress. This winter I photographed three wonderful guys, from three of Britain’s greatest cities: Liverpool, London and Bristol.
In November I met up with A Level student Ben in Richmond, and we spent the afternoon wandering around its epic park - running into some deer and even parrots (!!) while we were at it. Ben was amazingly unfazed by the parrot element. I was dazzled: who needs a zoo when there’s actual wild parrots in Richmond. Like so many, when he came across AVEN online it was a great relief to see that there were lots of other people out there just like him. It’s obviously boosted his confidence being able to be public about that as he embarks on adult life - I certainly remember being far less sure-footed as a repressed late-teen.
Writer Christof is based in Liverpool, where I met up with him later that month and was treated to a fantastic tour of his favourite museums, streets and cafes. The city was recently European Capital of Culture in 2008 - some of the street art from then still remains and the wealth of museums is incredible. Christof pointed out that the Liverpool Biennial next summer will be worth a visit too.
Christof told me that while being asexual is very much a background element of his life - he isn’t particularly active on AVEN, for example; but being able to tell people about his identity when necessary has really helped him become the content person he is today.
Finally, just after Christmas I drove down to Bristol to meet Joe, a first year student at Plymouth university. He’s been fortunate enough to meet a handful of fellow asexuals there, and is also part of an LGBT union who have recently added a “+” to their initials to represent other identities - something that I remember being a controversial issue when I was a student a mere six years ago. Like so many of the people I’ve met, he told me how happy he is to be able to open about who he is, and get on with his life. Joe and I had a brilliant day wandering around Bristol in the winter sunshine: having incredible Moroccan food at St Nicholas Market and also visiting the best army surplus store ever.
Thanks Ben, Christof and Joe for three amazing days, and some great portraits!