This is an anonymous post I recieved for October’s Carnival of Aces.
I identify as asexual. I also happen to work in a church. My experiences in the church are wide and varied for a number of reasons, but let’s start with my faith background. I grew up in a Lutheran church and was involved in a large part of the music ministry at my home church. In middle school and high school I went to a Quaker music camp, and was exposed to the value of silent meditation and prayer. A number of my good friends from high school are Quaker, and while I cannot truly switch to Quakerism due to my own worship preferences, I have learned a lot from Quaker meetings and readings. When I went to college, I started subbing at various churches as an organist. During my junior year, I landed an organ scholar position at an Episcopal church with a rich tradition of choral music and what people would term “high church” practices. It was during that time that I realized how much value a ritual could have if the one performing the ritual truly understood the meaning behind it. It was also during college that I started to identify as asexual. Growing up, I was taught that sex was not something to be afraid of or ashamed of; rather, it was a gift from God. …Just not a gift I wanted to participate in. This was a point of frustration for me because I couldn’t wrap my head around why people wanted to do it, and that made it harder to relate to people on something that seemed to be so basic. And sex was discussed in the Episcopal church quite a bit.Since then, I’ve found ways to understand that sex is something that most people participate in and enjoy, but it is certainly not required to be a happy human being. However, it’s easy for people to just assume that it’s part of everyone’s lives, present or future, especially where procreation is the goal. At my current church (Presbyterian), I witnessed a couple of older ladies wishing “Happy Mother’s Day” to a high schooler who wasn’t pregnant or in a romantic relationship. I was shocked to hear this and to learn that the reason they said that was because she would most likely be a mother someday. (And oh yes, they tried to wish me the same. I was NOT pleased.) Belonging and community are incredibly important, and churches are, at their core, a social construct. But what if you feel you don’t belong? That you don’t have a community? That you aren’t even welcome? When you’re questioning your sexuality, this is especially sensitive. The smallest gesture or kind word can mean the world to people, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in working in the church it’s that it gives you many opportunities to work with all SORTS of people.This past summer I was in Boston for the American Guild of Organists’ National Convention, and we were hopping around various churches in the city. (BEAUTIFUL city by the way, I had never been there before.) One of these venues was Old South Church on Copley Square. When I entered I grabbed a postcard (of course) and each of the pamphlets they had about the history of the church, the windows, and the music ministry. And then I saw a pamphlet that had various words strewn about the cover; one of those was asexual! Curious, I picked it up; it had everything from gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, transgender, to questioning, straight, ally, and beyond, and at the bottom of the cover, it said “God loves you.” I was moved almost to tears because I had never seen anything like it, something that encompassed (or tried to anyway) all facets of the spectrum of sexuality. It didn’t matter what you identified as, or even if you were questioning at all. There was no judging, no shunning, just… “God loves you”. I have that pamphlet perched on a shelf in my office. And that’s really what it comes down to for me. I could talk for hours about my experiences as an ace in the field of church music. What I have written above only has the barebones of a structure, but ultimately, I see myself as a child of God. Being asexual is just one part of that.