Stereotypes & media about Black masculinity made it harder to come out as asexual

Black, man, African-American, asexual
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I am an asexual man. Just saying that makes me sound so countercultural. Being an asexual man in a culture that depicts men as sex-crazed creatures often makes me feel like an alien outcast. It is countercultural being an asexual man, to say the least.

From movies like American Pie and Revenge of the Nerds to television shows like The Big Bang Theory, That ’70s Show, and Friends, Hollywood has depicted men as being sex-crazed hound dogs who would do anything for sex. The types of men may be diverse, such as Don Draper from Mad Men to Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. However, the one trope of men that has remained a constant in Hollywood and media is the idea that all men are sex-addicted roués.

Many statements about men also reinforce these tropes: “Men only think with their genitals!” “Men think about sex every 7 seconds!” “Men only have one thing on their minds!” “Men are dogs in heat!” Time and time again, we hear these tropes repeated about men with little pushback.

Yet, for asexual men, these tropes can lead to traumatic effects, such as partners demanding sex and expecting it simply due to being born a male.

One year ago, I participated in a panel discussion at Ace Con in Australia. In the discussion, I and some fellow aces discussed the challenges and struggles of being male-identifying and asexual in a culture that frames men as being sex-obsessed creatures who would do anything for sex.

Each one of us in the panel discussed the struggles of being asexual and masculine in a culture where sexual expectations are placed upon you for your gender. Each of us spoke about how sexual stereotypes regarding men hurt our personal development when we were young. Each of us shared how sexual stereotypes surrounding masculinity really put pressure on us to be something we could never be, as well as feeling alienated for being men who just didn’t fit the culture trope of the “wild and crazy guy” men are told they have to be. 

One of the fellow panelists talked about the immense pressure to have to “put notches” in their bedposts by sleeping with different partners (heteronormatively speaking, of course). He then shared a story about how, when he was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, a superior who was a woman offered to buy him a sex worker after she found out he was a virgin.

Another panelist shared how it’s difficult for him, as a romantic asexual, to find relationships without feeling pressured into sex and how so many of his partners grew frustrated because he didn’t fit the stereotype of men always wanting sex. He also shared how he became a victim of coercion in a previous relationship because his partner wanted him to, in his words, “stop being asexual” and start wanting sex like a “normal guy.”

Those are a few of the negative stories that were shared in the discussion panel discussing asexuality and masculinity.

I wish I could say I was exempt from such stories. But alas! I cannot.

In one instance, back in my senior year of high school, my classmates started talking about sex and all the things they like to do sexually. I had an encounter with one girl who, when I mentioned I hadn’t had sex, kept running her leg up my thigh. Though I kept pushing her hand away and off my leg, she kept doing it despite my objections. After one instance of emphatically telling her to stop, she attempted to gaslight me by saying that I was the one with the problem and she “was just trying to help me.”


However, my story not only deals with masculinity but with race also.

I am a Black asexual man.  Being an asexual Black man, I have personal accounts of being typecast as some sexually perilous human being, solely due to my melanated skin.

While many know, through “inceldom,” the idea of a “Chad” (a guy who is supposedly so good-looking that he takes all the girls for himself), there also exists through incel culture the idea of a Tyrone, a black “Chad” who apparently has sex with everything that moves. The concept of a Tyrone has roots in historic racism—  denoting Black men as being hypersexual monsters who “prey” on the” innocent, angelic” daughters of white men, a la Birth of a Nation.

I have most recently had to deal with being called a “Tyrone” myself. However, the cultural notion that surrounds the “Tyrone” has been something I’ve had to deal with all my life. 

So often, I’ve had people assume that, due to my being Black, I must be having sex constantly with any and every thing that moves. Even when I come out and say I’m asexual, some people actively dismiss the possibility of my statement being true, because of their stereotypes about Black men and assuming I must be a Tyrone like every Black man supposedly is. 

In one instance, one person said to me they couldn’t wrap their head around me being asexual, because they just assumed that all Black men only care about “getting some,” based on portrayals in media.

This isn’t just limited to incel culture. If you thought that inceldom was the only place where I’ve experienced levels of sexual racism, you would be mistaken. 

I’ve experienced hidden instances of racism for reasons outside of sex. I can recall the vast amount of times I’ve been told I’m so “well-spoken” for a black person, the amount of times that I sound like “the whitest black person” ever, and the many times I was called an “Oreo” because my speech is so white for being Black.

However, ever since my youth, there have been levels of racism and fetishization of me due to being Black. 

Growing up, I had people say many different things sexually about me due to being a Black guy. In one instance back in high school, I had a person make a joke about how well-endowed I must be due to stereotypes surrounding Black men’s genitals. In another instance, I was told by one person that I would probably be really good in bed, because I’m Black. It didn’t matter whether or not I even wanted to have sex. In their minds, I was only a sexual object due to my Blackness.

Truthfully speaking, the stereotype of the Black man being well-endowed has its origins in Ancient Greece, in which having a large appendage was seen as a sign of being animalistic and lacking restraint — just saying.

Beyond even that, I have had many instances of people saying they couldn’t be around me due to their family disapproving of Black guys. 

I was friends with a girl in middle school; she was white. One day as we were walking from home, she told me I had to stop walking with her at a certain location because she knew that her stepfather would be watching her come home. She said that if her stepdad saw her with a Black guy — even though we were only friends — her stepdad would get really angry with her, and it would turn into a huge argument. Even though we never dated and we lived in the same neighborhood, I was treated not as a person but rather as a threat due to being Black. Adding on, I was a threat only due to societal stereotypes deeming all Black men as hypersexual superpredators. 

I was only 12 when that moment happened.

The social stereotypes surrounding Black men really had a negative impact on my life. It’s even had an impact even after coming out as an ace. So often, asexual media has been dominated by media figures who fit a certain caricature of being white. The majority of asexual documentaries have featured white aces monolithically. I’ve struggled with even accepting that I’m asexual because all the asexual people I saw were white.  Black asexuals have been few and far between, let alone Black asexual men. 

Not having a multicultural asexual representation growing up made it harder for me to truly accept my asexual identity. Not having a multicultural asexual representation made it all the harder to truly counteract the messaging of my youth that said the only way to be a real black guy was to be some “wild beast.”

If I had great Black asexual representation, like the Black asexual male character introduced in one episode of Big Mouth season six, it would have done a world of wonders for me, to help me see that I could be my own version of a Black male, independent of stereotypes ingrained in society and reinforced through media.

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