Fifty Shades of Gender podcast graphic with Theo (TW) McKenna

Episode 13

A conversation with Theo Will (TW) McKenna


44 min. Recorded on 25 September 2020.

Theo’s pronouns are they/them (or fae/faer online), and they identify as genderfluid, non-binary, asexual, and a grayromantic lesbian. Find out what that means to Theo in this episode.

We also talk about pronouns and neopronouns, the asexuality scale, the difference between sexual attraction and romantic attraction, platonic crushes, queerplatonic relationships (QPRs) and boundaries.

“While none of the genders that I identify with exist on the binary – I have no attachment to that at all – there are days where they differ quite largely from each other.”

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TRANSCRIPT [expand to read]

Esther: Hello and welcome! What’s your name?

Theo: My name is Theo Will but a couple of people call me TW, either works, or Theo, or just Will.

Esther: And how do you identify?

Theo: That’s a long question! Now I am gender fluid and non-binary and I am also an asexual grayromantic lesbian, which is a bit of a mouthful so I tend to just go with queer, because people at least respect that one.

Esther: Yes that sums it up doesn’t it really. Queer is, I feel like I am adopting that term more and more as well and it obviously means that it is something different to everyone, doesn’t it? What does that mean to you? Start with that.

Theo: It is picking the one that’s the problem… I am very attached to my label. I have a couple of mental health problems that means my sense of self is a bit iffy, so I get very attached to my labels because they are things that I can hold up to the world and go ‘this is definitely me’, which I can’t do with a lot of things, regrettably. So the gender fluid is the nearest of the gender-based labels, that one for me was a very difficult one to come to terms with, because I had been out as non-binary for many, many years at that point and I was comfortable with that label, I knew who I was, it was like right, ‘this fits, this is where I sit, who I am, this is my flag, isn’t it pretty?’ (I love the non-binary flag, it is very nice.)

And then, I started recognising the same kinds of feelings that I was having when I was first coming to terms with being non-binary, it was like, ‘ah f**k! not again!’, which happens whenever something new pops up in terms of gender and sexuality for me, it is just ‘really?! We are doing this again? Okay’. So I started examining myself and realised that, while none of the genders I identity with exist on the binary, I have no attachment to that all, there are days where they differ quite largely from each other, so.

One of my favourite ones from a joking perspective is the days where I am agender, which is where I don’t have a gender. It is the joke of, ‘oh I woke up and fairies took my gender in the night! Oh no, someone has stolen my gender!’ ‘Oh when will my gender return from war!’ Those are great days for jokes, I like jokes! Those are strange days as well because, as someone who experiences them it is very strange to have a non-entity be used to describe how you are feeling, so I can only imagine how strange it is for someone who has no experience of that at all, to try and imagine having no gender at all.

It doesn’t affect my presentation, my presentation remains pretty constant, in that I am in t-shirt and jeans and a binder, but it feels very different for me. I am a lot easier to upset on those days because on those days people perceiving me as a gender, any gender, regardless of which side of the binary it falls on is a lot more upsetting. Whereas on other days, when I have a solid gender that I can point to and go ‘that one’, while it is still upsetting because you are wrong, it is not as upsetting, because it is that kind of: well I have a gender, you have been wrong about it and I can correct you, but I have something that I can point to and say ‘this one’. Whereas trying to explain to people, ‘no you are wrong and you will not be right at any point, because there isn’t one there for you to be right about’…

Esther: Yeah, so what pronouns do you use?

Theo: I use they/them mostly, I also use the neopronoun set, fae/faer/faerself. That one I mostly use online because I have enough of a problem trying to get people to say they/them, to bother trying to fight and teach people about neopronouns in real life.

Esther: What does neopronouns mean? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Theo: Neopronouns are pronouns outside of the ‘big three’, the big three, the accepted ones, are: he/him/his, she/her/herself and they/them/themselves, those are the big three, they are the accepted where, okay people will put up a bit of a fight about they/them but, nine times out of ten, if you approach someone and go ‘look I am he/him’ they know how to use it, they understand it, they respect it. neopronouns are other pronoun sets that don’t fit within those three. They are mostly used by non-binary people, but they can be used by anyone as any pronouns can be, obviously pronouns do not denote gender.

Esther: Important.

Theo: Exactly! Some of them are built for languages that do not particularly have a neutral pronoun, so languages like French, or Spanish, where everything is very heavily gendered, neopronouns come in as a way of introducing in essence their version of the they/them pronoun and then they have come into English and they are so used to hearing whatever pronoun it is in their language that then hearing the English they/them doesn’t feel right so they have become then adopted in the English language. There are neopronouns dating way back in history because that is something you hear quite a lot, ‘these are just some new fangled ideas, you just want to be special’, and if you actually go and look, I think it is ey/aer/em, I may be wrong on that, because my memory is not the best thing in the world, but I believe ey/aer/em was used in the Middle Ages. So, neopronouns have a very long history, they are becoming more mainstream now, because everything is because we have ways to connect to people that we never had, like this as an easy example!

Esther: Indeed, yeah, yeah.

Theo: But they are not the new fangled thing that people like to think they are, there is a very long history of them existing and their usage.

Esther: That’s really interesting. I did look into the use of the singular ‘they’ and that has actually been around for 100s of years and it came around after the use of the plural they, but yes it has been around for a long time. So people might say ‘oh that’s a new thing and I am not comfortable with that’, and it is like ‘no it is not new, no it is not’.

Theo: Singular they predates singular you actually. The original way of addressing someone, you wouldn’t say ‘you’, you would say ‘they’. I saw something online, and this made me laugh, this angry bloke from way-back-when basically complaining that we were switching to the singular you thinking it far too informal and thinking it would give people ideas above their station if they could address their betters with the singular you, instead of the singular they.

Esther: Oh how interesting! So tell me more about some of your other labels. So there is asexual as well, have you always felt that way? Or is that something you have more recently discovered? How does that fit?

Theo: No I realised I was asexual relatively young, (unfortunately I didn’t realise it quick enough!…no that sounds terrible!) I was very confused about it in the time when most people are dating and losing their virginity and such. I had a long-term girlfriend at the time and I kind of pushed for sexual activity because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be doing, I thought that’s what people of our age did when we were dating. I didn’t really understand why it never quite worked for me. I thought, ‘it is just because we are new at this’, or ‘it is because we are uncomfortable’, or ‘it is because there is the ever present chance of my mother walking in on us again’. {laughing} (Sorry mum!)

I thought all of these things and it wasn’t until about two years later, because that was happening when I was about 16, it wasn’t until two years later that I found asexual as a term and started and I kind of started looking into it.

Asexuality is a bit of a sliding-scale so there is asexuality at one end, (and this is very funny, because I normally don’t like binaries, but here I lie) then you have gray sexual or grey asexual people who very rarely feel sexual attraction but do still occasionally and then you have got Demisexual where you do not feel sexual attraction until there is a very strong emotional connection, then there are a couple of others.

Esther: And I have heard a term called fraysexual which is the opposite of demi, I believe, because that’s feeling a sexual attraction, when you are not connected to someone, have you heard of this? Is that something you are familiar with?

Theo: And then it kind of goes away. Yes I have heard of it and then with some people it goes away once you develop an emotional bond.

Esther: Yes exactly. How interesting isn’t it. Keep going…

Theo: There are loads out there I cannot name them all, because while I am a font of various pieces of knowledge, I am not that good. I have stopped at many places along that line, I thought I was demisexual for a while, I thought I was fraysexual for a while, before finally almost shrugging my shoulders and accepting ‘no, I don’t feel sexual attraction’. And my relationship with sex itself is inherently complex due to my asexuality and then has been, regrettably, compounded further due to trauma, so I err on the side of sex-neutral or sex-repulsed.

So when it [sex] shows up in tv shows or in books and, nine times out of ten, I am like, ‘ugh whatever’, I would appreciate it not being there because I can’t see the point of having it for whatever reason, normally there is no story behind it, but I am not turning the TV off going, ‘oh god, no I don’t want to look at it’, but then when it comes to the thought of me being involved in a sexual act, giving or receiving, I get very, I can’t think of the right word, very uncomfortable is the closest I can come.

I kind of the land on the side of: if it is that important to a future partner I can give, but that would be the extent of any relationship that I would enter into because I am immensely uncomfortable at the thought of receiving and don’t have the desire to do it like most people do because that is something that is often misunderstood about asexuality is, it is not that we don’t enjoy sex, there are asexuals out there with libidos, there are asexuals out there with heavy libidos. (They frighten me! That was a terrible joke and I shouldn’t say that, I am sure they are all lovely!)

It is a lack of sexual attraction. There are women that I look at and I go, ‘oh I would really love to date you, I think you would be great, I think you are really pretty, you are really aesthetically pleasing, I could see myself becoming romantically attracted to you’, but I don’t have the same kind of thing that I understand that many other people have, where the look and think ‘I would love to get you into bed’. For me, going, ‘if you mean to take a nap with her, definitely, that sounds fun she sounds like she gives good hugs! For any other reason no thank you, you are weird!’

Esther: Yeah, yeah. So it is almost like separating sexual attraction from almost a physical pleasure, perhaps, like separate things, is that about right?

Theo: Yeah. I like physical pleasure, physical pleasure is fun, I am not a big fan of other people being involved in physical pleasure but that is for a variety of reasons, but physical pleasure is fun. I don’t look at other people and have that be something that is on my mind at any point, I don’t look at anyone and go ‘me, you, physical pleasure, good times!’

Esther: No that is fair enough. Then the last label, couple of labels I suppose, gray-romantic lesbian. So gray-romantic would I guess be on that scale of…by all means you tell me what does that mean to you?

Theo: Gray romanticism is as much the same as asexuality except, instead of it dealing with sexual attraction, it deals with romantic attraction, which is something that a lot of people don’t register as being different which is why there is the kind of misconception that asexuals are not interested in dating, because people who are not asexual at all, or a-romantic at all, never have to look at the difference between what they would consider sexual attraction and what they would consider romantic attraction, they have become irrevocably intertwined within their heads.

That is a problem within society as well, the idea of sexual and romantic attraction is irrevocably intertwined where, if you say you don’t experience one, people assume you don’t experience the other either (if they are even aware that there is a difference).

So aromanticism falls along much the same scale as asexuality in terms of labels because the communities are very close, so you have: a-romantic which is no romantic attraction at all, you don’t look at people and want to date them. That does not mean that you don’t want to date, that does not mean that you cannot date, it is just that you don’t have those kind of feelings in the same way that being asexual does not mean that you don’t want sex, or you will never have sex, it just means that you don’t have those feelings about people.

Then there is demi-romantic, which, again, you will not feel romantic attraction to someone until you already have a very strong emotional connection and gray-romantic, which is where I sit, that I don’t feel romantic attraction very often. I can look at plenty of women who are lovely and aesthetically pleasing and have wonderful personalities and who I would sit there and go, ‘I would like to be your friend’, ‘I would like to spend time with you, I think we would get on really, really, well’. And quite a big one for me, ‘you look like you would give very good hugs’.

Esther: Aw, I love that!

Theo: But if, as an example, I looked at 100 such women in a day, I would feel romantic attraction for maybe five of them, to give kind of a scale. So that 95 women who would fit every archetype I have for what is important to me in terms of a relationship that I would feel no level of romantic attraction for, which is how I arrived at the gray-romantic label, I started questioning it and I was there going: I know I am not Demi-romantic, because there are people that I do not know, and have so such emotional connections to, that I have romantic feelings for; and I know I am not a-romantic because I have romantic attraction, but I don’t seem to have as much as other people. And then kind of narrowing it down and going through labels and research and stuff and then finally landing and going, ‘oh, okay, this is where I sit, this one, I do experience it, I just experience it very, very rarely, it is a big thing for me’.

Esther: Yeah so the thing is with the lesbian part, because obviously most people understand this to be a woman being attracted to women, so that is your standard definition of a lesbian. But your identity is more like non-binary, and gender-fluid, so how does, for you, the label lesbian fit? Why does that label fit you?

Theo: Firstly, I came out as a lesbian long before I started questioning my gender (really I should have questioned my gender first because that was a lot more pressing!). I came out as a lesbian first and it is, also, once you step off of the binary the available labels for you to describe the way you feel, any level of attraction, whether sexual or romantic (platonic is a completely different section) but any kind of ‘grown up’ emotions, or however people want to quantify it, either sexual or romantic, your labels for that shrink significantly because the basic ones that people tend to understand are homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual. None of them people don’t tend to like very much, two of them they don’t, but one tends to catch a bit more and hetero is ‘the opposite’; homo is ‘the same as’, and bi is ‘two or more’. Once you are off the binary there is no ‘the same as’, ‘opposite to’, there is still two or more.

There are non-binary particular labels for people who are just attracted to women, (I cant remember what they are…) the problem that comes from those is that no one else knows what they are either! If I turned around and said, ‘oh this is what I am’, I would have to give a goddamn15-minute speech on non-binary identities and then what that terms mean in and of itself and that is f***ing tiring! I do that enough as it is, you know?

So there are non-binary terms for people who are particularly attracted to women, which I am, I am attracted to women and women-aligned people. So women-aligned people are for example non-binary people who present very femininely or non-binary people whose gender identity is still somewhat tied to the binary, despite not being on that binary themselves.

As an example, there is a gender known as demi-girl where you are not female but you are kind of close to it, you are female-adjacent almost. There is also the opposing side of demi-boy where you are male adjacent, almost. Obviously this is going to end up in the podcast and I would not take my word as the set-in-stone-descriptor of those labels as I do not fall into either of them, therefore you may get Demi-girls or Demi-boys in your comments going: well actually no! But that has been my best way of trying to explain it to people who have very little experience with non-binary genders, is that it is kind of female-like, almost. You are almost there, but not.

So those are the people that I am attracted to which is why I continue to use the label of lesbian despite not being a woman. And, while there is some uproar about this within the lesbian community because people have nothing better to do than gatekeeper apparently, it is generally very well accepted that non-binary people have always been part of the lesbian community, we have kind of always been there as lesbians. Every sexuality is inclusive of non-binary identities. If you are straight and attracted to someone who is non-binary that does not make you any less straight unless you want it to. If you are a lesbian and you are attracted to someone that is non-binary you are not any less a lesbian, unless you want to be, and the same if you are a gay man and the same for bisexuals and pansexuals and anybody else, your sexuality does not have to change because you are attracted to someone who is non-binary.

Esther: Now that is very interesting, because I use the term pansexual now, because my partner taught me that term basically (they are trans and non-binary), because in a way I know that bi-sexual is used a lot to mean being attracted to both genders and beyond, all genders. I don’t mind either term to be fair, I just feel like I am human-sexual in the end and it doesn’t matter to me what gender any one is or what body parts they have or whatever.

So thinking about something else you mentioned — types of relationships. We talked about sexual attraction, even asexual, a-romantic and the scales for that and there is also the platonic side, you mentioned the word platonic, and we talked about this the other day, didn’t we?, we got chatting about platonic attractions and having a ‘squish’, which is a platonic crush. I came across that term recently and I just love it because it just sounds lovely and squishy and cute. So you mentioned that you have an unconventional relationship related to that, so can you tell us about that?

Theo: I have a queer platonic partner, or a queer platonic relationship, online it is often shortened to QPR, now I will not be saying that here because it is actually longer to say ‘QPR’ than it is to say queer platonic relationship. Typing QPR is a handy shorthand. His name is Tom and I do, I love him, even if sometimes [joking] I do want to kill him (like today, trying to figure out his birthday present and he won’t answer any questions and I am just going, ‘please just answer the questions so I can buy you a god damn birthday gift!’)!

Platonic attraction again differs from romantic attraction and sexual attraction in a way that not a lot of people ever feel the need to examine. It is unfortunately a cultural thing that has caused this problem, where we are almost programmed from day dot to have it in our heads that, until you are of a dating age, your important relationships are: your family, your parents, your grandparents, your siblings and your extended family etc. Then friends come secondary to family. Then, once you reach dating age, at the start of dating age, it is: family, dating, friendships. Then, as time goes on, the family and the dating kind of switch and you are meant to prioritise your romantic partner and/or sexual partner above everybody else in the world and personally I think that is a load of shit! {laughing}

Esther: I agree with you!

Theo: The problem is that sometimes you end up with very, very, strong platonic feelings for someone, such as squishes, which is like a crutch but platonic, so I describe it as looking at someone and being ‘oh my god I really want you to be my best friend!’

Society refuses to allow you to prioritise your friends in your life. I have friends and we semi-joked, semi-seriously, talked about setting up a farm for the group of us and just living there for the rest of our lives, no romantic partners, we will just live here as a weird little gay commune (it is looking more and more enticing as time goes on, not going to lie!)

It is that kind of, if I were to come out and say that to my family, or say on Facebook, or on social media: look, this is how I a living the rest of my life now I am going to prioritise these people, there is no romantic attraction, there is no sexual attraction, we will not be dating of getting married or anything along those lines, they are my friends and I am going to prioritise them as the most important relationships in my life, for the rest of my life, people would look at me as though I had gone f***ing insane (which I have! but that isn’t the point of it).

Esther: That is not the point here!

Theo: Exactly, you know. So that is where the need for a label like queer platonic partner came from. It is the idea of having such strong platonic feelings for someone that you would happily shape the rest of your life around them, should you and they agree. So my queer platonic partner — and I got his permission before I talked about him, because I am very big on boundaries, it was like, ‘right, how much do you want me to talk about you, what am I allowed to say?’ And he was like, ‘no just say anything and if angry trolls show up on my door I know where it has come from’, which is fair enough! — so his name is Tom and we were friends for a while and I had a very big squish on him that made me very embarrassing to be around, and I am sure that anyone that was around me, around that time, was probably, if they didn’t know that I was a lesbian, probably thought that I had a crush on him.

Then, back-end of December, beginning of January, we kind of sat down and talked about it. I was like ‘look this is a thing that happens, this is what it means for me, the ball is now in your court’.

Esther: What did you want from this relationship? Were you quite clear about what you wanted from the relationship and from him? What did you say to him?

Theo: Funnily enough it started as a joke, I jokingly referred to him as ‘my husband’ because we spent so much time together and we bicker like an old married couple — and I call him a dickhead like we are an old married couple and he calls me an arsehole in much the same vein…our love language is insults, it is fine! So it started as the joke and then I kind of introduced the idea of queer platonic partnerships and it was: look, it is basically just a title so that when I talk about you, or if you wish to talk about me, we kind of have a way of saying, ‘look this person is more important to me than just, ‘they are my mate’, or ‘they are my best mate’ even’.

I don’t expect anything from it because, personally, I am a firm believe in going into any kind of relationship expecting particular things is a recipe for disaster. So I don’t expect anything of it on principle but I also don’t expect anything of it because there doesn’t need to be anything for me. It is that kind of, he is someone that I love and I tell him I love him a lot. (Normally after I have been a complete shit and he is trying to shout at me and then I say ‘I love you’ and then he shuts up, but I tell him I love him a lot.) And It is that having someone, I know I could come out of a really shit day, for whatever reason (and there are many reasons both now and in general that I have had a shit day) and I can reach out to them and say, ‘I have had a really shit day’, and I know that I am talking to someone that loves me and wants the best for me, and he can do the same to me, and we have both leaned on each other at various points for various reasons.

It is having someone who knows you, and who loves you, basically, that is at its core what it is for me. Everyone experiences queer platonic relationships differently, because everyone experiences romantic and sexual relationships differently, there is no one unifying experience and there never shall be, but that is how it is for me. He is, at this point, one of the most important people in my life and I like to believe that it is much the same on the other side (although I cannot speak for him, I am pretty sure if I tried he would shout at me! …no, this is making him sound very bad… no, he does not shout at me! We joke about him shouting at me a lot but he does not shout at me, he is very nice!).

But I cannot say what he feels, when we have spoken about it, which we don’t do a lot — because what is the point of belabouring something that we have discussed and agreed upon? — but when we do talk about it there is that kind of reciprocation of ‘yes this goes both ways, this is not just me projecting’, because that is a big worry.

Esther: Yeah, you said you sat down together and you talked about it early this year, what happened after that? How did that work?

Theo: I say we sat down together, we kind of didn’t we kind of messaged about it because…plague.

Esther: Yes.

Theo: We messaged about it and we talked about it and we agreed on a term and we didn’t really talk about boundaries because boundaries had already been set throughout our friendship and they didn’t really need to change, it was that kind of, ‘you are the only person who is allowed to joke about x thing with me for whatever reason’. He is the only person that is allowed to refer to me as ‘wife’ because that is obviously a very gendered term and that normally makes me feel very uncomfortable. He is allowed to say it, if anyone who hangs out with me refers to me as his wife I am the first to go, ‘er, partner’. He is allowed to say it, it is a boundary that I have set, but it is a boundary that has been set. I can make all the jokes I would like at his expense over certain topics and then there are topics that are off-limits and, again, these are boundaries that were set during the friendship, because you tend to learn very quickly what you can and can’t joke about with people, for whatever reason.

So there was no real need to have a proper sit down boundaries talk, the only thing which changed afterwards was a confidence level that was about it, I was no longer kind of tip-toeing around it, doing that kind of ‘if I talk about this is he going to kind of think I have got a crush on him, and if he thinks I have got a crush on him, do I really want to be that close to him?’ Because I am a lesbian, so if he thinks that I have got a crush on him there has been some kind of miscommunication (or he is a bigger dick than I thought, no, or he is just a dick in general, you know!), there is an actual problem here if that is the conclusion that he is drawing is that this is something I want to be dealing with. Which led to me being even more awkward than I normally am because I have got all of these thoughts spinning in my head, ‘oh dear lord what is going on here’, and after that [conversation] it were all gone.

No, he knew that there was nothing sexual or romantic coming from my side, he reaffirmed what I already thought, that there was nothing romantic or sexual coming from his side (as much as we joke, honestly the amount of sex jokes we make, you would think we were actually sleeping together! but no, we have just a terrible sexual sense of humour! It is quite common when I am frustrated with him for me to tell him to ‘bite me’. And his response is ‘been over then!’…it cracks me up every time and then I think ‘oh dear lord if anyone else could hear us’).

Those were the kind of things that were discussed at the time and have been discussed at later points if they have come up. But other than that, not a lot has changed since when we were just friends because a queer platonic relationship is just an extension of a friendship, almost. It is different, for me, it is different and it is separate but for other people it is not, for me it is different and it is separate but it runs along the same kind of boundaries, and the same kinds of lines, so there is not a lot that needs to be changed for it to jump tracks from ‘this is my friend’ to ‘this is my queer platonic partner’.

The best way I have found to explain it to other people is that I say, ‘were I to have romantic feelings for men, they would be for him’. But I don’t, so this is the closet thing, as it were, which again is not how everybody experiences these things and is not how I have experienced it in the past, but is how I have experienced it with him, is that kind of ‘well I am not into men, but if I were, it would be you’.

Esther: Yeah, I love that. So you would consider yourself a single person in the relationship regard (because I have seen that on your profile, so I am not making assumptions here), so you are basically, what I am thinking about now, is the term ‘polyamorous’ which has got many, many, nuances to it. So basically you are who you are in that relationship, you have this solid base of what you have, you are open to meeting new people, having involvements in the way that work for you with women, obviously, because you are attracted to women. So I don’t know is there a question in that, not really, but?

Theo: I vaguely got what you were trying to ask don’t worry! There are people out there who view their queer platonic relationships as the be-all-and-end-all, that kind of, ‘this is a monogamous relationship for me now, this is, in essence, along the same veins as a romantic relationship, just not romantic. This is someone that I will marry, I will move in with, I will have children with’, should those be things they want in their life with this person. The idea of either party having a romantic or sexual relationship outside of that queer platonic partnership would be viewed in the same way as someone cheating, basically.

Now that is not the view that I hold. Should Tom turn around to me and say, ‘I have got a girlfriend’, my main response would be ‘why the f**k haven’t I heard about it before now?” But that is more just that kind of, ‘how have you managed to hold off telling me about this until now, excuse you, how dare you keep secrets?’ not in a jealous possessive way, but in the kind of way that you experience with your friends (where they come out of nowhere and they are like, ‘by the way I have got a girlfriend!’ And it is like, ‘how the f**k did I not know?’).

Esther: Right!

Theo: He is more than free to pursue those relationships because while this is a very important relationship to me, and I like to believe to him, it is not for either of us going to be treated as the relationship. I am still vaguely looking for someone to have a romantic relationship with, it is just that whoever that may be would have to understand that there is someone else who has a very significant part of my life, a significant part of my heart, and will be and is a significant relationship for me. And if that is not something someone can handle then they are probably not someone that I want to be dating anyway.

Esther: Fair point.

Theo: I can’t speak for anybody other than myself because that is how I view it. I have been considering the idea that I might be polyamorous, I have never had cause nor chance to explore this, but it is something that, should I end up in a relationship with someone who is polyamorous it is something that I would be willing to, for lack of a better term, experiment with. I am not a big fan of that term when it comes to relationships and sexuality because I feel it is a bit degrading, but it is the best term that comes to mind.

Esther: How about explore? I like the term explore.

Theo: Yes, that is a better one thank you!

Esther: I love that, thank you for sharing all that, it has been really insightful. Is there anything you would like to say as we wrap up, something you might want people to know or think about?

Theo: In terms of think about, start examining your relationships in your life, because a lot of people who have no cause to think they might be asexual or aromantic never think to look at the differences between any kind of attraction. I genuinely think the world would be a better place if people did start looking at these things, even if there was no ‘cause’ for them to. Start looking at your romantic partner and try and differentiate what attracts you to them romantically, and what attracts to them sexually. Look at your friends and wonder what attracts you to them platonically. Look at any particularly close friendships you have had in the past, or have now, and go, ‘was there something more than just ‘this is a very close friend there?’ Is this another type of attraction that I feel so strongly that I need a relationship label for it?’ Because the more people that have no cause to use these labels, use these labels, the more socially accepted they become and then it becomes easier for those who use these labels, because they are the primary method of having a relationship, or the primary relationship in their life, it become easier for the to then kind of express about it. Whenever I talk about Tom online, I have to give a short little summary of what a QPR is, and how it differs from just being a close friendship, because, otherwise, every comment underneath that is, ‘oh that is so nice that you have got that relationship’, and is instead of ‘hey what is that relationship?’ And that’s tiring, but look at all the nice things he has been doing and feel happy for me, please stop asking these questions…but then also don’t stop asking because I want people to be able to know and to learn, but it would be nice to, one day, not to have to explain it, because when I post the comment and the status people will go ‘oh I know what that is’ and not need the clarification.

Esther: That makes sense, by the way your picture really made me giggle.

Theo: So me and Tom actually met playing a video game (I don’t know how much trouble you get copyright-wise if I were to name it so I will say it is space-based and leave it at that for the sake of you not having to worry), and they released a new dungeon this in-game season. It is very fun, it is a new thing and new things are always fun! The problem with it is that it relies quite a lot on shifting from bright light to dim lights and to sudden flashy lights, and I have sensory issues and bright lights are not my friend. So I was having some trouble and would end up with migraines, I would get irritable and grouchy (and as he would tell you I am not fun to be around when I get irritable and grouchy as I am sure not many people are), so I came up with the idea of wearing my sunglasses while we were playing. I put on the headset that I use, so that I have the mic so that I can talk to him and I put on my sunglasses so the bright lights were a bit less blinding and in my face. I am aware I look a bit ridiculous sitting here on my coach with my curtains drawn with a pair of sunglasses on! Do you know what, it works, and it is very funny. He has taken to reminding me when we go in there and when we go into other places where there is bright lights, it will be ‘right where are your sunglasses?’ (which normally leads to a ‘where did I put my glasses?’ As I am sure anyone who has a partner with glasses is used to hearing, that ‘oh not again!’) And then I find them and I wear them and we go and do whatever it is and then I take them off again, and then he will remind me that I should not have taken them off because there is another bright bit coming up… and so ‘put your sunglasses back on’. Yes, that is the story of me of the picture of me in the sunglasses with my gaming headset on!

Esther: Yeah, absolutely, I like that picture. Thank you so much fo talking to me about all this!

About Theo

“I’m an aspiring queer writer who procrastinates writing by talking about myself and my characters as they relate to me. Lover of memes, video games and TV shows. Autistic, mentally ill, and weird to boot.”

You can find Theo’s meme page called A Non-binary Bean with Queer Memes on Facebook.

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