with Cody Daigle-Orians

Cody Daigle-Orians
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How do I know if I’m asexual? Do I even understand the word “asexuality?”

During the Season 3 opening podcast of Smart Sex, Smart Love, Cody Daigle-Orians, an asexual writer and educator, shares his own personal experience of discovering his identity as asexual in hopes of helping others who are confused about finding the “label” that bests fit them.

When you are not sure of what you are feeling, be sure of what you are not, he asserts.

Cody came out as gay at the age of 18, but he knew that label really wasn’t the right fit for him. He chose “gay” because at the time that was the recognized language. “I didn’t understand what I was, but I clearly could see what I was not.” He knew he didn’t relate to sex the same way as other gay men; in fact, he thought he was a broken gay man. Cody didn’t experience sexual attraction, but he still wanted sexual pleasure.

Three years ago, when he was 42, Cody came out again – this time as asexual.

“It was such a wonderful moment for me to find my true, authentic self,” he announces.

The language of asexuality, the labels, the definitions and the terms are tools, not tests, he emphasizes. These tools help you explain yourself to yourself and explain yourself to the rest of the world. 

You also can learn more about asexuality by listening to Cody’s Tik Tok messages under the name of @AceDadAdvice.

#weareallhumans #asexualityisreal #genderflux #asexualityvisibility #asexualityspectrum #acepride #asexualpride #acesexual #asexual #asexuality #crsh #drjoekort #crshroyaloak

Welcome to smart sex smart love. We’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboo and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. today’s podcast is asexuality, and I’m excited that I have a guest that I look around on tik tok. Today is Cody Daigle oriens, an asexual writer and educator living in Hartford, Connecticut. He’s a member of the ACE and arrow Advocacy Project, a washington dc based organization providing resources on asexuality and romanticism to the public. And he’s the creator of a stat advice and online project that aims to help young people and those questioning their sexuality find the courage and confidence to live their best Ace life. Welcome, Cody.

Thanks for having me.

Yeah, I’m really excited as we were saying this before I should have left it for the podcast I’m gonna say it again. You know, I when I started watching you, you were like new to it. And you just talked about you just just discovered this about yourself. And then I started watching all your tik tok videos. I just so educational and so professional. I’m like, What happened? This guy woke up one day and really asexual and then now he’s able to, you know, do this. But now we learned that you’re an educator, right?

Yeah, yeah, I spent about 15 years in the classroom. As a teacher, I taught theater, which is very different for what I’m doing now. But I get to use those skills again, which is awesome. That’s awesome.

You’re very, I love when your stuff comes up. Because I learned myself and you know, therapists are all up in the air about what because it’s changing so much. It seems right. There’s all these new terms and titles about asexual Yeah,

yeah, way sexuality is is a relatively I mean, asexuality has existed for as long as people have existed. But in terms of it being sort of a, an organized online community that’s relatively new. The asexual visibility and Education Network only began in 2000 2001. I think so. It’s all of the language of asexuality, as we understand it now is still relatively new and a product of online digital space.

So let me define for the listeners who don’t know what is asexuality anyways?

Sure. So asexuality is a sexual orientation that describes people who do not or rarely experience a sexual attraction. That’s the whole shebang. It seems like a really simple definition. But it really encompasses a really wide spectrum of experiences that people have with sexual attraction. And, you know, I think a lot of people understand asexuality in sort of that stereotypical way that it just means asexuality is not having sex. asexuality is not having relationships, but it really isn’t those things. It’s just about not or only rarely experiencing sexual attraction.

That’s helpful for people to hear, because they always think, well, it’s somebody that doesn’t have any desire, any sexual, you know, interest, but that’s not true.

Right? Yeah, I mean, I think, in sort of the larger culture, for most people, all of our attractions kind of work together, like sexual attraction, ties with romantic attraction and other kinds of attraction. They all work in tandem and in the same direction. But in reality, all of those different attractions work independently. So you can experience one kind, like, I mean, I, by romantic attraction is one that I do experience. I am romantically attracted to people, I have romantic relationships with them. But I don’t experience sexual attraction. Those two things don’t work together for me. And for asexual people, it’s just not experiencing that one part of the wide spectrum of attractions that people can experience.

As a therapist, it’s really made me rethink I used to up until a few years ago, even if a couple would come in, and they were not having sex. And the one partner who wanted to have sex would say, well, you’re masturbating all the time, and you have your own sex life going on. And I would say, well, then they would say, Well, I don’t have much desire to be, you know, it’s sexual with you. It’s not personal. And I would say, what you do with desire, because you’re being you’re masturbating, you have a whole sex life with yourself. So then it must be something about the relationship. And I don’t say that so much anymore because they could be asexual. Well, you

know, good, that’s it. Yeah. And that that separation between sexual attraction and libido was really important for me, because I didn’t, I’ve only came out as bisexual as asexual. Three years ago, when I was 42. For the most majority of my life, I identified as gay because that was just the language that I had. And for me, that made sense, because, you know, like, I do have sex with my partners, and I do experience like, I do have that side of my life too, even though I don’t experience sexual attraction. For me, the analogy that works the best is like thinking about sexual attraction in a heightened hunger terms, like sexual attraction is I’m hungry for pizza, it’s got real direction, like there’s a kind of thing that you want and you want it regularly. Whereas like libido, or sex drive, which even asexual people have, that’s just like, I’m just generally hungry. I feel like I could eat something if I wanted. Like, it’s that kind of general. Non directional desire and you can not experience sexual attraction but still want to have sex with your partner or want to masturbate or still have that that desire to just sort of generally experience sexual pleasure of some kind.

This is really good. I saw your Tick Tock on this too. You said exactly the same thing. I loved it. And it really fits in with you know, my stuff is about straight men who have sex with men. It’s not about sexual attraction for them. It’s about the sexual it’s like fits right in with it and they’re not asexual, maybe some are but that’s not what it’s about. It’s the separation of the two.

Yeah, well, actually really, your your videos about that my husband and I talked about about the we’ve had big conversations about that. And I was like, No, like asexuality has taught me this is absolutely right. You can divide those things you can have like a want your romantic attraction or your or even just your sexual attraction can be one way but there are many reasons why somebody would want to have sex that isn’t connected to sexual attraction, right? It could be I just feels good. I want to I want to express something else I want to like engage in some sort of specific power dynamic that that is attractive or appealing to me. Yeah.

Right. No, totally. So Alright, so then talk about then people say Okay, so then there’s asexual, but then there’s gray, sexual, and then people are like, what does that mean?

Yeah, so gray sexual folks exist. If you think about asexuality as like most human things, it’s a spectrum of experience. asexual folks don’t experience sexual attraction ever. I fall into that category. Gray sexual folks will sometimes experience it, it may be very rare that they will experience sexual attraction, maybe there are certain conditions that need to be met in order for them to experience it. But they that still falls under the spectrum. So they mostly experience life. A sexually I guess you could say, but will sometimes experience sexual attraction. demisexual folks fall in this area too. So for demisexual folks, sexual attraction only happens if they create a bond with someone so for for Demi folks, let they’re mostly sexual until some kind of really important bond is created with someone and then sexual attraction is a thing that they experience.

That’s so helpful. And now there’s something new called Ace flux. What’s that?

Yeah, so that’s for people who, who move around on the spectrum. So they will experience different basically it’s like experiencing different orientations. They may mostly be a sexual, but they may go through periods of time of feeling demisexual, or even Allo sexual, which is the umbrella term for people who experience sexual attraction.

I learned that from you. By the way, I didn’t know that. But I learned that I had to look it up and listen to you over and over again.

I awesome. Yeah. Yeah, it’s like pure, perfect people who are who move through those different orientations at different sort of phases in their lives. That’s face flux.

Okay, yeah, that’s helpful. Because that’s like new and I get interviewed for it. I look it up. And it really tried to understand it, and you’re explaining it so well. And also, I was thinking, you know, Kinsey identified a sexuality, but it was never talked about until now until these few years. That’s a long ago. And that was the 40s did you know that?

Yeah. And that’s like, yeah, and he was there was just x we were just right. Yeah, I’m not gonna we were just x. Yeah. And there were even some some, I believe, like, rejuva German researchers in the late 1800s. That that were that were identifying somebody that was sort of like asexual men was more like non sexual, they were just identifying that there were people who existed who did not engage in sex or like at all, and that was like late 18. I think 1890s or so.

Hmm. Okay. Yeah, I know, I just think people should know that. The therapist. Now what about now you I don’t know if you what you think about all this, but as therapists we have to think about, does this person have low desire? Is it a medication issue? Is it hormone levels? Is it trauma, childhood trauma? Sometimes people have gender identity issues or sexual identity issues, so they’ve repressed or suppressed their their attractions? How do you? I don’t even know if you can explain this. But how do you know you’re asexual and rule those things out?

Yeah, like that’s, I like I get that for Ace dad advice. So I get that question all the time. And I think for generally, I think for all identity questions, I think it becomes a what the person feels most connected to. I always talk about the language of asexuality and that the labels are there tools, not tests. So you know that I love love love that said, Yeah, labels are tools, not tests. So the language of a like calling yourself a sexual is not some sort of like checklist you have to hit where there’s a definition and you have to meet every single part of that definition in this particular way in order to claim that it’s a tool if if a sexual as an identity helps you describe your experience, and it helps you connect to other people in the world who shared that experience. Then I think it’s okay to to call yourself a sexual even if some of the details maybe aren’t right or different from other people. Yeah. Because the the label that’s what the labels for the labels to help you build community and describe your experience in the world, like a sense of belonging. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And, and I find that the community, that community piece is like the most important if, if you the accumulation of your experiences sort of leads you to use asexual as a term because it helps you find other people that share how you move through the world. And that gives you some sense of belonging and some sense of self, then by all means, use it. Even if your experience is slightly different from the person next to you.

JOE KORT 10:41
Do you see what are your thoughts about the correlation between asexuality and people on the autism spectrum?

I know that there I know that there’s like there’s a lot of talk about that. And I like I know that there are a lot of people who are in the asexual community who identify as autistic as well. And like though there are a lot of connections there. I don’t necessarily think there are any, like specific connections be like autism is a cause of asexuality or or it’s more likely, it may just be that, that in general, people who are on the autistic spectrum may feel more comfortable self identifying or are like identifying publicly that way. Yeah, I think there are a lot more asexual people in general across the board than then are visible. I think because information about asexuality is limited. There are a lot there’s a lot of stigma about being asexual in the world. Particularly like if you are a male, are you in a are in queer circles? Like there’s a lot of stigma there. So yeah, I certainly think that there I don’t think there’s like necessary correlation between the two. But we certainly do see a lot of people who are on the autistic spectrum also identifying as bisexual,

JOE KORT 11:55
and I see the shame in my office. While I don’t only see LGBT people, I do see a high amount of gay men and I’ve had many who come in and say I feel so fucked up really that I’m gay men are fucking gay men are hooking up and all this and I have a nine year partner 10 year partner, whatever, and we haven’t had sex and I feel like something’s wrong with me when there’s simply a sexual and nothing’s wrong with them, but the shame is cultural.

Yeah, I mean, and like I lived that experience, really my whole adult life and when I came out, I came out as a 18. And I I came out as gay because that was just the language that I had access to. And it most accurately described how I was moving through the world. But I knew that I didn’t relate to sex the same way as every other gay man that I was encountering all the guys I was dating or guys I was friends with and I I just assumed that I was like a broken gay person then there was something wrong with me that was I just like I was a I was a crappy lover or I was missing something. And I just there was things I didn’t understand or didn’t know how to do. 20 years later, I come across a sexuality and I go Oh, well, okay, that’s that’s what’s actually going on it I’m not broken this I just moved through the world differently. And, yeah, that was like a huge, like, wonderful, like galaxy brain sort of moment to sort of recognize, but it certainly got moving through gay male gay male circles where sex is so incredibly important and and, and not in any sort of morally judging way but it’s prioritized. asexuality is not something that really comes up with in gay male circles very much or as a or even seen as like a valid thing or no no one could be

JOE KORT 13:40
no you know, I created this term side for gay men that don’t like penetration don’t I’m aside and like people are like wait so then you don’t have sex? Like like penetrate you know, so then I felt broken forever and then one day I woke up and I’m like, fuck it I’m not broken I just don’t like it penetrative sex that’s all this is. There’s nothing wrong with me.

Yeah, and like same same that that’s that’s very been like the the the experience of a sexuality are they in what’s interesting to me is like in the last three years coming out as asexual and especially in this last chunk of time, where I am now like a public asexual Yeah, laughing about it all the time. It’s actually changed really changed the way I exist in relationships. Um, you know, my relationship with my husband is different now. We are polyamorous so I have another partner and like, our relationships are so much better than any relationship I had before I came out as ace. Why is that? I think I’m coming into relationships now as my full authentic self and that is transformative. Yeah, our relationship you know, when you’re really when I’m coming to each person that I’m in partnership with, knowing my full self, being able to share with them what that is and talk about what my boundaries are and talk about what my my deal breakers and the things I really want to do are I can show up for them in a more full way which I want to go back.

JOE KORT 15:04
I love it. That’s and I feel the same way about things about myself. What about you keeps going that between gay and asexual so you identify as asexual how would somebody know you’re gay? Are you both? How do you do that?

Well, now I identify mostly I identify as asexual and I generally use homo romantic as the sort of define because I, I am romantically attracted to men that’s how I kind of move through the world and as a as a because a lot of times when I’m meeting someone I’m trying to explain my identity homo romantic asexual requires in like a PowerPoint explanation with a person you know, so I’ll be queer is generally what I use on the regular basis I feel like that people can make enough assumptions that are correct if I use queer that that then we’re good Yeah, but I don’t really use gay anymore because I don’t feel like that totally fits who I am necessarily but when I did I don’t know it feels like it’s a word that doesn’t I never felt like I fit into to the gay community and I so it never was like a comfortable coat necessarily to wear and now that I have now that I have like a sexual as a as a language and Queer as a language those things feel more defining of me and then gay does even though even though like all my partner’s are all gay men, I’m a visitor I guess in the community.

JOE KORT 16:35
Okay, I get it that makes sense. And I like that it’s so nuanced, right? that people need to hear that things aren’t new once they are you just have to know what what the nuances are.

Yeah, and you know, like if, if you dig into asexuality at all there’s there’s a there’s literally an entire language to it there you have all of the basically but there’s a ton of micro labels that did really specifically into into how people are experiencing sex or sexual attraction and what they’re they’re interested in. And I love that because i think i think it’s empowering to a person to find words that empower you to be your full self. Even if you know someone else doesn’t get it if someone else doesn’t quite understand why I use the words I use for me, I know why I do and they feel right to me. And it that label is a tool again, Yeah, totally. It whatever word helps me be the best version of me is the is the one that I should be empowered to use.

JOE KORT 17:31
Now you brought up polyamory. So could you talk about how can you be asexual and polyamory being having an open relationship? multiple partners? How does that work?

So for? For me, it works great for me. Good. Yeah. So my husband and I have been married for seven years. And we’ve been we’ve been polyamorous for most of our for most of our marriage. So we, we are open to having connections with other people. The way polyamory works for us, we’re open to any kind of connection, it can be romantic connections, it can be just sexual connections, whatever, we can explore those things. And in our life right now there are, we call it we call it our constellation right now. So my husband and I’ve been married for seven years. I have a partner Scott, who I’ve been with for for a while now. And my husband Neil has a partner Dan, who he’s been it’s a new relationship for him. But we all we all are friends with each other we all there’s a group texts that we all participate in, like we We consider ourselves all connected to each other and supportive of each other and the various relationships that are inside it. And it works kind of wonderfully for us.

JOE KORT 18:41
They like to say Why do you call constellation and that Apollo cool.

Um, Scott’s an astrophysicist, so we thought it was cute. It is cute. And yeah, and there’s something about like, like constellation. Polly cool. Feels very, um, I don’t know, like scientific. I got a constellation. Yeah. But there’s something nice about it. And I like I like it as a word because it sort of describes the varying connections that we have with each other. And like, the lines that you might draw between us and yeah, it’s, it’s a lovely for someone to be a part of.

JOE KORT 19:16
That’s awesome. So before we end, I want I hear that you’re writing a book and I’d like to know if you want to talk about it. And what’s it on? I mean, obviously, it might be on asexuality, but talk about

it. Yeah, yeah. So um, based on the work I’ve been doing online, with ace dad advice, I was asked by a publisher to create a book version of it. So I’m making an ace dad advice book, which will be aimed at primarily young adult audiences, so high school and a little older audiences to sort of help them answer questions about asexuality. So for a young person who is questioning their sexual identity things they may be a sexual, this book will exist in the world to sort of help them navigate that space and currently there’s no other book like it, so no, I’m really excited about about getting it out into the world.

JOE KORT 19:59
It’s really really awesome. Congratulations. That’s that’s nice that somebody found you on tik tok. Right? And that’s

exactly yeah. Now

you call yourself a What is it? Dad advice?

A stat advice. Yeah.

JOE KORT 20:12
Is daddy another identity for you?

I mean, yes, yeah. Yeah. Like I certainly I mean, look at me. I mean, I’m a silver beard and tattoos like, yeah, that. And I fall into that role, too. Absolutely. Yeah. But this is the most wholesome version of that for me as some version of course.

JOE KORT 20:32
What else would you want everyone to hear that I didn’t get to that before we end that is important to hear.

Like, because asexuality is unknown very much. I think it’s just really important for people to know that asexuality isn’t isn’t a broken version of something. asexual people aren’t missing something, we aren’t lacking something. asexuality is just another way for someone to exist in the world and relate to other people. So when when you encounter someone who’s asexual, you know, don’t don’t think about what they what they don’t experience or what they’re missing. Just kind of, you know, learn what you can about their experience and how they’re seeing the world. It is a full and whole experience in and of itself.

JOE KORT 21:12
Cody, thank you so much. I knew I was so happy when you said yes. I knew you’d be great on this podcast. And I was so excited when you said yes. So thank you for being here.

Oh, thank you. I was delighted to do it. It’s been really fun.

JOE KORT 21:23
Oh good. So um, I just want to thank all my listeners too, that you can hear more of my podcast at smart sex smart love calm. And also you can follow me on twitter on tik tok to on Instagram and Facebook on my handles at Dr. Joe court. And you can go to my website Dr. Joe court I’m sorry Joe court comm that’s Jo e. k RT. Hope you enjoyed this and that you’re listened to more and stay safe and stay healthy everyone.