Sadie Dupuis, best known as the lead singer of indie-rock band Speedy Ortiz, was teaching writing at UMass Amherst in 2011 when she came across a student paper that dealt with demisexuality -- defined, generally, as a sexual orientation in which someone feels sexual attraction only to people with whom they have an emotional bond. Dupuis was in her early twenties, and had recently ended a relationship with a boyfriend of five years. Something clicked into place.
“When I first became single as an adult, I was like, what the f--k is wrong with me? All my friends are on OkCupid and Tinder, and have no problem going on dates and hooking up. And when I would try to do these things, it felt very alien to me, and was upsetting to me in ways I couldn't understand.” A lot of Speedy Ortiz’s earliest songs were “granulating with that,” says Dupuis, talking on the phone just days before she releases her first solo record, Slugger, a more pop-influenced album under the moniker Sad13. “I thought something was wrong with me.”
Reading that paper, Dupuis began to cry. “My student had just helped me to understand why I feel so troubled about even thinking about having a sex life. It helped me understand so much about myself, and why do the things that I do. That I didn't have to apologize: there was nothing wrong with me.”
While the LGBTQ community (and the idea of sexuality as a spectrum) has made strides in terms of visibility and representation over the past decade, asexuality is still widely undiscussed -- though that’s slowly changing as well. The best known asexual online community, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, founded in 2001, boasts over 100,000 members worldwide. The organization’s census, a tool used to get perspective on how this population identifies, currently gets nearly 15,000 responses a year -- up from only 300 responses in 2008.