Did you read the title of this and say to yourself, "What in the heck is a demisexual?" Believe you me, I totally get it. When I first happened upon the word, I felt the same way. What's really a trip is, once I discovered the definition (which we'll get into in just a moment), I said to my own self, "OK, but aren't most women demisexuals?". At least on some level? Hmph.
In a previous article, I already explained that it's common for all human beings to have "a type" (check out "According To Experts, We All Have A 'Type'"). Well, the interesting thing about demisexuals is, many classify them as being on the spectrum of being asexual (free from sexual desire or sexuality). Personally, at least on the surface, I find this to be pretty strange because, it's weird—or maybe the more appropriate word is "sad"—that culture has gotten to a point and place that if you aren't down for one-night stands, hook-ups or casual sex, you must be closer to being an asexual human being. To me, demisexual goes much deeper than that surface-layer resolve, though. In a minute, you'll see why I've personally come to that conclusion.
What Exactly Is a Demisexual?
Alright. Enough alluding to what a demisexual is. It's time to put it right on out there. Believe it or not, there is an entire website that's devoted to what it means to be a demisexual. It says that 1) a demisexual is an actual sexual orientation and 2) a person who is someone who doesn't feel a sexual attraction for someone unless there is an emotional connection that has been established first. Again, doesn't that seem like a vast majority of us? Let's go deeper and see.
Personally, I'm someone who can find a man to be fine-and-then-some-mo'-fine, whether I know him or not or he ever says a word or not. And while I've certainly had my "he could get it" moments, I must admit that I wasn't really being serious or literal. I've never had a one-night stand. Plus, my claim to past-sexual-partner-fame (or infamy, depending on how you look at it, I guess) is I only slept with guys who I was friends with first; not shallow versions of friendship either. For the most part, I had known them and they knew me (and we spent significant amount of quality time together) for quite some time. And that bond is what made me wanna give it up.
Well, a demisexual is actually similar in this way. Oftentimes, they are not sexually drawn to someone unless they are a close friend or someone they've come to know a lot about. Yet here's where some of them differ from a lot of us who might immediately consider ourselves to be one—the reason why some demisexuals do fall onto the spectrum of asexuality is because, typically, sexual attraction isn't something that someone is able to control. Sure, they can control actually going through with the act, but when it comes to wanting/lusting after someone, either the feeling is there or—it isn't. When it comes to demisexuals, however, sometimes no sexual attraction occurs, even if there is an emotional bond that has transpired between them and someone who is attractive. This is why some demisexuals can go their entire life with only having a couple of sexual attractions, they can even go their entire life only being into one person. At the same time, what makes them different from all-out asexuals is, they are capable of sexual attraction; the desire just isn't as strong and the instance doesn't seem to occur, even a fraction as often as it does for demisexuals.
Bottom line, a demisexual tends to not have the highest sex drive on the planet, only desires sex when a profound emotional tie is in place and, tends to only merge the "drive" and "tie" rarely while others can be sexually attracted without the need for any time of emotional bond. Make sense?
What Are Some Demisexual Traits?
I remember when I first discovered that I was an ambivert. I happened upon the term while doing some research because, I knew that I was definitely not an extrovert, but still, certain parts of my personality didn't match-up with being an introvert either. I'm willing to bet that's how some of you are feeling about the word "demisexual" being introduced into your psyche as we speak. While you definitely know you're not asexual, something about you does feel a little…different. But if you're still not sure if demisexual "scratches the itch", let's touch on some demisexual traits that are telling signs that you could very possibly be one.
Sex really just ain't that big of a deal. On the site that solely focuses on demisexuals, I read about a study that said that two-thirds of demisexuals are either uninterested or repulsed by sex. That said, do keep in mind that this fact leaves one-third of others who still "check the boxes" of being a demisexual who thoroughly enjoys copulation. Still, if you're someone who relishes in all of the intimacy that comes with being in a relationship sans the actual sexual act (for instance, you like the idea of actually sleeping in the same bed with someone, so long as oral sex or intercourse do not transpire) or, if sex is something that is "cool, I guess" but you honestly would be fine with or without it, for pretty much the rest of your life, that is one indication that you just might be a demisexual.
You are way more into someone's personality than their looks. Listen, live on this earth past your early 30s and you get to the point of understanding and accepting that good looks ain't always all that they're cracked up to be; not by a long country mile. It's kind of like how a box can be wrapped up beautifully, only for you to open it and find nothing but worms inside of it. So, being the kind of woman who wants more than merely someone who is nice to look at does not make you a demisexual. At the same time, those of us who are totally into sex do want to be with someone who we are physically attracted to, right? For a demisexual, that's not really a requirement. Since sexual attraction isn't much of a priority to them, being with someone who looks good isn't that big of a deal. They are far more interested in how someone makes them feel on the mental and emotional tip than what they can do for them on a physical level. In fact, it is quite common for demisexuals to be close to stunning while their partner is basically the complete opposite. They don't care. They like the companionship so, at the end of the day, that's all that really matters in their mind.
Even for demisexuals who are interested in sex, friendship has to be the foundation first. When you're a demisexual, it's pretty difficult to get to the point of having sex with someone (even if you've got some sort of a sex drive) if you're not totally comfortable with them and very emotionally connected to them. That's why, if a person is interested in a demisexual, they've got to have quite a bit of patience with the relationship because sex is not something that will happen any time soon. It's usually only after the demisexual believes there is a real friendship that anything physical can take place. Even then, there are no guarantees.
OK, with all of this said, I think it is really important to also drive home the point that being abstinent for religious, spiritual, or even simply personal reasons is not the same thing as being a demisexual.
I've been abstinent for almost 14 years now (yeah, after 14…pray and we'll see, chile) and, now that I know so much more about how a demisexual thinks and moves, I am absolutely not one. While I'm also not interested in sex if there is no emotional connection in place, I am indeed interested in sex, and, back when I was engaging, my drive was fairly high. I just thought it was important to bring this point up so that you don't click off of this and figure that just because you may not be gettin' any at the moment, it could be because you are a closet demisexual.
Again, demisexuals do require emotional attachments in their relationships but for the vast majority of them, if that never transitions into sex, they are fine, someone being physically/sexually attractive or appealing really isn't that big of a deal, and their drive is typically on the lower side.
You know how the saying goes—knowledge is power. I'm hoping that if you're someone who likes emotional intimacy but really is "good" on the sex tip and may have been wondering if something is wrong with you, that you now see the answer is "no" and you are not alone. You're a demisexual and that's OK—because that's simply who you are and that's all good.
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
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