"Have you ever heard of asexuality?"
Will Schuester smiled to himself as he mentally replayed that video Tina had surreptitiously recorded of Blaine twerking. He wasn’t amused at the senior boy’s expense; he was simply excited to lead the kids into a twerking assignment for tomorrow. It would be fun, and even Will himself could use the opportunity to let loose in a new dancing style he hadn’t really tried out yet. It would, he reasoned, at the very least, be good exercise.
He finished gathering up the last few pieces of sheet music from the top of the piano, noticing the Lady Gaga piece that apparently had been left behind from last week. He carefully put it inside of his satchel – purposely putting it at the top of the other pieces, in order to simplify the process of organizing it all correctly once he got back to his bookshelf at home – and then, once the papers were secure in his bag, he began to cross the empty choir room. Glee had been the final class of the day on this particular Wednesday, and now everyone - teachers and students alike - were preparing to head home. He was almost at the door when he recognized two male voices in the hall. He paused as he overheard how upset Jake sounded, feeling concern for his freshman student.
“I just feel so frustrated, all the time now!” Jake explained with exasperation. Will knew he must be near Ryder’s locker, which he’d seen in the past was mere feet from the Glee classroom. Jake continued, “I think I should probably just break up with her. I don’t want to, but maybe I have to.”
“Because she won’t have sex with you?” Ryder replied with surprise. The commotion in the hall made it likely that no one, other than Will, was really able to overhear a word they were saying. There were locker doors slamming shut every few seconds, and in the air the general buzz of many conversations at once. Ryder justified the surprise in his tone by saying, “She’s only fifteen years old, dude.”
Will couldn’t help but think that these two boys were only fifteen as well. He lingered some more, now purposely eavesdropping on the whole conversation. Will also couldn’t help but realize that he related a little too strongly to being in a relationship where the female partner was – frustratingly – refusing to ever have sex, even if for Will it had been when both he and his partner were much older than these boys were now. Will knew it was likely a very different situation, and given the young age of his students, he shouldn’t be projecting – but he couldn’t stop certain memories of his own from resurfacing.
“Bree’s only fifteen too,” Jake commented, “and she seemed more than willing to have sex with me yesterday.”
Ryder’s eyes widened.
“I didn’t take her up on her offer, don’t worry,” Jake assured his friend with a small laugh. “I can’t pretend I wasn’t tempted, though. She even offered again today, coming into the boys bathroom when she knew I was in there!”
“No way. Dude, that’s insane!”
“I think Bree is one of those girls who gets all excited by breaking the rules. She knows I’m with Marley. I… I just don’t want to be that kind of guy anymore, you know? I’m trying to commit to being with only one girl at a time now. But I’m … I’m just not sure that one girl should be Marley anymore.”
Ryder pushed his locker door shut while he waited for his friend to elaborate.
“It’s not just sex. Marley… she doesn’t even like kissing with tongue most of the time,” he said quietly, so quietly that Will found himself straining to pick up all of the words.
“She’ll do it, but half the time I feel like she’s only doing it because I want to. Sometimes… in this relationship… I guess I don’t exactly feel loved, regardless of how many times she tells me she loves me.”
Will’s thoughts, again, jumped to a certain red-haired woman. This was all a little too familiar.
Jake continued, “And it’s like… like she doesn’t even feel flattered when I tell her how sexy she is.”
“Do you think it’s because of her…” he faltered, unsure of what words to use. “Do you think it’s because of her body image issues?” Ryder finally asked, in a serious tone.
“I don’t know. I guess her eating disorder might be making the whole thing more complicated for her, but I’m not sure how much more patient I can be. Last night my mom wasn’t home, Marley was still looking hot in that Katy Perry wig, you know?” Jake dropped his tone to echo the seductiveness. “With the lollipops on her boobs…”
Ryder chuckled softly, clearly amused by how much Jake loved that particular costume.
“…and I was ready, you know?” Jake said. “I was so sure we’d at least get to second or third base, even if not all the way… ‘home’, if you know what I mean. But no, first base was all we did.”
Ryder shifted a little uncomfortably.
“Oh, sorry, dude,” Jake said. “Is it still awkward for me to talk to you about this stuff? Do you still wish you could be in my place?”
Ryder shrugged. “I can’t help but sometimes wish I could be as close to her as you get to be… but it’s cool. This is what friends are for. Discussing this stuff. Soon maybe I’ll have my own girlfriend to talk to you about,” he said with an air of hopefulness. “Then I’ll really have moved on from my feelings for Marley.”
Jake smiled. “Yeah. You got your eye on any new girls lately?”
Ryder stopped smiling. “No, not really. Ever since that whole… catfish thing, I kind of wanted to take a break from looking.”
“I understand,” Jake said with a serious nod. “But anyway, I’m just trying to tell you that dating Marley is really not as great as you might think it’d be. She would rather spend all of our time at my house just… cuddling on the couch while we listen to my mom’s old CDs on our stereo system. Then we spend about an hour discussing the meaning of the lyrics. That used to be kind of fun – she’s really insightful about that stuff sometimes and I appreciate these old songs more now than I ever did before I started dating her. I didn’t really mind only doing that on our dates, at first – whatever she wanted was cool, you know? But since we do that all the time now, I’m pretty bored.”
Ryder nodded as Will stepped out of the open doorway toward the boys.
“Jake, do you have a minute to talk?”
“Uh… sure, Mr. Schue,” Jake replied.
Jake exchanged a glance with Ryder, and then followed Will back into the empty choir room. Ryder began to head in the opposite direction toward the school’s exit.
“So I know this is awkward,” Will began, as he shut the door behind him to give both his student and himself complete privacy. After a moment, the two of them were both standing near the piano. “But I overheard what you were saying about Marley.”
Jake looked horrified. Will understood that the reaction was only natural. He really did hate making his students uncomfortable, but he felt like this was too important. “I just… I was wondering if maybe you had ever heard of asexuality,” Will said delicately.
“No, I don’t think I’ve heard of it,” Jake said slowly, clearly nervous about the direction this conversation was heading. “Look, I know you’ve had glee kids in the past who’ve had to deal with teen pregnancies and stuff, but I swear I know all about condoms and how to use them.”
Will smiled slightly, realizing that Jake probably had incorrectly guessed that asexuality was related to that other ‘a’ word abstinence, or to safe sex practices, or something.
“No,” Will said, beginning to correct him. Will gestured toward the first row of chairs. “Let’s sit,” he suggested, and Jake complied, although the teenager also glanced at his watch as he sat down.
“Do you have somewhere you need to be right now?” the teacher asked.
Jake shook his head. “No, it’s cool. I just walk home from school on Wednesdays. No one’s home to notice if I’m a bit later.”
Will was relieved that they had no time limit, and he hoped, now that he was seated beside Jake in a plastic chair, that perhaps Jake would feel more at ease – like they were just two guys discussing this topic, guys who were almost equals.
“I hadn’t heard of asexuality until a little over a year ago,” Will explained. “It’s another sexual orientation, like being straight, bi, or gay. I… I don’t think they’re teaching about it in Mrs. Alpert’s Health Class yet, which is a real shame. Because I think there’s a chance that it could be an answer Marley needs.”
“Really?” Jake asked, fully intrigued by this point. “What does… ey-sex-al-ity mean?” He stumbled through the pronunciation of the term with the awkwardness of anyone learning a new word.
“Well, I could be way off about Marley,” Will prefaced, “but in general, a person who is asexual doesn’t feel sexual attraction to anyone. Their gender doesn’t matter.” Seeing Jake look a little confused, Will decided to continue. “Straight men like you and me don’t find other men sexy, right?”
Jake nodded and then commented, “Only gay guys do.”
"Well, there are also guys who are bisexual," Will added slowly.
"You mean like Blaine," Jake said, nodding his head, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
For the past year or so, Will had been learning more and more about the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and had been working on fixing his mistaken views. He especially was working on getting better at dealing with trans issues for Unique’s sake. But Blaine had helped him realize that it wasn’t only women who might be bisexual, and it had been a confluence of factors that led to him realizing that he’d had quite a few biases and misconceptions he needed to get over.
Will elaborated, “And… and for an asexual person, that lack of feeling attraction applies toward… everyone.”
Jake furrowed his brow. “That can’t be a real sexual orientation. Sex is a basic human need! We all find some type of person sexy.”
Will shook his head. “You’ve been misinformed,” he gently explained. “But I understand how you could think that. I was in the same position as you until I was thirty-five years old!”
The fifteen-year-old took in the information, and Will took a moment to decide what he wanted to say next. He didn’t want to betray any of his wife’s secrets. So he simply said, “I would just recommend looking online for some information on the topic. See if maybe you can find a way to share what you find with Marley. If it’s not her, that’s cool. But maybe you two will have learned something new anyway.”
Jake nodded. “Okay. Thanks, Mr. Schue,” he said slowly, still very unsure about all of it. He gestured toward the door. “So, can I…?”
Will replied, “Yes, sure, go on home now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Will stared over toward the piano, gathering his thoughts, trying to figure out if he knew enough about Marley to make an educated guess on her sexual orientation. Maybe the girl was just too young and not ready for sex, like he remembered Rachel being during that time when she was dating Jesse and talking to the other Glee girls about it during her sophomore year. He’d overheard that conversation too, getting the girls’ perspectives… but somehow none of them had seemed as… un-sexual as he realized Marley seemed. She was the opposite of boy-crazed, and he realized there were so many options, that it may just be her personality, and he could be way off to think she wasn’t attracted to the younger Puckerman. Or even if she wasn’t attracted to her boyfriend, the issue could be that she was struggling with being a closeted lesbian, just like Santana had been for years. Will realized he may have just given his young male student some terrible relationship advice. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d be way off about Marley, he thought sadly, remembering how much he’d hurt her by casually dismissing the idea of letting her show off her original songs, and how beautiful and emotional they had ended up being.
It was just that, in many ways, Marley was who he imagined a young Emma to be. Will thought about his wife, about her often quiet nature, about her modest clothing choices. He then reflected back to when she’d first come home from a therapy session and told Will about the new word she’d learned to describe herself.
It hadn’t been long after they’d gotten engaged. Emma had walked in the door looking shaken, looking upset in a way he hadn’t seen since the fiasco where he’d invited her parents over without her permission. Will had known she was coming from a regularly scheduled therapy session, and he was instantly worried that Dr. Shane may have said something hurtful, that maybe Emma needed to find a new psychiatrist, despite all the progress that Emma had been making. Will remembered that evening so well.
“Hi, honey!” Will said. Noticing his fiancée’s facial expression, he then asked, “Hey, sweetheart, what’s wrong?” He got up from where he was sitting on the couch and walked over to her.
Emma bit her bottom lip nervously and fiddled with the engagement ring on her finger.
Will gently reached out to touch her arm. In a very soft and gentle tone, he pressed, “Please, tell me.”
She met his eyes and then nodded, silently leading him back over to the couch he’d just gotten up from. “So… you know how I um… am still a virgin?” Emma asked rhetorically. Will wasn’t expecting the conversation to go in this direction, and instantly got nervous. Emma continued, “Well, I’ve been talking to Dr. Shane about this stuff, and today she… she introduced me to some new concepts. Have you… have you ever heard of the word ‘demisexual’?”
Will shook his head.
“Me neither,” she explained. “Until today. But… it’s me. I… my whole life, I’ve… I’ve only ever found you sexy. No one else.”
Will was a little confused. “But you’re not ready to have sex with me, right?”
“That is true,” she confirmed. “But um… I have fantasies about you,” she tried to explain. “I get turned on looking at you sometimes, especially… shirtless.” She smiled shyly.
“Well you know I feel the same way about you,” Will told her reassuringly, hoping she did indeed know that. “You’re… so gorgeous.”
“Thanks,” she said, blushing. “I… I just… I wanted, so badly to feel that way about Carl, at one point in time.”
Will felt defensive at the sound of that man’s name. “Carl?”
“Wait. Just listen. Um… you… you found Terri… sexy, didn’t you?” Emma whispered, and Will almost felt like she was accusing him of doing something wrong, despite the clear past tense in her phrasing.
“Well, yeah, of course I did,” he said slowly.
“That’s the thing, though!” Emma replied. “Of course you did. Of course.” She sounded like she was on the verge of tears.
“Emma, Terri and I have been over for a long time now. I never think about her. Why are you bringing her up?”
After a long pause, she took a deep breath, and said, “I am on the asexual spectrum.”
Will had learned that day all about asexuality, and the spectrum of related sexual orientations, including his wife’s recently discovered one. He’d learned that some people are demisexual, meaning that they usually didn’t experience sexual attraction, but sometimes, after a strong emotional connection was formed, those people might start to experience it.
Emma and Will spent about a week coming home from work and discussing what they each experienced when it came to attraction, desire, and the like. Will had never felt so close with his fiancée before. She was learning things about him that he’d thought would be obvious, such as how he did find many women around him in his life attractive, and that he enjoyed watching hot actresses in popular films, but these admissions of attraction to other women didn’t drive a wedge between them like he feared it might. It brought them closer, because for the first time Emma felt like she truly understood him. And similarly, in the opposite way, Emma explained how she had started feeling her sexual attraction toward Will even before she’d gotten engaged to Ken, and how that had really confused her – how the only guy she’d ever felt tempted to kiss (or maybe, one day, get naked with) was taken. (He had been married to Terri at the time.) So she’d put herself in situations where she just wasn’t happy. With Carl, she’d liked him as a person – liked him a lot more than Ken – but she couldn’t quite get to that point of feeling sexual attraction for him, no matter how hard she’d tried. She’d known he was conventionally attractive, so she’d convinced herself that she must be interested in him in the way that all other women would be. (Straight women, at least.) But the truth was, she’d never wanted to have sex with him, and never even enjoyed kissing him. Will had felt so special to learn that he somehow was the only guy who she actually yearned to kiss more, not less.
“What are you doing?” Will asked, wide eyed, a few days after their conversations on these topics had died down. They were in their bedroom, and Emma had just taken off her shirt. Slowly. Dare he think it? Sexily. She had revealed a lacy bra beneath.
She smiled. “Come here,” she said, motioning with her fingers.
He could feel her nervousness once he got within a foot or so of her, but he could tell it wasn’t a bad nervousness this time. It was… it was an excited nervousness. She reached over to him and started to pull off his T-shirt.
“You want to take off my bra?” she breathed.
Will noticed his jeans getting uncomfortably tight in the area where he was getting… erect. Nodding, he reached down her gorgeous, smooth back and loosened the clasp. The bra fell off of her body. For the first time ever he was seeing her breasts, her nipples, her entire upper body. It was… so much better than his imagination. He wanted to look into her eyes, and see if she was silently granting him permission to touch them. But before he could pull his gaze away from her chest, he noticed Emma’s head tilt down at the floor sharply, and that she seemed distracted. It was then that Will realized her OCD might not allow such disorganization of clothes on the carpet, even if it was only temporarily. Without missing a beat, he gently leaned down and picked up the bra by its strap. He tossed it over into the hamper on the other end of the room, proud of himself for having good enough aim, and then smiled at his soon-to-be wife.
She smiled in reply, then stepped in toward him and gave him a passionate kiss.
That had been the beginning of them having a sex life, even if they didn’t take off their pants that evening, and didn’t have actual intercourse until the night of Nationals. Will had been understanding that it wasn’t only Emma’s demisexuality that had made her feelings toward sex so confusing. She had a germ phobia, in addition to obsessive-compulsive disorder, and the fact that most sexual acts involving the genitalia included sticky and messy fluids, everything from the lube itself to the idea of one person putting their mouth on the other one’s crotch… it had taken Emma some time to work up to a lot of the acts, and in the end she was never comfortable with oral sex, and she doubted she ever would be. Will was okay with that. He was just thrilled to be able to caress his wife’s body with his hands, to nibble on her bare skin, to orgasm inside her body, and to use his fingers to help her reach her own climax. He had been so worried about their future on that day she’d told him she fell on the asexual spectrum, but the truth was, as far as their relationship was concerned, Will rarely remembered that fact anymore. Jake’s conversation with Ryder had reminded him of Emma’s stories of how she’d felt being with other guys… but with Will, Emma was currently happy to make love on a regular basis. He smiled to himself as he finally left his classroom and headed to his car. He loved everything about his wife, including her demisexuality. It had helped shape her into who she was. And he wouldn’t have her any other way.