Sexuality and Erik from “One Small Thing”
Some of you may have read this when I originally posted it to my LiveJournal several months back, but since LJ seems to be a bit of a dinosaur in the social media world, it’s probably safer to say that most of you haven’t seen this before. If you read One Small Thing and wondered about Erik and his sexuality, this is my personal take on the subject.
See, at the beginning of the year we were contacted by Dear Author because One Small Thing had been chosen as their January book club selection. We were sent a list of questions to answer for use during the ensuing reader discussion, and we were told that we could, if desired, include any additional commentary we may have had about the book. One thing I wanted to address was the sexuality of our character, Erik, and so I added a bit about that.
I’ve often seen OST labeled as “gay for you” in reviews. The fact is, neither MJ nor I consider it to be so. We never set out to write a “gay for you” romance in which a straight guy falls for a gay one. As he grew up, I would have labeled Erik asexual—he could recognize beauty in people, but there was never any sexual attraction. Until Rue. So what does this mean for him, his sexuality, and his relationship with Rue?
In my opinion, sexuality and gender are both fluid. There are asexual people who have had sex before and who will have sex with a partner and enjoy it. Being asexual doesn’t mean a person can’t experience pleasure, that a person won’t masturbate or try to achieve some level of self-satisfaction. Like any other sexuality, asexuality isn’t an impenetrable box with walls that can never be crossed. Just like experimenting with someone of the same sex as a teen doesn’t automatically make someone gay or bi, neither does having sex negate someone’s asexuality.
But there is also such a thing as demisexuality. Demisexuals fall somewhere in the middle. In general, they don’t experience sexual attraction to someone unless a strong emotional connection or friendship develops first. This is what happened with Erik and Rue. Erik wasn’t immediately attracted to Rue. His attraction to Rue didn’t start until after they were friends, after they’d come to know each other, after certain things in the books Erik read helped him to imagine Rue in certain sexual situations.
So their relationship was never a case of Erik “going gay” for Rue. It was a matter of Erik finding that one specific person who could inspire those types of feelings in him. As Erik thinks in the book at one point, he was attracted to Rue for who he was, not what Rue might or might not have between his legs. For Erik, Rue’s gender was inconsequential. That was what we wanted to get across with their relationship. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to sexuality and sexual expression, at least not in my opinion. I know my own doesn’t fit into some easily checked box. Love is love, and that’s what it’s about for me. And for Erik. We wanted to tell a love story, a story of creating and embracing a family—not of blood, but of love and caring. And so that’s what we did. 🙂
Posted on May 20, 2013, in books, characters, one thing series, sexuality, writing and tagged asexuality, demisexuality, erik van nuys, m.j. o'shea, one small thing, piper vaughn, sexuality. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.