I’m not usually one for niche orientation labels, but I find the term medusan to be useful. In short, it describes nonhumans/alterhumans* who experience one or both of the following:
The term has been around since 2017, but there are very few (if any) posts or essays about medusan experiences. There isn’t much discussion around how different people experience medusanity, what it means to them, and how they personally define it.
I’m otherkin and a copinglinker, and consider myself alterhuman due to these things. I also still identify, at least partially, as human. In terms of orientation I’m medusan and aromantic and I mainly feel attraction towards fictional characters (both human and not.) I wanted to share my views on medusanity, as someone who is… all of those things I mentioned. I don’t outwardly label my sexuality much anymore (I usually say I’m “just aromantic” or “neu/neutral aro” or “haha it’s very complicated!”) for reasons I’ll be touching on, but medusan is probably the best descriptor for it.
My medusanity is mainly concerned with that second definition up above–attraction to fictional creatures–and, for me, that definition extends to include IRL people in costume. Because there is something about (non-animated) faces that makes them unattractive, and I think the only times when I feel a genuine spark of real-world sexual attraction are when people’s faces are hidden from me.
Look- I don’t think faces are ugly, and I can tell when someone has a conventionally attractive face, but there’s this disconnect for me and I don’t know why it exists. There’s something that just seems off. I much prefer masks. Not superhero masks or masquerade masks, but other kinds, like fursuit heads and artsy, abstract masks. I like masks that make people look inhuman, that make them look like monsters. I prefer the static–often simple or blank–expressions, or the utter lack of features altogether. I often wish my own face wasn’t so damn human, and I feel the most beautiful when I’m wearing a mask or facial decoration of some kind. I’m unsure if this is because I’m aromantic, or neurodivergent, or otherkin- but even in those communities, I rarely come across another who feels the same way I do.
(Also, yes: I do want a relationship. No: I don’t want the face thing to hinder me. I don’t want to ignore prospective partners or make those close to me feel bad about their bodies. Ideally, I’d like to have a bond with someone which would be strong enough for the face thing to simply not matter. But that doesn’t stop the face thing from existing.)
Now, what about the first part of the definition? The “attraction to other alterhumans” part? I can’t speak much on that because it doesn’t really apply to me. The things that limit my IRL attraction apply to everyone, alterhuman or otherwise. Because of this I don’t view my medusanity as exclusive per se. I’d be happy to explore a partnership regardless of identity if the right circumstances came along. I may be more open to one with another non/alterhuman person, because it might be easier for them to understand those parts of me, and their presentation may be more likely to include nonhuman elements. But I don’t think non/alterhumans are better than others, or inherently more attractive, or that we’d have any special connection.
I’d chalk my preferences up to being nothing more than a fetish if it didn’t radically affect my orientation. It keeps me from being attracted to, like, everyone. And that’s the thing. Medusan might sound like a fancy word for exophilia/teratophilia, and I have no doubt that the kink is important for the people who have it (including myself, because I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive), but it describes my sexuality much better than words like “straight” or “asexual” or “bisexual.” The term is still new but I’ve been medusan my whole life. Sure, I’m technically bi, however that just… holds very little significance to me. I don’t call myself bisexual anymore because I’m not part of that culture, and can’t find common ground with bi people in regards to bi experiences.
One example: A lot of same-gender-attracted people can point to a person (real or fictional) who was their “first gay crush” or “gay awakening” as a child or young teen. I cannot relate to this at all. I think where other people hit milestones and had common experiences related to their gender-based attraction, I had that but with monsters. I had my “first monsterfucker crush.” Shit, with the combo of me being medusan, aromantic, and mainly interested in fictional stuff, it took me until recently to conclude that I’d even gone through puberty in a way that was analogous to others.
There’s also the concept of monsters being a metaphor for queerness. I won’t delve into it too deeply because, well, I can’t; I haven’t done enough research to treat that topic with the fairness and gentleness it deserves. (This essay doesn’t touch on queerness much, but it is another take on the use of monstrousness/nonhumanity as a metaphor for those interested.) I will say that, the vast majority of the time, I don’t view my attraction to monsters as queer. Furthermore I’m not comfortable with it being interpreted that way.
As an aromantic person I do think the relationship between being attracted to monsters and being queer makes some sense to me. Monster romance and monster sex can be so far removed from reality–from amatonormativity–that it can speak to my aromanticism. A monstrous courtship would be different and interesting and maybe it would click. Maybe it would be fulfilling. I’ve heard other aro- and ace-spectrum people give similar sentiments, but that's as far as the relationship between the two goes for me. Oftentimes, it’s viewed as “you like monsters because you’re a-spec,” but medusan attraction is a driving force here. My orientation could even be viewed as “you’re a-spec because you like monsters.”
Switching gears: The term isn’t perfect and people do have issues with it. One being how it was named after Medusa, and how that isn't respectful due to the role of sexual assault in her myth. I also struggle to see a clear distinction between “nonhuman attraction to monsters" and “human attraction to monsters” in regards to myself, which causes me to question the importance of medusanity being exclusive to nonhumans/alterhumans. But at the same time I understand why others would want it to be, especially since some feel fetishized in terato spaces which rarely cater to non/alterhumans. The prospect of people being medusan due to misanthropy has been mentioned as well- but so far I haven’t actually seen this happen, and don’t find it to be a helpful criticism for the label as a whole. However I’ll also say that I don’t support people using medusanity as an excuse to be misanthropic.
In spite of any flaws, I still think medusan is a good term. It touches on an axis of attraction that isn’t related to gender or presence/absence, and the coining post* states that it wasn't meant to be inherently queer and that cishet people can use it. Overall, I appreciate that medusan has a broad, multifaceted definition which can apply to a variety of experiences. I like that it has wiggle room while still highlighting important aspects of my sexuality. I like that it gives me a frame of reference for talking about my orientation when that didn’t really exist before. I hope more people write about medusanity and provide their own takes on it, and that it gains more recognition as a Thing That Exists.
*Alterhumanity includes nonhumanity, but is also a self-identifier and not everyone likes being called alterhuman. So “alterhuman and nonhuman” is, currently, the easiest way to cast a wide net.
**I don’t believe coining posts are the word of god and that definitions can’t be altered, but I find the original description of medusanity to be sound.