Asexual, you say? You mean like an amoeba? Are you abstaining? Waiting for the right one? A poly-amorous relationship, eh? Afraid of committing sin? An atheist, eh? Are you a virgin? Wow! So pure! Impotent? Eventually, my eyes get tired of rolling, and I try to settle for some clichéd euphemism.
But, I don’t like cake much and I do find plenty of people of my own sex to be ‘sexy’. But, I don’t want them all over me. Where does that leave me? Well, I discovered this tool called ‘homoromantic graysexual’. Welcome to the asexual spectrum! And yes, a tool, not a label. These days, labels seem to replace or define personalities and people may have some sort of intuitive aversion towards the word. It’s not just you, thanks to exposure from popular culture, I spent my college days untangling the intertwined perception of romantic and sexual attraction and wondering about any plausible connection at all. This is because, so far, apart from one person I had a crush on, I have never been sexually attracted to any of my other romantic interests.
Although some random stranger may burn me up, that heat is not likely to sustain once that person gets close. Before you ask, no, I have never faced any kind of sexual abuse nor have I grown up in a sex-excluded environment. For a long time, the idea of asexuality remained limited only to the absence of desires in my mind. I jumped between asexuality and homosexuality until I researched and read more about gender and sexuality. My apathy towards gender, or the social construct of it, started making sense and I learned that desires, sexual attraction, and sex can be and are very different.
Graysexuality, as the name suggests, is a gray area, and different individuals may express it differently. Some people may experience sexual arousal but not sexual attraction to any particular person, some may experience sexual attraction irregularly, and some may experience what allosexuals (actively sexual people) do but don’t always see the point of having sex. Some may have occasional sex or other forms of it. The heteronormative benchmark of penetrative sex as the ‘real sex’ is not as universal as one may think. In my own personal experience, I have been turned on by men at various points of time and would have liked to ‘Netflix and chill’ with them, but only literally. Yes, getting sexually attracted to someone and wanting to have sex with that person is very different. I have enjoyed erotica, porn, and masturbation but actual sex hasn’t seemed pleasurable or desirable to me (and no one has proved me wrong).
Society has a notion that it has a say about who one is having sex with, but you are wrong to think that it will spare you if you are not having any. If repetitive coming out were not annoying enough, there is the added annoyance of the long explanations expected of you. This gray word leaves you nowhere, making you feel out of place among heterosexuals, homosexuals, and even asexuals! Saying ‘I like guys’ or ‘I am asexual’ while coming out is not enough to explain the complexity I live with. Even within queer spaces, it is not really flattering and it’s often forgotten that asexuals exist. The idea of the spectrum is a lot to ask for. Asexual ideas of relationships challenge the normative, definitions and conditions of relationships, within and outside the queer community. My open relationships demand a squint but can’t justify itself with the absence of sex.
As I marched in the pride parade a few years back, I too chanted ‘My body, my right‘. I wondered how many different perceptions it held for different people, mine being the minority of the minorities. But, it’s not all that bad. Acknowledging someone as a person rather than a particular gender perhaps gets a bit easier. Sex never really clouds my judgment, and I start to de-gender my world and become a bit more aware of the subconscious sexism and biases, both ancient and trendy.
I too, at times, cannot take my eyes off someone I find attractive. This is mostly an aesthetic attraction, and no sexual fantasy consisting us remotely crosses my mind. I was slightly taken aback when I realised how much sexual attraction meant for people when they utter the word ‘attractive’. I may have sex, or any kind of sensual intimacy if I feel sexually attracted and both of us want to, and I don’t get repulsed or uncomfortable during it. But, even then, this is not likely to occur as regularly as expected in so-called relationships.
To me, sexual attraction can be very temporary and I may not feel any attraction the next day, month or year. Sex cannot be an obvious necessity in any kind of relationship I might indulge in, and I am perfectly fine with the partner’s sexual or romantic involvement with others. Forget sex; even the meaningless kisses of curiosity and courtesy get tiring. In fact, kisses always seem to brutally destroy all that has occurred till then without fail.
Dear patient reader, you may be wondering why I say it out loud and repeat it again and again. I am, at the end of this narrative, dedicating most part of it just explaining it to you and am not giving the due attention to the daily offense and social struggle I may come across. And I say because this is needed. The disease that transmits quicker than STD is ignorance, and I deny to accept either. So hold that sneer, listen, and understand before attenuating us to some ultramodern obsession.
Diversity and inclusion have a far way to go within the queer community and even among the aces themselves. If there is much bi- and transphobia, then there is also ace-snubbing. As I write this, I become more conscious of my relief in the de-pathologization of asexuality and the dangers of the medicalisation of sexuality imbued in the dominant social normative. Sexuality is complex and is, to an extent, a cultural construct. It’s best not to replace normative with new ones. Even despite the rebellious tone, there perhaps remains a wish to fit in somewhere, established or alternative, and that is something to be weary of. Many probably don’t have a word to explain their sexuality yet, and that doesn’t make their experiences invalid. It’s fine if you don’t find yourself a cozy label and don’t fit anywhere in the kaleidoscope. Just stop wasting your time trying to do so.
Also read: I’m Asexual And My Story Matters