“Dude, I also don’t feel like having sex with my partner sometimes, what’s new you are doing by calling yourself an asexual?” A friend asked this question to me. This is asked to many people who identify as asexuals or someone from the asexuality spectrum. But when it comes to me, the situation is slightly different. For me, sexual attraction is fluid. I rarely feel sexually attracted towards the person from my own sex but mostly there is an emotional and romantic attraction towards the person I like. There is sexual arousal which is momentary and usually happens due to hormonal changes in my body. All this becomes very difficult to explain to people who are really ‘curious’ to know what a creature called homoromantic grey ace looks like.
Let me explain my grey-sexiness by some experiences. I had my first ‘crush’, as people would call it, when I was in the first year of my graduation. Till then I had never fallen in love neither had I had a crush on anyone. Unbelievably, the person I used to like asked me whether I had a crush on her. Being a naïve admirer I told her yes, although I did not know what it meant. Then when I actually looked for the meaning and talked to my ‘experienced’ friends, they said that crush has connotation for sexual attraction for someone.
But I have never have felt any such thing towards the person I liked. I did not even think of her as a sexual body because for me it was the freedom and emotional intimacy to share whatever I feel. I was drawn to that person only because I could share things which were closest to me and that also only on text messages and WhatsApps. I could never imagine that person with me let alone fantasizing her. I could not feel anything physical for that person not even an urge to hug in four years of my crush. Once I met her and I felt a need to hug her, but that was also for such a small duration that I could not even communicate. So, I started calling myself a ‘confused’ person for an year or two because of being unable to name my sexual orientation.
Later while thinking, reading and talking about it to a friend, I got to know that I can be a grey ace because I do feel sexual attraction sporadically and rarely and arousal mostly as a result of hormonal changes in my body and nothing more than that. I am repulsed to partnered sex and I get satisfied with pleasuring my own self. I don’t fantasize anyone in my bed having sex with me. But I cannot say that I don’t imagine. I can imagine a sex scene or a plot of an erotica which I feel like writing but I cannot write beyond a point because I cannot think a partnered act beyond making out.
So, I usually write erotica which includes only one character. These stories are criticized as ‘generic’. Along with reading, writing and enjoying erotic material, comes the question, “How can you talk about porn and erotica and talk dirty, when you call yourself an asexual?” So, there is a check list I have to follow of not to do things, if I can’t stand up to it, I cannot “qualify” as a person from the asexual spectrum.
Recently, my experience of being kissed by a woman friend has become another turning point which again made me think of myself being a gray ace. This person kissed me because I told her that I want to try sex because everyone does. So, this person asked me whether I am okay with trying. I said yes and this person started to kiss me. So many sudden changes took place in my body that I felt an arousal but later after a few seconds I felt something different and I could not even reciprocate the kiss. I am still not attracted to that friend but that sudden arousal was something new. However, having sex was not at all something which I felt like having beyond a point in the flow of these changes. So, again I am confused.
Calling myself a gray ace has been a political statement as well. Being a homoromantic semi-sexual person, I can understand the plight of people who have same sex desire which is considered non-normative. At the same time, I can also think like an ‘asexual’ person and I feel more inclined to do so because I’m more of a romantic person. It is like being on a flexible scale where ‘sexual’ and ‘asexual’ are put as extreme scales.
Being a gray ace makes me think more broadly and think of the ways to be visible in the mainstream queer movement of India where A in LGBTQIA+ is often considered Allies and not Asexual. I always find the asexual community the most inclusive community because it believes in fluidity. I am sure, nobody will tell me that I am not asexual enough because I do feel sexual attraction sometimes. The notion of spectrum and not a box of water tight categories makes me feel relieved and accepted. Even if I feel sexually attracted, I am sure nobody from the community will come and judge me as being disloyal to asexuality. This community is making me realize that it is okay to not to feel like having sex or not having sexual attraction. This asexual community makes me realize there is something new and special in being a gray ace and not being from the shade of any binary colours! It’s okay to be in between!