“As humans, we are in general a social species, programmed to support each other in family units and communities and it seems often mob rule dictates what normal, expected or acceptable behaviour is. Especially in a modern society where the media projects these ideas into every facet of our lives, we are now educated very early on as to how life apparently is. No matter what our true feelings inside, we may now attempt to adhere to the ‘rules’ that we have collectively set ourselves. Individuality can be sacrificed to a greater or lesser degree in order to fit in with the consensus ideal and prevent rejection, or else the pursuit of self-awareness if obscured or avoided in favour of what ‘should be’.” -Acer (AVEN)
Growing up there were two sets of ‘rules’ and two kinds of ‘should be’s’ I had to juggle with. Every middle-class Indian child knows that every middle-class Indian parent expects them to be a model child, academically inclined exuding the cultural ideals of social existence. In simple terms, NO alcohol/intoxicants, NO boys and obviously NO late night parties. But then if you were a product of the post millennial era like I am, then the ideals set out for you by your peers is exactly the opposite of what your parents want you to be. Not having a boyfriend or a crush was not heard of, alcohol and parties were a given and sexual experimentation stole the position of the ‘coolest’ thing to do.
Now here’s the thing, it was never really a struggle for me to juggle between these two acceptable behaviours, because I was already the model child and hence automatically the not so cool one amongst my peers (I didn’t give a damn though). I excelled in academics, took part in extra-curricular activities and alcohol and parties were never really my thing. But boys? Shouldn’t have my raging adolescent hormones defied my parent’s expectations? Well apparently no, it didn’t. Looking back I always thought that it was probably my ‘good morals’ upbringing that stopped me from experimenting with my sexuality. In the back of my mind it was probably not right to do these things at such an age. But now when I look back, armed with the language of asexuality, I know for sure that it was never really about right-wrong or a good girl-bad girl thing. I simply was never interested in anything sexual. I loved academia, I loved my music, I loved cricket and basketball and that’s all I had time for.
I entered my 20’s and things remained just the same. At this point I began to question myself. Clearly I was different and had never experienced this spark that everyone was talking about. Fair enough, I was not interested in anything sexual, but attraction is something that one cannot stop. May be I hadn’t found the right person yet. For the longest time I convinced myself that my time would come. Oh and it so did! I was 21 when that magical moment hit me, the moment when I entered the AVEN website! Hold on, things do not get any easier from here. While AVEN gave me a huge sense of relief that there were others just like me, it made things even more confusing. I now had the Herculean job of figuring out where exactly on the spectrum I belonged.
Let’s go back to 7th grade and my first crush or what I understood to be a crush. He was a classmate and friend. Brilliant fellow. And yet at that point of time I didn’t label what I felt as a crush because it seemed different from what others were feeling. All I wanted to do was spend as much time with him as I could and have great conversations. There seemed to be an attraction but it was not looking to manifest itself into a physical form of expression. Moreover while others seemed to be developing crushes quite quickly, this guy was the only guy I was attracted to in my teens. I was 12 then, and I guess that’s too young an age to draw conclusions.
Then came the second crucial moment of my life. My second and last crush till date. This time on a woman. I was 19. The emotions were way more intense, the attraction strong, leaving me in a webbed ball of confusion. Was I a lesbian? What significance did my previous crush have then? Every time I would reflect on these feelings, I knew that they were not sexual, and yet I did not have a name for it. It was the first time I had felt anything as intense as this. I knew what it was not, but I didn’t know what it was (at that point I didn’t know about asexuality). Boom! It was later that asexuality told me that I could experience romantic attraction without sexual attraction. Epiphany. So it was clear, I was a biromantic asexual. Yet the label didn’t feel all that right. Yes I did feel romantic attraction and it was directed towards both the genders. Technically then the term should fit me perfectly. The missing link was the rarity of this romantic attraction. These attractions were extremely sporadic and my expression of it, extremely un-romantic as my friends say. And so I embraced the term gray-romantic asexual – a person who rarely or under specific conditions experiences romantic attraction.
I’m not sex-repulsed, I have a functional sex drive and I can most certainly orgasm. I simply don’t care for sex. I do believe in the fluidity of sexual identity and hence coming out as an asexual can be really difficult in terms of articulation. I’ve never been in a relationship. Would I ever want to be in one? How would I define intimacy? These are questions I’m constantly grappling with. It is disheartening to find that majority of the world’s population don’t understand what I feel, and yet it’s heartening to find a few who do. In all its complexities, I refuse to conform to what I’m not. I refuse to be embarrassed of who I am. Asexuality is here and it’s here for good.