2018 was the year in which the Supreme Court of India struck down the provisions of Section 377, effectively decriminalizing consensual same-sex relationships. Jubilations filled the streets as rainbow adorned flags unfurled in every corner and human sexuality was celebrated across the spectrum, breaking the orthodoxical barriers blocking the road to love for many.
The LGBTQIA movement, often abbreviated as LGBTQ+, grabbed the headlines on media channels, print news, and social media feed. The feeling of liberty was unanimous and the joyful faces of strangers and friends, now unshackled from the heavy chains of an antiquated society that dictates who you can and cannot love, brought solace to my heart.
Despite increased awareness everywhere about the different forms sexuality can take and same-sex relationships, I could not help but feel bothered. As a wandering soul in the world of love, I have always found myself leaning towards the type of sexuality that often does not grab the spotlight.
Specifically, the ‘A’ of LGBTQIA.
Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction towards others. People often divorce it from the idea of love and mistakenly conflate it with aromanticism. The reality (and something that I had to discover for myself) is that aromanticism and asexuality are different concepts. For asexuals, or ‘aces’ as the people belonging to the community are popularly called, the romantic attraction has nothing to do with sexual attraction.
My tryst with asexuality began relatively early on. Like most other people, I realized I was different in my teenage years. As the majority of us will admit, teen years are characterized by stress, unpredictable behavior, and most notably: utter confusion. Initially, most of my distinctive traits were willingly sacrificed at the altar of popularity and approval amongst peers. Having your first crush, receiving an unexpected compliment, or simply sneaking in chocolate beneath someone else’s desk -they were memorable experiences and the dopamine rush was real.
The sheen and glamour did not last for long though. I found no meaning in dating apps or flings. I found no long-lasting happiness in pursuing relationships with people who were strangers to me just a week ago. I found myself yawning at the proverbial conversations and jokes that get every face smirking in a classroom. Sudden declarations of commitment seemed to me to be too blithe or lacking any depth. The polished veneer of relationships, as I knew them, melted away gradually and I just could not see the love the same way again.
The 15 years old ignorant me was completely clueless and began to think that something was wrong with me, that maybe I was in the grip of a low phase of my life. I attributed this persistent feeling to the temporary effects of misfortune. But as I entered my 18th year and the world granted me the title of an adult, I realized that this was no passing feeling, that I really never understood the need for sex and neither did I want to – at the end of the day, I couldn’t care less.
Until my schooling years, I had never even allowed myself to think that I could be towards the asexual side of the spectrum, simply because I was unaware such a thing even existed. For me, the only viable antidote I could think of was to search for communities and people online who were like me. When I finally got introduced to the idea of asexuality in 2018, the overwhelming feeling was one of liberation. I no longer felt alone. I no longer thought I was a malfunctioning human being. I no longer agreed when people told me I am ‘broken’. The truth was, nothing was ‘wrong’ with me and there were thousands around the world who felt exactly like me.
Since I still considered myself a novice at life, I decided to do some more digging before identifying myself by a particular orientation. Given the diversity of human lives and the intricacies of individuality, there had to be something in between the extremes of sexuality and asexuality, right?
This eventually brought me to gray-sexuality and demisexuality, both of which gave me profound insights into just how vibrant and wide the horizon can be.
Amidst all this, love remained the central part of my life. When I begin to feel romantic attraction, what I crave for is not a show of physical affection, but the complete interlocking of hearts, reaching the darkest depths of emotional intimacy. That familiar feeling of butterflies fluttering in your stomach, that exhilarating wave of happiness taking possession of your soul for no reason – it’s as if the person responsible for making you feel this way just painted the canvas of your world with bright, primary colors of life himself!
Rewinding to reality, even today when I say I am an asexual heteroromantic, I need to deal with confused and perplexed reactions from my friends, for whom asexuality and love are antithetical. Orientations associated with asexuality bring with them their own unique challenges; explaining why you are the way you are is just the tip of the iceberg.
Even when people do fully acknowledge the existence of asexuality, my affiliation with it is often dismissed under the pretext of something like, “Oh, you just haven’t met that many people” or “Maybe you have too narrow a perspective”. The possibility of loving and developing genuine feelings for someone sans the physical intimacy seems unimaginable, alien almost. What’s worse is that I can rarely bring myself to admit to someone that I like them, for the biggest fear is not rejection, but trying to convey to the person exactly how I ‘love’ them.
The current images of sexuality, portrayed by tabloids often in a distorted way, do not help. I fear for any friendship to blossom beyond what it is, for any such thing would compel me to foray into uncharted territories. The sheer awkwardness generated and the perpetual accounting and justification of my actions is something I’d personally avoid if I can. Simply put, I long for a companion, who is synchronized with what I mean and what I believe in at every step if we are to speak the same language of love.
I still do not know whether I am an asexual, a graysexual, a demisexual, or maybe even some other sexuality. I don’t even know if I would like to have such hard labels for myself. The river of life meanders along its course and we never know what might be lying beyond the next bend of the stream
But what I know is this: my quest to decipher my script of love for myself has taken me to wonderful
places I never visited before. And this quest is not stopping any time soon!