Asexuality is an orientation, not a disorder

In the term LGBTQIA, letter A stands for Asexuality. A term that has been overlooked and misinterpreted while the people who fall under this spectrum have been subjected to ridicule and sneering. In a country where any kind of discourse & debate around sexual identities is still frowned upon, no wonder majority of us don’t understand asexuality.

There is an evident lack of awareness even among the ‘wokest’ of us. In a society where sex is romanticized and is looked at as the ultimate culmination of love and romance, it becomes challenging for people to come out as asexual.

This often leads to conflicts and confusion among the partners, sometimes even leading to the abrupt ending of relationships. Among the LGBTQ people too, asexuality remains an untouched topic that isn’t discussed frequently.

Sukanya, 28, was in a relationship with a girl where she had a lot of difficulty speaking about her asexuality. She says, “It was difficult. My girlfriend did not even consider this as a thing. That relationship gave me severe anxiety because physical interaction plays a very important role in a relationship, both heterosexual and homosexual. You just can’t deny it. I tried speaking about it but it did not work out.

Gayatri, a 22-year-old content writer, recalls her previous relationship, “It did become a problem in my relationship. I didn’t know then or didn’t even consider that I might be on the spectrum, but my ex was pretty sexually active and I wasn’t as interested in sex as much as I was in just spending time or hugs.” She adds, “This came up a lot of times, and a lot of those times I thought the problem was with me. He understood, but sometimes it took a toll on him, and I always felt guilty that he was kind of, sexually deprived maybe because of me.”

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image source: http://www.hercampus.com

The guilt of not being able to fulfill the physical needs of their partner takes a toll on the mental health of asexual people. People sometimes even mistake asexuality for a sexual defect where one is unable to perform the act of sex because of bodily defects or psychological apprehensions. 

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Many people try to homogenize asexuality which is not possible because people on this spectrum can be very different from each other. One may enjoy making out but others may get repulsed from any kind of sexual activity. People also tend to think that asexuality means no sexual interest which again is false. It is not a mental disorder, is not caused by any ‘chemical’ or hormonal imbalance, and definitely is not a phase. One might be attracted to you but not in a sexual way. They may or may not want to have sex. They are not attracted to you to have sex. Asexuality can be a spectrum on its own as it has people with various choices and needs. 

Dan, 26, talks about how he came out to his family as an asexual. He says, “Well, it was difficult to make them (parents) understand. It requires a lot of explanation because the older generation thinks having “such feeling” is pretty normal and after a certain age, this “phase” would pass. They tried to get me into medical help thinking it was something like erectile dysfunction.” He laughs, “Now things are much better. I made them understand what it is and finally after years of talking, they now agree that it is a real thing. Luckily, my close friends stood by my side and they too talked to them about it.”

Stories like Dev’s are beautiful and the others not so much. Many are unfortunately sent for conversion therapy which severely affects their mental and physical health. Their sexuality is invalidated, questioned, and falsely labeled. As a society, there is an unrealistic pressure on everyone across the LGBTQIA community to perform according to toxic heteronormative standards when it comes to their sexual identity, as everything else is considered abnormal, & asexuals are no exception.

At this point, I believe it’s important to underline that the struggles of asexuals are not similar to other LGBTQIA members and hence will require a different approach. Websites like Asexuality India are working hard to normalize asexuality within the society and spread awareness. The ACE app which is an asexual dating app and Platonicity, a matchmaking platform for asexual people have started a virtual campaign for asexual people in India.

It couldn’t be more wrong to assume that asexual people don’t like to be in a relationship. Many of them actually crave some kind of physical intimacy, and not necessarily penetrative sex. Relationships are based on likes and dislikes of two people and at the end of the day, mutually respecting each other’s preferences. Even though we agree that physical intimacy is important in a relationship, if people talk to their asexual partners without any judgments and understand their views and needs, the couple will take a step towards a healthy relationship.

“So you don’t like guys or girls? What do you like then?”

Asexual: “Well… I like cake.”


 

 

 

 

Featured Image Source: www.psychologypedia.org
Harsh Aditya

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Harsh Aditya

I am Harsh and currently, I am a student of literature. I am a history buff and I am an avid reader of non-fiction history and political books. I am vocal about gender rights, feminism, LGBTQ culture, and politics. In my free time, I try to do art, poetry and I write letters. A queer man from a semi-rural state of Bihar, I try to do my part of duty by making people aware of their gender rights. When in Delhi I try to participate in queer activism and write about mythology and culture.

4 thoughts on “Asexuality is an orientation, not a disorder

  1. Beautifully written but what I feel is that there is more data required to conclude it as a sexual orientation. Some people do believe that it is caused by shame of sexuality, anxiety or sexual abuse. I don’t discard this completely because I have met people who were sexually abused and don’t feel sexual attraction now. So there may be a link. There should be more surveys to collect the actual data.
    Anyway whether it is a disorder or sexual orientation it is a serious thing and should be handled very carefully.

    1. I understand where your coming from but most ace were not abused/traumatized in any way. They knew from puberty age that they did not feel sexual attraction like everyone else. It is a newer discussion but definitely isn’t a disorder which is why its not listed as one.

  2. This was an eye opener! Interview with the modern witch in India was the first article I read written by you. And I appreciated your style of writing. I really love the fact that you put a joke at the end of this article😌

  3. After decades of trying to figure out why my wife had no apparent libido (she was never sexually abused or traumatized, and she wasn’t a closeted gay – both theories I posited over the years) I stumbled upon the asexual identity spectrum and it fit.

    After discussing it with her and exploring others’ stories, she agreed. It fit. She simply never had any interest in sex. But because of her upbringing and the inherent role-expectations, she went along to get along – though never initiated sex or even masturbated. She has no instinctive drive for sex whatsoever.

    It’s only now, thirty years later, that people are brave enough to even talk about it in paternalistic societies. For all we know, it could be a evolutionary adaptation that has always existed for one reason or another.

    Now the only question for me is, how do I deal with it? It has totally changed the dynamic in our relationship; some of it for better, some of it for the worse. I’m much more understanding and empathetic to her identity, but I also feel like i’ve deluded myself for decades and have lost interest in even the part she likes – romance.

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