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.”
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.
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
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