This past February, the Trinitonian published Elise Hester’s open letter about her asexuality. From then up until this point, I’ve been on my own journey to figuring out my sexuality — or possibly the lack thereof. I guess it all began similarly to Elise when I was telling a friend about how I couldn’t seem to like anyone back, and she suggested the possibility of being asexual. I knew what asexuality was, but I had never actually considered myself in that category. I immediately texted the classic High School BFFs™ group chat everyone had their freshman year of high school to disclose my newfound sexuality.
“I think there are too many labels these days. Maybe you just haven’t found someone yet,” was a response, followed by a “like” react (the bane of my existence). So I shut up for a year. Maybe I WAS confused. Maybe I was supposed to wait for the “perfect person” to sweep me off my feet, and I’ll get married and have 2.5 kids and live in a master-planned suburb of Houston. So I waited and let my doubts bubble up inside me.
Before I came to college, I thought I had a vague understanding of my sexuality. I could tell you if I thought someone was good looking, if their face was structured perfectly enough to be considered conventionally attractive. And yet, my feelings of attraction towards a person could not go farther than that. I could find people attractive, but I could never be attracted to them. I started to consider the fact that maybe I thought I liked all genders, because I didn’t care about liking … any of them. Growing up in a liberal Indian community, I had more freedom to explore my sexuality than some of my friends. However, no one told me what to do when there was nothing to explore.
My friends around me would date, break up and find new people, and I couldn’t even figure out how they were able to hold their attraction to a person long enough to commit to anything. Any time I even thought someone liked me, I would feel disgusted. By what? Myself? Them? The feeling of being liked? I couldn’t get further than kissing someone without wanting to ghost immediately or run to take a shower. The idea of being in a sexual relationship with anyone turned me off.
But at the same time, I was also very confused. I lap up romance novels, I’m a hoe for rom-coms, and I inhale sappy Bollywood movies. Any of my friends would tell you that I have my big, fat Indian wedding already planned. I always imagined I would meet the person of my dreams one day, we would get married and live happily ever after. Sometimes I believe I still do. What about the guy I was basically in love with all of my first year? Did I not like him? Was I fraud for still loving someone or for dreaming of eventually get married and still claiming I was asexual? How could I both romanticize romance but also not want anything to do with it? I tell myself I don’t want a relationship while also contemplating how lonely I feel. Every step forward in discovering who I am takes me two steps back with doubts about how I do not belong in the asexual community. Because of this constant internal struggle, I catch myself deleting and redownloading Tinder, hoping that the future love of my life is out there, within a 100-mile radius, never getting far enough into a conversation to even agree to meet someone. Many of these small episodes of questioning my identity end with me wondering if I’ll ever be able to find love. Would that be possible if I never experience sexual desire?
As the year starts closing in, I still search for who I am. I guess my friend in that group chat was right, there shouldn’t be labels. Asexuality is a spectrum, not a category, and I catch myself sliding along that spectrum on a daily basis. Maybe I’ll slide enough in a direction to open myself up for love and relationship. Maybe one day, I’ll learn how to cope with my loneliness and lack of sexual desire and be happy with who I am. Maybe I’ll find companionship in someone who accepts that as who I am.
So this is me, barely describing in words the journey I am still taking to figure out my sexuality. Maybe I would have figured myself out a lot earlier if there was more conversation about asexuality in the bubble I lived in, but there wasn’t. I hope this ends up reaching out to more people questioning their asexuality, and I want to shoutout Elise Hester for sparking this conversation within myself. If anyone wants to discuss this further, please begin by Tmailing me your favorite meme.