My college friends would talk about female anatomy, especially the genitalia, in awed reverence. The vivid pictures those words would draw in my mind were more disturbing than sensual. My colleagues would discuss and exchange porn, but I was never drawn towards it. For me, the female form was admirable for its aesthetic appeal only.
After many such incidences, I realised that I was not into sex, and didn't find anyone sexually attractive at all. In my quest to understand myself better, I came across the term queer. On further reading, I came across the tiny "A" word under the giant LGBTQIA+ umbrella, which ended my search for an identity. The word was "asexuality".
Once I established my own identity, a slew of questions started erupting in my mind. In 2013, internet searches on the topic led to no results that would talk about the Indian perspective. In order to get these answers, I started looking for more people who had a similar disinterest in sex by creating a Facebook page called Indian Asexuals, which later gave way to a WhatsApp group with the same name. I also went on to become the co-founder of ACEapp, the first Mobile application for Asexuals.
Launched in August 2013 as India's first initiative for asexuals to come together on a forum, Indian Asexuals became a safe digital space for people identifying with this terminology. The group was set up with the agenda of spreading awareness about asexuality and to sensitise non-asexual people about asexual spectrum in India.
In our experience, asexuality is least talked about within and outside the queer community. In fact, I often come across people identifying as gay, lesbian or bisexual who are unwilling to help a sibling or friend who identifies as asexual because they don't consider asexuality as a valid sexual orientation.
The Asexuality Spectrum
If one were to look for the dictionary definition, they would find this: An asexual person is one who doesn't experience sexual attraction or experiences a lack of sexual attraction. However, a peep into the real world would tell you that some people who identify as asexual do enjoy sex and can even have a high sexual urge.
Asexuality is a huge spectrum consisting of people with varying levels of interest in sexual activity. When most people hear of asexuality, what they imagine is an Aromantic Asexual: someone who can't make romantic connections and be sexually attracted to another person. However, we have orientations like romantic asexual, demisexual, grey A and queerplatonic among others.
People often equate sexual libido with sexual attraction. Sexual urges, libido and sex drive are biological, although the amounts vary from person to person. Asexual people also experience all of this. However, since we don't experience sexual attraction, these urges are not expressed in front of other people.
All this does not mean asexuals cannot be in relationships. We often look for romantic, emotional, platonic relationships. Some asexuals do have sex to satisfy their libido, for a biological child or for their non-asexual partner.
Many asexual people reach out to me, when they feel dejected from the family pressure to get married. They often tell me that they don't want to spend their life with a spouse who might force them to indulge in sexual intimacy. At such times, I visit the parents and try to explain their children's situation and preferences.
Every day, more and more people reach out to me through various social media channels asking questions about asexuality and often realising they identify as an asexual. Indian Asexuals has grown into a big movement today, holding workshops, seminars and webinars for awareness. We also organise events where people can meet others whose identities and preferences align with their own.
All I wish is for everyone to understand that Asexuals aren't broken. Asexuals aren't Philophobic. Asexuality is as valid as other sexuality.
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