A critical article by Indigo Dovi-Dotse reflecting on their experience of being asexual.
Being asexual is difficult. Inherently. I live in a world where I’m expected to want sex, to experience sexual attraction of some kind, and understand that latent “human desire” people speak of. Sometimes people try and buttress their lack of sexual attraction with the statement “but I’m still capable of love, I’m not a monster!” Then the rest of us, the other a-specs, the aromantics, the aplatonics, and the loveless sit and watch. Monstrously, I suppose. We watch them try and fit in like OJ with White men who’ll never accept him fully no matter what he calls himself, shaking our heads. They don’t yet know that they are valid without degrading the rest of us. There’s more than enough space for us all. All we can do is hope that one day they’ll learn.
Today my boyfriend and I made our kind of love. It’d been a long time since I’d known him and I was wasting away from malnutrition. I craved him, I missed him. I missed him wanting me. Feeling his hands on me brought the world to a standstill the way only he can make it stop for me; his kisses were soft and sweet and my thoughts couldn’t begin to hound me like they do every other hour of the day. They laid me down in my bed when we were done, bringing my duvet up to my chin, and told me how adorable my blissed-out smile is and how cute I always have been. There’s nothing quite like it, those moments during and just after, when nothing exists but the warmth of my skin and the static hum of memories that I’ll play back to myself until they fade to black.
“Aren’t you asexual, Indigo?” I hear you say. I sure am. “Then why—” Because. “Because what?” Because. Sometimes, just like ‘no’, ‘because’ is a full sentence.
Do you know how hard it is to admit to not wanting something that everyone says you’re supposed to want? Only for you to realise you want it on your own terms?
“Everyone wants sex, it’s natural!”
You sit alone in your room and think ‘I suppose I can understand where that comes from if I tilt my head; I can understand the desire to be intimate and vulnerable.’ And then you learn it’s not just that. You learn it's a visceral desire, you learn it’s a heat, it’s a draw, it’s a gravitational pull and it can be instantaneous, cataclysmic upon first sight. You learn that the images of scantily-clad men and women littering every piece of media aren't just supposed to look pretty, they’re meant to entice; you come to know that when people say things like “rail me” in the comment section of a celebrity that’s somewhat pleasing to the eye, they don’t mean hypothetically. They mean that they’d love for them to have their hands on them, to get down raw and skin-to-skin. I can never understand that. And I’ve stopped trying.
I’ve written thousands of words like these trying to parse what it is I’m missing, try and make up for my “defects” as a human who lacks these wants, these…'needs’ (if people’s words about sex are meant to be believed). But there’s nothing wrong with me. Nothing at all.
I’ve studied the human condition from behind these eyes and I’ve come to learn that difference is more than abundant. And even within my new niches, I’m allowed to be a niche unto myself.
I’m asexual. I’m aromantic. I’m in a relationship with someone who is neither of those things. I kiss him, I tell him I love him even though I’m not sure what it means to do so. I know that there is a feeling I have for him that is for them alone and I’ve settled on that being all I need to know. Over-analysis, over-complication will be the death of me, and I’ve worked too hard to let such a thing make me succumb.
Am I loveless? Sometimes. Sometimes I look at everyone and wonder what it would mean to love another human being or to love anything at all. And other times, the only words that spill from my lips are singing the adoration of items and objects and the people who matter to me. As a human, I’m allowed that duality—we all are. Sometimes I’ll walk down the street hand-in-hand with my partner and think “Boyfriends and the like are not that bad, I can see why people seem to enjoy this so much” and other times, the thought of people looking at me and believing I can feel love or sexual desire makes me sick. I know that in days to come, reading back this essay where I so blatantly reveal the fact that my body is no longer virginal and has been known by someone will make me retch until bile threatens to paint my floors but as I write it, I know nothing but mild indifference. As a human, I have to come to terms with that duality—we all do.
Whatever other people perceive my actions to be doesn’t change their symbolism to me in the silence. Because when I say my goodbyes and my goodnights, when I put my phone on silent and the dark melts into my skin, there is no one but this thing I’m meant to call a self. When I sit alone in a room full of a hundred people listening to a lecturer who doesn’t know my name, when I stand in the shower under running warm water and listen to the drops fall to drown out the hissing of my cortex, there is no one there but me. And I live to explain myself to no one but the little boy who sits on the cold tiled floor inside me waiting to be tucked in and to learn what it means to be at peace. He knows that for me, sex is a way to be told I’m wanted and I’m precious in a way so much more authentic than the words that I could seek for reassurance. He knows that the words ‘I love you’ have a meaning that I don’t quite parse but I’m still happy to use them. That boy knows that to love and to be loved are things I once dreamed of but dream of no longer, that the fact I have a partner to sleep with on cold nights is a decision made with open eyes, not an experience I fell into simply because I was supposed to. He knows. And if he knows, everyone else’s understanding becomes secondary. That doesn’t mean I don’t still crave it though.
I still explain myself at the drop of a hat if I have the space and time. I still describe to people what it means to be in a relationship that’s romantic on one end and aro on the other. I field questions about the fairness of my involvement with my significant other like we’re talking about whether housing should be subsidised by the government, or whether the death penalty is deserved, with political detachment as if I’m not living a life that is just as real as everyone else’s. But I still try. And within my niche, I speak up here and there so that at least those who need a beacon know that there are options outside the sexual and romantic status quo. That much is enough for me. At the end of the day, everything and nothing matters: most battles should be picked with that in mind.