I’m a biromantic graysexual, a sexuality term that a lot of people don’t understand. So, I’m explaining it! Back when puberty hit us and porn became the hot topic everyone whispered and giggled about in my class, I should have realized there was something off about me. Yes, I was mildly interested in how the whole reproductive process worked, nearly vomited when I found out the intricacies of oral sex, laughed good naturedly at sexual innuendos and appreciated the fact that Zac Efron and Joe Jonas were conventionally “sexy.” But I wasn’t the kid who went home, turned off the lights and locked the doors to discover the pleasures of masturbation and watching porn.
Touching myself certainly wasn’t an alien concept, and it was something I chose to partake in very, very occasionally over the years. But the obsession with sex, the checking out of random dudes on the street, and the constant chatter about phallic symbols, getting laid ,and unlocking third base like the levels of some video game… these all appeared to me as absolutely boring and a waste of time.
Back then, our world was divided into two binaries – you were either a heterosexual chick who’d sell her soul to sleep with each member of her favorite boyband or you were a “lesbo” who had crushes on pretty teachers, held your best friend’s hand a bit too tightly, and was generally shunned by the homophobic majority. Coming from very conservative families (most of whom still believe homosexuality is abnormal) who refused to give us our own cell phones until we reached high school and meticulously rationed our internet usage; going to a private all-girls Christian school where we learned more about the Bible than world history… these kinds of things made us have very little options to choose from and very little exposure to the world outside.
For a very long time, I was confused as to who I was. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had crushes on fictional characters (mostly men, but also women at times) to the extent I’d read and write fanfiction about them, imagine myself having conservations with them, and spend most of my waking moments thinking about them. Whether it was Kai Hiwatari from the Beyblade anime, Professor Remus Lupin from Harry Potter or the dashing Aragorn from Lord of the Rings – I’d imagine myself going on adventures across fantastical terrain with them or tell them about my loneliness, my fears, and my aspirations.
In my fantasies, there was saving, hugging, and the occasional kissing… but sex was never on my priority list. In short, my fantasies were essentially rewriting of fairytales, with more action, glam, and heart-to-heart conversations. Even when the deceptively charming Tom Hiddleston arrived on the scene or when I fell for David Tennant’s version of The Doctor, my focus was more on the “loving” and the “adventure” parts- much like an Arthurian romance.
That’s not to say that I detested the very idea of sex. Sex would figure, but so rarely you’d almost ignore it, like a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in a movie. In other words, it’s there in the background but nothing to go gaga about. For me, the pleasure that comes from emotionally connecting with someone and sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings was, and still is, more important than the split second ecstasy of orgasms.
It was the internet that finally came to the rescue. It introduced me to the notion that one’s sexual orientation needn’t be a watertight compartment, but can exist on a spectrum. I found myself slowly identifying with the gray Iiminal space that existed between asexuality and sexuality. The definition of the “graysexual” (someone who might not experience sexual attraction under normal circumstances, but do so at times, or those who have a low sex drive) was the one that suited me most comfortably.
But that didn’t explain my crushes or my so-called “feelings” for all the wonderful women -both fictional and real – I’d encountered over the years. My feelings for my close girlfriends and my favorite teachers were certainly not of a sexual nature, but were too intense and deep to put under the “friendship/admiration/adultation” umbrella. These were people I really liked and enjoyed spending time with and never wanted to let go, these were people who let me be myself and freely speak my mind, these were people who made me feel at home, and I earnestly and desperately wanted to spend more time in their company, talk to them endlessly about everything under the sun, and hold onto them like I’d never let them go.
It was in my first year of college, when I had said goodbye to a whole lot of people I still love and miss like crazy, when I confided my thoughts to a classmate who’d recently come out as a bisexual that I got the answer. She explained to me that while a romantic relationship tends to involve a sexual component and there’s a good deal of overlapping between the two, both are separate things. In short, it is perfectly okay and perfectly normal to have feelings that border on the romantic without having any sexual thoughts for the same person and vice versa. And so I, in all probability, was bi-romantic in the sense that I seeked affection and companionship from both genders but not sex. What I realized was that my romantic affection for other people was completely independent of both genders and my once-in-a-blue-moon sexual stirrings were always directed at men, and therefore the closest definition that best described me was that of a bi-romantic gray (hetero) sexual.
But of course, knowing who I am makes finding the right people to trust my heart with doubly difficult. I’m 21 and a never-been-kissed virgin, and that’s mostly because I haven’t really met the sort of people I can connect to on a very deep, emotional level. I tend to pick both my fictional and real crushes very carefully – the conventional good looks and charming manners might feel good, but doesn’t really do anything for me. What I look for, I guess, can only be put in abstract terms – a spark, a glimpse into the shining goodness of their soul, that tells me that here is I someone I can trust, who is the exact magic and the good I need.
In the rare instance when I meet and interact with someone and literally fall in love with their soul, there’s the added difficulty of making them realize that what I want in a relationship is primarily emotional security and sex very, very rarely. Also, in most cases, such people tend to be already taken, so the closest shot I have is to remain a good and close friend and be happy and grateful with that. And for the most part, that’s okay, my sexual and romantic identities are important, yes, but I have a great many other things going in my life, and I don’t feel left out for not having a boyfriend yet. I have people in my life I deeply care for, and I’m okay with who I am, and I don’t need anyone’s approval to celebrate and love myself the way I want to.
Of course, all definitions tend to be limiting, and there may come a time, I might outgrow the standard labels, but I guess that’s what the whole LGBTQ activism all about – to assert that there are identities that go beyond the patriarchal heteronormative and heterosexual models we tend to be accustomed to and unless we all cultivate empathy, compassion, an open mind and a policy of live and let live, we can’t really make the world a better and safer place.
Archita Mittra is a freelance contributor for Gurl.com.