'A' stands for ACE
Sexuality is seen as a compulsory factor of human lives. This is probably one of the major reasons why the asexual community in the country and the world are often ignored
HYDERABAD : In many societal narratives about interpersonal relationships, sexuality is seen as a compulsory factor of human lives. This is probably one of the major reasons why the asexual community in the country and the world are often ignored. Like Angela Chen, the author of Ace says, “True liberation requires the dismantling of compulsory sexuality.” From opinions such as asexuality is not a legitimate identity to the absence of an asexual identity option on a dating app, the community faces a number of challenges even today.
According to Dr Sharmila Majumdar, a sexologist in Jubilee Hills, people on the ace or asexuality spectrum either do not experience sexual attraction or have less interest in sexual contact with their partners. “People often confuse asexuality with celibacy, which is incorrect. While people choose to remain celibate due to religious or social reasons, those on the ace spectrum have little or no interest in sexual activity,” she says.
A research scholar from the city, who wishes to remain anonymous, says even in progressive circles there is less understanding of asexuality. They remember an incident in which their friend said, “The idea that sex before marriage is immoral is so deeply ingrained within you that you are unknowingly suppressing your desire for sex.” However, this is not true for aces.
Dr Majumdar says some people realise their sexual orientation as an ace early in their life, while a lot of them understand it after a few intimate relationships. Therefore, the myth that asexual people suppress their desires is incorrect.
Sravan Telu, a dancer and security analyst in Hyderabad, always thought sex was intriguing but never so much to share it with anyone else. “After doing some research online, I realised for the first time in my life that I might not be broken, that I am not alone in my experience and that it isn’t a defect. I came out to my family and my mother said, ‘Your sexuality doesn’t change my love towards you, and it doesn’t matter to me what you are. What matters is how happy you are’,” Sravan says.
Many assume that asexual people are not romantically attracted to others, which is not true. Dr Divya Devulapally, a psychiatrist and a Fellow of the European Committee of Sexual Medicine, also recognises this as one of the myths that exist about asexuality. “Aces do take interest in romantic relationships and might engage in sexual activities occasionally if their partner is interested. That doesn’t make them any less of an Ace,” she says.
A student from Gachibowli says, “I discovered very recently that I’m demi, and therefore on the ace spectrum. Unless I have an emotional/intellectual connection with someone, I find it really hard to enjoy myself sexually. One of the biggest stereotypes about demisexual people is that what they experience is the same as that of a post hookup regret. However, that is not what it is. Even if I casually have sex with someone, I need to know that it means something.”
Pushpa Achanta identifies as genderfluid and asexual. They say, “Until a few years ago, I kept self-shaming myself into thinking that asexuality is abnormal. But attempts at non-penetrative sex were physically and mentally painful for me. I’m sometimes emotionally, intellectually and romantically attracted to people irrespective of their SOGIESC. I’ve had a supportive, understanding and loving partner since 2002. While working, I found that intersex people are the most accepting and understanding of asexual people.”
Many assume that asexual people are not romantically attracted to others