I have been engaged in a continual ongoing exploration of appropriate identity labels to categorize my existence. At one moment I used to define myself as “gay,” then as a “gay asexual,” then as a “homoromantic asexual,” then as a “androromantic asexual,” followed by an “asexual attracted to men,” and finally as a “queer asexual,” where I remain now. Whether this is the endeavor I should be concerned with is another argument entirely. However, it is from this exploration through identity markers that I have recognized the efficiency and power of queerness as a non-specific identity category. At the same time, I also acknowledge the importance of asexuality as existing under the larger umbrella of queerness and LGBTQIA+ identity, as most ace people agree.
Asexuality is in conversation with queer theory, reminding us that it is imperative to differentiate our asexual identity within the amorphous undifferentiated realm that queerness provides. while simultaneously asserting the queerness of our asexuality. As asexual people, we are often perceived as wholly unqueer. As ace people, we are often made to feel excluded from queer spaces due to the perception that asexuality, which is often perceived as an absence of sexual desire or interest, is simply not queer enough. Asexuality decentralizes sex from queerness, but because sex and queer imaginaries are so often entwined, asserting asexuality as a queer identity reminds us as ace people that it is necessary to claim or assert both our queerness and asexuality simultaneously.
I am not just queer. I am not just asexual. I am a queer asexual. This is a very intentional identity marker. Asexuality interjects a notion of hybridity into the centralized debate of queer theory regarding differentiation versus undifferentiation. It reminds us that as ace people we may not possess the ability to simply label ourselves as queer, because of the erasure of asexuality within queer spaces and the conceptualization of queerness as defined by sexuality. When someone states they are queer, they are often assumed to possess (at the very least, partially) “same-sex” sexual attraction. Just as when someone states they are gay it is often automatically perceived as meaning that they desire to have sex with the “same sex.”
Centralizing asexuality in queer spaces may destabilize this notion, and in that lies queer asexuality, a conception that may allow us to further expand queerness beyond its often immediate associations with sexual attraction, desire, interest, or even sexuality in general, in liberating respects. As an asexual demiguy who is often perceived as attracted to the “same-sex,” this has become clear in my own life, as I often struggle separating the inherent sexual assumptions of my queerness or “gayness” with my asexuality. It is thus in this intentional self-designation of queer asexuality that I have found the potential for empowerment.
Michael Paramo is an asexual Latinx demiguy located in southern California. They are currently a graduate student who has been selected to present their research at national conferences, such as by the International Association for the Study of Popular Music's U.S. branch, the Popular Culture Association, as well as the National Women's Studies Association. They are the founder of The Asexual and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal. Twitter: @Michael_Paramo