"Well, no one would want to have sex with you anyway" still rings down the corridors of my inner ears whenever I have anxiety regarding my body-image as a fat queer asexual today. While I actually possessed no conception of what their voice sounded like, to me, that was not relevant. When I saw the words on my computer screen, a voice instantaneously manifested in my head, reading them aloud to me with a terrifying automaticity. The voice was of a piercing tone that was all too familiar, one that had mocked me not too many years ago, viciously mimicking those who once referred to me as a "fucking fat-ass" or "fat faggot" to my sunken adolescent face in the days that I longed to forget.
Although, in my slightly older age, I thought I had learned to deflect hateful messages, particularly online, this one was starkly different for this reason. It tore through the barrier I had built, reached through the fragile skin and clutched my soul, depleting its vitality rapidly. It was as if these words shackled themselves to my wrists and ripped me through time, taking me back to these horrible moments of my adolescence. I was consumed by feelings of defenselessness and powerlessness, forces that dominated my adolescent life as a fat queer asexual who often failed to properly navigate the social spaces forced upon me by public schooling. Yet, in retrospect, as I ponder about the incident and its disturbing aftermath, I have to ask myself the simple question: Why? What allowed these words to crumble my self-confidence with such ease and send me spiraling me into depression? Why had an insult regarding my body and its sexual desirability, an act of which I did not care to engage in as an asexual, cause me to surrender my happiness?
And so, upon considering its effects on my consciousness, my reaction to these words ultimately told me something else: I was still invested in this idea that being desired sexually was something that provided me and others with some form of worth, even as an asexual person. As someone who did not desire sex, sexual desirability was still societally embedded within me. Unlearning its deep entrenchment in my mind was an arduous process, and revealed my problematic conception of my own asexual body, as I was absorbed by how it looked to others rather than how it looked to myself. Even as an fat queer asexual who hated my own body, I hated even more how others were forced to look at it every time I went anywhere publicly, as I was already made known how disgusting my fatness and queerness made my body to those around me in the public school environment. I scarcely left the house in which I lived, and still struggle with this today, as much of my anxiety continues to stem from body-image. Ultimately though, it was my fatness that had the strongest effect in intensely demonizing my body to myself, but more importantly, or so I thought at the time, to others. This proved to be the most true within queer masculine spaces, of which my utter naivety fooled me into thinking that I should ever desire to be a part of as someone who was attracted to men, but not in a sexual manner.
Another troubling experience in an online space dominated by queer men exemplified my ignorance, in which displaying the words "asexual" as a description of myself in a bio proved to be a ridiculous error, as the essential function of this space overrode my better judgement to disengage from communication entirely. "Yeah, I can see why you're asexual." I should have expected it honestly, and I still continue to blame its etching into my brain on myself. My fatness, as apparently evident in the unfortunate selfie I provided as an avatar, was already more quietly dissected as disgusting and when compounded with my asexuality, this removed me beyond the realm of uselessness and somewhere closer to a psychological place of laughable worthlessness to them. As they told me my fatness was disgusting and made my body useless, I believed them, internalizing a hatred of my own fatness and how it made others feel about my body. Telling them that I was asexual only invited them to ensure that I was aware of my own body's worthless state of being. They wanted to make certain that, not only did they hold the power as those who possessed bodies not marked by fatness, but also that my asexuality, which implicitly possesses the ability of automatically closing my body off to them sexually, did not make them feel any measure of powerlessness.
As a result of my own internalized hatred of fatness, I yearned for many months to become what society conceived of as "attractive" in order to make them feel the same deep powerlessness that both of these incidents made me feel. I desired to attempt to use my asexual body, which I had already mostly accepted at this point in my life, as some sort of weapon against them, making them desire a body that they could not sexually have. But I soon realized how this once again only led me nowhere, as it served to prove my continued investment in the sexual desirability of my body, rather than center my self-perceptions regarding the beauty of my own body. I had to be able to look into that mirror and see a reflection of a body that I had for so long been taught to understand as grotesque and worthless due to its simultaneous embodiment of queerness, fatness, and asexuality, and love what I saw. And today I am still in that process of self-love, using mirrors and selfies as helpful tools of self-care to force me to look at myself. They force me to look at my fat, queer, asexual body and smile with what I conceive to be some form of truly pure contentment, because I actually love what I see, regardless of what I had been told, not for anyone else, but for myself. For my body is mine, after all.
Michael Paramo is a queer asexual Latinx demiguy who is both a graduate student and passionate writer. They are currently researching, writing about, and amplifying asexuality, queerness, as well as their intersections both online and offline. They are also the founder of TheAsexual.com and the Editor-in-Chief of The Asexual journal.