Men. Images of their bodies flourished within the confines of my mind. In my early adolescence, I soon came to feel an inner closeness to being gay and what I thought that may have meant. I certainly knew what it meant to my peers in high school, for they made that apparent repetitively and overtly. I was simply the "faggot" that they called me, as their twisted bodies moved, gazed upon my downward face, preying on an unstable consciousness, their words tying knots and tugging tight at a thread that looped around my neck. Not seeking to unearth any actual "truth" of course, only to demean, unleash feelings of inferiority upon me through allegations concerning if I really desired to "suck a guy's dick" or "take it up the ass," actions which, for what they perceived to be a man, were beyond acceptability. And, the unfortunate truth of the matter is, they were successful in their endeavors. I did feel inferior, always lessor, never deserving of even the slightest of whispers, received or given. Within this environment of sad forced repetition, any opportunity for validating my gayness morphed from improbability to impossibility under every passing night.
Etching it in, whirling in continuous motion. My brain was on an assembly line, screwing down, twisting out, crafting a self-conception that my gay identity really did mean that I was inferior. Yet, even in this moment in time, I was conscious of the fact that I never did experience any sexual desire on the basis of sexual attraction to men, or anyone, for that matter. While my eyes moved like magnets over the ridges in their backs, the rolling bumps in their arms, the delicate expressions of their faces, it was never anything more. More of what? I now ask myself. More is as how society would put it, at least, sex is always more. Why not less? I never thought of sex, only when it became thrust upon my brain through regular insults or invasive questioning. A deliberation of existence ensued. And yet, while this poor foundation in my adolescence served to collapse any opportunity to see myself as someone who deserved to exist, the process of acquiring self-validation did not cease upon exiting adolescence and the tumultuous spaces of public high school, but simply transformed from a struggle to accept my gayness to a struggle to accept my asexuality.
As I moved onward, I found solace in minor freedoms to explore my gay identity and came to accept my gayness. And yet, I struggled to find acceptance among gay men due to my "sexless" state of being. Asexuality had come into my life as a young university student, and it was a label that scooped me up as I was lost in my lack of sexual attraction, and I quickly formed a closeness to its presence thereafter. Still, it was always this that ultimately made forming connections to gay men difficult. It spun me off into places of invalidation again and again. To some gay men, I was just afraid to "come out of the closet" fully. My hand was out of the door, and I just needed someone to tug at my wrist, rip me out from the shadows of uncertainty and free me from my own fear. To some gay men, I needed a liberator, someone who could show me what it really "meant to be gay," through sexual contact between a man and a man. To some gay men, I was engaging in respectability through not engaging in this liberating force of ultimate queer power through sex. It was simply conniving up and down my insides, consuming my inner desires with the greatest fury, swirling down, reaching to the sweat on my back, pounding my heart like a drum, and yet, my fear of unleashing it held me back.
These justifications for invalidating my existence as a gay asexual proved to recurring. If my first trial was to accept my gayness, my second would be to validate my gay asexuality in spaces dominated by gay men. Yet, with ongoing invalidation, I soon separated myself from these spaces. I grew weary of judgement and sought to exclude myself from spaces that I once thought myself to belong, which manifested in the form of specifications, reducing my existence to a limited label of "homoromantic asexual," as one who experiences romantic, yet not sexual, attraction to the same gender. While this allowed me to further solidify my space within a minor faction of the asexual community, it simultaneously created daunting barriers that I struggled to overcome. At the same time, as I came to learn more about attraction and the varying types that existed, along with learning and growing in my own understanding of my attraction to men, my eyes grew wider, eventually seeking refuge in queerness. For, to me, to be queer stretched the boundaries, even if gatekeepers sought to exclude asexuals, queerness created a space where I could find my corner of self-validation after so many years of twirling in the slush of internalized inferiority. Queerness was my manner of escape, a key out of the catacombs, a conclusion to this journey of self-validation as someone who once knew themselves as a gay asexual.
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.