Rosa is a queer graduate student currently living in the Mid-West but missing the East Coast. When not working on her PhD, she can be found singing, baking, and writing horror and weird paranormal stories. You can find her at her website or she lurks quite a bit on Twitter. Rosa is a dear friend and I am so grateful to welcome her to the blog today!
When I first locked eyes with a specific woman this past fall, we’ll call her Calla, I was hit with a very real and very overwhelming wave of sexual attraction. I’d only experienced this once before, with a guy when I was in my early twenties, and it was just as confusing and awful the second time as it was the first.
“But I’m asexual!” I screamed to myself. “How is this happening?”
I’ve been aware for quite some time that asexuality is a spectrum, but I never thought that one of the other terms under the umbrella would ever apply to me. I was asexual. Plain and simple.
Over the years, I’d convinced myself that the guy was a fluke. The experience slowly dwindled into “I must have made it up” territory, mostly because I didn’t want to confront the experience. Ignoring it was more comfortable. It made things easier.
But when the visceral reaction to Calla bowled me over, I knew it was time to think about what this all meant for me, because once could be a fluke. Twice, and there was probably something there.
Switching labels isn’t easy, though. When you’ve built an identity around a word, but then outgrow the word, just the simple act of changing it feels monumental. Adding a “gray” onto the front of “asexuality” doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult, but the modifier is scary.
I’m wading into territory I never thought I’d have to deal with. For the last eight years, since I discovered asexuality was even a thing, I’ve clung to the reality that I’d never experience sexual attraction, and that was okay. I wasn’t broken. I was just experiencing life in a different way than the majority of people.
But now, with these two experiences, I’ve not only had to come to terms with the fact that I do, in fact, experience sexual attraction under extremely rare circumstances, but that attraction surpasses gender.
I’ve used the label “biromantic” for a while now, because I’ve been vaguely aware of finding all genders beautiful and attractive in some way, but the term has always fit awkwardly on my tongue. I prefer dating men when it comes down to practical realities, but I never wanted the possibility of dating other genders to disappear completely.
Perhaps now, I know why.
The label heteroromantic gray-a/bisexual doesn’t roll off the tongue very well at all, but it feels truer than any others I’ve tried on.
I used to be okay with not having a label, and there are people in my life who suggest in loud voices that I don’t need to box myself in with labels, but that says more about their levels of discomfort with queer folks than it says about me… And there’s something very freeing in finding words that describe me and help the world understand me.
My labels may keep evolving as I grow through this life, and I hope I always find the courage to explore that. The expansiveness of human sexuality can’t be contained in a small set of words, and I think that’s beautiful.