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Falling Out of Labels

I am a Pinterest gal, so I usually tend to start all of my writings with a quote, but this time, I couldn’t find one as relatable as I wanted it to be. I googled the word ‘love’ and the first thing that popped up was “A strong feeling that you have when you like somebody/something very much” I’ve never disliked Oxford and Thesaurus Dictionaries so much. When I was younger, John Green’s books contained love for me. When I grew into my later teens, it was the ocean. Now, I feel so old, for I feel so ‘outgrown’. Outgrown is such a strong word and I’ve never used it before.

I’ve outgrown people, places, phases, and previous versions of myself to know that love cannot be contained because love is the medium and that’s why love is not easy.

And I don’t want to talk about the level of ease when loving. I don’t want to talk about the level of comfort or the extent of warmth we all feel when in love. I want this written piece of mine to breezily ebb and urge you to look into unfiltered love: the ugliness, the crude beauty, the raw interconnection of sexuality and love, and the effect of relationships on living.

As a young woman of color who has hated labels until I was 16 and still understands systems of power & privilege. Now I label my sexuality with two words: ‘bisexual’ and ‘asexual’. Conservatives don’t get the first word, many of the people that I know and care for don’t get the second. It’s not that they are ignorant, but asexuality and aromanticism have always remained as parts of the LGBTQ+ spectrum that were more left to assumption, and one assumption about asexuality that a lot of people have is that we somewhere lack along the lines of being able to express love as deep as people that don’t identify as asexual, and that rose this question:

“Do people try and fail to understand asexuality and the fact that there is no one right way to be asexual or is it that people try and fail to understand the subtleties of Sexuality, Sex, and Love?”

We’ve all been there, where we’ve been scared of the sparse distinction and subtle similarities between Sexuality, Sex, and Love because we tried so hard to think to understand the complexities of these elements of being human, but what we failed to understand is that we don’t have to understand. We don’t have to understand the complexities of being human and being in love. We don’t have to understand the various ways and crossroads at which the elements of Sexuality, Sex, and Love intersect. That’s what the Pride movement has always been about. You don’t have to know to love. You don’t have to know to care. You don’t have to know to take pride.

When I came out as Bisexual to my friends, they were super proud of me and there was no ‘no matter what(s)’ here. They said they love me. Period. They did not manage to say “we love you no matter what”, because saying we love you no matter what is like hearing a “but” after a favorite sentence you’ve been longing to hear. “I love you, but I am afraid we won’t work out.” “I love you, but I can’t do long distance.” “I love you, but I won’t try.” “I love you, but I am scared of who you are.” “I love you, but you are not straight.” A year later I came out as asexual to some of my friends, and one of them asked me “How do you know? How do you know when you’ve never tried it? How do you know you are not lured by or appealed to by the idea of sex when you’ve never tried to know that you do like it?” That’s when I started thinking to myself that, unlike my identity as a bisexual woman of color, the other side of my identity that I am trying to come to good terms with, my asexuality, might just be a “phase”. Maybe I haven’t waited long enough to know. Maybe I am not old enough to know. I am just 18. What the hell do 18-year-olds even know?

Sex is amazing. For many people, even in the age of hookup culture, sex is a medium of rediscovery, of finding new meanings. Maybe that’s what hookup culture is constantly trying to reiterate.

Just like Love, Sex is a medium, and so is Sexuality, but we’ve all perceived them to be one thing or another without exploring the ways they exist together.

Neither Love nor Sex nor Sexuality knows how to contain. Neither do they know how to be contained. They know how to transport. They know how to convey. They know how to reflect. If they were containers then Pride wouldn’t have a point. There is elegance, poise, depth, audacity, clutter, recklessness, and light in the beauty of the mysteries of these constituents of basic humanism. There is no one right way to be asexual. There is no one right way to be Gay. There is no one right way to be bisexual. There is no one right way to discover, realize, be aware of, and embrace your sexuality and way of living.

I’ve always felt more insecure about my asexuality and failed a lot it takes pride in my asexuality as much as I do in my Bisexuality. I’ve always felt like it is that one part of the spectrum along with a few others that are often looked over and misunderstood.

That has made it so hard for me to be open with myself about what I want, need, and like. Instead, I started focusing on what I should come across as for people to interpret my social behavior and existence to be likable and impressive. I never thought to think about my sexuality and sexual identity to be a future matter of legacy, culture, and voice.

There is nothing wrong with seeing sexuality in black and white, but it is crucial to understand and accept the fact that there are countless shades of Black and White as well. There is no one right way to be anything or anyone.

I see my ability as a young woman to give so much love without expecting anything in return as something that gives me great power. When it comes to my sexuality, me being asexual has always been misinterpreted by people as my lack of ability to express love, but I see it as a gateway to expressing love in many great ways.

Being misunderstood has opened my mind to being even more positively sensitive to love, helping me grow into a better person everyday. It helps me understand people who are like me and totally unlike me. It reminds me I have a significant story to tell the world.


Written by Prathika Sukumar photographed by Aubry Miller.

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