The Identity Musing
Alternatively: You may not be completely confident on where you fall in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, and hey, that's awesome.
In the month of June we celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. It's National Pride month, yay! In this month we celebrate the proud people who rioted for their freedom to be themselves, allowing us that freedom as well. Whether we know ourselves or not.
Let me explain that last sentence, it might have come off in a confusing manner.
First I'll start off by introducing myself: Hi, I'm asexual aromantic. You might possibly have read a previous article where I detailed my realization of being aromantic. I did some more research and soul searching and understand that I'm also asexual. So, yay!
Sometimes I'm not always sure about that though. 90 percent of the time, I'm very confident and secure in my sexuality. I can slip it into a joke, or if someone asks me why I am single I will quite happily explain my sexual and romantic orientation. It honestly makes me happy to tell people. There is, however, every one day out of a hundred where I... Wonder. Well, am I really asexual or aromantic? Perhaps I'm demi-romantic/sexual instead. At the surface a small difference, but it leads me to wonder.
Then the next day comes and I snap out of that real quick. Any queries I have are just the heteronormative lessons society has ingrained deeply into all of us from toddler age, and I know that I'm working to overcome it as I understand myself more. I also know it's also completely valid to maybe ask some deeper questions of myself and my identity. I wonder if you know that it's okay too.
There are many sexual orientations to consider. Of course we know, in this world of hard won victories in the ever-present fight for equality, about homosexuality. Bisexuality is known about, but still quite fought against. Then you have pansexuality, polysexuality, demisexuality, graysexuality and asexuality. The further I go down the list, the less well known each was, but we constantly strive to educate people about all the different orientations out there. There is transgender, non-binary, agender, and two-spirit (used only in the Native American and Indigenous community to describe a third gender in their culture, so please no appropriation, thanks). Do you know there are romantic orientations too? Demi-romantic, panromantic, biromantic, and aromantic, among some others.
You can be biromantic but asexual. Aromatic but heterosexual. Demi-romantic and pansexual. Panromantic and asexual. Sex and romance are not a packaged deal of course, so this can lead to all kinds of wonderful opportunities to explore relationships of all kinds.
Some terms might seem similar or overlap. For example graysexuality and gray romanticism is technically all under the asexuality umbrella. Asexuality is defined as having little to no sexual attraction, so gray orientations that deal with sexual or romantic attraction in certain circumstances goes right there. Someone might wonder about that, and wonder about the purpose of so many words for these identities, however it's important to have them all. Someone out there is waiting for the right words to describe feelings and thoughts inside themself that aren't at the moment available to them, either by lack of thorough education in sex and gender, or just by not knowing yet that what they are experiencing is atypical of the heteronormative script.
Some people decide not to use any of these terms, or "labels," as they feel it constricts them from living as they want to. That's perfectly fine! One doesn't need a label or term to describe them if they feel it's too cumbersome to explain or think about. The thing about labels is that they aren't mandatory. No one needs to know who you are if you don't want them to. You can live on perfectly happy without having to explain yourself to anyone, content that so long as you know who you are, then that is the most important part fulfilled. Additionally labels aren't a permanent, one and done thing. Just because you choose a specific word to label your orientation that doesn't mean you are beholden to that title forever. It's not a fiefdom, you can let it go.
Labels can be changed! Like my earlier example with my own orientation, one day I might decide that I fit more closely with demisexual than my current ace status. But as of right now, asexual is the word I feel most comfortable using, and I'll stick with it happily. Should the day come I decide I no longer fit in that category, I'll change it just as happily, and may or may not answer inquiries as to why the change. The point is, you need to do whatever makes you feel comfortable and at ease with yourself. Whatever else they might be, labels started off as a way to find and forge communities dedicated to people like yourself. For a lot of the LGBTQIA+ community, ostracism from the mainstream society was a terrible side effect of trying to live for yourself, and be who you were born to be. But by finding like-minded individuals, we can all be content in knowing that we're not alone in our thoughts and feelings. Choosing a label helps us find better ways of explaining what we feel, and how we live, to help us accept ourselves and others who face struggles with being different.
So for this Pride month, proudly proclaim who you are. And when Pride is over, do it again. And again. Every month be proud of who you are, because with the passage of time, we come to know ourselves even better, to grow more comfortable in our identities as colorful and complex as they are. If you don't know who you are, be proud of the metamorphosis you are undertaking to find that answer. I'm so proud of you for taking up the hard task of learning your deepest self. I'm super proud of you for finding out who you are. Especially, I'm proud as hell of you for looking at all that you've discovered, and having the strength to admit that you still have so much more to learn, and that you're a different person than you first assumed. Happy hunt, everyone, find the truest version of yourself!