STORY: Ever since I could remember, there’s always been something strange about me. When my peers were swooning over the most recent pop star to grace their phone screens, I was freaking out over metal bands I liked that were releasing new albums. When my friends were out having their first drinks, I stayed at home deciding to tattoo myself. If there’s been one constant in my life, it’s that no matter what group I’ve been in, I’ve always been the strange one.
When I decided to come out as gay at the age of fourteen, not many people were surprised. Still, I always struggled with saying the words “I’m gay.” It felt like those two words just weren’t enough to describe me as a person. I chalked it up to growing up in a conservative household in rural North Carolina and having internalized self-loathing as a result. Regardless of what that internal feeling was, I pressed on in my infinite weirdness and was rewarded with a group of friends I consider closer than family.
One of my closest friends at the time was my algebra teacher. I first met him when I was walking to gym class one day. Passing his classroom, a kid I had never met before shouted: “What’s up, gay bitch?” I threw some expletive arrows his way and kept walking.
My teacher, whose door was open and who heard the whole thing, had a completely different reaction. He came barreling out of his room, asking “Who said that?” Not wanting to be a snitch, I asked him if it was really that big of a deal. He insisted it was, so I pointed in the kid’s direction and, for the next few minutes, I had the pleasure of watching him set this kid straight. It was the beginning of a great friendship.
Though I identified as gay at that time, I was always reluctant to have sex with a guy. Even though I was still in high school, I’d already had a few boyfriends, some of who came very close to sexual assault in an attempt to change my mind. The last ex of mine was the worst, with full-on arguments between us being quite common. I resolved to give him permission to cheat, just so he’d stop bugging me about sex. He ended up leaving me for someone who could keep up with him.
At the age of sixteen, I first heard the terms “asexual” and “homoromantic.” I read up on what people who identify as asexual feel, and related more and more to it the more I read. So, I decided to re-come out to my friends as a homoromantic asexual. Besides them asking me if I was a plant, the main question I got was “But you’re gay. You like men. So, how can you also be asexual?”
This is where homoromantic comes in. Think homosexual, but in a romantic, rather than sexual, context. I only fall in love and want romantic relationships with men and have no sexual desire towards anyone—men, women, or otherwise.
It’s been my observation that this is way hard for people to understand—the idea that a person would want romantic connections, but not sexual intercourse. It seemed to baffle and confuse everyone I told—especially coming from a sixteen-year-old guy.
I’ve gotten the silly questions “Do you plan to reproduce with yourself, as a plant does?” and “How do you expect to have a relationship when men really only want one thing?” (which I found sexist and just wrong) and others more insensitive than those. I’m literal proof that their assumptions are inaccurate.
Further proof comes in the form of my current boyfriend, Jason. He’s been the only person so far who understands my lack of interest in sexual intercourse. Coming off my last relationship, I made sure to ask him early on if sex in a relationship was a big deal to him. When he said “no” and that a personal connection matters way more, I knew I was in love with him. He considers himself homosexual, too, and also doesn’t see sex as a big deal.
At this point, as an eighteen-year-old teenager, I’ve come to accept a few things: An eighteen-year-old can have zero interest in sex; two eighteen-year-old guys can be in a committed relationship and both have zero interest in sex; and most importantly, any behavior that isn’t commonly seen or heard about becomes an alien concept that others find hard to grasp.
I’ll end with this. YouTube personality Jimmy Snow (known as Mr. Atheist) suggested we change the acronym LGBT to GRSM (standing for gender, romantic and sexual minorities). This is the easiest way I’ve come to help others understand the difference between being homosexual and homoromantic: relationships can include a broad range of expressions of physical and emotional intimacy. It is a spectrum on which sex and love can be mutually exclusive.