By: Shreya Sriram
“To be yourself is truly a revolutionary act, and I think more and more people should try it because it’s gotten me a pretty cool life”. Fast-forward to June, 2022 here we are celebrating pride month to its fullest glory, from podcasts about literature, art, politics, science, sports, and technology to countless discussions about the progress we’ve made and are about to make. We decided to interview a very well-known face, Dr. Pragati Singh, founder of Indian ACES, public health official and activist. Her foundation, Indian ACES is the first initiative for the asexual community since 2014 and is a safe space for, and by ace (asexual) and aspec (asexual spectrum) people from and in India. Hearing Pragati ma’am talk about something she’s very passionate about and wants to shed some light was very heartwarming. Her recent series of podcasts cover FAQs and questions she gets asked on an everyday basis, which she simplifies in layperson’s terms
To define asexuality in a very short and simple way, it is a sexual orientation much like all other orientations characterisiced by no or very little sexuality to people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Essentially the asexuality spectrum is an umbrella term that describes a variety of ways in which a person might identify themself. here are 4 color codes: Black(asexuality), grey( grey-asexuality and demisexuality), white( non-asexual partners and allies) and last not but not the least purple(community). Before we move ahead, I’ve got to clear up some myths over here: first and foremost: ASEXUALITY DOES NOT MEAN CELIBACY, some asexual people do have sex, and that’s not a crime(never was anyway). Just because they do not experience sexual attraction does not mean they have an aversion towards sex. And secondly, it’s not a mental disorder that people come up with after being rejected,*. People assume that asexuality is a disorder, that an asexual person just haven’t met the right person yet or that he or she is secretly gay. Asexual people can become sexual later in life, and that doesn’t mean they were not asexual before. Similarly, sexual people can become asexual too.
From watching all the highly cliche and never-gonna-happen-in-real-life, unless you have the most snazzy/stylin’/spiffy parents ever, coming out of the closet can be quite a task. Hollywood shows and movies have dramatized “coming out” a highly westernized concept where the perfect family with the typical dad jokes ‘dad’, the chatty ‘mom’ and the anguished ‘teen’, oh wait let’s add the hyperactive pet as well, sit down and have a talk about birds and bees. But wait hold up, “Hey mom dad, crazy plot twist you can celebrate and go to bed happy knowing that your child is PROBABLY NOT going to have sex anytime soon”. The situation in India is miles apart, I mean sure your parents, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandad, the local gossip aunties and the entire society would be overjoyed at the fact that there are zero- 0.000001% chances you’ll actually get knocked up. The situation in most Indian households is sad, parents generally assume your gender orientation or make snarky remarks about them. As Pragati ma’am wisely said, “there is no scope for that conversation, neither is there any potential for that conversation to mean something. The concept of coming out as such is actually flawed when it intercepts with the Indian culture. And that too typically, specifically with asexual people, there is no coming out because for a parent their child is not supposed to sexually attracted to anybody till they get married anyway”.
In today’s hypersexualized society, men are celebrated and cheered on for having multiple partners and women are VERY unkindly called names. We’re also aware of several instances where women are constantly told about the dangers of sex ridiculed for wanting or having it, and dealing with how difficult it is to get birth control. Meanwhile, men are told nothing about how to be safe and make their partner comfortable, but are given a pat on the back and are showered with condoms.
To conclude, Dr Pragathi left us all with a very important message which definitely left a deep impact on me and I hope it makes y’all love yourself a lil more <3
“Don’t trade your authenticity for approval and for god’s sake stop trying to fulfill people’s expectations of you. Take a step towards feeling comfortable in your own skin because it’s the tiny steps that make the big picture at the end, the only choice you make is to be yourself”