In this personal essay, Michael Paramo reflects on his experience as a homoromantic asexual in southern California and examines how this identity has played an integral role in shaping his life.
To identify as a homoromantic asexual means that one must navigate within every space in a very distinct manner. There is no “communal space” that exists exclusively for the homoromantic asexual. We are disseminated throughout the internet, dotted on dating sites, isolated on discussion forums, scattered on social media platforms – lost in the billions. We exist as an unknown few belonging to an already largely unknown sexual orientation. Often being excluded from “gay” spaces because of my asexuality along with “straight” spaces because of homoromantic attractions to other men, I regularly felt invisible – never whole – with an aspect of myself essentially vanishing upon entering a space dictated by another majority’s regulation.
The term “homoromantic asexual” itself remains largely foreign today, as there is no access to this identity within mainstream avenues of knowledge. I recall searching, almost indignantly, throughout the internet looking for any trace of who I was in others, left only with a handful of blog posts. Of course, I quickly devoured them, soaking in their experiences, strongly relating to the words of others who I presumed endured the same feelings that I felt – those who were walking in similar shoes to mine. There was scarce mention anywhere else though, even on sites that proclaimed a certain dedication to the LGBTQ+ community. In realizing that this reality of relative invisibility has maintained its prevalence since that time, it is probably best I define homoromantic asexuality before continuing any further.
To be homoromantic, simply put, means to be attracted “romantically” to the same gender. Romantic attraction is distinct from sexual attraction in that one is attracted to the same gender, yet without any sexual contact or desire. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction or desire for sexual contact with anyone, regardless of gender. In understanding this, it is of paramount importance to recognize that romantic attraction and sexual attraction do not always have to align with one another. For example, one may be biromantic yet also be heterosexual. The same type of phenomenon is also possible for the asexual individual. Therefore, a homoromantic asexual is someone who is attracted to the same gender romantically, yet simultaneously not sexually attracted to anyone.
Often being excluded from “gay” spaces because of my own asexuality along with “straight” spaces because of homoromantic attractions to other men, I regularly felt invisible – never whole – with an aspect of myself essentially vanishing upon entering a space dictated by another majority’s regulation.
Perhaps it would now be best to properly introduce myself. I am Michael Paramo, a homoromantic asexual Latinx man who has lived in southern California for the entirety of my life. I have existed in relative isolation for the majority of my twenty-three years as a result of seemingly innumerable reasons, and I am certain that my homoromantic asexual identity is one of them. Being amidst those whose religious convictions conflicted with my very identity meant that expressing my homoromanticism openly would not only be taboo, it would also be sin. I desired to be with a man, I wanted a man to intellectually love, to hold his arms, to explore the world I so greatly feared, but my intense anxiety of transforming the dynamic that I held with those around me prevented me from doing so. I let them possess the power over me, and I still do in many respects.
I remained silent, lips hopelessly wavering in moments of brevity when feelings of fearlessness arose only to be trampled upon by a reminder of the potential consequences. It would be impossible to tell you of the numerous times that I felt that fire – a fury within me to reveal my “secret” – only to be extinguished moments thereafter. Suffocating with every comment about that “freak” walking down the street, that “faggot” on television, that “sin” that could be gotten rid of by god’s grace. I was debilitated by the constant concealment, exhaustively shielding myself behind an ever-thinning veil of straightness. With every discussion that never happened, every channel that was changed upon an LGBTQ+ issue being raised on the television screen before my eyes, the silence grew exponentially agonizing. I retreated into myself as a coping mechanism. Separation was my answer. And how could I then blame them entirely for my own internal desolation? For they did not know what they had done. As Anzaldúa might say, they were victims not villains.
Pressure eventually becoming overwhelming, I revealed my asexuality openly one day. Of course, it was only my asexuality, but it was a beginning. How it materialized was rather spontaneous, a conversation sparking something deep within that told me that I could not continue living this way. Feelings of fermenting disgust blended with the greatest of anxieties to culminate in what felt to be a raw expression. Even if I could not wholly be myself, I rationalized that partial living was better than none at all. Additionally, I was aware that my asexuality would not incite aversion within others, only confusion, and I was therefore not confounded when this indeed arose shortly thereafter.
I desired to be with a man, I wanted a man to intellectually love, to hold his arms, to explore the world I so greatly feared, but my intense anxiety of transforming the dynamic that I held with those around me prevented me from doing so.
Despite the endless prodding regarding my asexuality, I continued to conceal my homoromantic identity and subsequently became conceived as a solitary soul, one that someone close to me stated “were in the Bible,” as some type of justification for my difference. I was aware that other religious individuals, connected to me in one way or another, likened themselves to the idea of their own child potentially being asexual, “wishing” that their child would be asexual so that they would not have to address their child’s own sexual desires. Asexuality became almost beneficial within this space in a disturbing sort of manner. It was as if my eternal state of being was something that should be temporarily applied to their child until marriage. How thoughtless and absurd, but also clearly demonstrating a lack of understanding. I was also conceived as “doing it for attention,” “in a phase,” “an impossibility.” Living with sexual desire was so innate to the human experience for these individuals that it became universal.
I have only revealed my homoromantic love for men to two people close to me as of today, aside from a few others in an academic environment. My homoromanticism always existed as the aspect that was the most problematic to others. Within religious circles, half of my identity (asexuality) was to be temporarily desired; half of my identity (homoromantic) was to be entirely rejected. I was ripped, divided into two parts that were both deeply intertwined within me. I could be “the asexual” around them, but it had to cease at that point. If I acted on my desires for love, I would become categorized as “gay” and no longer as “solitary” or “strange,” yet still “straight.” This phenomenon exemplifies the ingrained power of the gay/straight binary. Being conceived as “gay” in their minds would be of no issue to me if I possessed the necessary resources to separate physically, and not just in spirit. I have not done so though, and am still in the midst of that arduous process.
And so I have acknowledged my relatively hopeless state of being in my quest for love with another man. Even when I do break free of this physical space, I know that my opportunity to be with another man will not greatly increase. For I will rarely be able to act on these impulses of love as a result of belonging to such a minuscule identity. I must almost expect to never be loved back by a man in the way that I would fully desire, while also being unable to fulfill the type of love most men would require. Love will never come easily. Understanding that I may live the rest of my life alone in this manner as a result of my homoromantic asexuality can be exhausting at times, but I will never see it as a curse. It is who I am. And although it may be unlikely that I will ever find the right homoromantic asexual man for me, I’m not giving up hope just yet.
Follow Michael on Twitter (@Michael_Paramo)