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I am a 26-year-old male, with ten years of sexual history. Since I was 16, I have always identified as a gay man. However, I don't think I'm gay. I've only had sexual relations with other men, but it started because a guy my age propositioned me. I was too socially awkward to talk to anyone, so hooking up with guys just seemed easier. When I went to college, I slutted around a lot, with little to no emotional connection; but in the past four years or so, I've barely been with anyone at all. Point being: I think I'm asexual. I'm really not in to sex at all, and I think I've mostly sexually engaged just because that's what adults do, right?

So the question is, when everyone identifies me as a gay man, is it important for me to point out that I don't think I am that? I hardly understand it, so explaining it to others seems very odious. Furthermore, I don't want to devalue the plight of any LGBT individual by recanting my perceived identity. I thought being a gay man was hard, but somehow not being anything seems worse.

Not Often Horny, Unlike My Peers

It just so happens, NOHUMP, that plenty of asexuals (aka "aces") identified as L, G, or B before realizing they were A. Julia Sondra Decker, asexuality activist and author of The Invisible Orientation, gives some context:

Tons of us grew up knowing we didn't feel what we were "supposed" to feel (read: we weren't good at being straight), NOHUMP, and since the other option many of us had heard of was "gay," we figured we must be that. Many of us share with you the history of having sex because that's "what adults do" as well. But if a label you once chose no longer fits you and it's bothering you, other people in your life should respect your desire to use different terms. Also, as an asexual activist, I can absolutely say I've heard stories from aces who originally identified as gay and were terrified to switch labels for similar reasons. You're not alone.

I've described sexual identity as a cake with three layers, NOHUMP. The first layer is who you wanna do (desire), the second layer is who you're actually doing (behavior), and the third layer is what you tell people you're doing/who you are (identity). The more neatly aligned your layers, the less messy your cake. It's a thing some brainy types have called "Savage's Heirarchy," and it applies to asexuality, too. In your case, NOHUMP, you've spent most your life doing other men, and the simplest path has been to say you're gay and assume your desires would (or did) follow suit or would kick into high gear at some point. But surprise! Discovering your sexual identity—assembling that damn cake—isn't always so simple.

Now, NOHUMP, if the right answer to, "Who do you wanna do?" is "no one in particular," you should probably stop doing boys and start identifying by the label or labels that feel right, whenever safe and feasible. (Lots of asexuals embrace more than one label. You could asexual but homoromantic or heteroromantic, for example.) That doesn't mean you have to go from gay to asexual overnight (or at all; there are gay identified asexuals out there), but you shouldn't feel obligated to stick with the gay label if it doesn't feel right.

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While you're figuring it all out, here's more advice on asexuality from Decker:

Asexuality isn't "nothing"—it's not an empty space, just like answering "none of the above" on a multiple choice quiz is very different from not answering the question. We have a community and a set of shared experiences, some of which dovetail with experiences you've had identifying as a gay man (and some of which don't). Please know that if you choose to identify as asexual, NOHUMP, it's a respectable identity even if it's also sometimes hard. Not desiring sex doesn't necessarily make a person asexual, either, but I'd trust you to decide how to identify yourself. If you're willing to spend some time engaging with the community and exploring the rich tapestry of romantic and sexual orientations and experiences we discuss, you may find yourself somewhere in that quilt, and may become more comfortable asking people to use your terms over time.

Asexuality, like all sexual orientations, can be expressed in different ways and there are niche communities, NOHUMP. Explore a bit and decide what labels work best for you. And don't worry about devaluing "the plight of any LGBT individual by recanting" your gayness. You're not recanting anything. You're bringing the second and third layers of your sexual identity cake into alignment with the first layer. You're telling your truth, not betraying or abandoning anyone—and as an asexual, NOHUMP, you're still in the sexual minority camp with us homos. Not gay anymore, maybe not gay ever, but still queer.