[Editor’s Note – This year, Gaysi is hosting Crippletine’s Day, a project by @revivaldisabilitymag that is rooted in the belief that all kinds of love should be celebrated, because love itself is a disabled and queer revolution.
The theme of Crippletine’s Day this year is what disabled women, trans and enby folx think of pleasure and how it has changed during the pandemic. It touches upon themes of coping with loneliness, isolation as well as companionship. These narratives are stories of lived experiences of queerness, intimacy, disability, and pleasure.]
A look in somebody’s eyes
To light up the skies
To open the world and send it reeling
A voice that says, I’ll be here
And you’ll be alright
City of Stars, La La Land
At night, I dream of living together with my queer partner in a small pastel apartment, cuddling with each other in a fluffy weighted blanket by a window with our adopted pet cat just trudging around us like they own the place. Reading a book, holding hands, sharing soft intimate touches, nothing sexual or romantic but not entirely platonic either. Intimately communicating through those touches, glances and occasionally words. Growing up as an autistic person, I rarely communicated. I talked to people but seldom expressed or felt that they understood my words; neither did I get theirs. Thus, communicating and sharing deep connections have become my most craved intimate moments. And I ended up looking for those in whatever relationship I had till now but never really managed to establish them in any of the connections.
I had never wanted or felt the need for having a romantic or sexual relationship. I tried it several times but failed to instill in myself any enthusiasm or interest in continuing those. But I had intimacy needs, especially for emotional connection and understanding, which frequently got fulfilled through friendships. However this type of arrangement lacked stability. Friends would eventually move on with their own romantic relationships, and the connection you had got, if not completely severed, then weak.
I desired warmth, an expression of love which is neither sexual nor romantic but is indeed queer love. Then I stumbled upon the concept of Queer Platonic relationships and discovered that this is what I had always wanted, something that could not be put inside the silos of friendship OR romance.
I explored this journey of understanding and wanting Queer Platonic relationship through one of my special interests, KPop. It’s because I, as an autistic person, understand most of the societal norms and concepts in the language of my special interest. I have adored and enjoyed KPop for so many reasons, and one of them is the bond that members of the KPop group share. I would spend hours watching videos of them interacting with each other and the chemistry they portrayed. I felt it was more than friendship but not quite romantic, and I craved that more than anything. There was something queer in those interactions, and I, as an aro-ace person, wanted to experience it. I would then go on a rampage, reading books one after another, hoping to share similar feelings and relationships. In other people’s stories, I searched for love, not romantic, not sexual, but a very queer disabled love.
The Pandora’s box opened when one of my friends introduced me to fan-fiction. In the pages of these fan-fictions, I got to experience the extension of what I felt while binging on those KPop behind-the-scenes videos. Some of these beautifully written and amazingly crafted fan-fictions gave me a taste of what queerplatonic relationships could look like, which I was and am still scared to test out in the real world.
Traditional relationships have lots of explicitly undefined rules that are ambiguous and presumed to be known by people. As an autistic person who cannot decipher these rules, I have always found it incredibly infuriating to explore these relationships. Queer Platonic relationships exist outside these heteronormative, ableist rules, allowing those in it to make their own rules and define their own boundaries. Every rule or lack thereof is explicitly stated, which is a significant relief for me as an autistic person.
I knew that I was on the aro-ace spectrum for a long time. Still, I also knew that I wanted an intimate relationship of some kind because surviving alone as an autistic person in a neurotypical world is hard. You are frequently misunderstood, isolated and forced to mask, which is exhausting.
You sit there exhausted with a cup of coffee, just waiting for someone to give you a slight push to actually get started on work, to constantly keep motivating you, organising the stuff and breaking down the chores for you. If possible, make all the critical life decisions on your behalf (just kidding, or am I?) – after consulting you, of course! And hoping to be the same or something more to that person.
Being in a queer platonic relationship helps both me and my partner avoid the feeling of loneliness and meets our intimacy needs. It allows us to be our unmasked selves, make our own rules in the relationship, co-habit, and raise a family without venturing into a romantic or sexual relationship. It’s like a tailor-made relationship that accommodates our disabled queer needs and desires.
Going back to those vivid dreams, this Valentine’s day, I really hope that I do not succumb to the pressure of these heteronormative, ableist rules in the future and can turn my dreams into reality.