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Pragati Singh, the founder of Indian Aces, a community of asexuals in the country. Started in 2014 and relaunched in early 2016, the community has an active Facebook page that arranges meet ups and workshops centred around asexuality.
Singh had created a match-making tool for asexuals in 2015-2016 but then abruptly took it down. Vice met with the 30-year old doctor to discuss the difficulties of dating while ace and the joys in finding a community.
Vice: Why do asexuals need a matrimonial site?
Pragati Singh: For the longest time people wrote in to me saying that they don’t know where to look for a partner who is also not into sex. A majority of asexual people want a partner who is also either asexual just to reduce the burden of expectations that comes with a sexual life. I would get messages such as “can you help me find a partner?”, “My parents are forcing me to get married” or “My last relationship was with a regular heterosexual and it was miserable for me.” Which is why I initially started Platonicity, a matchmaking tool.
Was it was a website?
It was a Google form where you put in your details. I planned to match people manually, or with an excel sheet. And I had a template of how I would find a match.
I posted it on my Facebook page, Indian Aces. And I posted it on a couple of other asexuality groups that are mostly international.
What was the form like?
It was very elaborate. Because I understand the nuances in asexuality are quite unique. And people are very specific about what they want. It had details ranging from political belief to their levels of sex positivity. It even asked people to put down the extent of physical intimacy they wanted— “Do you want all the way or do you want only till first, second base.” Also specially, what genders [they were] looking for. For example, there were people who said ‘I’ll accept any body except cis-men.”
I was in Shimla and I thought I’d look at it once I came back from the vacation. I was expecting at least 20 responses. It crossed 200. They were from all over. They were from all over, from Egypt, Spain, Canada, etc.
I don’t know how to handle so much data.
Initially I decided to first switch off the form. But the number of applications had crossed 350 and I was like I need to just pull it down from everywhere. So now its been shut for a while.
Have you thought about crowd funding?
I have been thinking of crowd funding. I want to hire somebody to make an algorithm–I want people to be matched on this, this and this basis but I don’t know how to automate it.
But its just so much work for one person. Like I have a job. I have my personal life.
As much as I love to do this, it drains me.
What prompted the offline meetings?
A girl wrote to me once that she was feeling suicidal because her parents wanted her to get married. She did not want a heterosexual marriage because she didn’t want to have sex. What could I do for this girl? This was recent, in October-November 2017.
She needed immediate help and so I tried creating an offline event.
She couldn’t make it though. But a lot of other people did. We had a speed-dating event for asexuals. A lot of matches worked out.
What do you get out of this?
That’s what I keep asking myself, “Why am I doing all this?”
Sometimes I am confused when people ask me this and I am like, hmmm am I being stupid in life?
But honestly the kind of responses that I get from people, it really is motivating. It really drives me.
Are you planning to monetise it?
I don’t know how to do that. I would be happy to get money for it. Because then it won’t feel like as much a burden. But at the same time that’s really not my primary motivation. So its not like if I don’t get money I won’t do it. There is definitely scope of improving people’s lives and that kind of really motivates me.
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