Asexuality: 3 Things You Need to Know
A short guide to asexuality and the myths and misconceptions surrounding it.
Sexuality 25th Jan, 2021
If you are new to asexuality, also known as ace, or need a short introduction, this article will give you a place to start exploring. The first important thing to remember is that the word asexuality covers a broad spectrum and means different things to different people. These definitions may need to be personalised for yourself, or a friend/family member. Never feel like you, or anyone else, is bound to a single aspect of asexuality, or can only be one thing. Therefore, the following guide uses the terms currently in use, while accepting these can be fluid.
What Is Asexuality?
At present, the LGBTQIA+ community groups asexual and aromantic people under the umbrella term ace. The spectrum starts with asexual where a person does not experience sexual attraction at all. A grey-asexual feels sexual interest rarely, or only under a certain set of circumstances personal to them. A demisexual person tends to experience sexual attraction only after developing a strong emotional bond with someone. Then you have aromantic people who do not feel romantic interest in anyone. A grey-romantic who only experiences it rarely and demiromantic people, who are only romantically attracted to someone they have emotionally bonded with. A final term you may come across is sex repulsed when a person finds sex off-putting.
Common Misconceptions And Myths:
Often, when talking about relationships, the main types of attraction noticed and discussed are sexual and romantic. However, the bond of friendship is just as important and may be more attractive to an asexual person. Particularly as, while many people feel sexual and romantic interest at the same time, someone asexual does not. This is also the case for some bisexual people. Therefore, it is possible for any combination of the identities above to be experienced by ace-identified people. For example, you may be asexual and demiromantic, so you feel romantically attracted to a person, but not sexually attracted.
Alternatively, you could have a friend who does not experience romantic attraction but is sexually interested in a person they form an emotional bond with. Therefore, it is a myth that all ace-identified people do not have relationships. In addition, being asexual is not the same as being celibate, which is a choice to not have sex, rather than a lack of sexual attraction.
As with other LGB people, if you are asexual you may have felt, or been told you have a problem, as you do not experience sexual or romantic attraction, or feel them differently. You may even have been told you will ‘grow out’ of this ‘phase’ or ‘you just need to meet the right person’. However, being ace, like being gay/lesbian/bi, is how you are born and needs to be talked about and protected in the same way.
Being Your Own/A Friends Cheerleader:
As asexuality is not as well known or understood as other sexualities, it may be helpful to become your own/ a friend/ family members cheerleader. If you identify as ace, be kind to yourself, connect with other ace people online and form a support network. The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) https://www.asexuality.org/en/ is a good place to start. If your friend/family member comes out to you as ace, support them in this, as you do with everything else.
Not everyone needs sex and romance in their lives to be happy, a life full of friendship is just as rich and rewarding. If acephobia or disbelief is directed towards you, or you witness it, try to challenge it. If possible, explain what asexuality is and direct people towards resources like AVEN.
Ultimately asexuality is a sexual identity like any other. You should never pressure yourself, or be pressured to have sex, or feel romantic attachments. You are perfect just the way you are and nobody has the right to tell you otherwise.
LGBTQIA+ stands for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual/Aromantic/Ace and/or Ally