It’s the last week of October and you know what that means! Time to talk about asexuality. Well—anytime is fine to talk about it, actually, but every year, Asexuality Awareness Week falls in late October (it runs from October 24 to 30 this year). This is a chance to learn more about what asexuality really is and how to support people who identify as asexual (or “ace”).
I wanted to better understand asexuality as a sexual orientation. Yes, it’s considered a sexual orientation! Especially after my friend Cori*, 17, who identifies as asexual and aromantic, told me, “The general population doesn’t see asexuality the same way they see (other) LGBTQ+ identities.”
I wondered—why don’t people seem to talk about or understand asexuality as much as they might other orientations?
What I Didn’t Know
Prior to learning more about it, I thought asexuality just meant that a person had no sexual or romantic feelings. I didn’t realize that having romantic and sexual feelings are not the same thing, even if they can go together sometimes.
I didn’t know that there are a range of people who fall under the umbrella of asexuality. For instance, some people identify as aromantic (lack of romantic desire for others), demisexual (lack of sexual attraction for someone unless there is also a deeper emotional connection) and grey-asexual (identifying somewhere between sexual and asexual), among other ways to identify!
Asexuality exists on a spectrum, and some people who identify as ace do have romantic feelings, just not sexual desire. In fact, there are a lot of asexual people that date and have relationships. Just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean they don’t want deep connections with others!
Another misconception is that asexuality is abstinence or celibacy. People can choose to abstain from sex due to personal or religious beliefs, but this isn’t the same as not wanting to have sex. People who identify as ace don’t have sex because of their orientation.
Being ace can lead to feeling left out and isolated. “We live in a world that prioritizes romantic attraction,” says Cori. “It’s easy to feel like you’re missing an entire aspect of being human due to how prevalent it is.” I asked her how she has experienced this. “It can be simply being unable to contribute anything nor relate to your friends’ conversations about their crushes and love lives.”
Seen and Heard
I realized how important it is for everyone to feel like they have a space where they feel seen and heard.
“Being ace simply means I spend more of my emotional labor and time on other things that make me feel just as complete,” says Cori. “I consider platonic love to be just as important and fulfilling, so I spend much of my time talking to friends, helping them with their problems, etc.”
Being inclusive and talking more about asexuality can help raise awareness and decrease stigma. Want to know more about what it means to be ace? Check out The Trevor Project for more information. And take part in Ace Week here!
*Not her real name.
Photo by Tsunami Green on Unsplash