While I'm behind schedule for Asexuality Awareness Week, I was reminded that there's always time to raise awareness. That gives me lots of hope.
I'll start by saying that I do not identify as asexual, but rather a bisexual ally. The information I have gathered is from friends, websites, and testimonies. If there's anything I have left out, please message me with the correction and I'll make the changes. I want to be as supportive as I can.
Asexuality: The lack of sexual attraction to any one person. Someone who identifies as asexual doesn't experience sexual attraction.
Celibacy: The abstention from sexual relations, often for religious purposes.
Demisexual: Someone who can't feel sexual attraction toward another person without a deep connection being made first.
Grey-sexuality/Grey-asexuality: A sexuality in which a person may not normally feel sexual attraction, but does experience it occasionally. They also may have a low sex drive and may enjoy sex under certain circumstances.
Aromantic: Someone who is not romantically attracted to anyone.
Homoromantic: Someone romantically attracted to the same gender.
Heteroromantic: Someone romantically attracted to the opposite gender.
Panromantic: Someone romantically attracted to another person regardless of their gender.
Biromantic: Someone romantically attracted to both genders.
"Within that, there are asexual people who have different relationships to sex. Some asexual people aren't interested in sex at all. Some experience sexual desire or a high libido but no actual attraction to specific people. Some asexual people choose to not have sex. Some choose to have sex to please partners. Some really enjoy sex. Some don't really care one way or the other."
It's common that people believe asexual folks simply lack a libido or actually just celibate. Both of these theories are incorrect because it implies that a choice in involved or that there's something wrong with them. Celibacy is a choice to abstain from sex, so it's not the same as being born asexual. Based on their romantic orientation, asexual people may also identify as gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc.
People have questioned how people who are asexual can still be in a relationship and have sex. This is because, as a hyper-sexualized culture, we're not used to this idea. But despite the fact that most romantic relationships also involve sex, there is a big difference between how we feel about someone and what we do with them. For example, I may have a huge crush on someone I work with and feel strongly about them, but I'm not going to do them on my desk...for multiple reasons.
Some people may think that because asexual folks don't have sexual attraction that they're tricking other people into an less-than-fulfilling relationships, but that's not true. This is why I have stressed communication in my other posts. In some cases, the asexual partner will come out after the relationship starts while others aren't sure and may still question their asexuality during the relationship.
Many asexual folks end up with people who are not asexual because there's a lack of awareness or support groups for them to turn to, hence making the awareness of their sexuality virtually non-existent. According to research done in 2011, approximately 1% of the population identifies as asexual. This may have changed as awareness rises, but I don't think it has changed by much.
Much like their LGBTQ friends/allies, asexual people are prone to suffering from depression. They sometimes grow up feeling isolated and scared, being unsure of themselves and their sexuality, and feeling like they have to hide who they really are. In addition, asexual people sometimes live in shame and embarrassment because there aren't a lot of well-known support groups. Because of the lack of awareness and acceptance, many asexual folks have been bullied and subjected to threats similar to those against the rest of the LGBTQ population. This can be done by both unsuspecting family members and those actually looking to do damage.
Sometimes asexual people are just assumed to be straight and treated as such, being told that they just "haven't found the right person". Complete douche-canoes will often say things like:
- they need to be cured/fixed
- they're sick/broken
- they're unnatural
- they're incapable of love/intimacy
- their relationships aren't real
- they hate the opposite sex
- they suffer from trauma
- they're not old enough
- it's a result of abuse/hormone imbalance
- they're not attractive enough
one another because they've dealt with the same discrimination.
How to be a good ally!
Often, asexual people struggle with sexual imperative, the assumption that everyone needs to have a sexual relationship to be happy. Challenging these theories is a good way to be a good ally. Not everyone needs a sexual relationship to continue living and thriving! There are plenty of ways to celebrate non-intimate friendships and celebrating sexual intimacy.
You can also write blog posts like this one, present as much information as you can to those who don't know what asexuality is, and learning more by yourself! Ask someone who is asexual, and who is willing to talk about it, what their experiences have been like. Celebrate asexuality awareness week!
"I spent a large chunk of my adolescence and my college years thinking that I was experiencing sexual attraction, but then the more I read about people experiencing attraction, the more I realized I wasn't on the same page. I am still more grossed out by sex than interested in it, which is something a lot of young people experience. For ages, I thought there was something wrong with me, or something wrong with my friends, because sex didn't gross them out anymore but I was still feeling stuck in that 'ewww' phase."
Let's go over it one more time!
Asexuality is not...
- Fear of intimacy
- A type of sexual dysfunction
- Lack of libido
- The inability to find a partner
- A mental illness
- A choice
In short, asexual people are our friends and allies. They're people, not amoebas. They deserve respect and love. Young asexual adults need to know that they're not alone and they're not freaks. We need to raise awareness around asexuality and how to best support our asexual friends.
Some references and information found at AVEN
Asexual Awareness Week
Also, I'd like to personally thank my asexual friends for providing additional testimonies and knowledge. :) You're the best!