Is “No Sexuality” a Sexuality?
It is clear that our society’s view of sex has evolved over the years. One aspect of sexuality is something you might not think about is Asexuality.
The definition of asexuality is “the quality or characteristic of having no sexual feelings or desires.” While this is just one dictionary definition, there are many nuances to the term that should be explored. As we celebrate Pride month, our focus is on the LGBTQ+ community. All parts of the spectrum of sexuality should be honored and respected. That includes Asexuality.
In this blog, we’ll at demystify the idea of asexuality, and find out why it’s important to celebrate aces during pride.
Who identifies as “ace”?
“Ace” is a shortened term for asexual. Asexuals are believed to comprise about 1% of the population. Yet, Google reports that the use of the term “asexuality” has increased in recent years. This means that people are increasingly curious about this sexual identity. Furthermore, many asexuals don’t even know how to describe their orientation.
What Does It Mean To Be Ace?
Asexuality is “a lack of sexual attraction; an asexual is someone who is not sexually attracted to anyone.” Of course, sexual attraction is in the eye of the beholder, and often cannot be defined in broad terms. But an asexual in short is “just not interested in having sex with anybody. The desire to get it on with other people just doesn’t happen for aces. However, though asexuals might not be sexually attracted to anyone, it is common for them to still masturbate and have sexual fantasies.
Being asexual is not a disorder, whether mental or physical. Asexuals are not afraid of sex or “anti” sex. They just do not have sexual attraction to others and have little to no interest in sex.
Asexuality Is Not A Defect
As a concept, sex is shoved in our faces from a young age and continually throughout adult life. If you feel that you are asexual, you might think that there’s something wrong with you. This biological myth has been dispelled:
…all research on asexuality, on humans and other species, shows that asexual behavior is not a result of any physical imbalance. … Asexuals are not afraid of intimacy. Many asexuals want and are in relationships, with not only other asexuals, but sexual people as well.
Romance versus sex
There is a difference between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. Romantic attraction usually refers to our emotional connection connection beyond friendship. It’s often associated with activities like cuddling, holding hands, and going on dates. Sexual attraction is something that makes you want to engage in sexual activity, whether it involves genitals or any form of sexual contact.
Romance and sex are not mutually exclusive. Each relationship and person is different. Some connections focus primarily on sex, some primarily on romance, and there are connections that fall everywhere in between. Although the feelings never turn sexual, many asexual people have romantic feelings for others. Aces who don’t have this romantic attraction might self-identify as “aro” or “aromantic”– meaning not romantic.
There is a spectrum
There is a spectrum and diversity among asexuals.
As one article put it:
“[A]sexual” is an umbrella that covers a broad number of intersectional sexual, romantic, and gender identities, including heteroromantic, homoromantic, panromantic, aromantic, cis or trans, or “gray asexuals” (those who do experience some sexual attraction on occasion).
Asexual people can have romantic orientations just like sexual people do:
- Heteroromantic: romantically attracted to/desires romantic relationships with the opposite gender
- Homoromantic: romantically attracted to/desires romantic relationships with the same gender
- Biromantic: romantically attracted to/desires romantic relationships with multiple genders
- Panromantic: romantically attracted to/desires romantic relationships regardless of gender
- Aromantic: not romantically attracted to or desiring of romantic relationships at all
Beyond sex and romance, aces have other types of attractions including:
- Aesthetic attraction: having an attraction to the way someone looks
- Sensual or physical attraction: wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle someone
- Platonic attraction: wanting to be friends with someone
- Emotional attraction: wanting an emotional connection with someone
A “gray-A” or “gray ace” is a person could have interest in sex but only occasionally and in certain circumstances. As one person described it:
I think of it in waves. There are times when I’m very indifferent to sex. I’m not repulsed by the idea, it’s just ‘whatever’ to me. Then there are times when I am more interested in wanting to have sex, so I’m closer to gray-ace in that regard.
It is often confusing when you get into the difference between demisexuals and asexuals.
Whereas demisexuals need closeness in order to feel sexually attracted to a person, asexuals don’t feel sexual attraction even if there is closeness. As my demisexual friend put it, she definitely has sexual desire but cannot have that desire for another person without the emotional element – feeling connected and passionate about that person.
Why it is important to celebrate asexuals during Pride
If Pride is about sexual identity inclusion, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that any type of sexual attraction (whether it appears in your life or not) should be included in the Pride celebration? To me, Pride is about celebrating the diversity of what makes us intimate with others and ourselves. Therefore, asexuality should have a place at the table. Because Pride reminds us that no one should be forced or shamed into expressing their sexuality one way or the other. And yet, there has been some controversy.
Aces want to be a part of broader, intersectional queer movements because we hold intersectional identities and because we’re struggling with a lot of really similar stuff. But there are also things that some of us aren’t struggling with. For example, some ace people, and this isn’t statistically the norm—are cisgender and heteroromantic, and have relationships that would externally read as straight. And I think some queer people hold this discomfort in inviting those people in.
However, if asexuals’ expression of intimacy does not include sex, then this expression should be honored as part of the spectrum of sexuality, which is part of what Pride is about.
Emily Anne is a bestselling author, sex coach and educator, who specializes in helping people expand their sexual horizons through BDSM and kink. When she’s not obsessively talking about sex, she’s hiking through the Hollywood Hills. Get some sexy education on her Instagram feed!