Asexuality is one of the many words that are used to define how people can feel towards others, and while it may not be as commonly talked about as homosexuality or bisexuality, asexuality is something that should not be glossed over. While, according to the most widely cited figure, asexuals only make up about 1% of the population, people who identify as asexual aren’t in short supply. With the large population of our home planet, 1% of it calculates to approximately 75 million people. With so many people who share the same thoughts and feelings, it’s hard to think that such a group would be practically ignored in certain communities.
The word itself is defined as a lack of sexual attraction to other people, and is more of an umbrella term for a wide range of different identities that share that particular opinion. In that regard, asexuality can be seen as a spectrum, including different opinions on sex. This spectrum covers different identities such as greysexual and demisexual, which both are somewhere between asexuality and sexuality. Greysexuals usually do not experience sexual attraction, except on occasion, while demisexuals do not experience this kind of attraction unless they form an emotional bond with another person.
While people who identify with this term may not experience sexual attraction, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t able to experience romantic attractions. Terms that define these romantic attractions carry over the prefixes from the types of sexualites, for example, while bisexuals experience sexual attraction to two different genders, biromantic asexuals experience a romantic attraction to two different genders. On the other hand, some asexuals don’t experience romantic attraction either, and define themselves as aromantic. These terms are most commonly used to describe asexuals, but they can be used for anyone who feels that particular way.
I have identified myself as asexual for a few years now, and even though I don’t tend to make it common knowledge, I am sometimes subject to the misconceptions and confusions that come with having a different sexuality. One of the most common questions that gets asked, whether they’re joking or not is, “Does this mean you’re a plant?” No. Quite frankly, that’s a ridiculous question to ask anyone, because orientation doesn’t mean that suddenly you’re anything but a human being. If you’re confusing human beings with plants, you’re thinking about asexual reproduction, which applies to single organisms, and has nothing to do with asexuality.
Another common thought is that asexuality and celibacy are the same thing, which isn’t quite right. Celibacy is the act of abstaining from sexual relations and marriage, which often has religious associations. Asexuality, on the other hand, is a lack of sexual attraction to other people, and is just an intrinsic part of who a person is. Easiest way to think about it is: celibacy is a choice, asexuality is not.
Due to these sort of confusions, there are some who will argue that asexuality is not real. I have, on several occasions, been told that the way I feel is just a phase, that I am just a late bloomer. However, that’s no reason not to take into account how I feel in the present moment, if my thoughts and opinions change one day, then they will, but that isn’t a reason to deny someone their sense of self. There are times where I have to remind myself that I am not broken, because asexuality isn’t a defect, other people just have a different idea of what love is and refuse to expand their definition.
Instead of confusion and denial, we should meet people with a willingness to learn and accept. Come celebrate our identity with us, swathed in purple and silver, with your snacks, playing cards, puns, and endless facts about space. I’m joking, of course, but not about understanding each other, because, after all, understanding is the first step to acceptance.