What asexuality is, what you need to know, erasure, and romantic orientation
The word “asexual” is one we’ve surely all heard of before when referring to the reproduction of organisms in middle school science class. However, what many people don’t know it is also an identity found in humans and is part of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
Being one of the lesser-known sexualities, asexuality is more of an umbrella term for all the different sub-identities it can manifest itself as. This includes, but is not limited to: gray asexuality, demi-sexuality and identities such as straight asexuality which refers to both romantic and sexual orientation.
Asexuality has many myths associated with it – one being that asexuality is synonymous with a complete lack of sexual attraction or orientation. Factually, asexuality is a sexual orientation. It depends on how each person who identifies as asexual feels individually. Some may identify more as someone who lacks a sexual orientation, while others may be in tune with their personal sexual impulses, but not with other people.
Another myth about asexuality is that asexuality is equal to celibacy. This is not the case, as mentioned above. Some asexual people may be completely celibate. Others may have had sex before (and stop after coming to terms with it their sexuality) while others lead active sex lives. There are many different sub-identities within asexuality. For example, demi-sexuality refers to one who becomes sexually attracted to another once a deep emotional connection has been established. Gray-asexuality is a term for those who can fall anywhere on the spectrum between sexuality and asexuality.
Many believe that asexual people have not met the right person yet. This is untrue, or at the very least is a sweeping generalization. For many, there is no right person for them (in terms of sexual attraction). It’s a harmful assumption and offensive to make a claim that there is someone out there for an asexual person. This invalidates their identity; it’s basically the same as going up to someone who identifies as a heterosexual male and telling them that maybe they haven’t met the right guy yet.
The topic of invalidation brings to a huge problem within the ace (asexual) community, known as erasure. Many asexual people feel that they aren’t personally a part of the LGBTQIA+ community or that they aren’t welcome in it. A major factor in the erasure of asexual people is done indirectly by allies. Many allies believe that the “A” in LGBTQIA+ acronym is representative of their group. While their use of privilege to aid the acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community is appreciated immensely, the “A” is not for them and the belief that it is erases the identities of all asexual people. Ally-ship is not an identity, but rather an action that involves listening and education. Allies have not faced the oppression that members of our community have faced and still face regularly.
The erasure stemming from ally-ship is nothing compared to the erasure by the LGBTQIA+ community. Many people invalidate asexual people by telling them that their identity is not real. This excludes people who are hetero-romantic, but asexual from the queer community, making it hard for many ace people to find safe spaces.
The concept of romantic orientation is also a large part of the ace community. Most people know about sexual orientation but have never been introduced to romantic orientation. This type of orientation deals with romantic feelings rather than sexual lust towards a person.
Many asexual people feel that this measure is more useful than sexual orientation when speaking of attraction. There are virtually no limits to romantic orientation, just like sexual attraction – there is aromantic, heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic and more. Any of these can be combined with any other sexuality to form one’s personal identity – such as a homoromantic demisexual, which is simply someone who may fall in love with someone of the same gender but does not feel sexual attraction to their partner until a deep emotional connection has been established.
While I, personally, do not identify anywhere within the asexuality spectrum, I know many people who do identify as asexual. Having grown up around them and seen their struggles for acceptance by friends, family, and peers alike, I thought it would be important to educate the readers of the Xaverian Weekly on what they should know about asexuality. I hope to have contributed to a greater array of knowledge on one part of sexual orientation that the reader may know absolutely nothing about, and to encourage tolerance and discourage ignorance.