A few weeks ago, on October 11, people across the world celebrated National Coming Out Day. You probably know someone who has come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex. However, there is another sexual orientation that not many people know about: asexuality.
Ace Week, known formally as Asexuality Awareness Week, this year was held between October 20–26. Ace Week was created in 2010 to put asexuality in the spotlight and educate people on this overlooked orientation. I decided to share my experience and some facts about asexuality because this is a subject that I want more people to be educated about.
I did not know about asexuality until I was in high school, which is where I learned more about this underrepresented sexual orientation. During my teenage years, I always felt like I could not relate to other girls my own age and I didn’t know why. I went to an all-girls private school, mind you, so the talk of the halls usually pertained to the latest makeout session or hook-up. I just could not understand why none of these topics resonated with me until one day I decided to Google the phrase “not having sexual feelings.”
That is when I discovered asexuality and began to learn more about it. Asexuality is a sexual orientation which is categorized by the lack of sexual attraction towards any gender.
When I first started telling people I was asexual, the most common responses I received were, “You just haven’t found the right person” or “Maybe you should go see a therapist — you are just afraid.” These are the last things I wanted to hear after having built up the courage to disclose something so deeply personal to those around me.
While these were not the responses I was hoping for, I took the situation into my own hands and decided to educate myself and my loved ones about asexuality and I am going to share some of that information with you.
Some misconceptions about asexuality include:
Asexuality is caused by a chemical/hormonal imbalance
Research on asexuality has shown that asexual behavior is not caused by a physical imbalance. People are quick to say that in my lack of sexual interest comes from antidepressants. A common side effect of many antidepressant medications include low libido and a decrease in sex drive. While this may be the case for some people with low sex drive, I have been feeling this way before I started taking medication, so I know that this is not the cause.
This brings me to another point about how people think that asexuality is a problem and that there is a “reason” behind it. Personally, this drives me crazy because you don’t see people questioning straight people as to why they are straight. Am I right?!
All asexual people do not engage in sexual activities
There is the common misconception that asexual people do not engage in any sexual activities. While this is true for many asexual people, there are some people who engage in sexual activities. According to AceWeek.org, many ace people are sex-positive, which refers to the belief that everyone should be able to engage in as much or as little consensual sex as they want.
These are just two of the dozens of misconceptions about asexuality, but most of them are blanket statements or based on societal norms.
There is an asexual spectrum that includes identities for people who do not fully identify with the definition of ‘asexual,’ but fall somewhere in that realm. Gray-asexual refers to individuals who may experience sexual attraction but only under very specific circumstances. Demisexual refers to an orientation where people can only experience sexual attraction if a strong emotional bond is present.
There is also a difference between sexual orientation and romantic orientation. If someone identifies as asexual, that does not automatically mean they are not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. Most ace people want to establish romantic relationships with people who they are not sexually attracted to. Those who do not experience romantic attraction can be identified as aromantic. Similar to sexuality, a person can also be homoromantic, heteroromantic, panromantic, biromantic, etc.
This might be a lot to take in at once because for many, this concept is relatively new. However, there are resources out there to educate yourself and those around such as The Trevor Project.
Everyone’s experience is different and I can only talk about my personal experience with asexuality and sexual identity. Regardless of how you identify, there are always going to be people out there who support you.
If you want to continue the conversation on asexual awareness, send me a tweet: @CaseysCursor and let’s start a conversation.
About the Author:
Casey Clark is a current journalism student at Hofstra University with a beat for food and entertainment. In addition to being the founder of CelebrityHauteSpot, Casey is also the editorial director for Hofstra’s Spoon University chapter, a staff writer for The Hofstra Chronicle and a staff writer for Hofstra’s Her Campus chapter. When she is not writing, she is either watching Disney movies or baking.