We’re more than halfway through 2015, and same sex marriage has just been legalized in the United States. Sexuality is finally getting recognized, and more people are being educated about it. Most people think sexuality is simple. Straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual – right? Well, I’ve got news for you: It doesn’t end there.
There’s another type of sexuality – which is ironic, because this one doesn’t involve sex. The official definition of asexuality is: The lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity. Some people seem to find asexuality confusing, but it’s actually quite simple: Asexuals, or ‘aces,’ don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone. We can get crushes, but the thought of having sex with anyone is off the table.
A common misconception is that people who are asexual are against sex, but we’re not. So many people have asked me if I’ve been abused in the past, or if I’m wildly religious to the point where I believe sex is a sin – but I don’t have issues that cause me to abstain. I’m not religious and I’ve never been abused. I’m just me. I’m asexual and I don’t want to have sex. That’s it.
Unfortunately asexuals are commonly ignored in the sexuality community. We’re almost blacklisted. However, Tumblr has a huge community of aces, and there are various blogs dedicated to raising awareness through songs, poems, articles and videos. There are also ones that post facts and give advice about asexuality.
There are several types of aces, all of whom have different feelings and reactions to sex and romance. According to the LGBTQ center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the various types of romantic orientations are defined as:
Aromantic: Individuals who don’t experience romantic attraction toward individuals of any gender(s).
Biromantic: Romantic attraction toward males and females.
Heteroromantic: Romantic attraction toward people of a different gender.
Homoromantic: Romantic attraction towards people of the same gender.
Panromantic: Romantic attraction towards people of every gender(s).
Polyromantic: Romantic attraction toward multiple, but not all genders.
Gray-romantic: Individuals who don’t often experience romantic attraction.
Demiromantic: An individual who doesn’t experience romantic attraction until after a close emotional bond has been formed.
Growing up, I didn’t realize I was asexual – I thought I was a freak. When I was thirteen, girls in my class were practically hyperventilating over Zac Efron and Justin Bieber. Personally, I didn’t see what the fuss was about. I would look at the shirtless photos, but I wouldn’t feel anything. Not happy, not excited – nothing. Some said I was picky, or that I was clearly hiding something.
I wasn’t. I honestly didn’t feel anything. I considered the fact that I was perhaps gay. Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel anything when I looked at photos of male celebrities. Maybe I was attracted to girls instead. I looked at photos and posters of female celebrities and it happened all over again – no feelings, no excitement, just absolutely nothing.
When I was seventeen, I was so worried about my lack of feelings towards anyone that I bought shirtless Taylor Lautner posters, thinking I was secretly gay and would hide it by having posters of a male celebrity on my wall. Looking back, it was a pretty dumb move, but I was scared and didn’t know why I felt the way I did.
Eventually, one day when I was nineteen, I had a conversation with my mum about my lack of relationships. I nervously admitted that I didn’t find anyone attractive – not males or females. I was afraid of how she would react, convinced she’d tell me there was something wrong with me. Instead, she explained that I was probably asexual.
After Googling asexuality, I finally discovered why I felt the way I did. It sounds cliché, but it finally felt like I was free from the chains that had held me down over the past few years. There wasn’t a glitch in my brain and I didn’t have some weird disorder. I also wasn’t gay, which I honestly thought I was. I was just me, and I was asexual.
AVEN – The Asexual Visibility and Education Network – is a website and online community that educates people about asexuality and offers support and advice to aces. It has FAQ’s on a various subjects, such as, “How can I tell if I’m asexual?” and “Can asexuals have successful romantic relationships?” AVEN was set in 2001, and has grown to accommodate thousands of aces and non-aces on its forums.
Some of my family and friends know that I’m asexual and are perfectly fine with it. I’m still scared to admit it in public though, because people I’ve never even met have told me I’m a weirdo. After I wrote an article which was published in my college’s magazine, students were commenting on how asexuals were ‘prudes’ and ‘clearly need to tone down their ego and hop into bed with someone.’
I don’t, and might never, need sex as a part of my life – and I’m perfectly okay with that. I don’t get crushes either, but I’m still open to having a relationship in the future. In the meantime, I hope that asexuality will be accepted in society just as other sexualities are.
Published in the Fall 2015 issue of FLURT.