Growing up, we are taught that there are two sexualities — heterosexuality and homosexuality. This mindset, however, is very toxic to young people growing up who might not fit into either. While there are several sexual orientations out there, one that is not widely talked about is asexuality.
According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), “an asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction.”
Asexuality is not “having sex with oneself,” and many people might think back to that high school biology class about plants when they hear the term.
In today’s hyper-sexualized society, many people find it hard to believe that someone might not be interested in sex. But asexuality is different from celibacy, which is a conscious decision. Like all sexual orientations, asexuality is not a choice; it is simply written into a person’s nature, just like their personality or eye color.
It does not mean that the asexual person has not “done it right” or “found the right person yet.” Likewise, you do not have to engage in any kind of sexual activity to validate your orientation, just like you can still be a virgin and identify as heterosexual. It also works the opposite way. Just because you have had sex does not mean you cannot be asexual.
There is also a spectrum between allosexual (a term that simply means non-asexuals) and full-blown asexuality. Gray-asexuals may experience sexual attraction rarely or at a level so low it is ignorable or only under certain circumstances, or may experience sexual attraction but have no sexual desire. Demisexuals cannot experience attraction unless they have first formed a strong emotional bond with the person.
The equivalent of asexuality in terms of romantic orientation is known as aromanticism. Aromantics do not experience romantic attraction. And, like asexuality, it is also a spectrum.
Asexuals face just as much opposition as other minority orientations. Often, asexuals are ostracized within the LGBTQ+ community. I personally have seen arguments online that it is not a valid orientation. Some of the reasons people list range from the typical “they just have to find that one special person,” or a more technical argument that a measure of how often one experiences attraction is not the same thing as who you’re attracted to.
I am not implying that asexuality is any more — or less — important than any other sexuality. In fact, just the opposite. We need to promote awareness throughout the community that sexuality is just part of being human, and it is not something to be ashamed of.
If someone grows up not knowing asexuality exists, they might feel confused, broken and frustrated. Instead of letting that happen, we can help people find themselves so they will feel accepted. We should not punish people for something they cannot control, and something that’s not hurting anyone, anyway.