What does it mean to be asexual?
Cheryl Carty, our Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, explores what it means to be asexual and how to understand the different aspects of it.
Keep reading to learn more.
Most people believe that the initial experience of meeting someone at the beginning of a relationship comes from some kind of sexual attraction.
The asexual community typically don’t experience sexual attraction or want to pursue sexual relationships with other people.
That being said, being asexual means different things to different people. Let’s take a deeper look into what it means to be a part of the asexual community.
What is asexuality?
A person who is asexual (also known as “ace”) or asexuality, is a sexual orientation where a person experiences little or no sexual attraction to any one person or doesn’t experience any desire for sexual contact. Another way of wording it is as being sexually attracted to no gender.
What types of asexual relationships are there?
While other forms of sexual orientation define themselves around the gendered direction of attraction e.g. homosexuality (attraction to the same gender) or heterosexuality (sexual attraction to the opposite gender) asexual people don’t experience the “sexual” part.
Click here to learn more about LGBTQ+ Glossary & Terms.
Sexual attraction, if we break it down, means you find a specific person sexually appealing and want to have sex with them.
Some people might only experience sexual attraction in very limited circumstances. For example, someone who is demisexual, (which some say falls under the asexual umbrella) only experiences sexual attraction when they experience a deep connection.
Other people might not experience any sexual attraction and still choose to have a sexual relationship.
“Gray” asexuals find themselves in the gray areas of sexual desire and reserve the right to explore all sides of the spectrum.
Being romantically attracted to others can be non-gender-specific (e.g. a biromantic asexual may seek romantic, but not sexual, relationships with people of more than one gender identity).
Aces can also have romantic relationships; a platonic attraction separate from sexual desire. People who experience this type of non-romantic relationship develop an intense emotional connection that goes beyond a traditional friendship.
It’s good to be aware that asexual people who don’t experience any sexual attraction can still experience other forms of attraction.
Aside from sexual attraction, you can also experience:
· Aesthetic attraction: Being attracted to someone based on how they look
· Emotional attraction: Wanting an emotional connection with someone
· Platonic attraction: Wanting to be friends with someone
· Romantic attraction: Desiring a romantic relationship with someone
· Sensual or physical attraction: Wanting to touch, hold, or cuddle someone
Asexual people can experience all these forms of attraction, plus plenty of others. To put it simply, everyone has a different experience with being asexual, and there’s no single way to define it.
The asexual flag
AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) held a contest on its forum boards to create a pride flag for those who identify as asexual. Asexuality includes a spectrum of many asexual identities under its umbrella.
Below is the asexual flag meaning:
Gray: Gray-asexuality and demi-sexuality
White: Non-asexual partners and allies
Remember when referring to someone who is asexual the use of inclusive communications is very important. Always listen to the individual and respect the terminology that they most self-identify with.
You can learn more about the other flags of the LGBTQ+ community in our blog, An introduction to LGBTQ+ flags.
Understanding asexuality and relationships
There may be some signs that could say if you are asexual.
However, as I have previously written, there are different types of asexuality and being asexual means different things to different people, so not all of the following will apply to all asexual people.
· Asexual people do not choose to be asexual
· Sex is not your number one priority
· Other people don’t turn you on
· You don’t relate to other people’s sexuality
· The label resonates with you
· Communication is very important and key to any healthy and happy relationship
· Your relationship can be still fulfilling — even without sexual intimacy
What percentage of the population are asexual?
In ‘Women’s Lives: A Psychological Exploration, Fourth Edition.’ written by Claire A Etaugh and Judit S Bridges (October 16, 2017) they said that ‘Most scholars agree that asexuality is rare, constituting 1% or less of the population’.
Asexuality is not a new aspect of human sexuality, but it is relatively new in the public domain. Now 1% may seem like a small number, however, in the D&I space, I think we can agree that we all want to share a deep and meaningful connection with someone, and we should find a way to understand each other’s differences and respect how we explore and get to those connections.
I for one would like to see asexuality researched and studied more as it is becoming more widely recognised as an orientation in its own right.
How to support the asexual community
Here are some recommended resources for you to grow your knowledge of asexuality.
ACE Week 2022: October 24th – 30th
Podcast: The Asexuality Podcast
Films: (A)Sexual (Official Trailer)
In the workplace and in general, we should be supporting the entire LGBTQ+ community. By creating safe spaces for everyone, people will feel more comfortable with their preferences and identification.