Hello there! My name is Amala, I use she/they pronouns, and today I’ll be talking about the asexual spectrum and what it means to be asexual!
Back when I was in middle school and taking a sexual education class, there was one specific idea that was engraved in our heads at the start: “Sex is something that everyone wants, and everyone will have sex in their lifetimes.” At twelve years old, I believed that statement because I really didn’t know any better, but I always felt like I experienced attraction differently than my peers. I never found myself being attracted to guys like they did (in fact, I had a couple friends in sixth grade who “friend-dumped” me because I wasn’t interested in talking about boys), and the idea of sex also never really appealed to me. I pushed these feelings down, assuming that one day in the future I will fall for a man just like what the adults in my life told me would happen. I didn’t let the idea of me possibly being queer cross my mind. Yet as I grew older, these feelings in me didn’t change like I expected they would have. It was only recently, around four years after taking sex ed, that I did more research on LGBTQ+ identities and found out that not only am I a lesbian, I’m also on the asexual and aromantic spectrums. Figuring out my sexuality was one of the biggest reliefs of my life, and I would really like to help anyone who may be struggling with it themselves.
The label “asexual” (or “ace” for short) generally describes someone who experiences little to no sexual attraction. Like I mentioned above, asexuality is a spectrum, and isn’t just limited to one specific identity. Some other common acespec (or asexual spectrum) identities include:
Demisexual: people who can only feel sexual attraction to people that they’ve grown a close bond with
Graysexual: people who only feel sexual attraction in rare occasions or who feel it very weakly
Aceflux: people whose sexual attraction fluctuates but always stays on the asexual spectrum.
Similarly, the label “aromantic” describes someone who experiences little to no romantic attraction. It also houses a spectrum of identities. Demiromantic, grayromantic, and aroflux are all labels as well and have similar meanings to their acespec counterparts.
An important thing to know about asexuality is that people who identify as asexual each have different relationships and experiences with sexual activities, and contrary to popular belief, many asexual people do engage in sexual activites. They may do this to have children, for the pleasure of their partner, or for their own arousal. It’s worth noting that sexual arousal and attraction are two different concepts and that it’s possible to be sexually aroused without feeling sexual attraction toward other people.
Another common misconception about asexuality is that ace individuals cannot feel any type of love. This is far from the truth, as aside from feeling platonic attraction, ace people can also identify with any sort of romantic attraction, such as hetero, homo, bi, pan, etc. Many people on the ace spectrum use the Split Attraction Model (SAM) as a helpful tool to describe their differences in attraction. SAM separates sexual attraction and romantic attraction into two different identities, in order for asexual (and aromantic!) people to better convey what they’re attracted to. For example, someone who feels romantic attraction to anyone regardless of gender but doesn’t feel any sort of sexual attraction may choose to identify as panromantic ace. I myself use the split attraction model to describe my identity, as I am homoromantic and asexual. However, I prefer the label of lesbian to describe my romantic attraction, and so when asked I tell people that I am an ace lesbian!
Unfortunately, asexual people still face a lot of invalidation for their identities, even within the LGBTQ+ community. People often say that being asexual is simply a phase or that we have a health issue and need to see a doctor. Many people tend to brush off asexuality and claim it to be a ‘fake’ identity, and other people believe exactly what my sex ed teacher told me years ago: that everyone has to have sex because it’s “natural”. This is why I believe it’s important that asexual identites are at least introduced during sex ed, as these notions negatively affect asexual people every day. I truly believe that more inclusive education about queer and ace identites could make navigating the rocky path of attraction, relationships, and sex a lot easier for kids now, and I wish I had been taught this when I was younger.
If you’ve read this all the way through, I truly thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to educate yourself on the asexual spectrum. I hope I was able to spread some awareness and that I helped you learn something new today! Have an amazing day!
By Amala (she/they)
Here’s a couple sources I used to aid me in writing this post that can help you learn more!