As pride month comes around each year, all sexualities, old and new, receive the recognition that helps society learn about and acknowledge these groups. Pride month is also a chance for those in the LGBTQIA+ community to be encouraged to accept and express themselves because many people in the community are not accepted by their family and friends. As people continue to learn about themselves, identities can be created to be more expansive and inclusive for everyone. Recently, there has been a spotlight on asexuality as more people find they can define themselves with the identifier. As someone who is asexual, I want to explore and explain what it means to be asexual.
What is asexuality?
Asexuality is simply the lack of sexual desire. However, being asexual does not mean that you cannot love or be attracted to people. Sexual and romantic attraction is becoming more acknowledged as separate things because more people are starting to identify with asexuality. There is still more research to be done on the variance of asexuality because it is not contentious sexuality like homosexuality, bisexuality, or pansexuality. Some researchers have attempted to study asexuality to help explain the classification and characterization of the many levels of asexuality.
Research on Asexuality
A small study showed that while there is not much variance in the gender of people who identify as asexual, an interesting statistic is that Asexuals were more likely to have completed college (Prause). The main characteristics surveyed in the study were the history of sexual activity, definition of asexuality, lack of motivations to engage in sexual activity, and concerns about being different from each individual. The main hypothesis was that those who identify as asexual would have a lack of sexual desire but not necessarily lack sexual motivation. The term sexual motivation was new to me and is defined as follows: “desire for sexual behaviors that is driven by external cues.”
Another interesting result from this study was the types of experiences that researchers expected Asexuals to have. These expected experiences included a psychological problem, a negative sexual experience, little to no sexual desire, little to no sexual experience, and even simply no difference from non-asexual. After participants finished the study, the most common experience reported was little to no sexual desire, which is how I personally have always understood asexuality although people can certainly have different reasons for identifying as asexual. With different experiences comes a spectrum of asexuality that has many gray areas.
The Spectrum of Asexuality
Any identifier can be on a spectrum as they are simply labels that help people express themselves and explain to others how they experience life and that help people on their journey of self-discovery. While some people experience literally zero sexual attraction, some people may simply feel that their sexual desire is simply significantly less than their peers. Someone who identifies as asexual may not identify as aromantic, which is the lack of romantic attraction to others. Romantic identifiers are a new way for people to express how they are attracted to others without the sexual aspect of attraction. While asexuality is coming more to the forefront of pride, the concept of romantic attraction is still a fairly new thing for some people to understand, but with more research and scientific backing, all aspects of sexuality can be more accepted by society.
Asexuality is still valid sexuality whether someone experiences no sexual attraction, sexual attraction to a single person, or sexual attraction that comes far and few between. I am glad that asexuality is receiving more acknowledgment from the general public and is becoming more understood as studies continue to help define and characterize what asexuality really means because it is such a gray spectrum.
Prause, Nicole, and Cynthia A. Graham. “Asexuality: Classification and characterization.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 36.3 (2007): 341-356.