Claiming Space as Ace
By: Good Vibrations
April 6 is the first-ever International Asexuality Day! What are you doing to celebrate? How about by challenging some myths about this often-misunderstood sexual orientation? We're here to help!
Asexuals (aces, for short) do not experience sexual attraction to other people in the way that non-ace folks do. Some people confuse this for abstinence or celibacy, or situations when people don't want sex because of some trauma they might have experienced. Though an ace person of course is not immune from negative experiences around sex, that's not at all the same as experiencing no attraction. And you can abstain from sex and still want to have it--so that's not ace either.
Basically, some people are wired to lust after their fellow humans, and aces probably are not.
Asexuals may very much be interested in partnering or romance, though--they simply might prefer a relationship without a sexual component. Because being asexual does not necessarily mean a person has no sexual feelings! Some do not, but other ace-identified people enjoy masturbation, while others can enjoy sex with another person under certain circumstances.
As we often point out, sexuality and gender are not binary, and this is true of the asexual spectrum too--it is definitely a spectrum from "no thanks, no sex, no attraction" to greysexuals--for whom attraction is not common, but can happen--to demisexuals, whose access to sexual interest often comes in the context of a close relationship. At the other end of the spectrum are "the sexuals"--also called allosexuals to distinguish them from asexuals. Looking at the variations of identity and experience in the asexual community, in fact, helps us clarify differences in the sexual communities too--especially the role of romantic or partner orientation. Turns out that's on a spectrum too!
So let's give all the respect to asexuals for figuring out who they are (and aren't) in a world full of sex! From a sex-positive POV, we should not expect everyone to have all the sex. We want to make space for all the consensual ways to be their authentic sexual selves--and for some, that's ace or grey-A or demi or one of the other ways asexuality and its kin can show up in a person's life. Some aces identify as queer, and if you have seen the acronym LGBTQIA, the "A" stands for Asexual.
Do you want to know more about asexuality? You'll find out lots more at the website for AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network. Whether you think you might fit under the ace umbrella or you want to be familiar and respectful with those who do, use International Asexuality Day to make a place for the Ace!