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With asexuality often being dismissed, these asexuals want you to know they exist

With asexuality often being dismissed, these asexuals want you to know they exist

The ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ stands for asexual. Yet, many people don’t know much about the spectrum of asexuality or why asexual people deserve a spot at Pride.

An asexual person (sometimes shortened to ‘ace’) ‘is simply someone who does not experience sexual attraction,’ according to whatisasexuality.com.

The 2011 documentary (A)sexual, directed by Angela Tucker, sheds some light on what it means to be asexual. Many asexual people featured in the movie discuss the conflicts they have with the LGBTI movement at large. And in one scene, where a group of asexual people go to Pride, LGBT people don’t seem to want them there.

‘I think it’s taken quite a long time for asexuality to be accurately represented within the LGBTQ+ community,’ says Taylor, a 26-year-old asexual woman who began to realize her asexuality in high school.

‘Most of my peers [during high school] had already started experimenting and finding themselves, but I felt like I was extremely behind in that department because I had absolutely no interest in being sexually intimate with anyone,’ Taylor recalls.

‘There was a period of time, especially after I graduated and started to have relationships, that I thought something was wrong with me because others would make me feel that way.’

Soon, Taylor began reading about the asexuality spectrum on online forums, which is where she learned the most.

‘Had [asexuality] been talked about a lot more, and taken seriously, when I was younger, I think the realization process would have gone a lot smoother for me,’ she says. ‘Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a lot more people identifying as demisexual, asexual, and even graysexual, which I think has helped a lot in terms of bringing more awareness to the fact that we do exist, and especially in the community.’

Queer, Trans, and Asexual

Vega, a 37-year-old queer and trans man, also identifies within the asexuality spectrum. ‘I realized asexuality is part of my sexualilty about 10 years ago in my late 20’s,’ he recalls. ‘My sexuality has always been an ebb and flow. I’ve gone through long phases of asexuality, often that coincide with artistic works. When I’m working on a film or a painting or a writing, that becomes my lover. My work consumes my energy in a way that doesn’t leave room for romantic or sexual exchanges. The passion in which I can give to sexual partners is invested in my art.’

Vega doesn’t believe asexuality is accurately represented in the LGBTI community. ‘There are a lot of the assumptions about asexuality are rather dismissive of asexuals being sexual beings,’ he says. ‘Demisexual and asexual people are often seen as sexless creatures and that’s not always true.’

Sort of asexual, sort of sexual

Caitlyn, a 30-year-old non-binary person, identifies as demisexual. Demisexuality, according to AVENwiki, is when a person ‘does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone.’

Throughout high school and into college, Caitlyn didn’t even know there was a word for what they were experiencing, ‘When I heard about demisexuality, it spoke to a lot of how I felt as I went through “dating” and especially navigating college,’ they say.

‘[Demisexuality] is not something that’s mentioned in media and it often seems that anyone outside of strictly gay or lesbian doesn’t really have much of a voice in the LGBTQ community,’ they believe.

‘[Demisexuality] made me feel like an outcast and distinctly Other than my friends and people generally,’ Caitlyn states.

‘Our culture fixates on sexual interactions and sets this expectation that everyone should be ready for and excited about sex after 1-3 dates. That’s fine for people who are ready (and there are definitely some implications here about readiness and trauma or anxiety which I recognize as part of my aversion). I’m an incredibly sexual person but ONLY in relationships. I have had no desire outside distinct and strong emotional attachment.’

Born This Way but Shunned

For Kat, a 20-year-old asexual, asexuality has always been part of her life. She believes she was born this way. ‘I thought maybe I was a late bloomer till my teens then realized I just didn’t experience the feelings those around me my age were,’ she recalls. ‘I, however, had to pretend I was a late bloomer because the questions were always really disrespectful and I did not want to explain myself to people.’

Like Taylor, Kat learned a lot about the asexuality spectrum online. ‘I think I was lucky through media and internet as I discovered about the term asexual at a fairly young age and accepted quickly. I found a lot of helpful information and stories online and on YouTube,’ she says.

As with Vega, Kat doesn’t believe asexual people are truly welcome in the LGBTI community. ‘I remember watching a documentary on the pride March back in 2010 and the asexuals there were forced away in a very vulgar manner,’ she recalls.

‘I think the LGBTQ+ community was quite closed minded (as a whole) and intersectionality is incredibly important.’

‘I’m often told I must have been abused or traumatized as a kid, which is very rude to say to someone,’ Kat states. ‘I think the hardest part is having your identity rejected and made non existent.’

Kat mentions people dismissing her sexuality, claiming she just ‘hasn’t met the right one yet,’ or that she’s ‘just pretending.’

‘I don’t think people take it as a sexual orientation,’ she says. ‘It literally just means you don’t find people sexually attractive in the same way other people do, just as some people don’t see their own gender as sexuality attractive or vice versa. I wish they just saw it at that. Because I think that’s a very easy thing to understand.’

‘I think the biggest misconception for asexuality is the notion that we’re absolutely incapable of being in, or maintaining, romantic relationships. There’s so many people still that think sex and relationships must always go hand-in-hand, when it’s actually the complete opposite,’ Taylor states.

‘During my first few relationships, I would go against my own wishes in order to fulfill the desires of my partners,’ Taylor recalls.

‘I was engaged for a few years and spent half of that relationship with the mentality that I needed to please her sexually in order to keep her. It ended about 4 years ago with me having a hard time being touched in any kind of intimate or loving way. Now that I’m more aware of my sexuality, I’ve been able to maintain the homoromantic relationships I’ve always desired and I’ve been generally supported by friends as well.’

‘As humans, we’re constantly changing and evolving, while simultaneously trying to find our true selves,’ Taylor says. ‘Be respectful of everyone’s preferences, sexualities, pronouns, and identities, and be even more supportive during their questioning or transitioning phases.’