Myth: Asexual people do not partake in sexual activity or romance at all
There’s little public discourse on asexuality, accompanied, inevitably, with an array of misconceptions. Prevalent among these misconceptions is the idea that asexual individuals (aces) never partake in sexual activity, and are unromantic. There are aces who do fit those descriptions – and they deserve to be recognized. However, these generalizations remain largely unexamined, and contribute to a portrait of asexuals as unfeeling, or traumatized. Media representation of aces are few and far between, and often emphasize those assumptions.
Often conflated with celibacy, asexuality differs (massively differs) in that it is not a choice based on a certain moral compass or restrictiveness, but is an orientation. Asexual oriented people do not, or rarely, experience sexual attraction to any gender, or have little to no interest in sex. However, this does not necessarily mean that asexual people never experience sex – it’s important to distinguish between sexual attraction and sexual activity. As with any other sexual orientation, one’s orientation is still valid even if one engages in sexual activity outside of it.
Examining other asexual orientations might clarify this. Demisexuality is also considered to be within the asexual spectrum, but demisexuals only experience sexual attraction to those with whom they’ve developed an emotional bond. Greysexuals, or grey-aces, experience infrequent sexual attraction, oftentimes only in specific circumstances. Greysexual people consider themselves to be somewhere in the middle between asexual and allosexual.
Just as sexual attraction and sexual activity are differentiated, so too are sexuality and love! Romantic behavior reserves an orientation of its own for everybody, including aces. Aromantic asexuals would not feel romantic or sexual attraction to others, but a biromantic asexual may pursue romantic relationships with multiple genders, without a sexual component. One could be aromantic bisexual, and pursue sexual experiences with other genders without the relationship component, or a panromantic greysexual may pursue romantic relationships with all genders with occasional sexual attraction! The interlockings of these orientations make up the beautiful latticework of the asexual spectrum.
Sex is just one of many expressions of love. We all experience non-sexual love in our lives, so why would we invalidate that love for asexual folks? Cuddling or holding hands, providing emotional or financial support, being a vocal ally – these expressions of love are platonic, not incomplete.
Let’s remember: It’s LGBTQIA+ — Pride Month includes Asexual folks!
Written by our amazing intern Olivia Poulin!