Asexuality is an oft-misunderstood identity that many people aren’t even aware can be a descriptor for humans. Shockingly, the term “asexual” has very little to do with reproducing by themselves. I talked with a well-spoken asexual person to get to the bottom of this.
They have asked to remain anonymous and will be referred to as “Ace” for the purposes of this article.
Tom: How would you identify yourself?
Ace: I would self identify as an asexual person. Not confident on much else.
Tom: How open are you about being asexual?
Ace: Not very. Only a handful of people in my life are aware.
Tom: How would you best define asexuality?
Ace: To me, asexuality has always meant simply a lack of sexual attraction.
Tom: Are there different "brands" of asexuality, or is it more of a one-size-fits-all label?
Ace: There definitely are shades of asexuality! There are demi-ace and grey-aces, but the definition of those definitely vary depending on the person. There are also asexuals who identify as sex-repulsed, sex-favorable, or any where in between.
Tom: What factors influence how open you are about your identity?
Ace: For one, I'm a bit of a private person. In many instances, however, I don't feel that many people would believe that asexuality can exist or would be willing to learn about it. It may not have much real-world consequence if someone doesn't believe me, but I'd rather skip the possibility entirely.
Tom: How have people who know about your asexuality responded?
Ace: Generally, very positive. A few have been inquisitive as well, which I don't mind.
Tom: Some non-asexual people have stated that they feel that allosexuality is a slur. Do you agree?
Ace: I'm not sure about that. I may be incorrect, but as I see it, slurs are used to insult, offend, slander, etc. the people they are aimed at. I'm sure there are asexuals who have used that word in an attempt to hurt others (i.e.: non-asexuals), but I'm not sure that there's much real-world harm done. I'd rather not hurt anyone though, so I don't use that term.
Tom: Does asexuality stem from negative experiences, or does it not require any sort of stimulus?
Ace: Just like any human experience, there are an infinite amount of ways asexuality can come to be. Sometimes a person might experience a traumatic event, or have a hormonal imbalance, or any other cause, but it also happens without stimulus as well. In all cases, it doesn't matter how the asexuality "came to be," if a person identifies as asexual, then you should take their word for it.
Tom: Has anyone ever attempted to talk you out of your asexuality?
Ace: Definitely. I've read a lot of articles, opinion pieces, and social media posts telling asexuals that we are wrong or ill or confused. I've had one person in my personal life try to convince me otherwise, but they turned out to be a very unsupportive friend in many other instances. When I was first learning about asexuality, I even tried to talk myself out of it.
Tom: What do you think about the concept of ace people being labeled as straight by others?
Tom: Have you had any experiences where people who didn't know about your asexuality talked about asexuality in a less than ideal way?
Ace: For sure! The reason I actually started researching asexuality in the first place was because of a joke someone made about me never taking any sexual interest in anyone. As I get older, I also experience a lot of young adults making rude or ill-informed comments about people who might not like sex. I realize that a few ignorant comments aren't so bad, but they do hurt just a little. I can't imagine what it's like for others whose sexualities and genders are at the forefront of even more criticism.
Ace: I would say that it's not quite that simple. There are certainly straight aces that exist! But there are also gay/lesbian/bi/pan aces as well. Ultimately, it's not up to any person to make the "label" for another. Sexuality can be a very private thing; we can each label our own if we so choose, but I don't think it's fair to label anyone else.
Tom: Do you consider asexuality to be included under the umbrella of "queer"?
Ace: I will be completely honest in saying I don't really know.
That term has a "dictionary definition" but it also has a "real world definition." Historically, it has been used as a derogatory word against members of the LGBT community, a word to oppress them and justify hateful actions against them. In that sense, it's not a fair word to use for asexuals. While there isn't much (if any) documentation of asexual people in any LGBT movement/history, it's clear to me that asexual people have not been the victims of such vitriol and oppression.
If you personally define the word as anything deviating from "the norm" or from what society pressures us to be, then it would quality.
I don't personally attach that label to myself regarding my asexuality as it wouldn't feel appropriate to "reclaim" that slur that has historically been used to oppress, hate, and kill LGBT people. I do, however, consider myself to be a part of the LGBT+ (or LGBTQA+) community.
Tom: What would you say is the general public's opinion of asexuality?
Ace: I don't think people even know what it is as it applies to human beings. I don't think many people would even care to learn. People are afraid of and hate things they don't understand. (Although it is important to note that a person's "hatred" of asexuality will never compare to the hatred that gay people and transgender people experience)
Tom: What are any instances of asexual representation in media you're aware of, and how can this representation be improved?
Ace: As far as I'm aware, there are no positive or accurate representations of asexuality. Or at least, very little. Asexuality is often portrayed as a joke or juvenile or as a result of another "undesirable" quality in a character. I don't think many people even knows asexuality exists, so I'm not surprised that there aren't many ace characters, nor do I think there will be for a long time. The key to rectifying this is always education and tolerance. (Of course, sexualities and races that are being persecuted and oppressed today are in a little more need of representation)
Tom: Settle the mystery once and for all: What does the A in LGBTQA stand for?
Ace: The A is for things along the spectrum of asexuality, aromanticism, and agender.
Tom: What message would you like to give to those unfamiliar with/unaccepting of asexuality?
Ace: Just to learn as much as you can. There are millions of different ways to experience life, and it is difficult for a lot of people to empathize with an experience they don't like or understand. Knowledge and understanding are the keys to tolerance.
So there we have it! The mystery of asexuality has been unraveled! I hope it was informative and that you all got something out of this.
In future interviews, I may announce the topic and ask for questions from you in advance! So keep an eye out!
If you are a part of a minority, I want to hear from you. If who you are is underrepresented or misunderstood, or you are generally treated less than you deserve for who you are, I want to make your voice heard. Please email me so we can talk: firstname.lastname@example.org.