As a long-time member of the queer community, I naturally thought that I had a pretty good handle on the many different and wonderful flavors of queerness. As it turns out, however, there is one particular orientation about which I was grossly misinformed, and maybe you are, too.
I wanted to include an ace character in a book I’m working on, and so naturally I figured it would be a good idea to actually know more about what it means to be asexual. I’d thought I had a pretty good idea already. Asexual = no sexual desire, right? No interest in sex or romance. Got it.
Yeah, not the case, as it turns out.
I ended up on this very informative post over at healthline.com, and I discovered to my surprise that asexuality, like most other things in the sexuality genre, is a spectrum, and a pretty wide spectrum at that.
As it turns out, being asexual does not necessarily mean you don’t experience sexual desire or have some form of libido, more just that you don’t feel that strong pull to sleep with other people.
The biggest surprise to me, however, was that being asexual does not mean the same thing as being aromantic, in other words having no romantic interest in others.
I personally am hugely and perhaps excessively romantic, having fallen for multiple folks over the years, which I naturally assumed precluded me from affixing an “asexual” tag to the front of my shirt. But while I have many times longed to hug or hold hands with or even spend my life with a certain person, the more physical side of things just never interested me all that much. Which isn’t to say that I never participated, but it was never something I particularly enjoyed or sought out.
Which brings us to our next point, courtesy of the aforementioned healthline article:
“Some asexual people do have sex, because sexual desire is different to sexual attraction. In other words, you might not look at someone and feel the need to have sex with them, but you might still want to have sex. Every asexual person is different. Some might be repulsed by sex, some might feel nonchalant about it, and some might enjoy it.”Healthline, What Does It Mean to Be Asexual?
Anyway, the more I read through this article, the more I realized that a lot of it was describing me, and could it be that I am 37 years old and just now realizing that I’m probably asexual?
I am not, however, aromantic, which led me down another rabbit hole of the different varieties of romantic orientations which an asexual person may align themselves with.
I myself am homoromantic, which in this case means I’m romantically interested in those individuals of the lady variety, but here are some of the other romantic orientations that Wikipedia has kindly assembled for us:
People may or may not engage in purely emotional romantic relationships. The main identities relating to this are:
Aromantic: No romantic attraction towards anyone.
Heteroromantic (or heteromantic): Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the opposite gender (heteroromanticism).
Homoromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender (homoromanticism).
Biromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of two or more genders (biromanticism). Sometimes used the same way as panromantic.Wikipedia, Romantic Orientation
Panromantic: Romantic attraction towards person(s) of any, every, and all genders (panromanticism).
Demiromantic: Romantic attraction towards any of the above but only after forming a deep emotional bond with the person(s) (demiromanticism).
Greyromantic: Experiencing romantic attraction rarely or only under certain circumstances (greyromanticism).
So, yeah, a whole world of stuff I previously did not know, but which I now know thanks to the magic of the internet. Score one for modern technology.
Another great resource to me during this time has been the asexuality.org forums, which are full of asexual or questioning folks sharing their stories and experiences and just generally supporting and encouraging each other: Asexuality.org Forums
Weirdly, the site’s main page has a pretty rigid and non-inclusive definition of asexuality in its header, but it does link to a more expansive definition.
Anyway, it would seem that I now have two more adjectives to add to my list of Words That Somewhat Explain My Identity. I am an asexual, panromantic, transgender, Democratic-Socialist vegan. I can practically hear the screams coming from the White House now.