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Asexuality: Where Does It Fall On The Sex-Ed Spectrum?

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

I’m queer. I think I’ve always been queer, though I haven’t always known it. For me, labels were difficult because all the words that floated around my immediate surroundings were gay, bisexual and pansexual. None of those felt right (I mean, now they do, but that’s another story). They didn’t feel right because they all had one big component. All the definitions for these terms include “sexual attraction to…”. And… I didn’t really experience sexual attraction at all, not as a teen, and not really as an adult.

My high school experience was rough because I didn’t really understand what the lack of sexual attraction meant for me. At around tenth grade, I found the term asexual, and I delved into the tiny world of people talking about their experiences. Thankfully, there’s more visibility now, six years later, and more people are talking about what it means to be asexual.

  • Greysexual: a person whose sexual attraction fluctuates between having and not having

  • Demisexual: someone who develops sexual attraction once there’s a deep emotional bond.

What is the definition? First off, asexuality is not an exception to the norm. It’s not sexual people and then non-sexual people. If you’re heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, etc. you are allosexual (or the alternate term z-sexual) which denotes someone who experiences sexual attraction. While someone who is asexual is a person who does not “experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships”, according to The Asexual Visibility Network. However, this definition is only one facet of asexuality.

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Asexuality, much like other sexualities, lies on a spectrum: there are many terms that fall under this umbrella. Two of the most common terms are:

Greysexual: a person whose sexual attraction fluctuates between being attracted and not being attracted.

Demisexual: someone who develops sexual attraction once there’s a deep emotional bond.

However, they aren’t the only two labels or the two ways that asexuality presents. You can simply be uninterested in sex, or adverse to sex, or like sex but not be sexually attracted to anyone.

The most important part of asexuality is that anyone can use the label for however long or little they want to. It can be a stepping-stone for the person or your forever label. Maybe you’ve thought of yourself as profoundly allosexual all your life but then you realize that asexuality fits you better. That is fine and perfectly valid. You can be anywhere on that spectrum and not by any less asexual.

As a side note, I want to let my young folks know this: if people are pressuring you to label your sexuality (first, kindly tell them to fuck off), you’re free to use asexual whether or not you’ve experienced sexual attraction for anyone. It’s okay to be unsure, not want to embrace any label any which label or you simply feel like this isn’t the time for you to label/declare your sexuality.

Another important facet of asexuality (and of all sexualities, really) is your romantic attraction. Asexual people often identify with a specific romantic attraction! This attraction is your desire to have a romantic relationship with someone. This is also a spectrum but there are plenty of terms to help you figure out where you fall. For example, I am asexual but panromantic. This means that I am emotionally and romantically attracted to people regardless of their gender. Some people can be aromatic asexuals which means that they neither have a sexual nor romantic attraction. There are biromantic, heteroromantic, homoromantic (and more!) types of this attraction.

I have an important side note to discuss — which is that romantic attraction is not exclusive to asexual people. If you’re attracted to people of your same gender sexually and romantically then you could potentially be homosexual and homoromantic. You can be heterosexual and panromantic, which essentially means that you’re sexually attracted to people of another gender than your own but could have romantic relationships with people regardless of gender. Of course, all these labels are flexible. There’s no pressure to label yourself as anything.

Let’s bust some myths...

Asexual people aren’t broken.

We aren’t asexual because of a medical condition or because of trauma. Though that may be the truth for some people, it doesn’t represent everyone and it's definitely not your business.

Asexual people have unfulfilling relationships.

I’ve been in the most beautiful and amazing relationship for the past four years —-- and my boyfriend isn’t even asexual! Plus, for some people (asexual or not) sex isn’t central to relationships. That fact is normal, fine, and valid.

Are you really asexual if you’ve had sex?

If an asexual person decides to have a sexual relationship with their partner, it doesn’t make them any less asexual. You can have sex because you enjoy it, even if you’re not sexually attracted to a person. You can be sexually active, or you could decide not to. That has no bearing on your sexuality.

All asexual people are the same.

No two people —-- regardless of sexuality — -- are the same: this sentiment applies to everything else in life. Some asexual people want romantic relationships, some want kids, others enjoy sex. At the same time, some asexuals are sex adverse, others don’t want romantic relationships and others are just meh on the topic of sex. All these stances are valid. So, if you’re ever in a relationship with an asexual person, talk to them about their desires, boundaries, and how asexuality present for them. TBH, you should be doing this with all romantic and sexual partners.

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How do you know you’re asexual?

How do you know you’re hetero? or homo? or pan? Sometimes, you just know, other times, it takes research, self-reflection, and getting to know yourself. For me, it was a difficult process. Every time I thought I already understood the complexities of my sexuality, something new popped up. Everyone’s path is different. Just remember to be kind to yourself, and that some things take time. What I will say is: if the label feels right to you, use it. If you realize it no longer applies, there’s no need to berate yourself over it.

I’m asexual... should I know about sex-ed?

Yes! Definitely! Of course! A 100%!

For one, sex-ed should include information about sexuality. If I had known about the existence of asexual people since a young age (because I was given this info in the classroom) I would have been saved a lot of grief and internal turmoil.

If you’re an asexual person who is having or plans on having sex, this information is fundamental. You need to know about STI’s, pregnancy, birth control, consent and everything that surrounds sex. Unless you’re sex adverse, and knowing about this causes you distress, you should at least delve into the subject a tiny bit. Even if you end up deciding you don’t want to have sex, you could have sexually active friends that benefit from the knowledge.

There are lots of good resources on the internet, like Planned Parenthood and Teach Consent.

I’ll be signing off now, but remember, be kind to people. If you don’t understand something, research it. Make sure you’re not invalidating anyone’s experiences or making them feel unwelcome. Respect people’s boundaries, and lastly, understand that sexuality is a fluid and flexible thing. Some people may change labels during their life, but that doesn’t necessarily change them.

Want to learn more about Sex Ed?

Check out more sex-ed content on our blog! You can also register for our sex-ed panel, happening on Thursday, March 25, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. EST. Click here to view the form.

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