Acephobia reared its head again this past National Coming Out Day, as it does every year. So let’s talk.
Asexual people are people who don’t experience sexual attraction, or libido, or both. Under that umbrella are gray-asexual people, who experience either very muted sexual attraction or very muted libido; demisexuals, who only experience sexual attraction to people they already have a strong personal bond with; and a few more microlabels. All of these are included under the LGBTQIA+/QUILTBAG/Queer umbrella.
(FYI: The “A” in these acronyms is always for “asexual,” never “ally”!)
Asexual or “ace” people may or may not experience romantic attraction. They might be heteroromantic, homoromantic, bi- or panromantic, or aromantic. The opposite prefix is allo- as in allosexual (experiences sexual attraction) or alloromantic (desires romantic connection).
Asexuality often shares a struggle with bisexuality – queer spaces can be hostile to them, claiming they aren’t oppressed enough to belong because they can pass as straight. But by that rubric, any person not actively engaged in PDA with a same-sex partner or wearing a pride flag doesn’t belong in queer spaces. Acephobia exists in both queer and straight spaces. Ace people suffer silencing, corrective rape, family alienation, and medical discrimination. They live in a world where to not want sex is portrayed as being “broken” on a constant, daily basis, and where a sexual and romantic relationship is regarded as the most important qualifier of adulthood. In several states and many countries, a lack of sexual congress still nullifies a marriage.
It’s important to include that asexuality is distinct from celibacy. It is not a matter of restraint, but one of disinterest. Ace people are usually capable of sex, and may have it to please a partner or for other personal reasons, even without being specifically sexually attracted to their partner. A 1994 study by the Journal of Sex Research published that 1 in 100 people self-reported as asexual.
Image: Shawn Goldberg / Shutterstock.com