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Forums » Smalltalk » Asexual Awareness Week

Hello, folks, and happy Asexual Awareness Week! It's that time of year when the veil between worlds begins to thin, and we ace folks become visible to the rest of the world!

Unfortunate jokes aside... ^^;

What is this?
For those unfamiliar with asexuality, or who have heard of it and don't understand: it's okay, I know it can be pretty confusing. For one, it's hard to understand something if you don't experience it yourself. For two, there's a lot of conflicting information out there and a lot of misrepresentation. Yeah, when we get represented at all, it's often wrong or in a particular stereotyped way!

At it's core, a person who is asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. To put that into perspective, we are as into the same sex as a heterosexual person and as into the opposite sex as a homosexual person. We're not! At least, not sexually.

Please note that attraction is different from libido. While there are those who have little to no libido, more commonly aces have an undirected libido. In this sense, asexuality is simultaneously an orientation and a lack of orientation.

Action is not attraction. Aces may still choose to have sexual relations with a partner for a number of reasons, while others may want nothing to do with it.

Asexuality is not a choice. We are not choosing to abstain from sex. Plenty of aces aren't abstaining.

Asexuality is not a disorder. Yes, plenty of aces have various things that can affect the expression of sexuality - trauma, mental health troubles, neurodivergency, hormone issues, physical disability, etc. I am also of the opinion that since sexuality can change throughout a lifetime anyway, that those things can increase the chances of it changing a certain way, and that a person can become asexual. And for some, unfortunately, it's the best word they have even if it isn't quite accurate, and I'm not going to take that away from them. But none of these things appear in all aces, plenty of aces have none of these issues, and most aces can describe how they never felt sexual attraction, even before issues might have developed.

Most asexuals still experience romantic attraction. They do still want to have a (or a happy few) romantic partners, perhaps to kiss and cuddle and hold hands. Romantic attraction can be as varied as sexual attraction. (It can also be mismatched from sexual attraction! Romantic aces are an example, but so are, say, bisexual homoromantics who are sexually attracted to two or more genders, but only romantic bond with their own.) And even more aces still experience aesthetic attraction. We can totally recognize if someone is aesthetically pleasing, but it's the sort of draw you might have for a flower or a painting. (I got to explain to my aunt that I am attracted to Jason Mamoa in the same way I'm attracted to this drawing. XD )

We see sexuality as a spectrum, and we acknowledge that there are also people who experience sexual attraction so infrequently or under specific circumstances that there is a wide range of grey-aces, or grey-sexuals. That's the area that can get most confusing. One of the most common forms, though, is demisexuality - people who have a fully asexual experience until they form the right type of bond with someone.

There are also aromantic people. This gets recognized most in the ace community, but I don't think there's any good numbers on whether there are more asexual aromantics or allosexual aromantics (allosexual is just an umbrella term for all the folks who experience sexual attraction in a typical manner). Although aromantic is different from asexuality, there's a huge overlap in communities between the identifications, and usually aces will happily share spaces with them (like right here!).

If you have questions about this stuff and you can't find it through the link above or on AVEN, I welcome you to PM them to me, or to anyone else who offers. Please don't post your questions in the thread or PM anyone who doesn't express that they are open to questions. A lot of aces are super sick of them. ^^;


Hey, I'm a-spec!
Hello, fellow cake-eater!

I'm going to keep saying "aces," but please know I am referring to the whole spectrum and including aromantics. :)

I'd like this topic to serve multiple purposes. Obviously, it's a "WE ARE HERE!" But I'd also like to have it so aces on RPR can get more familiar with each other. If you feel like sharing an experience - how you realized you're ace, what happened when (if) you came out, or just an incident that really illustrates your experience as an ace. It is okay to express some frustration, but I'd like to focus on positivity and awareness.

And if you're doing something for AAW, I'd love if you shared! Special blog post? Donning some extra asexy gear? Sharing a flyer? Awesome! If not, no worries, you are still valid and valued. <3

If you feel like contributing to knowledge about aces and are willing to fill out some forms, check this out! It's time for the annual Ace Community Census. Also, The Asexual Awareness Project is gathering data to create a book for service providers (like doctors and therapists) to help them better understand us. :)

An aside: if you are demisexual, please let me know if I can clarify something with you. I may have been describing it wrong in the past.


My experiences
I've been pretty luck compared to some aces. At worst, I've had friends and family express confusion, but never really be jerks about it or get obsessed with trying to "fix" me.

I didn't realize I was asexual until I was 26. This is another point where I'm lucky: for the most part, I didn't feel like a weirdo about it. Instead, I thought everyone else was just being silly and hyperbolic! I remember being utterly confused in high school when a friend would go on about what a "great butt" some guy had, and trying to figure out how it differed from anyone else's, why it was supposedly more attractive in suit pants than in jeans, and generally just what was appealing about it at all. To me, it was just another body part, just one that had some immaturely amusing connotations. At my most self conscious point, I put up a photo of a male celebrity on my wall that I knew my friend appreciated and told myself that since I found it aesthetically pleasing, that meant I thought he was hot. (So yes, I faked it a little, too.)

When I "came out," it was after I'd been digging for awhile and was specifically so that I could help others to understand. I didn't expect my family to be upset anyway, and I had already decided that I didn't care, because it wasn't about it. In context, the sudden "we love you no matter what" I got from a few folks actually kinda weirded me out because the context made it seem like they didn't pay attention to what I actually said. XD Some others have come with questions in the years since, but never anything I haven't prepared myself for, and they are usually polite enough to first ask if it's okay to ask some questions. I also remember that one of the first people I told had a particularly interesting response: she asked me if it was a big deal, and the way my silly brain initially took that was actually really deflating at the time, but I understood what was meant. It shouldn't be a big deal, but I'm sure she would happily have celebrated with me (or reassured me) if I'd asked, since I know for a fact that she is supportive.

One of the ways things have been interesting more recently has been with one of my jobs. I am a professional cuddler, and after some debate with myself over my concern of being seen as "selling" my asexuality, I decided to include it in my profile. And I'm glad I did! I have been approached by new and old clients alike, some simply with questions, but many who express feeling they, too, are ace, and are glad to have someone to discuss it with or who they feel more comfortable with.

And if anyone is interested in my ridiculous mouthful of labels: I presently identify as asexual, romantically heteroflexible, and aroflux. Yes, I am willing to explain any of that. ^^;
iolhantheX

Thank you for posting this, I know I really appreciate it, as an asexual myself...
Unfortunately I haven't had the greatest experience so I usually don't tell people or try to explain it because a lot of people can be really mean and judgemental...
I've been veiwed as strange or weird or had people ask "What's wrong with you?"
Especially because I personally am usually very much repulsed by most any and all sexual things, of course I'll joke around occasionally with buddies, and at times I'll have a dirty mind (thanks to my best friend, he ruined me lol) but typically I'm really uncomfortable with that topic...
One of the reasons I choose to avoid romantic rps because most people here try to turn it into something else (probably because I'm an adult) I've had people get angry at me though for not wanting to do a sexual or romantic rp, and it's really nerve-racking for me at times and I struggle to find rp partners who respect my feelings about it and don't judge...
Anyway, I'm kinda babbling now and getting a bit nervous for having said something... Soooo, thank you for putting this out here.
Zelphyr Topic Starter

Thanks for sharing, iol. I'm sorry you've had to deal with that. I bet being on a sex-repulsed side is a lot harder. (I'm mostly sex-indifferent.) Know that it is never wrong of you to hold your boundaries, though, in RP or in reality.
iolhantheX

Ya, it can be pretty frustrating...
Thank you, it's nice to meet others who kinda get it though, not many do.
Thank you for posting this.
Sanne Moderator

This was an excellent read, thank you Nova! <3
Hi! This is such a great topic! ❤❤

I am demisexual and I really appreciate this!

I thought I was strictly Asexual for a while, but after some deep thought, personal reflection, and therapy (for some sexual trauma stuff), I figured out I'm demisexual (and have a sex aversion due to trauma), on top of considering myself bisexual. It was life changing to finally have something CLICK for me.

It feels so nice to know who I am, and be able to explain it to people if I need to. I even helped my best friend figure out she's demisexual.

We exist and we are amazing. ❤❤❤

Note: one thing that frustrates me when a lot of people talk about asexuality, they assume all of us are sex repulsed or have a sex aversion. But that's not true. They aren't exclusive. You don't have to have a sex aversion to be asexual; a lot of allosexual people have a sex aversion, and you aren't automatically asexual if you have a sex aversion.)
Zelphyr Topic Starter

I added a small bit in my experience about how being asexual has affected my job as a professional cuddler. ^^

Indeed, Damnation! That misconception even shows up in ace communities sometimes. Also, I'm glad you were able to work things out for yourself! I definitely don't think that sex is super important, but I do encourage those who have trauma to seek help, both to cope better with what happened in general, and to ensure that they are making their choices, not the trauma.
Hey! I’m ace too, so I really appreciate this post. The way I found out I was aro-ace was... well, I mean, I just never liked anybody..? At all? And I kept wondering what was wrong with me. A bunch of the people around me don’t take my sexuality seriously and don’t think that being asexual isn’t like actually a thing. They just think that I “haven’t found the right person” lol. It’s okay, at least I know there are other people like me.
I feel that asexual people often get overlooked when it comes to the whole LGBTQ+ stuff because of this view people have that you can't be bullied for it. Whilst it's true there's no historic stigma against the orientation, that doesn't mean there isn't some form of discrimination. I get kinda mad at those people who try to exclude the orientation from importance in the LGBTQ+ community, because my personal experiences say that there can be a struggle in society.

I find there is very much a stigma involved in simply not being attracted to the opposite sex. Especially among males, in my experience. And there's no shortage of people who think that you can fix an asexual. I've had peers at school trying to make me read porn magazines and parents trying to force me into finding romantic partners. I have been mocked both for being asexual and for not being straight.

As an agender asexual, I often feel invisible in society. Despite technically being trans, I often feel like I can't consider myself part of the trans community because of the focus on gender-binary issues within the public eye. I'm scared of coming out as agender to family, and I wasn't that scared of doing the same for being asexual. I almost did it a few days ago, until my youngest sister made a mocking comment about non-binary genders. So I sort of turned what was going to be a serious declaration into a half-joke.
Thank you for that post--very educational and broken up into chunks that are easy to digest and comprehend--not to mention well-written in a way that holds one's attention. I am not Ace myself, or anywhere on that part of the spectrum, but I am fortunate to have friends who were patient enough with me to sit down and explain it to me even through my bumbling confusion (and some questions that by all rights would probably be considered rude).

You're right, as someone who is not that way, it is difficult for the rest of us, whether homo, hetero, bi, or some other along the spectrum, to understand what that's like for those who do not experience sexual attraction, but I think if more people sat down to read eloquent writers such as yourself who talk about these things (and who also talk about it in a way that catches the attention, rather than the dry lecture of certain college professors), there would be a lot less confusion about it in this world.
Zelphyr Topic Starter

@Vacantchungles - *high-five!*

@Riik - Erg, sorry you've had to deal with all that. I know a lot of that is common from things I've seen said in ace communities, and there was actually a little-known study that showed aces are actually more likely to be be excluded from things like like jobs and housing options than people of other sexual orientations, so it's not just lived experiences saying there's an issue. Gender stuff is hard, too. I realized that "demigirl" fits me not super long ago, like maybe a year ago? And I still find it easier to just not ever bring up except in very specific circumstances. And that's still partly within the standard binary. I wish you the best. (Unrelated, I absolutely still intend to respond to our RP, and my schedule will be relaxing back soon.)

@Subtleknifewielder - I'm glad you have patient friends who were able to help you understand, and I'm very glad that it seems like you listened! That shouldn't be something for me to get excited about, but while I've rarely had nastiness directed at me about it, I have definitely still seen enough to value people being decent. Thanks for being supportive, and I'm glad I was able to be clear. :)
Hollyfrost

I'm pretty sure I'm asexual. My mother thinks I'm too young to know that, but I don't think she's right... She also says it's not natural.
On the other hand, all my friends are really chill. One of them made me one of those elastic bracelet thingies in the colours of the Ace flag.
That's all I have to say, because I don't like sharing much. But yeah.
I always forget that this falls right around/after my birthday. I was pretty much born into it.

@iolhantheX I get you on avoiding the ever-loving hell out of romantic RPs because of the 'responsibility' or pressure people put on you for more. I'm pretty aromantic in general, and just... don't... want to RP any part of it.

That said, I've had some pretty horrific experiences with RPers who just didn't respect that. I don't join 1v1s--ever--I'm always in group RPs, which makes it even harder to... escape people sometimes (but 1v1s just always seem to be just for romance, I feel, so what's the point?).

Heck, thinking back, I've only ever 'accepted' a 1v1 scenario within the context of an ongoing group RP, twice. One went terribly god damn wrong (see above; they were pushy, controlling... I don't like thinking back on it, but I didn't realize until years later how badly it effected how/who I choose to RP with), and the other is... recent, ongoing? Pleasant? I don't know. Non-romantic and I look forward to it, at least. I like interesting friendships.

I joke a lot with friends too, who are pretty open, sexually. I'm never sure what will rub me the wrong way, but I find 9/10 if it's just not 'directed' at me it's fine.

In the end, I trust a small handful of friends to RP actual romantic things with, if ever. Heck, I have two friends I will sometimes specifically plot a non-rped romance with so that going into an RP group I can just have a character who is "taken" and it's like an invisible shield of No Thank You.

@Hollyfrost Targeting on age is dumb. Maybe you'll change your mind, or think differently in a few years; there's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't make her "right" to judge you. You know you better than she does. I'm glad you at least have a good support-group of friends.
Zelphyr Topic Starter

@Hollyfrost - Ditto on what AJ said about age. It can be hard to identify the sexuality part of orientation prior to puberty (it'll usually match aesthetic/romantic orientation, which I believe can absolutely appear very early, even if how it is felt changes), and it can shift over time. If you're old enough to legally use this site though (13+ due to privacy laws), you're probably at least close if not there already. But still, if you feel the term works for you, great, use it!

Do you think your mother would respond to fact sheets or to scientific acknowledgement that it exists? Because those things are out there. You should be able to find some through the links in the first post, but I could also try digging something up when I find the time.

@AJ_89 - It sucks that you've been few to feel limited like that. I know I used to feel the same about 1x1s, and especially PM RP. if you feel like trying again, I've actually had good luck getting into both those (most of my rp is now 1x1 via PMs) just be trying to set up clear expectations. Anyone has a problem with your boundaries, you can always block them if need be. It's fine if you don't feel like bothering or like how you have things, I'd just hate to think of someone being stuck with limits that don't actually want. I'm glad you've at least found ways to deal with it!
iolhantheX

@AJ_89
I'm glad someone else gets it too. Sorry you've dealt with that tho. Some people are just stupid. Nobody has the right to be pushy and make you do something you don't want or judge you.
Hollyfrost

My mother knows it exists... But she just thinks it's weird. Like a mental illness or that something's just wrong with me. Like she thinks a doctor should try to fix it.
Zelphyr Topic Starter

Hollyfrost wrote:
My mother knows it exists... But she just thinks it's weird. Like a mental illness or that something's just wrong with me. Like she thinks a doctor should try to fix it.
That's a common sentiment, unfortunately. But! Asexuality is differentiated from mental illness in the DSM-5, the book used to determine such things. :) The official medical stance is that asexuality is not a mental illness!
Hollyfrost

And if I can't get her to understand that, well, I'll live. Other people are super supportive, so that's cool. :)
I'm greatful to all the supportive people in the world. Because everyone deserves acceptance.
Zelphyr Topic Starter

I'm glad you're able to find people who support you. Rock on!

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