I recently accepted the fact that I’m asexual. An asexual (or ace) person doesn’t experience sexual attraction or isn’t interested in having sex. Asexuality is often misunderstood in both the straight and queer communities because our society is so obsessed with sex that’s it’s hard for allosexual (that is, non-asexual) people to imagine someone who’s not interested in it.
There are a lot of myths surrounding asexuality, and I wanted to debunk them. Please note that every asexual person is different, so these statements may not apply to all asexuals:
Myth 1: Asexual people are really just celibate.
Asexuality and celibacy are two different things. Celibacy is a choice. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, etc, and therefore, not a choice. People don’t choose whom they’re sexually attracted to (or not), but they do choose whether or not to engage in sexual behavior. Some asexuals even have sex to please their partners. However, most of them don’t enjoy it because they don’t feel sexually attracted to the person they’re sleeping with.
Myth 2: Asexuals just haven’t found the right person yet.
Nope, asexuals simply aren’t sexually attracted to anyone, and that’s okay! And if they eventually do meet someone they want to have sex with, that’s okay too! People have the right to identify as they please.
Myth 3: You’re either 100% asexual or 100% allosexual—there’s no in-between.
Actually, asexuality is a spectrum. Some aces experience sexual attraction very rarely or their sexual attraction is so low that it’s negligible—these people are called gray-asexuals, gray-aces, or simply graces. There are also demisexual people, that is, people who don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone unless a strong emotional bond is formed. Some demisexual people may also identify as gray-asexual.
Myth 4: If you get crushes on people and fall in love, you can’t be asexual.
Not true. What many asexuals experience is romantic attraction, which is different from sexual attraction. Romantic attraction is wanting to be in a romantic relationship with someone, without having sex with them. Asexual people who experience romantic attraction may wish to cuddle, hold hands with or kiss their partners. Sexual attraction is wanting to have sex with someone. Romantic orientation is the counterpart to sexual orientation. There’s heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, etc. Some asexuals don’t even experience romantic attraction—these people identify as aromantic. People who don’t experience romantic attraction unless a strong emotional bond is formed may identify as demiromantic. Many aromantic and demiromantic people are more comfortable with platonic relationships rather than romantic relationships.
Myth 5: Asexuals don’t masturbate or have sexual fantasies.
That’s not true either. Some asexual people do masturbate and/or have sexual fantasies. Some asexuals have a libido that they want to take care of by pleasuring themselves, other asexuals have little to no libido and don’t masturbate. Some asexuals son’t fantasize about anything when they masturbate—they just do it because it feels good. Other asexuals may fantasize about somebody or something, or they may watch porn or read erotica to turn themselves on. The main difference between asexuals and allosexuals is that if asexuals were given the choice with the person they fantasize about, there would be little to no sexual attraction or interest. Some asexuals even have kinks or fetishes, but most times, they don’t want to act on them with anyone else.
Myth 6: The “A” in LGBTQIA+ means “Ally”.
No, it doesn’t. The “A” stands for “Asexual”. Not only is replacing “asexual” with “ally” in LGBTQIA+ erasing asexual people’s experiences of oppression, but it’s suggesting that people who are both cisgender and heterosexual experience oppression too, and cis-het people don’t experience LGBTQIA+ oppression. I know that cis-het allies mean well, but please, don’t replace “asexual” with “ally” because this is not your territory.
Myth 7: Asexuals aren’t queer, especially those who are both cisgender and heteroromantic.
Wrong. Any asexual person can identify as queer because heterosexual people experience sexual attraction to the a gender other than their own, while asexual people don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of gender. Therefore, I would consider cisgender-heteroromantic aces to be part of the queer community too.
Myth 8: Asexuals aren’t oppressed because they’re not sexually attracted to anyone.
Allosexual people don’t understand asexuality and many times, exclude us from queer and straight spaces. Also, many religious congregations think we’re “broken” and need to be fixed. (See Myth 9 below.)
Myth 9: Asexual people are broken and need to be “fixed”.
Absolutely not. We’re fine just the way we are. It’s society that’s broken and needs to be fixed.
Myth 10: You can’t possibly have a loving relationship without sex!
Again, not true. Many asexual people have formed loving, long-term relationships without any sexual or even romantic contact. How people choose to express their affection is totally up to them.