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  • Morgan Messick

Embracing Asexuality: Celebrating the Spectrum of Human Love and Identity

Asexual Awareness Week or Ace Awareness Week is celebrated annually during the last week of October. It is a time to support, educate about, and appreciate the experiences of asexual (or ace) individuals.

Asexual individuals are an important part of the LGBTQIA+ community. However, they are often marginalized, overshadowed, and dismissed from discussions about sexuality or identity.

That’s why we’ve dedicated our focus this week to affirming and validating the existence and experiences of asexual individuals.

As a sexual orientation, asexuality is characterized by a lack of sexual attraction to others. But because there are so many sub-categories and exceptions intertwined with this definition, much confusion and ignorance remains.

To help dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings, let’s take a closer look at asexuality and the diversity that exists within this vibrant community.

The Diversity Within the Asexual Community

The asexual community is not a monolith but a complex and diverse community that includes many different identities and orientations, such as demisexuality, gray-a or gray-ace, and queerplatonic.

Here’s how our good friends at the Trevor Project define these terms:

Demisexual: Demisexual individuals experience sexual attraction only after forming a strong emotional connection with another person. For them, emotional intimacy is the gateway to any sexual attraction.

Grey-A or Gray-Ace: Grey-A individuals fall somewhere between sexual and asexual. They might experience sexual desire infrequently or under specific conditions.

Queerplatonic: Queerplatonic relationships go beyond traditional friendships, marked by an intense emotional connection that transcends conventional definitions of friendship.

Aces often use prefixes like "hetero-," "homo-," "bi-," and "pan-" to describe whom they're romantically attracted to. So, for example, someone who identifies as hetero-romantic may feel a romantic connection with people of a different gender, even if they don't experience sexual attraction.

It is important to recognize the complexity and diversity within the asexual community because it helps to break down stereotypes and misconceptions about asexuality. Many assume that asexuality means a complete lack of sexual desire or attraction, but the reality is much more complex.

Asexuality isn't something that needs healing or curing — it's part of who we are, not an illness or deficiency. Understanding our identity is an empowering journey for every ace person." - David Jay, Founder of the Asexual Visibility & Education Network.

When we acknowledge the diversity within the asexual community, we can better understand the experiences of asexual individuals and work towards creating a more inclusive and welcoming society.

What Is Asexuality NOT?

Asexuality is NOT a lifestyle choice or an illness. It is a real and valid identity that deserves to be respected, honored, and protected.

Asexuality does NOT mean that an individual cannot form romantic relationships with someone else, and such relationships can be every bit as meaningful and fulfilling as those involving sexual attraction.

Being asexual doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer in terms of intimacy - it just means that we express our love and connection in different ways.” - Dr. Lori Brotto

Asexuality also does NOT mean abstinence from physical contact or lack of interest in intimacy altogether. In fact, many people on the asexual spectrum will still enjoy engaging in physical activities (like cuddling and kissing) or other forms of emotional or intellectual intimacy without feeling any sexual desire towards their partner.

Finally, it is important to note that asexuality DOES NOT equate to having mental health issues. While there are certainly cases where depression and anxiety could factor into someone's sexuality (as with any other aspect of life), it is an erroneous error to presume that all individuals who identify as part of the asexual community suffer from such conditions.

Support and Resources

f you're a member of the asexual community, know that you are valued and recognized for who you are. It's important to be aware of the resources and support that are available to you. Here are some avenues you can explore:

  1. AVEN (The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) - This organization was founded in 2001 and is dedicated to educating the public about asexuality and connecting asexual people worldwide. On their website, you can find information about asexual identity, research studies, and personal stories from asexual individuals.

  2. Asexual Outreach - This nonprofit organization provides support and resources for asexual individuals and their families. They offer online support groups, educational materials, and a directory of asexual-friendly therapists.

  3. The Trevor Project - Although this organization is not specifically geared towards asexual individuals, it provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQIA+ youth. If you are struggling and need someone to talk to, the Trevor Project is a great resource.

Asexuality is a real and valid identity that deserves to be recognized. Every person is unique with varying levels and types of attraction, so crafting an environment where all identities are equally respected is the foundation of progress.

Working together, we can make this world a safe and inclusive place for everyone. To learn more about how we’re getting involved, click here!

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