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A is for asexual—and it matters

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You are probably thinking—really? More random letters to add to the ever-expanding acronym to identify those who are sex, sexuality and gender diverse?

Do we really need the A? Well, I believe we do need to add the A and I’d like to explain why.

The A in LGBTIQA+ is for asexual―or “ace”, which is the umbrella term for anyone on the asexual spectrum. People who identify as ace experience little to no sexual attraction, which can be a confusing and confronting concept in an overly sexualised world.

As with most differences, people who don’t identify as ace may have little understanding of the richness and complexity underlying this identification. Just as sexuality embraces a diversity of identities and experiences, so does the spectrum of asexuality. It is part of the rich range of human sexuality and can embrace an array of experiences. It is important to understand that a person who identifies as ace may have a different sexuality to you, but this does not make theirs deficient.

Being on the asexual spectrum is one of the most misunderstood orientations out there; accordingly, people who are ace often encounter invasive and outright harmful questions and assumptions.  I would like to dispel some of these assumptions and misunderstandings.

Each person on the asexual spectrum experiences attraction differently

They may experience no sexual attraction, or sexual attraction in very specific circumstances (like having a deep personal connection to someone). They also might (or might not) experience romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, emotional attraction, some other form of attraction or a combination of these.

Being ace is not the same as being celibate

It is not an avoidance of sexual activity, but a lack of sexual attraction as the driver for sexual activity. People on the asexual spectrum may choose to have sexual relationships or may not.

It is not a hormone disorder or a result of trauma

And sure, hormones and trauma can affect aces — just as they can influence people with other sexualities. But in both cases, that doesn’t invalidate what the person experiences. It doesn’t make it any less real.

Asexuality is not a response to modern media or a current trend

We live in a heteronormative, sex-obsessed, homophobic, transphobic, patriarchal sociality. Yet we don’t mention these societal influences to straight people as a reason why they are straight.

Just like any other human experience, there are a range of diverse experiences and people living under the ace umbrella, they are not a monolith. Everyone is different (just as people in general are different).

Ace people are people. Our friends, our family, our kids, our work colleagues. They are not a textbook example, or a dictionary definition.

They are people with stories to tell, lives to be celebrated, relationships to recognise and part of our communities. Asexuality (in its many manifestations) is part of the richness and diversity of sexuality and as such should be identified, celebrated, embraced and recognised.

Why the “A”?

Because narrow views of the human experience make for narrow and divided communities and inclusive descriptions foster inclusive communities.

If you or someone you know, or someone you love would like to understand more about asexuality or requires support through counselling please contact Meridian Wellbeing Services.

Meridian can connect you with vital peer support and/or professional qualified counselling services. 

meridianact.org.au or phone (02) 6257 2855

 

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