As someone who identifies as being on the asexual spectrum, Asexual Awareness Week is naturally close to my heart, but I also think it’s more important than it first appears, even for those who don’t identify as asexual. Of course, the spreading of information surrounding this often misunderstood orientation to those of other sexualities is fantastic, and might make it a little easier to dodge the ever hilarious jokes of ‘so what, are you a plant?’, but to me, there’s far more to it. By the time I first heard the word ‘asexual,’ I’d experimented with labels all over the LGBT+ umbrella, trying to find something that fitted how I was experiencing the world. The more I tried to define my sexuality, the more isolated I started to feel. Adults would insist I was just ‘a late bloomer,’ and my sexuality would find me eventually, whereas my peers assumed I was faking disinterest out of shyness or modesty. I didn’t understand what it meant to find someone ‘hot,’ but I learned what ‘conventionally attractive’ looked like, and used that to get by the traditional, misogynistic ‘lad talks’ of the high school yard. If I hadn’t heard of asexuality, I probably would still be nursing that secret confusion, that quiet fear that I didn’t know how to love properly, that I was still somehow too immature to understand how ‘adults’ felt for each other. The more I learned about it, the more how I felt seemed to make sense. I wasn’t sex repulsed all of the time, but I didn’t really want to do it, either, and suddenly, that was okay. It was still okay when I later found a partner, having been open to him about my relationship with sex and sexuality. It was okay when I fell head-over-heels in romantic love. It was okay when I caught myself thinking one day that, y’know what, he’s quite sexy, really. You see, asexuality doesn’t necessarily mean aromanticism – many asexuals have romantic orientations separate from their sexuality, and identify as, for example, homoromantic asexual. There are also people who experience sexual attraction fleetingly, or in very specific instances. There are people who are demisexual, experiencing attraction only within a deep emotional bond, or grey-asexuals, who are predominantly asexual, but experience sexual attraction very occasionally. There are even asexuals who are a mixture of the two, like myself. There are people who identify as ‘aceflux,’ meaning they don’t necessarily ‘feel’ asexual all of the time, but often enough for it to be a part of their identity. There are asexuals with kinks and who love M-rated fiction, asexuals who enjoy sex when they choose to have it, and asexuals who simply aren’t interested in any aspect of sex, or even feel disgusted by it – and it’s all ‘real,’ ‘proper,’ ‘legitimate’ asexuality, on a spectrum as broad as that of non-ace identities. I say this because I imagine there are countless people out there who are still feeling isolated, like there’s something wrong with them: people for whom Asexual Awareness Week could plant the seed of self-discovery, cheesy as that sounds. There are aces who will have found themselves alienated in both LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ spaces, not being sexual enough for a society that foregrounds heterosexual intimacy, but also made to feel ‘not LGBT+ enough’ in LGBT+ spaces, especially those who are cis and heteroromantic. What I want most of all this week is for them to know that they are valid and, most importantly, that they have a place here in the Network. I’m looking forward to running an Asexual Café in the current months so please don’t be shy, our Network prides itself on its intersectionality and you will always be welcome here.
Gabriel Jackson, Campaigns Officer