A Short Introduction to Asexuality for Newcomers
Hello everyone, I’d like to take a moment of your time to explain asexuality.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, same as homosexuality and heterosexuality (and pan, and bi, etc). Whereas homosexuality involves sexual attraction to the same gender, and heterosexuality involves attraction to the opposite gender (bi for two genders, pan for all, etc), asexuality is the absence of sexual attraction to any gender. It is not the same as celibacy, which is a sexual behaviour and therefore not directly connected to sexual orientation. Celibacy is a choice, asexuality is not. Asexuality should be not mistaken for naivete, inexperience, “mental illness”, or trauma (and to imply so is very insulting to the community).
For most non-asexual people, there is no disconnect between sexual attraction and romantic attraction ; romantic attraction, loosely defined, is the desire to form a romantic relationship with another person. For an asexual person, however, there is little or no connection between love and sex. This does not mean that asexual people are incapable of developing and maintaining romantic relationships. There are aromantic asexuals, and there are romantic asexuals.
The categorization of the group becomes even more complex from there. Some asexual people experience arousal, while others feel little or have no sex drive at all. Secondly, not all asexual people are sex-negative or repulsed; many are sex-neutral, or have positive views on sex and sexual activity. Thirdly, there are many different forms of romantic attraction. Most asexuals prefer to identify themselves through their romantic attraction (ie. a homoromantic asexual, or a biromantic demisexual**).
Asexual people face negative attitudes from a society that, to put it harshly, glorifies sex. As a minority group, and one with very low visibility, they are often stigmatized as “flawed”, “broken”, or “sick”. Again, it is important to recognize that asexuality is not a defect: it is as legitimate as any other sexuality.
For further reading, I can recommend asexuality.org’s FAQ pages.
(** demisexuality and grey-sexuality are part of the asexuality spectrum; demisexuals only feel attraction towards close friends/people with whom they have formed a close bond and grey-asexuality refers to the murky area between pure sexuality and pure asexuality)