Asexual Awareness Week 22-28th October
A varied spectrum
The spectrum of asexual identities or the ‘Asexual Umbrella’ is a large one and goes beyond a mere lack of sexual attraction or inclination toward others. It is important to recognise each of these identities as equally as valued and worth celebrating alongside other identities and orientations within the LGBTQI community. Some who identify as asexual feel no sexual desire or attraction to others, even romantic partners. Those who find themselves somewhere along the spectrum of asexuality yet still feel some amount of sexual attraction may identify themselves with a different label. Some of these individuals describe themselves as gray-asexual or graysexuals. Another identity along this spectrum is demisexual or someone who only feels sexual attraction after forming an intense emotional bond or relationship with a person. While they may vary in definitions and manner of expression it is important to recognise these identities all fall under the larger asexual umbrella and experience.
Romantic vs sexual attraction and orientations
Beyond the different labels those within the asexual umbrella may use for themselves is the fact that asexuality does not negate romantic feelings or attractions. Since there is a clear distinction between sexual and romantic attraction or desires some asexual individuals may use these labels to help further express and present themselves. It is important to remember asexual people may experience romantic desires across the entire spectrum of LGBTQI orientations.
Those who feel romantic feelings only towards the same gender may describe themselves as homoromantic asexual. For those who feel attraction towards the opposite gender they may call themselves heteroromantic asexual. Similarly, those who experience romantic attraction towards two or more genders may call themselves Biromantic Asexual. Those who experience romantic attraction towards any gender or romantic attraction regardless of gender call themselves Panromantic Asexual. There are even those who find that they don’t experience romantic or sexual attraction towards any gender and would then classify themselves as Aromantic Asexual or “Aro-Ace.”
Hardships and challenges
Many individuals within the asexual umbrella face hardships and persecution due to their identities. Some suffer judgment from those who don’t understand their orientation and their identity. Many fear that they would not be able to find a meaningful relationship with someone outside the Ace Umbrella as some people do see sexual attraction and desire as a major factor in their relationships and encounters. This causes many to seek romantic relationships with other asexual people as they can best understand the identity and hardships they may face.
This year will be the 13th consecutive year in which Ace Week or Asexual Awareness Week will be celebrated worldwide. As time continues more and more people are becoming aware of the asexual identity and orientations within the umbrella. The 2021 census of Wales and England cited that just under 30,000 individuals identified as some form of asexual. As more and more people become aware of these identities and orientations the hope is that they will become more accepted and welcomed in social spaces everywhere.
This week, take some time to to understand the spectrum of asexuality and honour your asexual friends!