Why you should care about Asexual Awareness Week

The Asexual experience is one not often talked about. Like many people within the LGBTQ+ community, we share the same fears of being judged, ostracised, even met with violence when we reveal our identities. However, given that it is Asexual Awareness Week, when could there be a better time to find the courage to stand up and speak out in support of your identity. Many people may wonder why there is a need for Asexual Awareness, we make up less the one percent of the population and it just means we don’t have sex, right?

There are many misguided myths surrounding the Asexual identity, that we can’t have sex being one of the biggest. Asexuality means that you don’t experience the feeling of sexual attraction. Some Asexuals may try sex out of curiosity while others will go their whole lives without having sex, many non-Aromantic Asexuals will date and seek out intimate relationships. My personal experience of Asexuality was that sex was just never something that I thought about, I had to fall in love in order to want it. Sure, I could be attracted to people in that I wanted to spend more time with them, be around them, or thought they were pretty, but that thought never connected to wanting to have sex. I’m explaining this because part of the reason people don’t value or believe in Asexuality is that the ability of Asexual’s to have sex is often used to invalidate our identity. What I’m trying to convey here is that, like with any sexual orientation, the experience is very personal and about feeling more than action.

Asexual people themselves are often treated as a myth or accused of being attention seeking, claiming Asexuality as an orientation so they can fit into the community while not really facing any prejudice or discrimination. It’s hard for me to explain the relief of finally finding an identity that fits you and allows you to understand yourself, only to be crushed by the discovery that a number of your newly found ‘community’ don’t believe you deserve their support. Asexuals often find themselves facing rejection from both sides, not fitting into an overtly sexualised society and deemed weird or unnatural by one side of the population, while being accused of being frauds by members of the other. While I am open to some about my orientation in real life, I would never advertise my Asexuality on social media, having seen the horrific backlash of hatred others have received, particularly on platforms such as Tumblr.  Often we have it thrown in our faces that at least we can ‘appear’ straight, but even if I never entered into a same sex relationship, I still am seen as ‘other’ by my refusal to conform to societal expectations. We live in a very sex driven world; how many movies have you seen this year that haven’t had a tenuous romantic subplot, or a cringy, seemingly irrelevant sex scene?

Now I’m not trying to claim that Asexuals are social pariahs, battling alone against all the discriminations of the world. Every sexual orientation comes with its own host of challenges in the search for love and acceptance, but Asexuality has certainly experienced its fair share of difficulties. We are erased, treated as unnatural, made to feel naïve and inadequate -just to name a few of the struggles facing our identity- but what all of these things boil down to is that we are misunderstood. So why is Asexual Awareness Week important? Because people need to know that we’re here and we exist. So that the next generation of Asexuals can comfortably come out to their friends and loved ones without being compared to bacteria. Asexuality has often been an isolating experience for me, but I feel most comfortable in my identity around the people I have never had to explain or justify myself to. This Asexual Awareness Week, if you do one thing to honour it, let it be educating yourself or others. Five minutes of your day on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network website is barely anything to you, but I promise you it makes all the difference in the world to us.