Ace in the Hole

I’ve known I’m ace-spec since I was about 17, so about five years now. Discovering that the asexuality spectrum existed explained so much about myself that I was never able to express before. I never understood why people wanted to have sex, I just didn’t get the appeal. I thought that maybe I would grow out of it, but I never did and still haven’t. I’m still constantly learning about the asexuality spectrum, and I’m really grateful to have found it. 

The Spectrum

I’m sure that everyone knows about heterosexuality and homosexuality, and it’s probably fair to say that most people also know about bisexuality. What’s important to note is that less people know about asexuality and its opposite, pansexuality. People who do not know of or have not been informed about asexuality believe that asexuals, or aces as we call ourselves, are all the same. Contrary to this belief, asexuality exists on a spectrum that encompasses anything from little to rare sexual attraction, known as gray-ace, to sexual attraction once an emotional bond has formed, known as demisexual, to no sexual attraction whatsoever, known as ace. 

This spectrum can also be thought of as ranging from those who are sex-positive to those who are sex-repulsed, which are polar opposites. In between these two poles lies a more grey area, wherein those who are sex-indifferent and sex-circumstancial lie. Essentially, this is a spectrum that encompasses active sexuality, and dwindles down to experiencing less and less sexual interests. 

Attraction 

Personally, I’ve bounced around between certain labels throughout the past couple of years, but that doesn’t make my identity less valid. The biggest issue I struggled with was figuring out what I was attracted to. I didn’t, and I think a lot of people don’t, know that there’s more than just platonic and sexual attraction. This led to a lot of confusion on my end because I tended to develop crushes on people that were obviously not platonic, yet I didn’t want sex. I kept wondering to myself, “Maybe I would eventually want sex later once the relationship progressed?” I recently learned that there are a lot more types of attraction than I had thought. There are three other types, and upon realizing this, my life has changed. 

These types are sensual attraction, romantic attraction, and aesthetic attraction. The first involves a desire for smaller acts of intimacy, such as hugging and kissing. Romantic attraction is the interest of having an intimate relationship. The final type, aesthetic attraction, is being attracted to someone based on looks alone, just as we are attracted to beautiful works of art. This last one, aesthetic attraction, really clicked for me because although I’ve never been sexually attracted to people, I now realize that I have been aesthetically attracted to them.

Denial 

Another thing that’s really caused me some past confusion is that other people have expressed doubts about my sexuality. I’ve been told that I feel this way because of my medication or because I’m depressed. I’ve been told that I haven’t found the right person yet or that I’m just not having good enough sex. A lot of people in past relationships have taken it personally and thought that there was something wrong with them because I wasn’t sexually attracted to them. I’ve been told that I’m broken, I’ve been called a liar and a faker, and I’ve even been told that I use my sexuality as an excuse to not be intimate with others. As such, some don’t believe that my sexuality exists. On a broader scale, some believe that asexual people can’t exist as queer, as we are straight passing. Then, on the other hand, straight people don’t accept us because we aren’t necessarily straight either. 

All Else 

Sometimes being asexual is difficult because I don’t really understand why I find certain things attractive. One of my best friends is pansexual, so I talk to him all the time when I’m feeling confused about my sexuality. I’m really comfortable talking about sex for the most part, but at some points it gets to be too much. This sometimes causes others to think that I may be innocent or sheltered, but it’s just that I do not engage in sexual activity and therefore prefer to sometimes not talk about it. I understand that it’s hard to understand for others who aren’t asexual, but I think a little understanding goes a long way.