Send This To Your Loved Ones Who Need To Understand Asexuality

By Nicole Brinkley

Asexuality —alongside agender and aromanticism — is one of the three identities represented by the letter "A" in LGBTQIA+. It's a revelation for many that it doesn't stand for "ally," which various pieces of queer merchandise would encourage you to believe. That's because many people haven't even heard of asexuality.

Maybe you're one of those people. Or maybe you're somebody who's heard the word asexuality and suspects it applies to them in some way, even if you don't know much about it. Maybe you heard Bill Nye use the word in the first season of Bill Nye Saves The World and went, “Huh. That’s interesting.” And that's okay. We're not born knowing everything. We're born naked and screaming and covered in blood.

Asexuality is a queer identity that is most often expressed as a lack of sexual attraction to other people. Like every queer identity, this comes on a spectrum—some people are gray-asexual, meaning they only experience sexual attraction sometimes; some people are demi-sexual, meaning they only experience sexual attraction after developing a romantic attraction. Asexual people can come in as many forms as there are flowers: as many different combinations as romantic attraction and gender expression there are, there are people who identify on the asexual spectrum that fit those molds. And each and every one of them deserves to feel welcome in LGBTQIA+ spaces.

Y​et, somehow, t​he only social idea of an asexual person comes in the form of a frigid ice queen, like some evil Elsa, or a robot. There are some rad things I could do with cybernetic eyes or a Bucky Barnes arm. But being asexual doesn't mean being emotionless; it has nothing to do with your feelings or your romantic attraction. Likewise, it does mean that asexual people have a right to be at pride and live authentically as themselves. 

Asexuality simply means you don't necessarily want to have sex with other people. 

There are asexual people who have sex with partners they trust. There are asexual people who are comfortable with some sexual acts, but not others. There are people who fall under different branches of the asexual spectrum that enjoy sex under specific circumstances.

In a plot twist that confuses both asexual people and partners, asexuality does not impact sexual drive—which can become infuriating when hormones kick in—and so asexual people can sometimes physically crave something that they emotionally and mentally do not want, much like craving a pickle on your period only to remember that you hate pickles so much.

Like any other identity—and like any other person—asexuality is a nuanced and complicated thing.

An Ace (And Ace-Lover's) Reading List

Luckily for asexual people (or for those seeking to be good allies to asexual people), there are nonfiction books like The Invisible Orientation, which offers further scientific and cultural primers on asexuality; there are numerous articles online where people talk about their experiences, including this favorite of mine in the New York Times; and there are novels to read to see asexual experiences reflected within their pages. Favorites of mine include Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee and Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann.

But the most important thing about asexuality is this: Asexuality is real. Asexuality is a queer identity.

And asexual people are valid and important and loved. You are valid and important and loved.

 Nicole Brinkley is a plant-obsessed bookseller who loves dragons. The rest changes without notice.
 When she’s not running the book website YA Interrobang, where she advocates for a more inclusive publishing world, you can find her on Twitter (@nebrinkley) and   Instagram (@nebrinkley) or support her work on Patreon.