Asexuality, as an umbrella term, refers to the lack of sexual attraction felt towards others.
Special collaboration: Alex Simon is an American-born and Montreal-based student interested in LGBTQ+ and trans realities. They themselves being non-binary, they proposed the idea to GrS Montreal of writing articles on their blog TransAvenue.
Often when referring to orientations within and outside of the LGBTQ+ community, the suffix -sexual is used, for instance, homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual. The prefix used before -sexual distinguishes towards whom you are attracted to. However, what if you do not feel sexual attraction towards others? Or romantic attraction, for that matter? You are not broken or abnormal, you simply may belong to the asexual and/or aromantic spectrum.
Asexuality, as an umbrella term, refers to the lack of sexual attraction felt towards others. This is different from the libido, which pertains to the drive one might feel to act upon said sexual desires. It also differs from celibacy, in which a person chooses not to engage in sexual activity. Asexuality is a spectrum, it is not black or white, hence the existence of sub-categories within asexuality, labels that you may or may not feel more aligned with. People who are on the asexuality spectrum might call themselves “ace”.
Demisexuality is an orientation within the asexuality spectrum. It relates to how someone does not feel sexual attraction towards another person unless a strong emotional bond has already been formed. Graysexuality, sometimes called gray-ace, refers to the gray zone existing within asexuality. Seeming how each individual experiences asexuality in their own way, this term can encompass the gray zones existing within such a wide spectrum. Reciprosexual refers to someone who does not feel sexual attraction towards someone until the said person is attracted to them. Akoisexual, or lithsexual, refers to someone whose attraction towards another fades over time if the said attraction is to be reciprocated. Aceflux refers to someone whose sexual orientation fluctuates. For some, it may stay within the asexual spectrum. For others, it might occasionally venture outside of it.
There is a plethora of identities that fall within the asexual spectrum. These identities can also fall within the aromantic spectrum, meaning those who do not feel romantic attraction towards others. These people may call themselves “aro” for short. The identities listed above can apply to the aromantic spectrum by changing the suffix -sexual by the suffix -romantic. For instance, grayromantic individuals feel that their romantic attraction lies within the gray zones of the aromantic spectrum.
For some, their romantic attraction and sexual attraction are the same. For instance, you might be homoromantic and homosexual, meaning you are both romantically and sexually attracted to the same gender. However, they might differentiate, leading to the importance of distinguishing these two axes of attraction. In my case, I consider myself panromantic and graysexual. I am romantically attracted to others regardless of their gender identity, and my sexual attraction to others is situated within the gray zones of asexuality. This is referred to as the Split Attraction Model (SAM).
Those who consider themselves to be on the asexual and/or aromantic spectrum are a welcome part of the LGBTQ+ community because their sexual and/or romantic identities differ from that of a cisgender, heteroromantic and heterosexual individual.
Like other members of the LGBTQ+ community, asexual and aromantic people can face discrimination for their identities. Cultural and sexual norms might leave these communities out of the discussion, many people not even knowing what asexuality and aromanticism are. Some might see these identities as a consequence of sexual trauma, or the person having not yet “found the right person”. This contributes to gaslighting and invisibility of said individuals and their identities, which in turn can lead to feelings such as internalized shame.
In short, while they may be a lesser-known sub-community (at least for now) within the LGBTQ+ family, asexual and aromantic people are just as deserving of support from their social circles and medical practitioners. Both asexual and aromantic people within their respective continuums are capable of bonding with others, in their own unique way.