Many misattribute the A in LGBTQIA to allies when it really stands for asexuals. This erasure of asexual identities disenfranchises the asexual community from the LGBT community, perhaps more so than any other marginalized community.
There are few openly asexual celebrities and even less asexual representation in media. This leaves members of this minority isolated in their journeys. It also leads to many misconceptions about asexuals. We wanted to clear up some of those misconceptions both for ourselves and for The Advocate's readers.
The Advocate asked the same four questions to 21 asexual individuals from all around North America. The diversity in the group reflects the assortment of experiences asexuals live. Some of the asexual participants are in relationships — monogamous, nonmonogramous, and polyamorous — while others are living single lives. Some participate in certain forms of sexual activity, and others are sex-repulsed (a term among asexuals meaning they do not have sex). Some masturbate and are even performers in pornography while others don't engage in any type of sexual activity.
In this first installment, asexuals share the biggest misconceptions about their sexuality. The goal was to allow asexual people to share their journey on their own terms by giving them a platform. We hope this series will begin a much-needed conversation.
Alyssa, asexual, 22, Rhode Island: It's hard to say what the biggest misconception is, but one I deal with a decent bit is that asexuality isn't real because we're "all just autistic." Um. No. First off, since autism isn't something you can separate from the person, even if our autism is related to our asexuality (pretty sure mine is) we're still asexual. Second, I'm fairly sure most asexual folks aren't autistic anyway.
Stacy, panromantic ace, 29, Texas: I don't know if this one is the biggest, but I would say it's the most dangerous — there is a mind-set that some people have when they meet or hear about someone who is asexual, where the knee-jerk reaction is "Oh, they just need to have sex. They just don't understand." To this I say a resounding no. There is also a subset of people who think it's their place to see to it that this asexual person gets the sexual experience everyone deems is necessary. This is where the term "corrective rape" is used and in no way corrects anything but instead makes sure that the asexual in question not only is scarred for life but also possibly becomes sex-repulsed. Not all aces have an aversion to sex. There are some who find it enjoyable in a way and engage in sexual acts as they so choose, but that's not everyone. And no one should be forced to have any sex they do not fully want to have, no matter their sexual orientation.
Lucian, queer gray ace, 24, New Jersey: That we are never sexual. That we cannot be sexual. I am a sex worker. Sexuality is part of my job. I make porn, mostly solo, but it is still sexual. There is this idea that being ace means you never masturbate, sex grosses you out, you never want to look sexy, and so forth. People think that ace people don't even masturbate, that the majority of us exist in this weird state separate from sexuality entirely. While that is true for some people, it is not true for all. For me, I have no interest in sex for the most part. I'd rather play video games. I look at porn, I create porn, but for me sexuality is a mostly solo or fictional thing. Does that mean I never have sex or want it? Not at all. People put a blanket idea over ace people as opposed to treating us like individuals.
Jack, asexual, 20, New York: I'd say the belief that asexuals have some physiological problem is a misconception. All of my "hardware" works, but I don't have any sexual drive. A more frustrating one is that asexuals are just pretending because they can't get laid. I've had people tell me that I'm not being genuine, that I'm just making an excuse because I'm a virgin. But I don't even "service" myself, so it's not like I'm looking for sexual satisfaction to begin with.
Marcia, queer asexual, 29, Missouri: If I meet the right person, I'll want to have sex. If I have enough sex, I'll like it. Asexuals are also aromantics.
Samantha, asexual, 28, Michigan: At this point, it’s hard to say because there’s only a handful of people who know I’m asexual. The three things that come to mind are (1) we’re incapable of sex; (2) we’re prudes or judgmental; (3) there’s no such thing as asexuality.