Who We Are: Asexuality 101 & Resources
(Click here to download a printable PDF of this introduction.)
What is asexuality?
Asexuality is a sexual orientation describing people who experience little or no sexual attraction towards others, regardless of gender. There is considerable diversity within the asexual community; each asexual person experiences arousal, attraction, and relationships differently.
Is asexual another word for celibate?
No. Celibacy is choosing to abstain from sexual activity. Asexuality is not a choice, but rather a sexual orientation. Some asexuals do not consider themselves celibate. Some asexuals choose to have sex, and are therefore not celibate.
Is asexuality caused by trauma or illness?
There is no indication that trauma or mental illness can cause asexuality, and there is no data to support a connection between trauma or mental illness and sexual orientation in general. As in most communities, some asexuals have experienced trauma and mental illness, while many others have not. Just as surviving trauma or living with mental illness doesn’t “turn” an individual asexual, it also doesn’t invalidate an asexual individual’s self-described identity. The causes of any sexual orientation are complex and still largely unknown; we choose to celebrate the diversity of sexual identity and expression regardless of the factors that create them.
Are asexuals just people who aren’t interested in sex because they haven’t met the right person yet?
Some asexuals have tried engaging in sexual relationships, and some asexuals choose to experiment sexually. Some asexuals are in sexual relationships, and some asexuals are in non-sexual relationships. Some asexuals have found the “right person“ for them, and some asexuals do not feel drawn to find the “right“ one and have a sexual and/ or romantic relationship. This diversity of lived-experience and relationships does not change an asexual person’s identity. The unifying experience among the majority of asexuals is the knowledge that sex is not how they intrinsically feel drawn to connect with others intimately.
Do asexuals have relationships?
Asexual people can experience a wide variety of attractions beyond sexual attraction, and may form relationships based on those attractions. Many asexual people find it useful to describe their romantic interest in others in terms of a romantic orientation in much the same way that people describe their interest in others sexually in terms of a sexual orientation.
What is a romantic orientation?
- Aromantic: experiences little or no romantic attraction to others
- Biromantic: romantically attracted to their same gender as well as genders not their own
- Grayromantic: a romantic orientation somewhere between aromantic and romantic
- Demiromantic: only experiences romantic attraction after establishing a strong emotional connection
- Heteroromantic: romantically attracted to genders not their own
- Homoromantic: romantically attracted to their same gender
- Panromantic: romantically attracted to others, irrespective of gender
- WTF-romantic: is unsure, does not identify with labels or find them useful
What is the asexual spectrum?
Like all sexual orientations, asexuality exists on a spectrum. Some people are not “100% asexual;” they fall into a gray area between asexual and sexual and may identify with a variety of sublabels, such as:
Graysexuality: describes people who do not usually experience sexual attraction, but do experience it sometimes; people who experience sexual attraction, but lower sex drive; people who experience sexual attraction and sex drive, but not strongly enough to cause them to seek out sex; people who enjoy and desire sex, but only in very specific and limited circumstances.
Demisexuality: describes people who do not experience sexual attraction until they form a strong emotional connection. Even when an emotional connection is present, it is not inevitable that sexual attraction will accompany it.
Why is asexual awareness important?
Sexuality is an important aspect of culture. However, sexuality is not something that everyone experiences similarly, and sex is not something that everyone desires equally. When society insists that all people should experience sexuality and a desire for sex in the same, normative way, asexual spectrum individuals often feel broken or ashamed. In addition, many asexual spectrum people face harassment from peers because they don’t fit the model of normative sexuality.
By raising awareness about asexuality, we hope to show others in the asexual spectrum community that they are not alone and do not need to feel ashamed. We seek to validate asexual spectrum individuals’ sense of self. We aim to build a culture that recognizes asexuality as a valid sexual orientation: not a choice, not a disease, and not something to be cured or “fixed.“
Asexuality Visibility & Education Network
AVEN hosts the world's largest online asexual spectrum community, as well as a large archive of resources on asexuality. AVEN strives to create open, honest discussion about asexuality among sexual and asexual people alike. Created in 2001, it features a highly active forum with members from across the globe interacting over subforums in more than 18 languages.
Ace Week (formerly Asexual Awareness Week) is an international campaign that seeks to educate about asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and gray-asexual experiences and to create materials that are accessible to our community and our allies around the world.
The Asexuality Archive is a collection of all things asexual. The archive aims to provide a comprehensive and uncensored look into what asexuality is, what it means to us and how it shapes our lives. The intention is to provide information that is approachable and informative, whether or not you’re asexual.
Asexual Story Project
The Asexual Story Project is a space where anyone who is asexual or somewhere on the ace spectrum can share their personal stories about being asexual, coming out, relationships, and other experiences.
The Asexual Agenda is a blog written by ace-spectrum people, for ace-spectrum people, covering topics at a higher level than what you find in the mainstream news. We talk about experiences, identity politics, intersectionality, academic research, asexual activism, and anything else you like.