“A” is for Asexual: Erasing the Asexual Orientation
Earlier this week Equinox put out a beautiful video supporting the LGBTQA+ community. But I was afraid to watch it. Why would I, a member of the LGBT community, an avid supporter and fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, be afraid to watch the gorgeous cinematography of queer voices making themselves heard?
I was afraid I wouldn’t be heard. That my orientation would have no voice.
I am Asexual.
My heart was in my chest watching, because I was afraid my orientation would be erased again. The alphabet began. It said “A” is for “Ally.”
I turned the video off. Once again, the all inclusive LGBT community has kicked my orientation out — as if it’s not enough that the whole world kicks us out. Where do the Asexuals belong? We make up about 1% of the entire population. There aren’t many of us, but there are enough of us to prove the orientation exists. We should be recognized in the queer alphabet soup.
I thought I was broken, but I was just Asexual.
In my teens and 20’s, being asexual was especially confusing. Since there aren’t many of us, it’s not like we get a lot of publicity. I never realized other people like me existed. I just thought I was broken. I went to doctors and therapists, and they prescribed hormones and treatments to try and awaken my sex drive. But the truth is — I didn’t care. I didn’t want to desire sex.
My Dad somehow noticed his great fortune in never having to worry about his teenage daughter running around with boys. One day he just flat out asked me, “Are you gay? It’s okay if you are.”
I’m not gay. The truth is, I’ve dated girls, guys, and transgender folks. I’m Asexual, and in my case, I don’t really care what’s between a person’s legs. After all, it’s of no interest to me. I’m far more interested in their soul, in our compatibility, and in whether or not they’ll play video games with me.
Being erased by society causes struggles for Asexuals.
A few months ago I went to see my gynecologist. I am a successful, professional woman in my mid-30’s. I am taken seriously by my peers. But when I told her I am Asexual, her initial response was a big, hearty laugh!
When I told her I was serious, that it was a real orientation, she grew stern immediately. “Would you like me to sign you up for therapy?”
To recap: A doctor who spent at least 8 years studying women’s sex organs laughed at me when I told her I was Asexual — then asked if I needed therapy. This lack of education shouldn’t be so pervasive.
I’m sick of being erased by society at-large, but particularly by the LGBTQA+ community. Since I’d never heard of the term “Asexual” or met another person like me, the only other solution offered to me was that I was either a repressed lesbian or broken.
Asexuals often struggle in relationships because they don’t understand how sex fits into them. And because our orientation is often erased and forgotten by the LGBTQA+ marketing campaigns (I’m looking at you, Equinox), these are the kinds of responses I get when I “come out” as Asexual.
“Are you sure? Maybe you’ve just never had good sex.”
I have. I’m a sex positive asexual, and I do sometimes have sex. I recognize the difference between good and bad sex — and I prefer cake.
“How can you know you’re asexual if you’ve never tried?”
I have tried. But for those Asexuals who haven’t had sex yet – they can still sense their orientation. Just like lesbians know they like women before they first have lesbian sex.
“Maybe you just can’t get any.”
I can. I’m pretty cute. I’m surprised so many guys stayed with me even when I wouldn’t have sex with them for years.
“Oh, were you sexually molested?”
Nope! I just don’t care about sex.
“How will you ever get married?
I am married now. To a bi-sexual man. We’ve got a system that works for us, and many Asexual people can find healthy relationships.
“Don’t you want kids?”
I do. Very much. Many, but not all, Asexual people are capable of having sex. It’s just not a priority or incredible earth-shattering experience for us. Also, there’s adoption. Artificial insemination. Lots of options for Asexuals who want children.
“How does your partner handle never getting any?”
As with any relationship, we openly discuss our sex life and desires, and work together so that our needs are all met.
Worse than these questions, Asexuals sometimes even face “corrective rape” from significant others who really believe one hot night of good sex will cure our orientation. As if rape has ever cured anything. Ugh.
And guess what, Equinox? Videos like yours that erase Asexuality from the equation completely just perpetuate a system where young Asexuals continue feeling “broken,” like we don’t belong anywhere.
Asexuals are one of the most complex orientations.
For people who don’t care about sex, Asexuals are broken down into more alphabet soup than the LGBTQA+. We’ve got
- Asexual Aromantics
- Asexual Romantics
- Asexual Panromantics – That’s me!
- Heteroromantic Asexuals
- Homoromantic Asexuals
- Bi-romantic Asexuals
- Asexual Sex Repulsed
- Asexual Sex Favorable
- Sex Positive Asexuals
- Sex Neutral
- People who just like cake
And probably more–if I missed you, comment, and I’ll list it. I’d like you to feel heard here even if you feel heard no where else.
I volunteer with HRC. When I got married, I didn’t accept gifts; instead, we took donations for Marriage Equality. I support LGBTQA+ and consider myself one of you. But it really tears my heart to pieces to see yet another piece of PR for the community that completely eliminates Asexuals from existence. There aren’t many of us. We need you!
“A” is NOT for Ally or Advocate
Allies — I appreciate you. You’re awesome, and you’re needed. But right now, Asexuals need that “A” more than you do. You live in a society where your sexual orientation is shown on every TV show; recognized by every relationship. I live in a world where I’d never met another person like me — I thought I was broken and unfixable until I stumbled upon the Asexual Visibility & Education Network. It changed my life and my understanding of myself.
If you’re gay, I’m sure it changed your life when you first discovered it was okay to like people of your same gender. If you’re trans, I’m sure it changed your life to discover other people like you existed. Asexuals deserve that same opportunity. We need your help to raise awareness. We do not want to be erased from the LGBTQA+. You work so hard to be inclusive. So please remember to include us.
Update: Buzzfeed Takes Up the Ace Cause!
Buzzfeed, who has always been great about providing visibility to the Asexual community, has stepped up to call out Equinox on replacing Asexuals with Allies. Thank you so much for your support, Buzzfeed! You’re providing life-changing visibility for our end of the spectrum!