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Asexuals are one of the more underrepresented groups within the LGBTQ+ community, but like any other identity, it’s easy to fall for the misconceptions regarding it. Let’s take a look at some of the false rumors about asexuality.
1. All asexuals avoid sex.
While people who identify as asexual don’t experience sexual attraction, that doesn’t automatically mean they will do away with sex altogether. Some asexuals may choose to have sexual intercourse with their partner if they want to have an intimate relationship. Whether you are asexual or otherwise, sex is great as long as it’s consensual.
The term ‘asexual,’ is also an umbrella term, meaning there are variations that stem from this singular term which people can identify with. For example, gray asexuality is a term people use to define themselves when they identify in the ‘gray area’ between sexuality and asexuality. Demisexuality is another term similar to asexuality, in which an individual does not experience sexual attraction to a person unless an emotional bond has been formed.
2. Asexuals don’t want romantic relationships.
There are two different types of orientations a person can identify with: a sexual orientation, and a romantic orientation. Given that sexual and romantic attraction are similar, yet highly different experiences, people can identify differently with their orientations. For example, someone who identifies as homosexual can also identify as panromantic at the same time. In other words, they might want to have a romantic relationship with any person, regardless of their gender identity, but only want to have an intimate relationship with a person of the same sex.
This same principle applies to people who identify as asexual. Someone who experiences no sexual attraction, yet feels romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex, would identify as asexual and heteroromantic. Just because someone doesn’t experience sexual attraction, doesn’t mean they don’t want a romantic relationship; it all depends on the individual.
3. Asexuals aren’t part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Yes, this exclusion happens even within the community itself. However, there is no such thing as being ‘too straight’ to be included in the community. And while we’re on this topic, the idea of excluding heterosexual individuals is extremely insensitive to transgender people who identify as straight.
In addition, the full acronym for the community is LGBTQQIP2SAA. That includes the terms: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, 2-Spirit, Asexual, and Ally. Yes, the acronym acknowledges the allies of the community, but more importantly, asexuality is included as well. It is important to take note that while the community is highly appreciative of its allies, they exist to help us make our voices heard, rather than to speak for us. So if you see the shortened acronym ‘LGBTQIA,’ the ‘A’ stands for asexual. It is very invalidating to tell someone they don’t belong in the community when they identify under one of the above terms; if you can understand the concept of validation, then the idea of belonging in the LGBTQ+ community shouldn’t be too hard.
4. Asexuality is a result of sexual abuse.
This misconception is more often accompanied by the mindset that people have the ability to choose their sexual orientation and gender identity. Much like we are unable to choose the color of our skin, a sexual orientation is merely the result of the way we are wired when we are born. Thus, the notion that asexuality stems from sexual abuse can be invalidating to asexual individuals.
That being said, survivors of sexual violence may choose not to further engage in sexual activity, which is a completely valid decision. However, it is different than asexuality, which is a sexual orientation and is not a choice.
5. Asexuality is equivalent to celibacy.
Celibacy is a state of abstaining from marriage, or sex, or both, and is typically for religious purposes. While this may sound similar to asexuality, it is not. Choosing not to have sex, and not experiencing sexual attraction, are not one in the same. In addition, as stated earlier, individuals who identify as asexual can choose to have sex if they want.
These are only a few misconceptions about asexuality, but they are merely a result of ignorance. If you are unsure whether a rumor, regarding any member of the LGBTQ+ community, is true, just ask politely.