A 2016 review published by the University of British Columbia confirms that asexuality isn’t some bizarre form of “psychopathology” or the result an extremely low libido as famously diagnosed by zoologist and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. Instead, researchers say, “available evidence points to asexuality being best conceptualized as a unique sexual orientation.”
In other words: Having no sexual orientation is itself a sexual orientation. Just like being gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, etc., etc., etc. Now, one asexual man has opened up to HuffPost about his experiences surviving in a very non-asexual world.
“To me, asexuality has always meant simply a lack of sexual attraction,” Ace (not his real name) says. “There definitely are shades of asexuality. … There are asexuals who identify as sex-repulsed, sex-favorable, or anywhere in between.”
Ace explains that many people treat asexuality, in general, the same way they do bisexuality, like it’s just a phase, or a joke, or some sort of character flaw.
“Asexuality is often portrayed as a joke or juvenile or as a result of another ‘undesirable’ quality in a character,” he says. “As I get older, I also experience a lot of young adults making rude or ill-informed comments about people who might not like sex. I realize that a few ignorant comments aren’t so bad, but they do hurt just a little.”
Since it’s not taken seriously, Ace says, there are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding it.
“I’ve read a lot of articles, opinion pieces, and social media posts telling asexuals that we are wrong or ill or confused,” he says. “I’ve had one person in my personal life try to convince me otherwise, but they turned out to be a very unsupportive friend in many other instances.”
He continues: “Ultimately, it’s not up to any person to make the label for another. Sexuality can be a very private thing; we can each label our own if we so choose, but I don’t think it’s fair to label anyone else.”
Another common misconception Ace hears is that asexuality is a result of some sort of negative sexual experience in a person’s life.
“Just like any human experience, there are an infinite amount of ways asexuality can come to be,” he explains. “Sometimes a person might experience a traumatic event, or have a hormonal imbalance, or any other cause, but it also happens without stimulus as well. In all cases, it doesn’t matter how the asexuality ‘came to be,’ if a person identifies as asexual, then you should take their word for it.”
So where do we go from here? The answer is simple: Education, of course!
“Just to learn as much as you can,” Ace says. “There are millions of different ways to experience life, and it is difficult for a lot of people to empathize with an experience they don’t like or understand. Knowledge and understanding are the keys to tolerance.”