The asexuality spectrum is an umbrella term for individuals who feel little to no sexual attraction. It is important to understand that asexuality is not the same as celibacy or abstinence (the choice to abstain from sexual activity,) but rather is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity, just like other sexual orientations.
Asexuality is a broad spectrum and each person’s experiences and preferences are different. Additionally, some people feel that they are in the gray area of being neither definitively asexual nor definitively allosexual (someone who does feel sexual attraction would be identified as allosexual.) These individuals can identify as gray-a. Additionally, people who identify as demisexual only feel sexual attraction after developing a strong emotional bond with someone.
People who identify as asexual — also known as “ace” or “aces” — have the same emotional needs as everyone else, but may get fulfillment from relationships that are not sexual in nature, such as close friendships. Aces also commonly feel other types of attraction, like aesthetic attraction and romantic attraction. Aesthetic attraction is when someone is attracted to a person’s aesthetic (their appearance or beauty.) On the other hand, romantic attraction is when one feels a deep emotional connection or attraction to someone.
In order to better communicate what relationships one is looking for, many aces have adopted the Split Attraction Model, which separates sexual attraction from romantic attraction. Although they may not experience sexual attraction, many aces do feel romantic attraction or desire and commonly use prefixes (such as hetero-, homo-, bi-, and pan-) in front of the word “romantic” to describe who they feel romantic attraction towards. Aromanticism is another type of romantic orientation. People who identify as aromantic experience little to no romantic attraction and prefer close friendships and other non-romantic relationships. Some people who are aromantic form queerplatonic relationships, non-romantic relationships in which there is a strong emotional connection going beyond what is typically thought of as a friendship.
Today, myths and misconceptions still continue to affect the asexual community and unfortunately often seek to invalidate people’s identities. For example, there is a common misconception that young people cannot identify as asexual because they are “too young” or “inexperienced.” But this is simply not true; people can embrace their asexuality at a young age in the same way that others can embrace their allosexuality at a young age.
Currently, the most cited research figure states that about 1% of the population is asexual, although some experts estimate that the actual figure may be higher. According to The Trevor Project, 28% of the ace community is under 18 years old, while 32% of the community is between 19 and 21 years old. Additionally, 20% of the community identifies as transgender or is questioning in gender identity.
Ultimately, everyone, no matter who they are or what stage of life they are in, should be able to embrace and take pride in their identity, including as asexual.