Asexuality: Identity and Awareness

It’s Asexual Awareness Week from October 23rd – October 29!

I’ve sat down to write this post, and I’m nervous. It’s another personal story, which I planned to do one of every month, but my posting schedule disappeared, so this feels not only like a dive back into blogging but also a huge deal for me and my personal identity. I wouldn’t really call it “coming out,” as there are people in my life who already know this about me. I was considering posting something for National Coming Out day on October 11th, but I realized that Ace Visibility Week was right around the corner and that I could use this as an opportunity to spread some knowledge.

Defining Asexuality

Google defines asexuality as: “the quality or characteristic of having no sexual feelings or desires.” It’s simple, but it’s what most people think of in terms of the human side of the definition. (Google also defines the biological term, but this is, of course, not applicable here). 

However, this definition can be a little misleading. People will hear this and automatically assume that this means that all people who identify as asexual have no interest or desire or are even completely opposed to engaging in sexual activity. This may be true for some people, but those things don’t apply to everyone. Some people are sex-neutral or even sex-positive. Then there are even people who are on the ace spectrum, meaning that they may fluctuate between varying stages of this type of attraction.

The most common misconception of asexuality is that those who identify as asexual do not experience romantic attraction or are aromantic. Asexuality and Aromanticism are two completely separate things, and while people may identify with both identities, they do not have to go hand-in-hand for everyone. 

Personal Experience

No one really knows their sexuality fully, in my opinion. Just as with everything else in life, things can change over time, as you discover yourself, and as you age. You should never let anyone tell you how you should identify, and you should feel no shame if your sexuality changes over time.

When I was in high school, I started hearing people talking about things like relationships and sex a lot more than in middle school. With this came discussions about identity and sexuality. I heard people saying, “I’m bisexual,” a lot, as this seemed to be an identity that was considered “cool” to have. I remember looking up what bisexuality was, and coming to the conclusion that that didn’t seem right for me (all my crushes were guys!). The conversation around these topics continued throughout high school, and I always just considered myself an ally, as I had no problem with people liking whoever they wanted.

While volunteering at the library the summer before senior year, I read a lot more books because I was shelving them as new ones came in. Because of this, I learned a lot more about sexuality and identity, and that there was a whole realm beyond bisexuality that existed. I mean, I knew about the LGBT community (which was the acronym I had learned at the time) but I never fully realized that there was a “+” I was missing. I read so much and learned about so many different identities, and I started to wonder why none of them really sounded like how I felt. 

I came across the term asexuality in a book called This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson. It had one of the smallest sections in the definitions category of the book. But it introduced me to the term, which I hadn’t heard before. Upon reading that brief definition, I decided to check out another book from the library titled The Invisible Orientation: an Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker. I remember reading it at school at the end of classes and during free periods. All the while I thought “wow, this makes a lot of sense.” I don’t recall the exact content of the book, nor the narrative it told, but I do remember feeling that it had opened a door in my mind. 

Now, I did tell my parents about my newfound identity. They were supportive but doubtful, as I hadn’t been in a relationship yet, so how could I know what my identity was? I reluctantly agreed with their conclusion, returned the book to the library, and basically gave up. I was content with not having a label on my identity, but in that short period of time I did have a label, I felt more me. 

I soon graduated and went to start my freshman year of college. Nothing notable happened freshman year, but I did enter and exit my first relationship. I’ll admit, it’s a funky thing to talk about, but nothing sexual happened in my first relationship, as I wasn’t ever interested in it. I didn’t jump to the conclusion that I was asexual based on that fact alone, but I did revisit the idea. I let it float around and I never did any further research into it because, well, no one goes around asking “so what’s your sexuality,” so I didn’t feel the need to have an answer at the ready. When I entered my second (and current) relationship at the start of sophomore year, I went in with an open mind. Yes, “stuff” has happened (no details needed), and I’ve since been able to further solidify my belief in my identity. 

So, one might say that I’ve identified as asexual since my senior year of high school, or perhaps since my sophomore year of college. Regardless, the entire time I’ve never felt confident in stating that out loud or to anyone (other than my fiance, of course). And it’s not because I don’t believe it’s really how I identify. I do identify as Asexual, it’s just that there’s a lot of internet hate and general misinformation about the identity as a whole that makes me feel awkward or insecure about stating it. If I were to mention it, people would either a) get the wrong definition, b) ask me to elaborate, or c) claim that I “just don’t know what I’m saying.” The anxiety of not knowing the response I’m going to get has kept me “in the closet” as some might say. And I know that this isn’t an uncommon thing for people in the LGBTQIA+ community. 

My goal in writing this is to hopefully encourage people to learn about asexuality so they are better able to support people they may know who identify this way and to generally bring knowledge and awareness as asexuality is seemingly forgotten a lot. 

This past summer, right after my undergraduate graduation, I came across a book in a little bookshop sitting near the bottom of a pride month display. Here I discovered Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen. I read the book over the following few days. That book made me cry. I felt the most seen, the most understood, the most validated I’d ever felt, and it made me so overwhelmingly happy. It not only helped me fully understand and feel more confident in my identity, but it also helped me and my relationship as well. It was the best purchase I’ve ever made and an extremely well-written book that I recommend you read if you get the chance. 


If you’re interested in learning more about asexuality, I recommend reading the two books I mentioned previously:
The Invisible Orientation: an Introduction to Asexuality by Julie Sondra Decker
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen

In addition, you should check out some online resources that helped me a lot back when I was first researching asexuality in high school:
The Asexual Visibility & Education Network 
GLAAD’s articled from Ace Visibility Week 


This isn’t by any means a long blog post, but it was important to me to spread awareness and also embrace my identity in the process. I hope that you were able to learn something from this, either about asexuality, or about me.

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