One day in the sexuality unit of my high school Health and Wellness class, my teacher was discussing various sexual orientations. When she rolled around to explaining what asexuality meant, I stiffened a bit. My older brother identifies as asexual, which means he feels no sexual feelings or attractions, and this fact caused storms of controversy within my family. I often had to (unsuccessfully) fight for my brother, so the topic was one of great sensitivity for me. Despite the teacher’s request at the beginning of class to keep all rude comments to oneself, the girl in front of me whispered to her friend, “It must suck to be asexual. They don’t love anyone.”
I remember the feeling of defeat running through my body as her comment struck my heart. Exhausted from the misunderstandings my brother had to face, I approached the girl right after class and told her what she said really hurt and that, in case she didn’t know, my brother was asexual. I then proceeded to run out of the classroom crying.
To ensure that a similar situation never happens to anyone again, CelebMix would like to shine a light on the top 5 most common misconceptions about asexuality.
5. “Asexuality describes a form of bacterial reproduction; it cannot describe humans.”
I’ll admit that when my brother came out two years ago, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard the word “asexual” was the process of some types of micro-organisms reproducing. Maybe it was because I had just taken a biology class, but likely it was because, like most people, I was unaware that humans could even identify as asexual (or ace, for short). For a while I thought his feelings were invalid, and that he was just making something up. But after some research, I realized that asexuality was a legitimate sexual orientation with which many people identify. As I mentioned before, people who identify as asexual experience little or no sexual desires, attractions, and/or feelings. It was also a nice reminder that words sometimes have multiple meanings, and that just because a new concept does not correlate with old ideas does not make that concept illegitimate.
4. “Asexuality is just a phase, or an excuse to stay abstinent.”
My brother hears this a lot. Like any other form of identity, one does not “grow” out of asexuality. They might find later that they identify as something else, but this does not mean that their feelings are invalid or temporary. Asexuality is not just a fit of immaturity or “prude-ness,” either. It is not an attitude or a choice, but rather a sexual orientation and a means of identity. Therefore, reducing it to something as trifle as a “phase” alienates and invalidates the identity of the asexual community — no one deserves to hear that they will “grow out” of who they really are.
3. “Asexual people cannot be intimate or romantic.”
Asexuality and aromanticism are two different things that are often confused or combined. A person who is aromantic experiences little or no romantic desires, attractions, and/or feelings. As people who are asexual do not show interest in having a sexual relationship, people who are aromantic do not show interest in having a romantic relationship, which can include holding hands, kissing, cuddling, or dating. The two orientations may or may not be mutually exclusive — for example, someone might be ace but desire a romantic relationship, whereas another person might be aro but experience sexual attraction. In my brother’s case, he is both asexual and aromantic — he wants neither a romantic nor a sexual relationship. People also might fall on a spectrum of these different identities, but it is wrong to assume that an asexual person is aromantic, and vice versa.
2. “Sexual desire is natural, therefore asexual people are unnatural.”
Just because something does not fall into the category of “everybody seems to do it” does not deem it unnatural. Human beings are complex, diverse individuals who have different experiences all along a massive, multi-dimensional spectrum. The spectrum reflects our humanity; therefore its place on which we were born reflects our humanity too. All sexual orientations are real, and as long as one is happy with who they are, their form of love should be accepted. What is unnatural is the inflexible standard of what love should be; the feelings of the people that the standard disregards are fully natural.
1. “It must suck to be asexual. They don’t love anyone.”
This was the statement that sent me running through the doors crying as I reflected on the misunderstandings and conflicts my brother had to endure simply for identifying as asexual. Plus, it was an offensive, ignorant remark through and through. Just because someone is asexual does not mean they cannot love. It does not mean they do not show emotion or affection. It does not mean they do not have a heart. People who are asexual need love and companionship, just as all people do. They experience and express emotion. And my asexual brother has one of the biggest, most loving hearts I am fortunate to know. Sexual desire is not the same thing as love, and his life does not “suck” because he is asexual — self-love propels him to happiness. His sexual orientation does not make him any less human, it does not invalidate the love he feels, and it is not something he has to be ashamed of.
Asexuality is still a cloudy topic for most people. It’s the “A” that is often overlooked in LGBTQIAP+. But by understanding the truth behind some of the misconceptions, we cultivate hope for a more open society — one that truly accepts love in all forms.
For more information on asexuality, please visit The Asexuality Visibility and Educational Network.
How do you plan to increase your understanding and awareness of asexuality? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @CelebMix.