The day I realized I wasn’t straight is forever burned into my mind. It wasn’t because my parents yelled at me for being queer, or that the church I went to called me an abomination to god, or that I sat praying that something within me would change.
No, I was sitting in class during my sophomore year of high school during sex ed, and when my teacher stressed the importance of never having sex before marriage, I thought, “Like it’s hard?” and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
Later, I was browsing the internet, as all teenagers do, and I came across the different terms for different sexualities: bisexual, pansexual, homosexual, heterosexual and finally asexual.
At that moment, something clicked in my brain. I had a label for what I was, and I happily claimed it for myself.
What I was not prepared for were the influx of questions people asked because they didn’t understand what asexuality was. It’s probably because not many people know that asexuality is a valid orientation.
So in honor of Asexual Awareness Week, I gathered a list of questions from allosexual (non-asexual) people and had other asexual people at the Signpost answer them, so it’s not just my voice answering for the whole community.
My question answerers are myself, Nicholas Muranaka, Monika Clarke and Joshua Wineholt, who are all well-versed in being asexual and in Joshua’s case, demisexual (which means not having sexual attraction until having a deep emotional bond).
How does asexuality work?
Joshua: (Demisexuality works) Fairly well. On a more serious note, I see it like anything else in a relationship where preference is involved: you communicate with your partner, and it is just a part of the relationship. If the question is more about biology: I’m a photographer. I can’t help answer that one.
Monika: This isn’t like asexual reproduction in science. I know I can’t just produce a clone of myself. It’s just that sex is…meh. I would rather cuddle up and watch a movie with a nice mug of hot chocolate.
Sierra: I have never felt the desire to have sex with anyone, including my partner. I look at him, and I love him, but I have never felt that “urge” that many allosexual people feel.
Do you feel asexuality isn’t recognized as a real thing?
Nic: I think it can be a stigmatized thing, for sure, just like any perceived “abnormality” in sexual attraction.
Monika: I do! Often we are told that we just haven’t found the right person yet. Others think that we just haven’t experimented enough. The thing is, I just don’t care to experiment. I already know, just like someone who doesn’t need to have sex with a man to know they prefer women.
Joshua: It’s a term which is still, in many ways, only beginning to become more popularized. People tend to struggle with and sometimes disregard terms they see as new, especially when told the concept isn’t actually new but they were just ignorant before. Some people still don’t recognize the idea, many still treat it flippantly, but slowly, it will become more accepted. Luckily, in my experience, things like asexuality and demisexuality aren’t treated the same way people in the rest of the LGBT+ community have been: when people don’t accept us, we are generally not in danger or abused.
Sierra: It’s definitely changed from when I first realized I was asexual. Lots of people used to tell me, “Oh, that doesn’t exist.” But now, lots of people have at least heard of it but perhaps don’t know exactly what it’s all about.
How did you realize you’re asexual?
Nic: It was a gradual realization over a few relationships where I realized that I wasn’t experiencing sexual attraction.
Monika: At first, I thought I might be bi because I feel the same way towards women as I do men. However, I quickly realized I didn’t care much for either. A quick Google search informed me I wasn’t alone. I am asexual.
Joshua: Not getting any satisfaction (climax) from casual sex was a bit of a give away. There are only so many dissatisfying, random hook-ups one can have before they say, “You know what? Ain’t for me.”
Sierra: Like I said, it was only realizing that other people had to resist having sex I realized I was the “weird” one.
Was coming out the same?
Nic: Having never had to come out as anything else, I can’t say for sure, but for me personally, it’s pretty easy to tell people I’m ace. I don’t go around bandying the information about, but whenever it’s pertinent, I have a pretty easy time letting people know. If they don’t think it’s a thing afterward, f••k ’em.
Monika: Coming out was not a big affair for me. There was no fear of rejection, mostly because who would get mad at me for not wanting to have sex?
Joshua: I am not secretive about my sexuality, but it isn’t something I’ve ever felt the need to discuss openly. It just isn’t a subject I find interesting. This is not to say no one knows; I just didn’t “come out.” People in my life know if they need to.
Sierra: There can be some stigma caused by people genuinely not understanding what it is like to be asexual in a sexual world. However, I’ve never felt like they meant harm by not understanding, as opposed to as if I had come out as bi, gay or trans.
Is it necessary to have an asexual partner?
Nic: Not for me, no. I can see how for some this could be a deal breaker. I’m not uncomfortable having sex, I just don’t feel the need for it myself. I’ve never had a problem with a partner not understanding, either, but I can see how that could be a difficulty as well.
Monika: It would probably make life easier to have one, but I don’t think it is necessary. The important thing to have in a partner is respect. If you have respect, personal boundaries will always be followed.
Joshua: I’ve never had an asexual partner, but I’ve had one who is also demisexual. While there are many benefits to that, I wouldn’t say it is necessary. Sex and physical attraction are important parts of a romantic relationship, generally, but never should they be the most important. Any relationship built on those things will fail anyway.
Sierra: For a long time, I thought I had to have an asexual partner because many people told me they couldn’t live without sex, so that gave me anxiety that I’d never find anyone, unless they were willing to never have sex. But now I’m in a very loving relationship with someone who is not asexual, and I love him with all my heart.
How do you go about dating non-asexual people?
Nic: I let them know up front that I’m ace and that if sex is gonna be a thing they want, it can be difficult for me, but otherwise, this has been less of a problem than I thought it would be initially.
Monika: A LOT of trial and error. It is hard to find someone who is happy with being great friends for a while before any romance will happen. Even then, it can be hard for them because they know that chances are I won’t be attracted to them at any point. However, I am the sort of girl who will grow attached. Don’t worry that I’m not attracted to you physically; I will have a very hard time without you emotionally.
Joshua: This isn’t a struggle for me, being demisexual. All the pieces, and desires, are still in place, so they sometimes don’t even realize. The times when I have dated someone with whom I had yet to form a deep connection, I simply viewed sex as a need my partner had which I wanted to fulfill. It was just like listening to or supporting them: they needed it; I wanted to provide it. In those cases, I just focus on their desires and enjoyment. Sometimes this was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, who doesn’t want their partner fulfilling their every need? On the other, when their partner (me) didn’t climax, they would eventually take it as an insult. Men have a reputation of being easy to satisfy, so when it repeatedly doesn’t happen, it can be frustrating and hurtful.
Sierra: Communication. When I’m dating someone, I tell them up front that I am asexual. I don’t see the point in continuing the relationship if sex is an absolute must. Our wants and needs should match up for the most part, but no partner is ever going to fit you 100%, so that’s why you should communicate about what you need, what you want and what you will and absolutely won’t do.
Do you ever have the urge to have sex?
Nic: Once in a blue moon, it can happen.
Monika: Seldom, if at all.
Joshua: Of course, just only with the person I have a strong connection with.
Sierra: Maybe like three times a year? Five if I’m being generous.
Do asexuals want to get married?
Nic: I mean, yes. It’s not like people don’t want companionship when they’re asexual.
Monika: I do. I have this dream of growing old with someone else who is the closest person in the world to me.
Joshua: Why wouldn’t they? Sexuality and marriage, while sometimes linked, are not synonyms. While the question of marriage varies from person to person, it’s called “asexuality” not “amatrimony.”
Sierra: Absolutely. I’ve known I want to give someone my heart and have theirs for as long as I have understood what marriage was.
Do you like hugs? Kisses? Sex?
Nic: I’m not a huge touchy person, so I’m pretty meh toward all of it.
Monika: A hug depends on who it is coming from. Kissing is alright, I guess. I haven’t liked anyone enough to kiss them yet… I’m not fond of PDA though. I don’t want to feel like this is a relationship for show that others can see. Sex is a strange line. I feel like it isn’t something I would be pressured into, but if my partner were to ask, I don’t think I would refuse outright. Just like anyone, it depends on my mood.
Joshua: Hugging and kissing are two of my favorite things. I tend to be extremely affectionate in romantic relationships. Sex I love when it is with the right person.
Sierra: Hugs are amazing. Kisses can be fun, depending on where they’re at. Sex probably would be fun, but I have other things to do.
What about kids?
Nic: Since I hate all children, this is a hard no anyway, but that was always going to be the case and has been since before I was certain I was ace.
Monika: I do want children. Yes, I realize sex is required for that — I’ve been told so many times. If I want children, I will take the necessary steps, easy as that.
Joshua: I’d love to have a family, one day, and fully intend to have kids whenever I find the woman who can put up with me every day.
Sierra: I’m not too interested in having children for a long time, and even then, I would rather adopt.
How do you go about sex (if you were interested)?
Nic: Again, not uncomfortable, just not interested. I’ve had girlfriends who wanted sex more than others, and I’m fine as long as they understand that I’m never going to be the one seeking it out.
Monika: Consent is the most important factor to an ace. Disregarding our wishes will severely damage our trust in anyone.
Joshua: These aren’t even questions for asexuals or demisexuals but rather for literally every person on Earth. Do you and the other person want sex? Are they able to consent? Yes? Go do sex to each other.
Sierra: In high school, I thought sex was something adults did, like taxes or dying. I didn’t understand that people actually desired to have sex. My understanding has changed since then, and while I generally still don’t have an interest in it, I don’t think I would mind having it for my partner when we are married.