SHARE
TEAM ZOELLA FEBRUARY 22, 2021

We Spoke to 8 People Who Identify as Asexual, Ace, or Grey-Ace

In this blog post, we have an honest and open discussion with eight people who identify as asexual to raise awareness and hopefully dismantle some of the assumptions surrounding this often misunderstood orientation.

An asexual person (also abbreviated to ace) may not experience sexual attraction toward any gender but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy fulfilling relationships full of love, companionship and romantic attraction. At its core, asexuality is simply a name given to describe another form of sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality or homosexuality. It’s not a fear of sex, a phase or a synonym for celibacy. It’s just a word. We should also point out that asexuality is not a medical condition, the result of sex-related trauma or another term for loss of libido.

In the same way that anyone who identifies as heterosexual will have different emotional needs and preferences, identifying as asexual or grey-asexual (someone who feels they don’t fit the definition of asexual in some way, or experiences sexual attraction very rarely) means different things to different people. That’s the beauty of being an individual on a gloriously broad spectrum of life.

In this blog post, we have an honest and open discussion with eight people who identify as asexual to raise awareness and hopefully dismantle some of the assumptions surrounding this often misunderstood orientation.

Kate, 23

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

The first time I heard the word was with my ex-boyfriend, 5 years ago. And I was as usual not at all in the mood. He called me out on it. He threw the word at me like it was the worst thing you could be. I tried to shrug it off, but it sort of followed me around. 

Then 2 years ago I discovered I was attracted to both men and women. Through this realisation I got swept up in the LGBTQ+ community. This is where I rediscovered asexuality and grey-asexuality. The more I read the more I related to all the stories and explanations. I felt at ease then, because I always felt so weird and odd for not being interested in having sex. 

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

I do experience romantic attraction, I love the feeling of being in love. This may be one of the reasons it took me so long to figure it out. I think I confused romantic attraction for sexual attraction for the longest time, because it’s rarely displayed as two separate things. Except for when it’s solely about the sexual attraction.

What does identifying as asexual mean for partnered relationships/dating?

I’m always scared to tell (potential) partners that I am asexual because I think they might lose interest in me. I am very open about being bi (bi-romantic, that is), but telling people that I’m ace feels like more of a gamble. Most of the time, I’m afraid to end up alone again because of it. 

I am not a sex-repulsive asexual, I am more neutral to it.Kate

I am not a sex-repulsive asexual, I am more neutral to it. I understand that sex may be a need for my partner, so as long as they respect my boundaries when I do not want to, I’m absolutely fine with it. 

How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual!

I think the most amazing thing about being ace is that without the element of sex, you still have this wonderful connection with your partner. I find emotional connection with people the best thing ever. And with sex as more of background feature of the relationship, you have to find other ways to be intimate and to show you care about each other. 

What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

That ‘being asexual isn’t at all difficult, who cares’? Well, growing up thinking there is something wrong with you for not wanting to have sex in a world where sex seems to be the best thing ever’. Hearing that it’s so important if you want to have a good relationship. You start pretending to be someone you’re not and that is not easy or right.

Or that you don’t do/want sex, which can be true, but not automatically. It’s not because you don’t feel the need for it, that you are not open to it. It’s just the last thing on my mind. 

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

My friendships are everything to me. I adore my friends so much. I don’t believe my dedication to my friendships are related to my asexuality. But nevertheless, I absolutely love them. 

What does asexuality mean to you?

It means that I don’t consider sex to be an important part of my life or my relationship. I don’t need it. If it doesn’t happen, great. If it does, also okay. 

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

Just knowing is the biggest breakthrough so far. I haven’t been in a romantic relationship where this had to come up since I realised my (grey-)asexuality. I’m still figuring out where exactly I fit in in this spectrum. And I’m just trying to deal with it as it comes.

One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you…

I actually would rather encourage people to ask me questions. A lot of people, friends included, don’t know anything about being ace or grey-ace.

We live in a society where every relationship you see, in media and in real life, involves or revolves around sexual intercourse. Sex is expected. Kate

They just don’t get why I don’t feel the need for sex, and I understand where this is coming from. We live in a society where every relationship you see, in media and in real life, involves or revolves around sexual intercourse. Sex is expected. 

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

You are not weird, society is weird for making you believe that having sex is the most important thing in the world. 

Lucie, 19

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

I only realised I was ace during the first lockdown when I got a lot of time to think. I was unhappy before, something didn’t feel right and I discovered it as the year went on. I decided to open up about it to friends I felt safe with, and one of them recommended me to take online tests or to look at people stating their experience to see if I felt similar, which did help.

.

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

Asexuality doesn’t mean you are a-romantic as well (the fact of not having romantic feelings), I do feel attracted romantically to men. And I do need hugs, too much.
What does identifying as asexual mean for partnered relationships/dating? (only answer if comfortable doing so)
In a relationship, it takes love and an open mind to be accepted, and my boyfriend respects my identity.
How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual!
Asexuality makes me feel protected and recognised, it’s amazing identifying with a community and especially to live in today’s world, because the reactions would have been way harsher decades ago, and there would be no internet to share and learn! Learning about the ace community definitely reduced my worries and made me feel myself.

What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

I guess it’d be to say that we’re too young and we just don’t know ourselves yet or have not found the right person, and people also struggle to make a difference between romantic and sexual attraction, so they think we’re going to be alone at some point, when in a relationship; or forever.

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

Even in a relationship, I’ve always been the kind to say that being single is not an issue and that everybody should try to be independent. Having a special someone isn’t compulsory, especially not for the sake of having one.

What does asexuality mean to you?

Asexuality to me means a part of myself I finally feel like I’ve identified, and I’m not so weird. Lucie

Asexuality to me means a part of myself I finally feel like I’ve identified, and I’m not so weird. Although, like anything which is not very known or accepted in society, especially now that everything is hyper-sexualised, it’s hard to explain it to others and to believe it’s not going to make you encounter any issue ever (if one meets someone that they like and they’re not accepted for instance, but that can apply to other aspects of life obviously, not just asexuality.)

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

Being at university helped me grow and understand myself a bit more, or ask myself the right questions, and knowing that I don’t have to be like everyone else is a win too.

One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you…

To be fair, I haven’t told a lot of people because I feel like they don’t need to know, and the few people I did tell support me.

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

The resources I’ve used to learn were in French for most of them, but I do think that looking into all the branches covered by asexuality (demisexuality, greysexuality, aliquasexuality, antisexuality etc) is very useful to anyone who feels they could identify or anyone who wishes to learn. And also, feel proud of it! It does feel lonely in a hyper-sexualised society but we’re normal!

Anna, 36

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

I was in my early 30’s when it clicked into place for me. I was in the middle of a frustrated rant to my best friend about labels and the fact that I didn’t know what my sexuality was.  I’d never desired anyone sexually or romantically and I was worrying about why I didn’t seem to care that I didn’t have a boyfriend or wasn’t having sex because society had taught me that I should worry about these things (can you tell I’m an overthinker?)

I realised I couldn’t describe sexual attraction because I didn’t know what it felt like and I remember saying “what if I just don’t have a sexuality?” Anna

I realised I couldn’t describe sexual attraction because I didn’t know what it felt like and I remember saying “what if I just don’t have a sexuality?” My friend knew that asexuality existed and told me about it, together we researched it (and aromanticism as well) and I learned that not having a sexuality, was in fact a sexual orientation of its own. The labels felt instantly right for me and there was something really powerful about putting a name to how I felt. Funnily enough, I remember having a passing thought in my teens that maybe I was asexual, but I dismissed it because I didn’t know what the word meant or where I’d even heard it. So I suppose, weirdly, some part of me has always known. 

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

Yes – I experience aesthetic attraction which means I can be attracted to the way someone looks and can admire them from afar but that’s it. I don’t feel the desire to act on it.

I should point out that many asexual people would also experience romantic attraction (the desire for romantic affection and/or a romantic relationship with another person) But, because I am also aromantic, I personally don’t feel this, so my experiences are a little different.

How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual!

As soon as I realised I was ace (and aro) I literally felt an overwhelming sense of relief. I spent my teenage years and my twenties beating myself up because I didn’t have a boyfriend. I was constantly analysing myself. I thought there was something wrong with me – maybe I wasn’t attractive enough, or interesting enough. 

Figuring out such a big piece of who I am was like having a literal weight lifted and I like myself a lot more these daysAnna

Now I know I never actually wanted a sexual or romantic relationship; I was taught it was the “natural order” of things and that’s where all the pressure came from. Now I’m happily breaking the “natural order” and I’ve never felt freer. All the pressure is gone. Figuring out such a big piece of who I am was like having a literal weight lifted and I like myself a lot more these days, which is something I never thought I’d be able to say. Asexuality has helped me find my place and my community and now I’m not apologetic for the way I am. I definitely feel free and like I’ve got more headspace. In my 30s I’ve been able to focus on the things I love doing, like fiction writing, being a great sister, the best auntie and being amazing at my day job . It’s been a great decade so far!

 What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

It’s not necessarily the biggest but, the most annoying and offensive to me is that asexuality (and anything else on the a-spectrum) is a label we’ve made-up just to get attention, or to hide an emotional issue that is somehow preventing us from feeling attraction – this is the reason why I will probably never tell my parents. 

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

It is so important to have relationships and to make connections, in whatever form. I just wish there wasn’t such a focus on sexual/romantic relationships being the only option, if there wasn’t then I may have discovered the joy of platonic love sooner.

I cherish my platonic relationship with my non-asexual best friend who is also my housemate and probably the platonic love of my life. We are definitely going to grow old together, we’ll be binging Netflix in our 80’s and still bickering like siblings and I am more than okay with that. We have a deeper connection than most friends and a lot of people don’t understand it because it’s not sexual or romantic, but I don’t feel the need to define it to anyone. 

You’ll often hear the term ‘Queer Platonic Relationship’ in the a-spectrum community. QPRs come in many forms, depending on what feels right for each particular person. No two QPRs are the same because no two a-spectrum people are the same and that’s a beautiful thing. 

What does asexuality mean to you?

To me asexuality means being part of a community of very brave people, many of us have felt like outcasts because we are different in ways that a lot of people don’t understand and because we experience the world differently. A-spectrum representation in media is basically non-existent and there is a lot of a-phobia, even within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Representation matters. It’s important that others like us know this community exists, so they can feel validated and know they are not alone. Anna

If I hadn’t discovered the ace community I don’t know where I’d be now – I probably would have forced myself into a conventional relationship in order to fit in. Representation matters. It’s important that others like us know this community exists, so they can feel validated and know they are not alone. 

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

I used to be really worried about how my friends and family perceived me and felt so misunderstood every time they commented on my relationship status or lack of boyfriend or made subtle remarks about me being a secret lesbian. It made me question whether I really was a lesbian and just too scared to admit it. I spent a long time trying to figure myself out. Imagine trying to decode your own sexuality when you don’t feel sexual or romantic attraction toward anyone. I knew I was aesthetically attracted to men but had no desire for sex with men or for a boyfriend, so I spent my twenties in a hazy confusion, questioning everything, which also triggered a lot of anxiety. I don’t blame my family, the concept of asexuality must be as alien to most people as the concept of sexual attraction is to me, but their misunderstandings made it impossible for me to be myself. 

When I found my labels, I eventually stopped worrying about what my family believed and it felt incredible – it didn’t matter anymore because I was 100% sure of who I was, and other people’s perceptions of my sexuality became redundant. That was a real breakthrough moment for me. I felt like I had permission to be myself, which might sound weird but that’s the power of finding your identity.

One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you…

I’m not out to my family so I still get questions about marriage and kids. Regardless of your sexuality, it seems like if you’re not in a relationship, married or having children by a certain point people need to know why and it’s so weird. It’s a shame that we all grow up believing sex, dating, marriage and children are the only options. Now might be a good time for schools to consider expanding their discussions around sexual orientations, including asexuality.

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

Don’t let people invalidate your feelings by telling you that “You just haven’t met the right person” or “you don’t know until you’ve tried having sex”. Equally, don’t let someone tell you that you aren’t asexual if you enjoy sex. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Take time to read through the different labels on the a-spectrum and see if anything rings true. There are lots of resources online and some great accounts on social media (@asexuality, @asexualsnet and @secretladyspider on Twitter do great work). If it feels right for you then the a-spec community is a lovely place, and we will be happy to have you. 

Remember that every ace experience is different so don’t feel discouraged if yours doesn’t completely match other peoples in the community, there is room for you!

Anna

Katie, 32

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

Not till I was 29 years old – never really heard much about it before. I grew up in Cornwall, and was aware people could be straight, gay or bi but wasn’t aware of any other sexual orientations until later on in life. As soon as I heard about it, it was very much an ‘ohh’ moment.

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

No – not sure what else to say!

What does identifying as asexual mean for partnered relationships / dating?

I’m single and am happy being single. I like my alone time, and feel I get enough support and socialisation from my friends. I don’t feel the need to have a partner, not sure if this stems from my personality or from being asexual as I know others feel differently.


How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual! 

The way I look at the world and how I choose to focus my time and energy is very different to others.Katie

I think it takes the focus and pressure off of sex and dating. I feel compared to others the way I look at the world and how I choose to focus my time and energy is very different to others. When walking down the street, I have noticed my friends see the strangers on the street whereas I am looking at the surroundings, whether that is buildings, nature or culture, etc.


What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

That it is people suffering with their mental health and therefore have a low libido.

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

My friendships mean a lot to me, I would say they are extremely important. I have some amazing friends and feel very lucky for them. My close friends are my rocks.

What does asexuality mean to you?

I think it just helped me understand who I am, and what I want from life. Labels can sometimes be a good and a bad thing, they can help us feel like we are not alone and that you are not alone for feeling this way. They can help you question yourself and evaluate who you are and what makes you tick.

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

As I have suffered with my mental health quite a lot, lots of people have told me this aspect will change when my mental health gets better (I’m still waiting lol). I think my breakthrough was just not putting any pressure on my label. If this does change then that is fine, but if it doesn’t then that is also fine. I feel like as a society we like to pigeonhole people, but no one fits into a box. We are all different and that makes us all special and great in our own ways.


One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you… 

More what they tell me – That it will change when I meet the one.

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

Just follow your own instincts, do what feels natural and comfortable to you. Katie

I was told a lot when I was an older teenager / early twenties that I was too innocent, a late bloomer when it comes to my sexuality. I was made to feel like I was stunted in my emotional growth. In this world there is a lot of pressure to progress and be at the same stage as everyone else. Just follow your own instincts, do what feels natural and comfortable to you. Don’t let other peoples actions dictate how you see yourself. The best people in life march to the beat of their own drum. 

Abi, 26

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

I only learnt that asexuality existed a few years back. Yes, I was one of those confused googling-like-crazy girls who was convinced there was something wrong with me! It was such a relief when I started to see I wasn’t the only one. I think I’ve always been ace, just didn’t know it.

. 

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

Of sorts yes. I am very much attracted to my husband, and I knew I wanted to marry him almost as soon as we met. I’m also perfectly capable of finding him or others attractive- It just doesn’t make me feel anything without a much deeper connection. Physical appearance means nothing to me; It used to totally bemuse me when girls at school had posters of Orlando Bloom or Westlife up on their bedroom walls- I totally missed the point, I didn’t think they were anywhere near as interesting as they did! 

What does identifying as asexual mean for partnered relationships / dating?

I am very lucky because I’m married to another ace! It means we have a super close fun connection, and it just works. We met in school (Year 8 Maths to be precise!) and grew up simultaneously realising we were seemingly the only teenagers who didn’t want to get naked and ‘do stuff’! Our differences from our peers bought us closer together, and the rest, as they say, is history! I feel forever grateful to have been on this journey with him. 

How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual!

Ahhh being ace is the best. I love the freedom of never second-guessing anything, no hidden agendas, sparks or feelings. I know I objectively form connections with people based purely on their incredible minds. I like that about myself. It’s like a superpower! There are also loads of practical benefits, such as not relying on someone else to make me ‘feel good’. I like the independence, yet still have the romance of being a couple. 

I spent a very long time feeling like I was the ‘quirky’ girl who didn’t like sex. Having finally discovered there’s actually a whole community of incredible ace individuals (thank you internet!) I’m so excited to start enjoying being the quirky girl who doesn’t like sex! 

Abi

What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

That we have no sex life at all! Or that we are simply too scared or prudish. Like any orientation, asexuality is a broad spectrum and there’s a huge amount of variation. For example, I am a huge advocate for self-pleasure! (Awesome article on vibrator choice can be found on Zoella!

Just because I have no attraction/desire to be intimate sexually with another person does not mean I am incapable of feeling empowered, feminine and sexy. I have a great sex life, it just doesn’t look the same as the more conventional couples you see on TV. 

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

I have some fantastic friends. Not many, but those I do have play a big part in my life – always on hand to support me. They have never once judged when I’ve had an awkward question (there’s obviously just some things I have no clue about!) and never make me feel like I’m ‘weird’ or somehow less experienced than them. I’ve never had to spell out to them that I’m ace, they just accept me wholeheartedly. Although I think most of them know anyway haha. 

What does asexuality mean to you?

I think just… honesty. I spent a long time pretending to find actors ‘sexy’, or casually lying about what I had or hadn’t done, as if it somehow mattered. You’d be amazed how often sex comes up in a day- trust me! It’s gossiping with co-workers, love scenes in films questions at the doctors…pub drinking games! As soon as I was brave enough to be honest with myself that I just didn’t fit the norm, I felt so much happier. Like a sort of freedom to be authentic. 

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

Definitely my adorable little ace sheep pin! I bought it about a year ago in celebration of my new found confidence, it’s just a pin badge with the asexual flag colours across it. I wear it to work and basically wherever I am. It’s not that I want to yell out to the whole world that I’m ace, it’s that I love when someone who understands what those colours mean gives me a knowing smile. That subtle nod of ‘you are not alone’- I love that! 

One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you…

How can you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried? Are you sure you’ve just not been with the right person yet? UGH, this question bugs me so much- partly because it always feels like I’m being questioned on my choice of partner… but mostly because the implication is that I should have sex even if I don’t want to, ‘just in case’. 

Sex lives should always be a safe space to explore, and as long as everybody is content and comfortable, that’s enough! Abi

I may not know much about it, but I do know you should only have sex if that’s what you (and whoever else is involved!) REALLY want. Likes and dislikes change, kinks and what’s ‘hot’ to an individual will most certainly evolve over the course of ones life. It doesn’t mean you dive in head first ‘just in case’. Sex lives should always be a safe space to explore, and as long as everybody is content and comfortable, that’s enough! 

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

I think a lot more people fall somewhere on the ace spectrum than realise it, and that’s fine! The one thing I wish I’d just been told a long time ago is that sex looks totally different for each person. Perhaps intimate for one person is passionate sex, naked cooking and sexy lingerie. Whilst for another intimate is holding hands and soft tickles. Or it could be void of touching or company all together! As long as it makes you feel good that’s all that matters. 

Liam, 23

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

I think, like some other asexual people, I realised I was asexual before I knew that was what it is called. All the way through school, I just couldn’t imagine myself having intercourse or wanting to be in such a situation. I didn’t understand why I would want to have sex with anyone, and it just didn’t interest me. Of course, I appreciated why others would want to, but I felt repulsed by the idea of my having sex – and still do.
Yet it was only when I met a few friends who happened to identify as asexual when I was 18 onwards that I started to put a name to these feelings: asexuality. Up until July 2019 I was still questioning whether I identified in this way, until I marched in London Pride with the RNID (then known as Action on Hearing Loss). Being surrounded by members of the LGBTQ+ community and seeing people in the crowd wave the ace flag gave me a certain kind of confidence. When I met up with friends later in a Five Guys – of all places – I knew that I just didn’t immediately experience sexual attraction with anyone. At the time, I knew this may have meant that I was either asexual or demisexual (explained in another question), which still meant I was ace and part of the LGBTQ+ community.
For what it’s worth, now that I’m in a relationship, I’ve since accepted that I identify as asexual, and not demisexual
.

Image Credit:  Emi Salida

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

I experience romantic attraction. In fact, I’ve always pursued the idea of being in a romantic relationship for as long as I can remember. I wanted a partner I could take on dates, take out for dinner, go bowling with and so on. Even when I was in Sixth Form and university, where people were starting to talk about sex a lot more, I was still focussed on finding someone with whom I could be in a romantic relationship, rather than a sexual one.

What does identifying as asexual mean for partnered relationships/dating?

I am currently in my first proper relationship, with someone who also identifies as asexual.  Before then, I had been on dating apps, but in the time of hookup culture, the other person soon touched upon the topic of sex. I’ve been turned down because I am asexual (though in understandable circumstances), and have received sexual messages from matches as well. On the whole, it can make looking for love difficult and anxiety-inducing if sex becomes a topic. Failing that, there was this anxiety around whether to come out to a love interest as asexual at the start of us talking, or further down the line once a stronger connection is formed. If I mentioned it at the start, then sometimes they would turn me down because they are looking for a sexual relationship (which is understandable), but if I said it further down the line, it could allow for a connection at which point my asexuality doesn’t pose an issue to them. Yet, on the other hand, I felt that this was a little disingenuous.

I’m in a relationship now and have been since October, and I haven’t had to worry because we’re both asexualLiam

Fortunately, as I say, I’m in a relationship now and have been since October, and I haven’t had to worry about that because we’re both asexual. Instead, we’re able to focus more on the romantic side of a relationship and put all our energy into that. I honestly feel like ‘wholesomeness’ has become this quirky throwaway thing when in actual fact, it used to be more mainstream in the past. There’s a big love of sentimentality in asexual relationships, and I love that a lot.

How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual!

I only came out as asexual in July 2019, so I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to the asexual community, but I think that’s where the freedom lies. The ace community is vibrant, talented and so incredibly diverse, and it’s always exciting when you make new connections with ace people online. Much like how meeting other members of the deaf community gave me confidence in my deaf identity, talking to other ace people gives me confidence in my ace identity, to the point where I can live life authentically and feel better placed to share my experiences with others – campaigning on issues which matter to me and other members of the ace community.

What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

I still receive the typical response that ‘I just haven’t found the right person yet’, and that my sexuality will suddenly change when I enter a relationship with someone. It may well do – sexualities are, of course, valid – and I may identify as demisexual (where sexual attraction only occurs once a strong emotional bond is formed), but in that moment, it’s about someone completely invalidating your identity. Asexuality just isn’t being respected as a sexuality, and is instead still viewed as someone being ‘frigid’, ‘celibate’ or ‘going through a phase’. It is such a damaging and harmful misconception.

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

Platonic relationships and friendships mean a lot to me as a person. I get a lot of my energy and creativity from interacting with other people, and the people I’m friends with share a similar vibe when it comes to their interests which means we often bounce ideas off of each other. Even if we’re not talking in a creative sense, these platonic relationships also provide an opportunity to relax and unwind which is so important to anyone right now.

What does asexuality mean to you?

Asexuality means I am not sexually attracted to anyone. As I experience romantic attraction (some aces don’t and can also identify as aromantic), it means I can invest all my energy into my relationship and my friendships instead.

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

It’s interesting that while it only took me a short while to become part of the deaf community and start campaigning on deaf issues, my approach to taking part in activism related to asexuality has been a lot more apprehensive. It may have been due to my having a lot more to learn, or because of a certain kind of imposter syndrome, but for a while I wasn’t as vocal about my asexuality as I wanted to be, as I felt I wasn’t in a position to properly educate others yet.

Listening to other people’s experiences certainly helped me to understand how my identities intersect and learn a lot more about how I am able to advocate from my own unique, lived experience. Liam

This changed, however, when I was invited to host a panel on asexuality and disability during the UK Asexuality Conference (held online and set up by AVEN). Listening to other people’s experiences certainly helped me to understand how my identities intersect and learn a lot more about how I am able to advocate from my own unique, lived experience. My time during the conference led to me making new contacts, but it also prompted me to accept that I did have a lot of things to say about asexuality, and I can definitely help to raise awareness just as much as any other asexual person.

One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you…

It’s the usual questioning around having to ‘prove’ my asexuality. People usually ask something along the lines of ‘how do you know that you just haven’t met the right person yet’, or ‘how do you know if you’ve never had sex?’ I answer the former question below, but with regards to the latter, it’s frustrating and unacceptable that something as intrinsic as your sexual orientation isn’t respected by another person. A retort to this question which I’ve seen online a few times is, ‘how do you know you’re straight?’ It’s such an integral part of a person’s identity and also, the person most likely to know about themselves and their orientation is the person in question.

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

Find your community. When I was questioning whether or not I identified as asexual, I had some ace friends around me with whom I could discuss my feelings and concerns. There’s also the benefit there, that it’s a lot easier to discuss personal feelings with a close friend than with someone else. With that being said, there is an incredibly strong asexual community online (especially on Twitter), and I can be helpful to engage with others on these platforms. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (or AVEN, for short), is a fantastic organisation which provides information and educational resources on asexuality. I would encourage them to take a look at their website, too.

One thing I’ll say as an asexual disabled person is that it’s easy for us to be viewed as inherently asexual because of our disability, wrongly assuming that it’s impossible for disabled people to live positive and happy sex lives.

Liam

If not that, then it’s the complete opposite end of the spectrum, where disabled people are fetishised and hyper-sexualised. There is no-inbetween, and it’s tricky when you identify as an asexual disabled person and it unintentionally reinforces this harmful misconception. What non-disabled, allosexual (non-asexual) people need to recognise is that the two things are separate identities in their own right, and they should both be respected. I think that comes with education, and I’d be lying if I said that the asexual community didn’t have some way to go still in terms of educating wider society. In comparison to the other letters under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, we often don’t get as much attention or visibility, and I believe visibility is what leads to the education we so desperately need to see.

Charli, 20

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

I first heard the term on social media when I was about 14 and had been wondering for a while why I didn’t seem to experience the same attraction and interests that other people did. I had assumed I was gay for a while but realised I didn’t like girls either, so when I found the term it slotted into place pretty quickly for me that it fit me.

.

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

I experience romantic attraction in extremely limited circumstances – I currently identify as demiromantic alongside asexual, which is another part of the aromantic spectrum and essentially means that romantic attraction isn’t felt without an extreme emotional bond. A lot of people think this is just how everyone is, but it isn’t – there is absolutely no attraction felt without the bond. This bond doesn’t then automatically cause attraction, but there is no possibility without it and there will have been no previous notion of any attraction. I’ve only experienced romantic attraction three times. 

What does identifying as asexual mean for partnered relationships/dating?

I’ve never actively dated or looked for a relationship as for me that is a completely futile thing to do as I can’t experience attraction that way. Charli

For me, it’s meant that the relationship I am in now is my first relationship as I’ve only ever experienced romantic attraction twice before. I’ve never actively dated or looked for a relationship as for me that is a completely futile thing to do as I can’t experience attraction that way. In terms of my relationship, it really only means it lacks any sexual element – although some asexuals do have sex – and it doesn’t change any other part for us. 

How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual!

A few years ago I stopped feeling proud of my identity and it wasn’t until last year that I truly re-embraced it. I think for me it meant throughout my teen years I wasn’t at all focused on relationships or sex, and whilst there isn’t anything wrong with wanting that, it gave me the space to not be pressured into being someone I wasn’t. I think society places so much pressure on wanting to be loved or attractive that young people often get caught up in that. 

What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

Asexuality and celibacy/abstinence are the not the same thing – the latter refers to a choice (whether that be religious or otherwise), whereas asexuality is a sexual orientation that cannot be changed, and does not refer at all to sex as an action. Some asexual people do have sex for a variety of reasons, and that is totally valid.

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

I think my platonic relationships have always been a crucial part of my life, and I’ve never really thought about whether that is related to my asexuality or not. I think being a teenager who never had a relationship, my friends were my constants and provided a lot of love and security – but they still do now that I’m in a romantic relationship.

What does asexuality mean to you?

Asexuality for me means I experience no sexual attraction, in my case under no circumstances. It does not make me a robot or emotionless or similar, I just don’t experience that type of attraction.

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

I think re-embracing my identity in 2020 has been huge for me in terms of my self-confidence and feeling generally more liberated in myself. I’ve since written multiple blog posts and made Instagram infographics about the topic which hopefully help others, too.

One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you…

People tend to think that because I’m autistic and disabled, it’s related to hormones, or because they think autistic people don’t experience emotions in the same way as other people. Charli

Is it related to your disabilities? – People tend to think that because I’m autistic and disabled, it’s related to hormones, or because they think autistic people don’t experience emotions in the same way as other people. Disabled and autistic people definitely aren’t automatically asexual, it just so happens that I am.

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

Firstly, it’s okay to be ace – it doesn’t make you weird, it’s just that as a society we place far too much emphasis on sex. Also, it’s okay to identify with a label and to then discover that label doesn’t work for you, or you want to place yourself somewhere more specific on the asexuality spectrum, or don’t want to label yourself at all.

Dee, 36

When did you first become aware that you were asexual?

Only within that last year. I knew of asexuality as a concept but didn’t think it could apply to me because I did have and enjoy sex—just not a lot. I’d always thought I just didn’t have a high sex drive, or that there might have been something “wrong” with me for not wanting it as much as other people, because sex is so often discussed as such an important part of relationships and of life (how much you’re having, with how many people, how good it is, etc, etc). Reading about asexuality more over the last 12 months gave me a better understanding of it. It isn’t an all-or-nothing thing; asexuality is a spectrum, and I was able to place myself on it as grey-asexual.

Do you experience other forms of attraction, at all?

Gosh, yes. All of them. Romantic, sensual, aesthetic, emotional, and intellectual.

I feel romantic and sensual attraction to my partner, specifically, and never towards celebrities or random people I see, which I suppose makes me demiromantic. For me, romantic and sensual intimacy (sitting close to each other, casually touching each other, buying their favourite sweet from the shop, eating from each other’s plate, holding hands, touching foreheads, tucking my head into their neck, spooning, kissing, stroking their lower back, and so many other things) are far more important and meaningful than putting bits in holes and having an orgasm.

I experience aesthetic attraction on a daily basis, and I love it. Seeing someone who I find attractive in some way, completely devoid of any other form of attraction, is wonderful. It can be anything. Their hairstyle, their outfit, the way they carry themselves, the raise of an eyebrow, the curve of a hip, the hint of a smile. There is nothing more attractive than someone comfortable in their own skin.

Emotional attraction is something I have for my nearest and dearest. The people I turn to for emotional support, and the people who I want to support in turn. The people I trust to see me cry, the people I love to make laugh, the people who get angry on my behalf. The people who see the real me, who understand me, and who love me.

I can have intellectual attraction to anyone who’s clever, knowledgeable, confident, and can hold down a conversation. If you know a lot about something and you’re passionate about it, please talk to me I promise I will find it fascinating!

What does identifying as asexual mean for partnered relationships/dating?

I have been with my partner for over 10 years. Long before I realised I was asexual. We’ve made it work. Because for me… sex is like peanut butter (stay with me here). I don’t hate peanut butter, but I wouldn’t often choose to eat it. However, if I am sharing a meal with someone who enjoys peanut butter, I am happy to consume a little bit of peanut butter on toast or satay sauce as part of a larger dining experience.

How has asexuality given you the freedom to explore who you are, honestly & unapologetically? Tell us all the fab things about identifying as asexual!

It hasn’t changed much for me, honestly. I am already old enough to have figured out what I do and do not want without the labels. The one thing it really has helped with is distinguishing between the emotional and physical aspects of sex.

I enjoy sex on an emotional level with my partner, but it is not a driving force for me in our relationshipDee

I enjoy sex on an emotional level with my partner, but it is not a driving force for me in our relationship; I could be content in a relationship with them that did not include sex. However, sometimes I have an itch that needs scratching, and that is not at all an emotional thing, but a purely physical one, which I am more than happy to take care of myself. And that distinction has really helped me come to terms with my own relationship with sex.

What’s the biggest assumption or misconception about asexuality?

As a grey-asexual, for me it’s definitely the idea that no asexual enjoys or wants to have sex. I know, because I held that misconception myself for many years. I can and do enjoy sex, it’s just not as important to me as other ways of connecting with and sharing myself with people.

Another would be the assumption that asexual folk don’t want to be in a romantic relationship, thereby reducing relationships to only being about sex. It’s ridiculous. I know couples who don’t live together, aren’t married, don’t share hobbies, aren’t romantic, don’t have children. Why is it so strange to accept there are couples who don’t have sex?

I don’t need to barrel roll off Niagara Falls to know I don’t want to do it.Dee

And don’t get me started on the idea that asexual folk just haven’t had sex that was “good enough” or that people can’t know they don’t want sex if they haven’t tried it. First of all, what’s good for one person will not be good for another—there is no arbitrary “good enough”. Secondly, I don’t need to barrel roll off Niagara Falls to know I don’t want to do it.

How pivotal are the platonic relationships in your life?

My platonic relationships are everything to me. There are things I share and ways in which I connect with my closest friends that I don’t get with my partner. And this has to be the same for everyone, asexual or not. No individual person can provide you with everything you need. That is a short road to codependency.

What does asexuality mean to you?

For me it is simply a way to understand myself better. To think about myself and how I experience sex and all forms of attraction. It’s a very personal thing that I consider as part of my own introspection, rather than something I talk about or share extensively with others.

What’s been your biggest breakthrough in terms of self-acceptance and how you identify?

I identify as queer, and the best thing I ever did was acknowledge that other than queer, I don’t like labels. So, while they are useful tools for discussion, self-discovery, and self-acceptance, I personally find them more restrictive when using them to describe myself to others.

One thing you wish everyone would stop asking you…

Nothing, because I don’t often talk this openly about my identity with people I am not close to!

Your advice for anyone who thinks they could be ace?

Sit with the idea for a while. The ace spectrum is wide. You can place yourself anywhere on it, and move yourself if you decide that wasn’t the right spot. Even if you think think you technically fit the description, you don’t have to claim and use asexuality as part of your identity.

avatar
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nika

thank you so much for this article! I made me not feel like Im weird or that something is wrong with me. It was so good to have so many different people and their stories to realise how wide this spectrum is. I feel way better with myself now! Keep up the good work Zoella team xx

Get it while it's hot!

Sign up to receive our email, delivering the latest stories straight to your inbox.