For some people, when they hear the words “coming out,” one generic definition tends to come to mind: gay. However throughout the years, queer persons have given new definitions to the words “coming out” and have begun to add several branches to our LGBTQIA tree. One of those branches that often times goes unrecognized, is asexuality.
Up until the last few years, asexuality was not recognized as a sexual orientation, but as a personal choice among those who want to refrain from any sexual activity. However, some experts are now starting to identify asexuality as a definitive sexual orientation that begins to develop while in utero.
“For many asexual people, maybe not for all, but for many, they report similar experiences to those who identify as LGBTQ, in that they have never felt any sexual attraction to anyone, it is just who they are,” said author and professor Tony Bogaert, who teaches Human Sexuality at Brock University, as well as authored a book titled Understanding Asexuality. “Like other sexual orientations, asexuality is something that is strongly affected by pre-natal or prior to birth experiences, which is something that predisposes asexual people to be asexual just the way all of our sexual orientation is determined.”
In hearing the word asexual, one who knows very little about the subject may assume that anyone who identifies as asexual, does not become aroused and has zero sexual experiences. However, that is not always the case.
“It is possible that some still do get arousal and most still have the capacity to have physical arousal experiences,” Bogaert said, “but they don’t connect those sexual feelings or arousal to others, it is not directed to other people per say.” After speaking with *Lynn, who identifies as asexual and is in a romantic relationship with a woman, the idea that all sexual feelings are non-existent was challenged. “I do not look for any sexuality within a partner, but that’s not to say that I don’t feel anything, all the nerve endings work, they aren’t broken, but it’s not what attracts me to a person,” Lynn said.
Expert Tony Bogaert, reiterates the fact that although the ideas of asexuality are similar in each case, “There is no absolute standard definition of asexuality,” he said, “The way I define it is a lack of sexual attraction to others. That means that although someone really doesn’t have a lustful interest in others, it doesn’t mean they don’t have romantic attractions to others.”
*Jessica, who identifies as an asexual lesbian, said, “I’m completely content being in a relationship where I don’t have sex really at all. I crave that connection with the person on a level completely other than sexual.”
Those of us who are sexual people often times relate a sexual experience with connecting in some way to the other person involved. So therein lies the question that those of us who do not identify as asexual have: how do you connect with someone if you aren’t having sex with them? For Jessica, being in a relationship with a woman who was also asexual may have been why things felt easier than in relationships with those who were not asexual.
“We were fine with laying on the couch cuddling one another, and just being with each other,” Jessica said. “We didn’t need to have sex. We had a connection on a whole other level that didn’t involve sex at all.”
While Jessica is currently single but in what she calls a “complicated relationship,” she believes part of the downfall of her relationship was her inability to “pay attention” to the sexual needs of her partner. “I told her that I just don’t crave sex like everyone else, and she doesn’t get it,” said Jessica.
For longtime couple Lynn and *Cadence, it was not always known that Lynn was asexual. Several years went by of Cadence feeling as though Lynn was not attracted to her simply because she was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her. It wasn’t until just six months ago when they started doing some research on how Lynn was feeling and what it actually meant.
“I knew there was something different about me for a long time” Lynn said, “but it wasn’t until recently when I started researching and understanding the wide spectrum that is sexuality. I discovered that there were more people that were asexual and I wasn’t alone.”
There are many different sexual feelings and identities that separate one human being from another and no two persons are alike, however, knowing there might be at least one person out there who can relate to you can make all the difference.
“Human beings are very diverse and one of the interesting experiences of life is the recognition and ability of people to interact with people who are different,” said Bogaert. “It would be pretty boring if all people were the same.”
For more information on asexuality visit asexuality.org.
*names have been changed upon request