A is for Asexual: Being an Ally to the Asexual Community

imagesAsexuality is a misunderstood and often overlooked group within the LGBTQIA+. Over the years they’ve had to fight, often alone, for recognition within both the LGBT community and within scientific circles. For a large portion of the twentieth century, what we now understand to be just another orientation was seen as a disorder or hormonal imbalance. After overcoming the scientific misunderstandings, asexual activists dedicated attention to overcoming misunderstandings within the LGBT community.

A quick tag search on Tumblr and a few hours spent reading the pages of discourse will show that despite the best efforts of asexuals, the LGBT has been somewhat unwelcoming. This is something I tried to tackle in my article for The Matador Network, A Bisexual Call to Arms in Support of Asexuals, where I discuss the importance of bisexuals supporting asexuals, since our two communities truly do share things in common.

Simply reading an article about why we should support them is not enough, however. We need to come up with a plan on how to support them. Bisexuals, and really any aspect of the LGBTQIA+ and their allies, can put into practice a few simple ideas that can help show support and disseminate useful information through multiple communities.  

  • Listen (The most simple way to support all communities)

I say this with almost every kind of support pieces I write, but it always needs to be said. Listening is key when supporting any marginalised or misunderstood group. Without listening, we can’t do step two. So here are some quick and easy ways to show your ace friends that you care and want to learn more.

First of all, you need to ask questions. Establish what they’re comfortable sharing. We all have our limits when it comes to information we’re comfortable sharing to certain groups. And over sharing may make both parties uncomfortable.

Second, realise they can’t tell you everything you may want to know. Asexuality is made up of very different types of sexual and romantic identities, with personal characteristics on top of that identity. You’ll need to interact with more than just your token asexual friend to understand the entire asexual community.

  • Learn (second most simple)

Just like bisexuals prefer to define ourselves, asexuals prefer to define themselves. In order to properly learn about asexuality you need to focus on resources written by, or with the help of, asexuality. Bisexual writer Eliel Cruz and myself have written articles about asexuals written with asexuals, and some asexuals will point you to resources like AVEN. Not sure about the validity of an article or resource? There are asexual activists that can help you out, like Noelle the Asexual on Facebook.

Learning about asexuality on your own may seem like a daunting task, but respect the emotional labour of the Asexual community and be a good ally by taking the initiative: don’t expect ace individuals to constantly hand you information.

  • Normalise various levels of sexual attraction and sexual drive

I firmly believe that researching asexuality can benefit all areas of sexual and romantic identities. The first step is to normalise the idea of romantic vs sexual attraction. It may seem weird at first, and you may not understand the need for all the labels (biromantic asexuality, gray asexuality, etc.) but you may be surprised at how you can relate to some of the terminology used to describe these two different states of attraction. Sometimes it’s fun to think of it like the scientific naming of genus and species; one is a more general descriptor, and when the other is added you can get a complete picture of what you’re trying to describe.

  • Embrace new terminology

I’m not going to lie, this can be somewhat difficult for those who are new allies of the asexual community, but using asexual resources will make learning the terminology of the community will make interacting with and supporting the asexual community so much easier for all parties. I’m going to do my best to provide a semi-comprehensive list of some asexual identities and their definitions, and to do so most effectively I’ll be using a piece done by Stormy O’Brink, who’s full list can be found here.

  • Ace: a shortened form of asexual
  • Aesthetic Attraction: attraction to one’s appearance but not in a romantic or sexual way. O’Brink compares this to looking at a sunset
  • Alloromantic: romantic attraction of a person following the “societal norm”; a non-aromantic person. Can be seen as a problematic term by some
  • Allosexual: sexual attraction of a person following the “societal norm”; a non-asexual person. Can be seen as a problematic term by some
  • Asexual: orientation often characterized by a lack of sexual attraction
  • Aro: a shortened form of aromantic
  • Aromantic: lack of romantic attraction
  • Biromantic: a romantic attraction to more than one gender
  • Demiromantic: an individual can experience a romantic attraction following a strong emotional bond with another
  • Demisexual: A subset of gray-asexuality, individual can experience sexual attraction following a very strong emotional bond to another
  • Gray-asexual: a person who can experience sexual attraction under certain circumstances, but may not act on it
  • Gray-romantic: a person who can experience romantic attraction under certain circumstances, but may not act on it
  • Hetero-romantic: a romantic attraction to someone of the same gender
  • Homo-romantic: a romantic attraction to someone of a different gender
  • Queer-platonic Relationship: a bond between individuals that is not exactly a romantic connection, rather an intense bond that is stronger than a friendship following “social norms”
  • Romantic Orientation: a descriptor of romantic attraction a person can feel towards another individual or whole gender group(s)
  • Sensual Attraction: an attraction to an individual that would prompt physical touch, but not necessarily sexual engagement, like cuddling
  • Sex-neutral: neutral feelings towards sex and sexual acts
  • Sex-positive: a philosophy following the belief that all consensual sexual sex acts are healthy and produce pleasure
  • Sex-repulsed: a way to describe repulsion or extreme dislike towards sexual acts

The Ace/Aro community needs our support, so why not start now and take some time during Ace Awareness week to soak in the resources and testimonials being shared by the ace community?

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Miles Joyner

Miles Joyner is the creator and sole admin on Miles the Bisexual. They have written for The Matador Network and their own personal blog. They're just now starting to dive into bisexual activism after being out for about 5 years.

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