One would think that in this day and age, where people express their individuality with an increasing amount of pride, the rest of the world would catch on and join in the spirit of acceptance sweeping the globe. However, as demonstrated in a Huffington Post poll about whether or not orientations like asexuality should be included in the queer category, this is not the case.
The poll showed that only 51.81% of people asked believed that asexual people should be included, as opposed to 48.19% who believed that they should be excluded. These numbers are scarily close considering asexuality is a sexual orientation that many people identify as.
Part of this issue is under-education. Many people don’t know what asexuality is outside of what plants do. Being asexual means that someone “does not experience sexual attraction”. Like all aspects of human nature, however, it is more complex than that. There are varying degrees of asexuality, including little sexual attraction, attraction after emotional bonds have been formed, or somewhere between asexual and sexual.
Honestly, though, I can’t blindly point my finger at the rest of the world and berate them for not knowing this information when it isn’t even an option given on most social media profiles, government forms, or surveys. Of course people would fall back on the definition they learned from the last time they heard the term asexual, which for most people would be high school science class, in the context of flowers. (We aren’t flowers, just to clarify, although there’s nothing wrong with them. They are very pretty).
As an asexual member of the community myself, I can say that I have spent many hours worrying about fully coming out because I fear that I will be excluded and ignored by the people who are supposed to be there for me: my peers, friends, and family.
Many people have documented their struggles in books, blogs, videos, and articles, such as Julie Sondra Decker, who titled her book on the struggles of being part of such a misunderstood group The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. The title alone should be a red flag for the feelings of the asexual community, since even she called it an “invisible orientation.” No person should ever have to feel like any part of them isn’t real. Imagine a friend, family member, or partner feeling like they couldn’t be themselves without facing criticism from their peers. Asexuals deal with that on a daily basis.
In the TV show House M.D. in an episode titled “Better Half,” a married couple declares themselves to be openly and happily asexual. House’s immediate reaction is, “there must be some medical cause.” That line reflects a disconcerting public view of asexuality as something that needs to be fixed, as opposed to a sexual orientation. In the episode, House finds a brain tumor in the husband and the wife admits that she was lying about her sexuality, thus affirming the public view of asexuality as not being a viable orientation.
The idea that any aspect of someone’s personality could ever be considered illegitimate is absolutely preposterous. Humans are gemstones. They are precious, beautiful, multifaceted and often eagerly coveted. Race, gender, religion, sexuality… Those are all adjectives, which describe some of the facets, not the actual gem. If you don’t like one facet, focus on another. One person not liking one part of the gem doesn’t make it a bad gem, just like one person not liking one aspect of another person doesn’t make the judged one bad.
I implore you, as a person, please take these words to heart. It hurt me when I was doing extra research for this article to find such an abundance of anti-asexual sentiments out there. It felt like I was being told that one part of me isn’t good enough to be accepted in society. It’s a horrible sensation, I can assure you, so for those of you who haven’t ever experienced that feeling, first let me sincerely congratulate you. I’d never wish that feeling on anyone, so I’m glad to think that there might be people out there who haven’t felt that rejection. Secondly, I’ll use one more comparison, if you don’t mind, to describe it. It feels like a door being slammed in your face. Simply being shut out from society, and honestly, it can ruin a person’s confidence.
Please don’t be the one who shuts that door and condemns the person on the other side to a life of either defiantly hammering on that door until their wrists break or of wondering why it was shut on them in the first place. Be the one who invites us in and bonds with us over silly things, or the one who holds the door open just long enough for us to enter. It will make a world of a difference, and it all starts with you.
Thank you for your time.