The year 2021 has become the year that marks International Asexuality Day (IAD) for the first time in history. IAD is a coordinated worldwide campaign promoting the ace umbrella, including demisexual, grey-asexual and other ace identities and is marked on April 6.
This year’s themes — advocacy, celebration, education, and solidarity highlight the aims of recognising and enabling the work that the international ace community and organisations do, particularly in non-Western and/or non-English speaking countries.
Various organizations as well as Asexual individuals across the globe are marking this day by sharing posts on social media, holding events, running campaigns and supporting causes.
In Nepal, a group called Nepali Asexuals, founded by Dr Manita Newa, is the first of its kind in generating awareness regarding Asexuality and creating safe spaces for Nepali Asexuals.
Persons who identify as Asexuals are called Aces/Ace in short.
What is Asexuality?
Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction regardless of gender, but not all Asexuals are necessarily not romantically attracted to others and some engage in sexual activity. Asexuality is mostly defined as a spectrum that includes various attitudes towards sex.
Some asexual people engage in sexual activity and many masturbate. Asexual people have sex for many reasons, including the desire to benefit a partner, to feel close to a partner, to procreate, or to relax.
It is important to note here that sexual desire is the urge to experience certain kinds of sexual pleasure, while sexual pleasure is a qualitatively distinct experience that is a typical consequence of sexual arousal when accompanied by sexual desire. Hence, sexual desire and sexual arousal are not the same.
What are some ways for Aces to identify within the Ace community?
Demisexual/Demiromantic: People who only experience sexual attraction once they form a strong emotional connection with another person.
Grey-A/Grayromantic: People who identify somewhere between sexual and asexual. Grayromantic is often used to describe someone who falls between aromantic and romantic. Some people also use terms like quoiromantic to express that they experience romantic attraction but that it is nebulous and difficult to identify how that attraction works.
Queerplatonic: People who experience a type of non-romantic relationship where there is an intense emotional connection that goes beyond a traditional friendship.
Aromantic: A person who does not experience romantic attraction to anyone.
Aces commonly use hetero-, homo-, bi-, and pan- in front of the word romantic to describe who they experience romantic attraction to. For example, a person who is hetero-romantic might be attracted to people of a different sex or gender, but not in a sexual way.
Is Asexuality a sexual orientation?
Asexuality is considered a sexuality, just like bisexuality, heterosexuality, and homosexuality. This is because asexuality is typically understood in terms of patterns of sexual attraction, rather than experiences of desire, arousal, or sex, and because asexuality is stable and can feature as part of someone’s identity.
The matter of whether asexuality actually is an orientation is complex and shaped by the fact that orientation discourse has social and political significance. Many asexual people are uneasy with being defined negatively, or in terms of absence, so they resist the idea that to be asexual is to lack a sexual orientation.
Additionally, within the Ace community many Aces have disabilities, are neurodivergent, and/or have survived sexual assault. Some Aces come to identify with the asexual spectrum via these experiences, and this does not make their identity any less valid than any other sexual identity.