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Asexuality and Aromanticism

Asexuality and Aromanticism

Updated: Feb 1


What is Asexuality?


Asexuality is an umbrella term that encompasses orientations in which a person experiences little to no sexual attraction.


There is also a distinct lack of desire to be physically/sexually intimate with others. Despite feeling no sexual attraction, asexual individuals can still form romantic and platonic relationships. They may even date or marry a sexual partner.


The shorthand term "ace" is often used to describe asexual individuals.


What is Aromanticism?


Aromanticism is the lack of interest in or desire for romantic relationships.


Where alloromantic (the opposite of aromantic) people have an emotional need to be with another person in a romantic relationship, aromantic people are often satisfied with friendships and other non-romantic relationships.

The shorthand term "aro" is often used to describe aromantic individuals.


Ace and Aro Spectrums


While some people who are asexual experience no sexual attraction, many fall somewhere between asexual and allosexual (the opposite of asexual).


Diagram of Asexual and Aromantic identities (Image Source: Femestella/Asexuality.org)
Diagram of Asexual and Aromantic identities (Image Source: Femestella/Asexuality.org)

This region of sexuality is called gray-asexual or gray-A. It includes demisexual, which means that you only experience sexual attraction after forming a strong romantic connection with someone.

Similarly, demiromantic people experience a romantic attraction only after forming a strong emotional connection with someone.


Asexual History

The idea of asexuality has evolved greatly since its origin. In 1860, the first known mention of asexuality was referred to as “monosexual,” for those who do not engage in sex with a partner, but rather only themselves.


In the 1940s and 50s, the Kinsey Scale, a test that places individuals on a  spectrum from heterosexual to homosexual, included a new category entitled “X” to refer to individuals who reported “no socio-sexual contacts or reactions.”


Ace and Aro Issues


There are many common myths about asexuality since it’s one of the most misunderstood and underrepresented sexual orientations. 


Common Misconceptions


"Asexuality is the same as celibacy." Asexuality is NOT celibacy. Celibacy is a choice due to religious or personal beliefs, while asexuality is a sexual orientation. As we know, people don’t choose who (and how) they are or aren’t sexually attracted to others.


"Asexuals don't experience love and can't form meaningful relationships."

Asexuality covers sexual attraction, not romantic attraction. Asexuals are perfectly capable of loving, being loved, and forming healthy relationships.


"Asexuals are just ace because they had a bad experience with sex."

A person’s orientation is not determined by their history, good or bad. Past experiences with abuse do not “make” people asexual.


"Asexuals can't have sex."

Sex drive and sexual attraction are two different things. An asexual person can have a sex drive without feeling sexual attraction to anybody. Other asexuals may lack a sex drive completely, while others may be repulsed by sex altogether.


"Aromantics can't feel love."

Individuals who identify on the aromantic spectrum do indeed feel love. They experience familial and platonic love and may even feel a varying range of romantic love.


"Someone who is aromantic is also asexual."

Being both aromantic and asexual is possible, but it isn’t the default. An aromantic person may identify with any sexual orientation. Aromanticism does not automatically indicate asexuality.


Other Issues


A large amount of invalidation is directed towards asexuality and aromanticism both from outside and within the LGBTQ+ community. Many consider asexuality and aromanticism to be a "phase" that can be grown out of. Many people assume that asexual or aromantic people just "haven't found the right person."


On top of this, asexuality is rarely discussed in sexual education. While many schools have made great strides in discussing same-sex relationships and gender non-conformity, they have failed to normalize feeling no sexual attraction at all. This makes many asexual and aromantic people question whether or not their lack of sexual attraction is acceptable.


Ace and Aro Symbols


Asexual Flag


In 2010, several asexual websites held a contest to design an asexual flag. The asexual flag used today was designed by AVEN user Standup.


This flag has four stripes:


  • Black - Represents asexuals

  • Grey - Represents gray-asexuals and demisexuals

  • White - Represents allosexuals

  • Purple - Represents community

Aromantic Flag


The first aromantic flag had four stripes:


  • Green - The "opposite" of red, a traditionally romantic color)

  • Yellow - Represents friendship

  • Orange - Represents grey-aromantics (because it is between yellow and red)

  • Black - Represent alloromantics.


This was later modified because it was considered too similar to the Rastafarian flag.


The second flag consisted of 5 stripes:


  • Dark and light green - Represent identities on the aromantic spectrum

  • Yellow - Represents friendship

  • Gray and Black - Represent the various sexualities within the aromantic community


This yellow stripe was later replaced with white to be more visually appealing but retained the same meaning.


Ace of Spades


Because asexual is often shortened to ace, the ace of spades is a common symbol of asexuality.


Ace of Hearts


Because asexual is often shortened to ace, the ace of hearts is a common symbol of asexuality. This is specifically for alloromantic individuals, meaning they can experience romantic attraction.


Ace Rings


An ace ring is a term for a black ring that the wearer intends as a symbol of their asexual identity. It is usually worn on the middle finger.


Arrow


Because aromantic is often shortened to aro, an arrow is a common symbol of aromanticism.



 

References


Oxford University. (n.d.). Asexuality Meaning. Lexico Dictionaries. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/asexuality.


Oxford University. (n.d.). Aromantic Meaning. Lexico Dictionaries. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/aromantic.


Overview. Overview | The Asexual Visibility and Education Network. (n.d.). https://www.asexuality.org/?q=overview.html.


Asexual. LGBTA Wiki. (n.d.). https://lgbta.wikia.org/wiki/Asexual.


Pride flags. The Gender & Sexuality Resource Center. (n.d.). https://www.unco.edu/gender-sexuality-resource-center/resources/pride-flags.aspx.


Asexuality. LGBT+ 🏳️‍🌈 Wiki. (n.d.). https://lgbt-plus.fandom.com/wiki/Asexuality.


Wikia.org. (n.d.). Aromantic. LGBTA Wiki. Retrieved from https://lgbta.wikia.org/wiki/Aromantic.

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