Sex is a defining feature of college. But for people who identify as asexual, this aspect is experience differently.
“Asexuality is lack of sexual attraction,” said Vivi Driscoll, a junior majoring in music education.
The asexual experience is different for everyone. There are varying degrees of asexuality, according to Chaos Faulder, a junior majoring in math. Some people who identify as asexual, commonly referred to as “ace,” are not attracted to the idea of sex. Whereas others can feel sexual attraction on occasion, depending on the emotional connection they have with their partner.
There are a lot of examples of acephobia and general intolerance towards people who identify as asexual. These happen in multiple microaggressions that frequently stem from a lack of understanding.
“I’m out-ish to my family, but they don’t really get it,” Faulder said. “I’ve told them, but they don’t think it’s real. My sister told me that if I had come out as a lesbian, they would have been behind me 100 percent. But because I came out as ace, they were like ‘but how?’ That’s something I get a lot. ‘How could you not do that?’”
Some asexual people still feel romantic attraction, sometimes their partners do not fully understand it.
“The most common thing I get is usually from romantic relationships where it’s like ‘you love me less,’” Driscoll said. “And asking if it’s a measurement of love capabilities, which obviously is not true. When we do reach a point where sexual interaction happens, they tend to expect it more often.”
In general, people tend to value romantic or sexual relationships over platonic ones. This is something that people who identify as ace feel the harmful effects of.
“So it’s really difficult knowing that most of the time, no matter how close I am to someone, they’ll always view my relationship with them as lesser, and that’s a really damaging viewpoint I think that a lot of people have,” Faulder said.
This is something to keep in mind no matter what your sexual or romantic identities are, according to Faulder. It is pretty easy and common to toss aside friends as soon as you start dating someone. Often, people value their spouse’s opinion over their friend’s.
“I think acknowledging that it’s harmful and toxic is really helpful,” Faulder said. “And applying that to sexual (relationships) as well because sexual relationships aren’t above platonic (ones) because it took me so long to realize I wasn’t lesser because I wasn’t romantic or sexual.”
Recognizing the difference between romantic and sexual orientations is also important. One may be asexual but still feel romantic attraction.
Being aware that asexuality exists and is valid is a step towards fighting acephobia and allowing those who do identify as asexual to feel safe and loved.
“I’m pretty open,” Faulder said. “I don’t hide it from anyone. I’ve got buttons for both (asexuality and aromantic) on my backpack. And if anyone asks, I’ll tell them.”
But just because they exist in this space does not mean they feel comfortable or accepted. Acephobia is real and ultimately detrimental, according to Faulder.
“I’ve never, I don’t think, blown up at anyone about it, but it’s gotten to me a couple times,” Faulder said.
For resources relating to asexuality and other sexual identities, go to CSU’s Pride Resource Center located in the Lory Student Center room 232.
Pride Center Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday
Pride Center Contact: email@example.com
Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maddierwright.