This year, Asexual Awareness Week is 23-30th October, which for many Exeter University students happens to be Reading week, a week dedicated to Netflix, sleep and the essays that we’ve been putting off all term. For some people though, it’s a week of endless campaigning, a week of visibility and representation for an often overlooked community and sexual orientation – asexuality.
Asexuality is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity
An asexual (ace) person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, which is a lifestyle choice, asexuality is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity, it is a sexual orientation. Around the world, it is estimated that 1% of the population is asexual – that’s 70 million people!
Although asexual people may be disinterested in sex, they often feel other types of attraction, such as aesthetic, romantic or sensual attraction. Despite common misconceptions (think Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory) asexual people have the same emotional needs as anyone else. Some are simply happier on their own, whilst others want to form more intimate romantic relationships. An aromantic person is someone who does not experience romantic attraction.
Asexuality is often called the ‘invisible orientation’ because of its lack of visibility (hence the importance of an awareness week) but recently this has begun to change – AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network) has over 86,000 members. It was also recently reported that many leading academics and sexuality educators have publically called for the inclusion of asexuality in the 2021 UK census due to the increasing recognition of its validity.
So, next time you see the LGBTQIA acronym, remember the ‘A’ is for asexual and not ally.