Dr. Elena Duong
Updated: Mar 10
What do you know about sexuality? In U.S. society, things are slowly changing when it comes to talking about sexuality. There is much more openness to it, but stigma around sexuality/sexual orientation still exists. There is a preference towards heterosexuality due to the puritanical ideals in the U.S. In this, folks who do not identify as heterosexual are still discriminated against even though other types of sexuality have existed alongside heterosexuality throughout history.
What is Sexual Orientation?
Sexuality is rather complex. Most folks have heard of the acronym, LGBTQIA+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual. There is more to sexual orientation than those letters, so the plus sign encapsulates the sexuality spectrum not seen within those letters. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity (click here to read more) and romantic orientation.
Sexual orientation refers to gender(s)/traits you are sexually attracted to while gender identity refers to an individual’s personal sense of gender. Romantic attraction/orientation refers to gender(s) you are romantically attracted to. Some examples of sexual orientations include lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and more. In addition, sexual fluidity is looking at one's sexual orientation as continuing to change over time instead of static and set for life (Zheng, n.d.).
What is Asexuality?
We will be looking further into the asexuality spectrum since many still are unknowledgeable about the existence of asexuality or have struggles understanding it. Referring back to LGBTQIA+, some still mistake the "A" as reference to ally when it does not; it refers to asexuality. Some also refer to asexuality as an "invisible orientation."
People who identify as asexual sometimes refer to themselves as Ace or Aces. They tend to have minimal interest in sex, and some still desire emotionally intimate relationships (The Trevor Project, 2021). Being asexual is part of who they are and NOT a choice. Asexuality is a spectrum. There is not only one type. There are a lot of gray areas. Some examples on the asexuality spectrum includes demisexual (people who tend to only feel sexual attraction after having formed an emotional connection with them), grey-A (people who identify as being between the sexual and asexual on the overall sexuality spectrum), and queer-platonic (a type of nonromantic relationship where the emotional connection goes beyond traditional friendships) (The Trevor Project, 2021).
An asexuality researcher, Anthony Bogaert, indicated about 1% of the population may be asexual (Bogaert, 2004). Due to the low percentage of folks who identify as asexual, there are often mixed relationships with sexual people, which can present some challenges due to differences in sexual interest (The Asexual Visibility & Education Network, n.d.). This means folks who identify as asexual may be in relationships with folks who are not asexual.
It is important to know about asexuality since you or someone you know may identify as asexual without even knowing it. Having terms for one’s experience can be helpful and to feel less isolated.
This is a Youtuber, Chantel, discussing the asexuality spectrum, specifically demisexuality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up4bnLpOfUQ
Curious to Know if You Are Asexual?
The following few questions can help in your journey in discovering whether you are on the asexuality spectrum. The questions are not comprehensive. Feel free to continue doing your research and talking with loved ones if you feel safe to do so.
How do you feel about sex?
What is your interest in sex like? Interested? Disinterested?
How do you feel when sex is being discussed? Objective? Emotional? Confused?
Do you ever pretend to be more interested in sex than you are to appear “normal?”
Sexuality is complex and complicated since humans are as well. With how today’s society has treated sex and sexuality, individuals who do not identify with heterosexuality or as hetero-romantic tend to be marginalized and discriminated against. Everyone has their own sexuality journey. Every journey is different, because people are different. There are no right/wrong journeys.
If you want some mental health support in your journey in discovering more about your identity, feel free to contact us through our site.
Stay tuned. The next topic is "Trauma."
The Asexual Visibility & Education Network. (n.d.). Overview. The Asexual Visibility & Education Network. https://www.asexuality.org/?q=overview.html
Bogaert, A. F. (2004). Asexuality: Prevalence and Associated Factors in a National Probability Sample. The Journal of Sex Research, 41(3), 279–287. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4423785
Zheng, L. (n.d.). Sexual Fluidity. Stanford University. https://vaden.stanford.edu/health-resources/lgbtqia-health/sexual-fluidity
The Trevor Project. (2021, August 20). Understanding Asexuality. The Trevor Project. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/understanding-asexuality/
Written by Elena Duong, Psy.D.
Edited by Susanna La, Ph.D.