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Do I Look Like I Care?

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It's not exactly a rainbow, but it's certainly dramatic! (S)

 “Why do you need to come out as asexual?”

It’s a question that isn't uncommon for me to hear online, and it’s something I’m sure a number of aces (and demisexuals as well) have been asked. Mostly it seems to be said by people that don’t really understand that the ace spectrum exists. It is generally accompanied by the phrase “why should I care?” That’s right, faceless referenced internet person – why should you care? 

Generally the reason that people give for saying asexuals shouldn’t come out (or shouldn't need to) is something along the lines of "but why should I care about how you experience attraction? Surely it's your own business," and I suppose in some ways that is a reasonable assumption. However, people on the asexual spectrum come out for much the same reasons as people on the allosexual spectrum who are not heterosexual come out - to find people with similar experiences, to find help and support, to feel included in a community and, not necessarily for homosexuals or bisexuals, but certainly for aces, pansexuals, polysexuals, and other less well-known (in the mainstream, at least) orientations, to raise awareness for the existence of their orientations. For some reason plenty of people seem to think that it's a case of being sexually attracted to the opposite or same gender as yourself, and that it can never be a case of both, more, neither, or some. 

In reality, it's not quite as simple as "either/or", and even gender itself is a spectrum, and that makes the simplified scenario flawed - how can someone who identifies as genderqueer find someone who is the "opposite gender"? 

Here's where the aces come in. You see asexuals, despite being one of the few sexual orientations to have an entire website dedicated to it, still need people to exist in that community. Whether that community is on AVEN, or operates on the slightly less ordered Tumblr, or on LiveJournal, or in many other places, there needs to be a gathering of us. A lot of people don't realise that they are asexual, or on the asexual spectrum, because there is very little by way of awareness of the subject. It's difficult to know if you are asexual - even trying to pin down a definition of "sexual attraction" that we can use as a quick way to say "yes, I experience/do not experience this" is virtually impossible because everyone experiences sexual attraction in different ways and to different degrees. Have you ever tried to describe the colour blue? How do you describe the taste of chocolate to someone who has never tried it? It can only be explained by using examples that are close, but there's no guarantee that we think of the same thing when hearing the phrase "sexual attraction". 

It's far from uncommon find posts in an online asexual community asking "I don’t really find people attractive, am I asexual?” or “I’ve only been attracted to one person – could I be demi- or grey-sexual?” or sometimes people go the more direct route and ask “How do I know if I’m asexual?”. 

The answer, unfortunately, is something you have to figure out yourself. 

The more people that come out as asexual, the more variations of asexuality and the asexual spectrum crop up. I’m not complaining about this – I’ve written several posts on why the asexual communities should accept everyone rather than being elitist – but some online users tend to take the broadness of the definition as a personal offense. 

One of the main points of focus that people use when arguing against aces having to come out is demisexuality. Personally I think this stems from a lack of understanding of what demisexuality actually is, so here is the definition: 

A demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. 

Now, before the faceless referenced internet persons jump in to inform everyone that this is “how everyone feels” and “demisexuality is just slut shaming”, I’d like to point out the very important phrase: “does not experience sexual attraction unless…”. 

I’m no expert on sexual attraction, but as far as I am aware most allosexuals can experience sexual attraction to someone they don’t know. If you, faceless referenced internet person, experience sexual attraction to someone and then do not act on it because you do not know the person, it is not the same as being demisexual. Let me repeat that: it is not the same as being demi. 

Demisexuals are, to all intents and purposes, asexual until they have a strong emotional connection to someone. Even then, there’s no guarantee that sexual attraction will automatically occur. In summary – a demisexual may not experience sexual attraction very often in their life and then only in a specific set of circumstances. This isn’t an active choice to not act on their attraction to someone – this is a lack of attraction in the first place. 

So why come out, then, if you are on the asexual spectrum? Well, for the same reasons that anyone else would need to come out – so that we can be ourselves without having to worry about being who we aren't. If you don't personally care then great, I'm not here to push my orientation on you, but there's no reason to say that we're "slut shaming" or "attention-seeking" when really all we want to do is accept ourselves.
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