I was fortunate to have met David Jay, the founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) several years ago. Since then, we’ve had several delightful conversations around asexuality, or the lack of sexual interest or desire. And yes, that’s him in the photo.
What is asexuality?
A lot of people tell me that they think of amoebas and asexual reproductions upon hearing or reading the word “asexual.” On the contrary, human asexuality does not mean that we can reproduce asexually. Instead, asexuality is defined as a type of sexual orientation. The word signify a lack of sexual interest or desire. Once when conducting a focus group with them in San Francisco, someone told me that she didn’t understand the word “Hot,” as in “That person is so hot!” She asked, “What does that even mean?” I had a hard time answering, and I thought perhaps my sexual orientation is closer to the asexual side of the sexuality spectrum than I had previously thought.
In academia, asexuality is often defined as experiencing low sexual attraction or no sexual attraction towards anyone (male, female, or other). Asexual people are not interested in sexual activity of any kind. When we hear that, we wonder if kissing is okay. Is giving kisses a sexual activity? What about hugging? The asexual community is divided on these minor details. Are they interested in romance? Some are, some are not. These details vary from person to person.
Why is asexuality important?
What does an article on asexuality have to do with the LGBT community, you ask. Well, plenty! For starters, asexuality is largely unrecognized in the world. What’s the first thing you think of when a person tell you he or she identify as an asexual person? A likely response is, “Oh, you don’t mean that. Maybe you just haven’t had good sex.” Most of us who stumbled upon The L Stop probably identify as women who like women. We’ve all heard the “Maybe you just haven’t found a good man” excuse as to why we may not like men. Is that reason enough for you to care?
Asexuality has also been largely overlooked in the LGBTQ community. It’s not illegal to be asexual, so there is no negative public attention or scrutiny. In fact, it’s almost even more acceptable in the heterosexual community if you identify as asexual AND gay/lesbian/bi than an asexual straight person. After all, if you’re straight, most people would say you’d need to be fruitful and multiply, but oh no, if you’re gay, we don’t want you to multiply!
In the sexuality field of academia, asexuality has also been largely ignored because more people are interested in sex than a lack of sex. This calls for a need visibility. My research on asexuality was done almost three years ago. I think it’d be interesting to see where asexuality research is going towards now.
Well, guess what Chicago? Director Angela Tucker’s documentary on a population of asexual people is coming to town this Sunday at The Chicago Filmmakers as part of the Reeling Film Festival. I’m going to go see it. Are you? Tickets are $9. Click here to read the synopsis of (A)Sexual and purchase. See you there!
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JT is originally from San Francisco, CA. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in psychology, focusing primarily on gender and sexuality research. Seeking a change in 2008, she moved to Chicago, and what a change it has been! Currently, she works for a nationally renowned magazine publishing company. During her off hours, she can been seen walking and yelping about various Chicago neighborhoods. JT identifies as queer and bisexual, and she is currently dating a straight man. She has an unapologetic love for civil rights, whether it’d be for racial, gender, sexual, or political socioeconomic equality. On weekends, she volunteers with Howard Brown Health Center to promote safe sex in Boystown.