While accurate representation is lacking for all in the LGBT+ community, it seems particularly lacking in a few specific areas. One that I’ve noticed, is for the asexual and aromantic communities. For those who may not know, asexuals don’t experience sexual attraction and aromantics don’t experience romantic attraction. Because there is practically no representation for these parts of the community, I thought that I would dispel some myths about them. As a disclaimer I should say that while I am asexual, I am not aromantic. I have researched both, and wanted to give them both more representation since they are often ignored, but I do not speak from experience for being aromantic.
- Asexuals can have sex, aromantics can have romantic relationships
Some people believe that having sex or romantic relationships delegitimizes your identity as an ace or aro individual. This is not the case. While some asexuals (like myself) are sex-repulsed, and others couldn’t care one way or another (with the same going for aromantics in romantic relationships), some asexuals do enjoy sex, and some aromantics enjoy romantic relationships. They just do not experience a sexual and/or romantic attraction towards an individual for those things. Additionally, gray-aces/aros (people who experience very little sexual or romantic attraction) will experience attraction for either at some point too, and this does not negate their identity as being on the ace/aro spectrum.
- Not all asexuals are aromantic, and not all aromantics are asexual.
Of course there are some aromantic asexuals, however this is not always the case. Sexual and romantic attraction is different, and they aren’t always the same. This is the case for all sexualities (ex. Someone who is homosexual may still be biromantic), but in my experience I’ve noticed it’s more common with asexuals and aromantics. Many asexuals find themselves romantically attracted to others (I’m panromantic for example), and many aromantics are sexually attracted to others (I knew a pansexual aromantic at one point in my life). People assume that being asexual means being aromantic and vice versa, but this is simply not the case.
- We are not just waiting for the right person to change our minds
To me this seems like one of the most common misconceptions, and it really messed with me while I was trying to figure out what I identified. Especially as a young asexual, the idea that someone is supposed to come along and be the special one that makes things different constantly made me doubt if I was really asexual or just hadn’t met that special someone. However, this isn’t the case, and though it took me a while to realize I’m glad I have. Even if there are some people who identify as asexual or aromantic and later come across someone who makes them realize they’re not, this isn’t the case for most people who identify this way and those cases should not be held against the experiences of ace and aros. The idea of waiting for the right person is already taxing enough on us and the expectations people have us, please don’t continue enforcing this idea on us.
- We are not cold, unhappy and completely unwanting of relationships
Ok, maybe some of us are, but not as a result of being ace/aro (though perhaps the stigma that comes with it). Not having sexual/romantic relationships doesn’t necessarily make us unhappy since we’re not attracted to it in the first place. However, this doesn’t mean we want to be totally shut off from everyone and everything (though that is certainly nice sometimes). Platonic and familial relationships are important to many of us, and romantic and sexual relations can be important too, even to those who are ace/aro. Some aromantic people still get married, I know one who is engaged and just has a special kind of nonromantic relationship with their fiance, and many asexual people have sexual relationships with their significant others (or people who aren’t their significant others as well) which are important to them, but don’t involve a sexual attraction. Relationships of all sorts are still important to us, and we aren’t completely asocial loners with no desire for human contact whatsoever.
- It is not the result of a childhood trauma, and we are not “broken” (TW: sexual assault)
Though the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, trauma does not cause asexuality or aromanticism. It’s just who we are, and claiming it’s the result of some trauma perpetuates an ideology that sees us as broken and in need of fixing. This is a dangerous ideology because it can lead to “correctional” sexual violence, which results from someone thinking that to “cure” asexuality, someone just needs to experience sexual activity, and can for someone who does not want to participate in those activities, sexual violence can surely occur. Even if this were not the case, considering the idea that someone is somehow broken for not experiencing sexual or romantic attraction can be extremely harmful to an ace or aro person’s self esteem and feelings of self worth, and may result in them forcing themselves into situations they don’t want to be in, in an attempt to seem “normal”. There doesn’t need to be a reason we are this way, we just are, so don’t try to explain it, accept it.
There are many other misconceptions about asexuals and aromantics, but here are some of the basics. Feel free to continue addressing them outside of the article, and try to raise awareness about these extremely underrepresented parts of the LGBT+ community.