In honor of Asexuality Awareness Week Oct 23-39, SEX+STL hosted a screening of the documentary Asexuality: The Making of a Movement last night. It was quite the mindbender! I’ll post my thoughts on it next week, but for now, get to know Vlad Drăculea.
Kendra: What is asexuality?
Vlad: Asexuality is a sexual orientation where a person doesn’t experience feelings of sexual attraction for anyone, regardless of gender.
Kendra: Is there an asexual spectrum?
Vlad: Yes. In the ace community, as well as asexuals who never experience sexual attraction towards anyone, there are:
• demisexuals — people who don’t experience primary sexual attraction, but can experience secondary sexual attraction to someone they have a strong emotional connection with, and
• gray-asexuals — people who once in a great while experience sexual attraction towards someone (even a stranger), but it may frequently be intermittent,
• and there are people who consider themselves both demisexual and gray-asexual simultaneously because, for them, even after developing a strong connection with someone where they begin to experience sexual attraction, it may not be consistently reliable
Of course, there are also the various romantic orientations, which everyone — whether asexual or not — has, but most of the time people don’t think about their romantic orientation as being separate from their sexual orientation. But most asexuals are romantically oriented towards others, usually depending on gender just as with sexual orientation.
For example, I consider myself panromantic in that I can potentially find someone romantically attractive, regardless of their gender identity. Others consider themselves homo-, hetero-, or biromantic, or even aromantic.
Aromanticism is similar to asexuality in that an aromantic does not experience romantic attraction to other people. Again, like asexuality, there is a spectrum, where there are demiromantics, gray-romantics, and people like me who are both demi- and gray-romantic. That is: I need to know someone quite well before I am able to feel romantic attraction towards them, and even after I am aware of this attraction, it is intermittent and not always likely to lead to my falling in love with that other person, even if they have already fallen in love with me.
A final note on romantic orientation: there are a number of us who find ourselves to be both demiromantic and panromantic, so someone on the Yada forum (www.transyada.net) came up with the portmanteau “pandemic” from pan+demi+(romant)ic. Thus, I’m a pandemic ace! 😀
Kendra: When did you realize you were asexual?
Vlad: I was 14, and I realized I felt absolutely no sexual attraction to anyone, nor did I ever have the experience of feeling sexually “turned on”. I believed then that I would never change, and all these years later, I can say I was right about that, at least up to the present.
Kendra: What are some common misconceptions about asexuality?
Vlad: This could be a long answer, so I’ll just focus on three common misconceptions about asexuals and asexuality.
The first is the notion that we can’t fall in love, or have relationships. In fact, many asexuals have romantic relationships with each other, and enjoy hugs, cuddling, and other non-sexual touch. After all, love isn’t just about sex: it’s about companionship, sharing one’s life with another person, caring for one another, sometimes even having kids, etc.
Another is that asexuals have no sex drive. While some of us do lack any sexual libido and are content to stay that way, others enjoy masturbation or even sex with a partner who is sexual. In fact, some asexuals have relationships with sexuals in which the asexual will compromise and have occasional, if not regular, sex.
And lastly, there is the misconception that asexuals are anti-sex. For the vast majority of asexuals, this is completely untrue. In fact, in the Asexual Awareness Week 2011 community census poll, 74 % of respondents said they considered themselves sex positive.
Kendra: When I see someone walking down the street I find sexy, I get interested and turned on. I might start fantasizing about them. What is this scenario like for you?
Vlad: When I see someone walking down the street that I find good looking, I never get sexually turned on at all. When I do find someone intriguing (which usually requires WAY more than just seeing them walk down the street, I mean — I have to actually have had a conversation with them), it’s never in a sexual way, and I will sometimes fantasize about becoming friends with them and if they are someone I know to be asexual, I might perhaps fantasize about having a romantic, non-sexual relationship with them. I’d fantasize about hugs and cuddles, rather than having sex, and while I know that might sound rather mundane, hugs and cuddles are something I really long for in the way that Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” fantasizes about living in simple comfort, in the song “Ow, Wouldn’t it be Lovaly?”.
Kendra: When I’m watching a movie and a hot sex scene comes on, I get turned on and feel squirmy. What is it like for you when you watch porn or see sex acts?
Vlad: I don’t care for sex scenes, since I can’t relate to why anyone would want to do that, and although I have seen some porn — mostly out of curiosity (after I accidentally ordered the wrong movie from Netflix so I decided, what the heck?) — and it was so deadly dull that I had to fast forward through something like three fourths of the movie, lol.
Kendra: What resources do you recommend for those wanting to learn about asexuality?
Vlad: I don’t really have a favorite, but a good place to start, this week especially, would be AAW2011’s FAQ page “What is Asexuality”:
and we have a resources page as well:
(Find out more about Vlad Drăculea here: http://vladdraculea.dreamwidth.org/)