ACE Week 2021: An introduction to asexuality awareness and activism.

This year, Ace Week is October 24th to 30th! According to the website of aceweek.org, “Ace Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness, build community, and create change around the world.” But raise awareness for what?

Despite asexuality becoming more visible each year, there are still many people who don’t know what the A in LGBTQIA stands for. It stands for asexual (ace), aromantic (aro), and agender, and just because someone identifies as one of those doesn’t mean they necessarily identify as all three. During Ace Week, the focus is on the first of those three—asexuality.

Asexuality is defined as experiencing little or no sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is when someone feels an attraction that is sexual in nature towards a specific person. Just because someone is asexual doesn’t mean that they’ll never want to have sex; it just means that they don’t experience sexual attraction directed towards anyone, regardless of whether or not they experience romantic feelings for that person. People who identify as asexual can identify with any form of romantic attraction (just change the -sexual to -romantic, like saying biromantic, homoromantic, heteroromantic, or panromantic) or no form of romantic attraction at all (aromantic).

Our society places an enormous value on sex and romance. People who don’t experience sexual attraction can often feel isolated from or confused by those who do (generally referred to as allosexuals). Asexuality has historically been seen as something that is wrong with a person and should be fixed, and asexuals can experience marginalization in relationships, in the media, under the law, and in the medical field. Asexuals have also been seen as or portrayed as people who don’t have emotions or who lack the ability to love others. This simply isn’t true. As AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Awareness Network, says, “Unlike celibacy, which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are, just like other sexual orientations. Asexual people have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about asexuality, there’s a growing pool of resources for you! The book Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and The Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen is a great resource to jump into. There are also online advocates like Yasmin Benoit, a Black model, writer, and activist from Britain who often speaks on the intersection of being Black and ace, or the channel called Ace Dad Advice on Tiktok, Twitter, and Youtube, where Cody Daigle-Orians gives advice as an older mentor figure within the asexual community. There are also many wonderful fiction books that center ace characters, such as Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger, Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, and Not Your Backup by C.B. Lee.

Refuge is also a great on-campus community for queer people and allies at Eastern! If you have questions, they can help you find the answers or come beside you as you search for those answers.

This week, take some time to check out one of these resources. The ace flag has four stripes of black, grey, white and purple; keep an eye out for it. If you know someone who identifies as ace, ask how you can support them! 

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