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  • Writer's pictureMarkey Battle

The Silenced "A" : Isolation of the Asexual Community Within the Rainbow

When you think about the LGBTQIA+ community, what words come to mind? 

Most people think: Rainbow, love, sexuality, and inclusion (with rainbow washing being the obvious outlier). And while those words all do a fantastic job of summing up the colourful, joyful community, they don’t represent every group in the LGBTQIA+ community.

People in the LGBTQIA+ community battle feelings of loneliness more than heterosexuals. Members of the community are often single, childless, and live alone, as well as the ever-present fear of losing basic human rights and health insurance. 

But what about the community that identifies with some of those triggers?

Asexuality, or ace for short, refers to a person who is either partially or wholly disinterested in sexual attraction or activity within their relationships. In a community that primarily identifies people by their sexual and romantic attractions, the ace community often struggles to find its place in the rainbow.

‘A’ll Are Welcome…?

Asexuality is a severely under-researched community within the LGTBQIA+ group. Being asexual does not mean you are aromantic. These terms can be mutually exclusive. Some individuals in the asexual community are completely disinterested in romantic relationships, others are more than happy to find a romantic partner. 

Asexuality and celibacy are also two terms that are regularly mistaken for synonyms. While celibacy is an active choice a person makes to stay away from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of someone’s identity. 

Similar to most LGBTQ+ identities, asexuality exists on a spectrum. There is no entry fee of disinterest in sexual activity required to identify as asexual. The ace community also has several terms within their community to further identify individuals who might not resonate with the broad asexual meaning. 

Members of the asexual community often battle mental health, especially as confusion about their identity causes dismissal and disbelief about the community’s validity. 

Trevor Project’s survey in 2020 discovered asexual youths reported higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to other LGBTQIA+ communities. Asexual people often experience uncertainty or self-doubt, as there is little to no ace representation in the media. They also experience imposter syndrome, because the majority of the LGBTQIA+ community focuses on sexual and gender attraction.

Finding ‘A’ Spotlight

Alice Oseman is the asexual and aromantic author of the bestselling series, Heartstopper. Her graphic novels were turned into a Netflix show in 2022. Oseman’s diverse cast of characters includes trans, gay, bisexual, and the ever-elusive aromantic and asexual teenagers. Her stories center around the perils of young love, confusion, and pride both on-screen and in the colorful pages of her books.

Oseman’s goal was not only to tell a heartwarming inclusive story but also to bring awareness to the ace community.

In an interview with BBC, she says, “I feel like asexuality and aromanticism are identities that are not known by a lot of people.” She continues, “I wanted to bring the representation into the mainstream… And I hope that people will be able to see themselves in that story.” Oseman didn’t hear the terms asexual or aromantic until she was in college, similar to the main character in her novel Loveless

‘A’ Cry for Help

Asexuality is severely under-represented and under-researched. While this problem will not go away in a month, society can and should start making strides to shine a light on the community and the people within it. 

So what can you do?

Research the community! Don’t just read this article, but look for books with asexual characters, read articles about the asexual point of view, and be ready to squelch any inaccuracies. Learn what the asexual flag looks like and bring it to your local pride parade (along with any flags you also identify with).

a person wearing a black shirt with a small pin of the asexual flag.

Most importantly, don’t limit pride and visibility to one week, month, or season. Ace Week takes place during the last full week of October. Challenge yourself to learn more about this community between now and then. 

Pride should be for everyone, and I hope that becomes a reality soon. 

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