"A" is for Asexual
Asexuality is the "A" of LGBTQIA+ and is a sexual orientation like gay, lesbian, bisexual, and straight. Asexuality can be a difficult concept to grasp in a society that focuses on the pursuit of sexual partners and pleasure. Let us clear up a few of the most common misconceptions.
Asexuality is not a decision
An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships. Like any other sexual orientation, how asexuality manifests is different for each person and there are many levels on the sexual orientation spectrum between "asexual" and "very sexual." Some people experience sexual attraction rarely, or only under specific circumstances, or of an intensity so low that is ignorable and not a necessity in relationships. These individuals may identify as gray-asexual (or gray, graysexual, gray-asexual, or gray-a). Demisexuals experience sexual attraction or desire after an emotional bond is formed. Many demisexuals and gray-asexuals choose to use ther blanket term "asexual" to describe their orientation. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide what words best describe them.
A sexual person who chooses not to have sex is called celibate or abstinent. There are many reasons for a sexual person to choose not to have sex, such as religious or moral reasons, negative experiences, personal discipline, or waiting for a long-term committed relationship. The difference between asexuality and celibacy/abstinence is that asexuality is not based on a decision, but is simply who the individual is. Celibates have a desire to have sexual relationships with other people but choose not to. Asexuals do not have that desire.
Asexuals can experience arousal
Asexual people can still have libidos or experience arousal, but do not experience any innate attraction or desire to engage in sexual activities with other people. They may have kinks or fetishes that sexually arouse them, but that isn't the same as wanting to have sex with another person. Many people who experience sexual arousal in some form still identify as asexual; they simply don’t feel a desire to be sexual with someone else.
Asexuals have relationships
Some asexuals have romantic relationships that do not have a sexual component.
Asexuals can have sex
For asexual people, though, this isn't directed at other people. Most asexual people with a libido take care of it through masturbation or just ignoring it, and there is no underlying desire for partnered sex that goes unmet. Asexual people who are in a relationship with a sexual person may use their libido to coordinate sex with their partner, but it's generally not a necessity to meet their intrinsic needs the same way it is for sexual people.
- Julia Eckard