Aspec & Arospec
The Asexual & Aromantic Spectrums
Much like the rest of the acronym, the A in LGBTQUIA+ represents many identities rich in diversity. The asexual and aromantic spectrums, or ace-aro spectrums, can vary from feeling no sexual or romantic attraction, very little attraction, attraction under specific conditions or other forms of non-allo attraction. Asexuality is a sexual orientation just like any others in the acronym, and should be respected the same as the rest- and such respect should be extended to adjacent aspec identities for the exact same reason.
- Aspec - an umbrella term for anyone who identifies on the asexual and/or aromantic spectrum
- Asexual/Ace - an identity used by people who do not experience sexual attraction to anyone
- Aromantic/Aro - an identity used by people who do not experience romantic attraction to anyone
- Allosexual - a person who experiences sexual attraction, regardless of sexuality
- Alloromantic - a person who experiences romantic attraction, regardless of romanticism
For some people, their sexual and romantic orientations are aligned and as such, the way in which they think about relationships involves the two, making the concept of romantic orientation less obvious. For aspec people, however, it can be quite obvious that they are experiencing one but not the other, although that doesn’t mean that they are at all easy to separate. Romantic and sexual attraction can be mutually exclusive- i.e. sexual attraction can be felt without the corresponding romantic attraction and vice versa. This is where the introduction of terms such as heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, aromantic, androromantic, gyneromantic, or others come in. This list is not exhaustive, and there are many -romantic identities much like the sexual identities.
Is there a definitive cause for being aspec?
No. Many aspec people feel they have always been different from their allosexual peers, whereas some have a more fluid perception of sexuality. What we do know is that there is no evidence that asexuality is linked to sexual repression, abuse, sexual disorders, or a lack of partners. It is also not the same as celibacy.
How do aspec people feel about sex and romantic relationships?
There is a lot of variety within the community when regarding such opinions. Some aspecs think sex is a great thing for other people to do; it’s just not something they have any desire for. Some aspecs are indifferent to sex, some find the idea repulsive; some enjoy sex, some find it boring. Asexuality is about who you are sexually attracted to, not who you have sex with. Just like gay people who have had sex with people of the opposite sex are no less gay; asexual people who have had sex are no less asexual. There are many reasons why people choose to have sex, and sexual attraction is only one of them. aspec can still want to have sex for all sorts of reasons, such as expressing love, physical intimacy or just because they like the way it feels! A lack of sexual attraction does not necessarily mean a lack of libido or sex drive- these are not interchangeable terms. Some aspec people choose to have sex to satisfy these desires, others will not. There is no set way to feel about sex amongst aspecs, just like there isn’t for allosexuals. Some aspec people experience romantic attraction, which is a desire to be in a romantic relationship with someone. Even aromantic asexuals can still have relationships; some have some very close friends that they value a great deal, whilst others may choose to engage in romantic relationships even though they don’t experience romantic attraction to their partners. This may seem strange at first, but in the same way as an asexual person can be in a sexual relationship, there is no reason that an aromantic person cannot be in a romantic relationship. Aromantic people in romantic relationships may engage in “romantic” behaviours for the benefit of their partner, whilst not having any innate desire to do so. Some aromantic people may be in queerplatonic relationships- in fact, anyone of any identity can be in queerplatonic relationships. Again, no one aspec person is a pillar for the whole community, so opinions on sex, romantic relationships and sexual relationships will vary from person to person.
What is a queerplatonic relationship?
This is a difficult question to answer as queerplatonic relationships are different for different people and can be defined in many ways. However, they are essentially something that falls in between society’s categories of “friendship” and “romance”. It’s sometimes described as being more than friendship, but not romantic. It’s important to note that queerplatonic relationships aren’t “lesser” than romantic relationship – they are different, but not any less meaningful Again, these sorts of relationships are not exclusive to aromantic and aromantic-adjacent identifying people, and is just another way to classify relationships between people.
What if you’ve just not found the right person yet?
Would you ask a gay male friend that they just hadn’t found the right woman yet? What about a straight female friend? This question is demeaning, implying that aspec people just haven’t figured out their identities yet, or that they don’t know what they’re feeling. Even if this is the case, this doesn’t invalidate whatever identity they identify with. Due to stigmas surrounding asexuality, aromanticism and associated identities, questioning whether an aspec person is actually aspec is a unfortunately common occurrence.
So…do aspec people masturbate?
Some do, some don’t. Ultimately, it’s all up to the person. Just because a person doesn’t experience sexual attraction, it doesn’t mean that they can’t experience sexual arousal. However, this is not a question you should ask an aspec person, as it is highly invasive and overall uncomfortable to ask anyone, asexual or not.
The A in LGBTQUIA+
Some people may question the inclusion of aspec identifying people in the acronym - this questioning is invalid. Aspec people face many of the same problems as those who identify with the rest of the acronym, such as lack of representation in education and media, lack of widespread understanding of their identities, presumed heterosexuality and more, and have the same aims of being respected, understood and represented. For this, their inclusion is vital within the overall LGBTQUIA+ community. Even if someone identifies as asexual heteroromantic, or heterosexual aromantic, this should not exclude them from queer safe spaces- for the same reason why non-heterosexual people in straight relationships or heterosexual trans people shouldn’t be.
Some places you can find out more:
- Warwick Pride Asexual/Aromantic Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- The Pride library (located in the SUHQ Workzone, where we have a number of leaflets and resources)
- The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN)
- The Asexual Awareness Week website
- The Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week website
- The Aromantic-spectrum Union for Recognition, Education and Advocacy (AUREA)