By Dr. Sharath Kumar C, Sexology
A person who does not necessarily experience sexual attraction in the way persons from the sexual community do is commonly referred to as an asexual, and the condition is called asexuality in common terminology. Asexuality differs from celibacy in that celibacy is an individual choice whereas asexuality is a sexual orientation. However, even within the asexual community, there are several discrepancies and much diversity among its members, varying from individual preferences to differences in attraction and arousal levels.
How are asexuals different from the rest?
Asexual individuals experience almost the same emotional needs as any individual, and when it comes to relationships, they are exactly like the people from the sexual community in their individual preferences and differences. While some are happier and better off alone, some are more inclined towards the prospect of having more intimate bonds than others, and some others even further wish to attain long-term partnerships. Moreover, asexual individuals seem to be at a more advantageous position than sexual people, as they are not bound or limited by social conventions and expectations relating to normal modes of social conduct, like flirtation or intimacy.
How to know if you’re asexual?
There is no litmus test to determine whether a person is asexual or not. Generally, people rarely go from being straight to gay. Similarly, asexual people hardly become sexual or vice versa. Asexuality is an identity just like any other.
Many asexual individuals experience sexual attraction, but unlike people who normally tend to act out sexually, they experience attraction in rather platonic terms. Sexual arousal can be quite a regular occurrence; it is not, however, associated with the desire to seek sexual intimacy. Some will, perhaps, occasionally masturbate, but that does not mean they should feel any desire for partnered sexuality.
There are still others who feel little or no arousal at all.
Asexuality has become an increasingly popular topic of debate and research among notable science circles. Internationally renowned LGBT organizations like GLAAD, have created campaigns such as “Got your back” with the tagline “A is for Allies”, in support of asexual, aromatic and agender people, who are usually marginalized and excluded from the wider spectrum of the LGBTQ community.
So, what does it mean to the rest of the society? Asexuals are just like everyone else except for a different orientation (or as some people call it “lack of orientation”), and they should be understood and accepted as such without any prejudice, discrimination or even sympathy.