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4Men - Opinions

Letters and opinions from concerned male South African citizens on current affairs and issues affecting us all

The A In LGBTIAQ

By Jonathan Walters

I couldn't help but notice that some Pride events in recent times have become all inclusive and after 24 years finally added the A to LGBTIAQ. But what does this A actually stand for?

What defines that A? What defines sexuality? Is it just how we feel about the gender we’re in love with, is it how we feel about ourselves, is it how our genetics prescribe it or what label society puts on it? Regardless of what you think, everyone (or rather, most people) recognize the spectrum of sexuality. But often there is a silent category neglected: asexuality.

Asexuality is defined as “being free from or unaffected by sexuality”... In lay terms, it’s essentially someone who doesn’t find a sexual attraction to someone else. People often perceive this as someone who just wants to be alone and not have a romantic relationship with someone else – but like all forms of sexuality, there is a spectrum of asexuality, which is often neglected and left invisible when talking about the awareness of sexuality.

In a recent article I read about the spectrum of asexuality, written by individuals who identify as asexual I learnt things about it which I didn’t even know existed. And trust me... there’s a lot to know about asexuality! I found what helped me understand the complexities of asexuality were how asexuals themselves utilise labels to help them verbalise their sexual identity.

Essentially, there are your prefixes attached to “-asexual”, which is used to describe their sexual preference in a human, “homo-asexual, hetero-asexual, pan-asexual” are the commonly used prefixes used to identify their sexuality.

What confuses people when it gets to this point is when people get confused about the idea of asexuality, yet having a sexual preference. Asexuality, although meaning that there is no sexual desire, doesn’t exclude the idea of sexual preference; it merely excludes the idea of sexual intercourse (in most cases).

In addition to the sexual identity of asexuals, there is also the complexity of whether an asexual identified person desires to be in a romantic engagement with another person. These people use their identified prefix, with the term “romantic” in their identity as well. One of my closest Trans friends identifies herself as a “pan-romantic asexual”... Meaning that she is pansexual in sexual orientation and would look for a romantic relationship with another person...

Interesting stuff, right? Furthermore, what people misconceive about a “romantic” relationship is that it would involve sexual intercourse as an integral part of their relationship, which it actually doesn’t (again, in most cases). A romantic-asexual relationship is when someone feels romantically for another person, without the desire to be sexually romantic with them. It essentially means that they’re physically intimate (cuddles, hand holding, etc), but at the same time not engaging in intercourse.

This letter was essentially designed to shed a tiny amount of light on the asexuality spectrum and give insight into a forgotten/invisible group of people within our community. There is so much more to write, so much more to say, especially on the topic of masturbation in the asexual community, exceptions to physical intimacy, monogamy and long term relationships.

But that will have to wait for another time.


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