Welcome back to Queering the Narrative!
I gotta be honest — this has been kind of a high-stress week for me.
In addition to the ongoing US election (for which I worked as a poll-worker), I also got some pretty promising news on the publishing front and decided to start up a NaNoWriMo a full four days late.
All that’s to say, I don’t quite have the same amount of time or emotional energy to devote to a blog post as long as I usually do.
I do, however, have one subject that I think deserves some tying off! This week, I’m going to be (tentatively) finishing my protracted series about writing asexual characters by talking about some asexual terminology.
Note that, like other times I’ve talked about queer terminology, this isn’t necessarily a list of things ace folx might say in real life. However, it’s important that you know and understand these terms, even if you don’t end up using them in your narrative, because they’ll help you to better understand the asexual community.
Also, unlike my post about lesbian terminology, most of these words are not slang. The ace community doesn’t have the storied history that the gay, lesbian, and trans communities do, and so they also don’t have quite as much vernacular specific to their communities. They do, however, have words for identities with which you may not be familiar, which can help give you a picture of the larger asexual community!
So, without further ado, let’s dive in to some asexual terminology you should know if you want to write asexual characters!
- Asexual: adj. Someone who does not experience sexual attraction, or someone whose sexual attraction is situation-specific or otherwise fleeting.
- Ace: adj. A shorthand for the term asexual, and often how asexual folx refer to their own orientation.
- Allosexual: adj. Someone who experiences sexual attraction, regardless of their other orientations. Note that those who experience sexual attraction sparingly, or only other specific circumstances, may not identify with this label.
- Allo: adj. A shorthand for the term allosexual, which is the term to describe folx who experience sexual attraction. Straight, gay, lesbian, and bi people who experience sexual attraction are allosexual.
- Aromantic: adj. Someone who does not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic folx often do not desire romantic relationships, though they might pursue deep platonic relationships. Some people identify as both aromantic and asexual, but this is not universal — many asexual people desire romantic relationships, and many aromantic people experience sexual attraction.
- Aro: adj. A shorthand for aromantic.
- Demisexual: adj. Experiencing no sexual attraction to an individual until a deep emotional bond has been forged. Until that bond exists, the individual might feel a connection to the broader ace community, as they generally do not experience sexual attraction in their day-to-day lives.
- Demi: adj. Shorthand for the term demisexual.
- Demiromantic: adj. The romantic equivalent of demisexual.
- Graysexual: adj. One whose sexual attraction is vague or infrequent, sometimes to the point that it doesn’t feel worth it to act on the attraction. Though graysexual individuals may experience occasional or minor sexual attraction, they are still considered part of the ace community.
- Grayromantic: adj. The romantic equivalent of graysexual.
- Libido: noun. The physical reactions and drives related to arousal, which may or may not be attached to sexual attraction. Some ace folx experience libido and feel a need to satisfy the physical urges that come with it, but this is not necessarily connected to sexual attraction.
- Split Attraction Model: noun. An understanding of attraction as existing along several different axes, such as sexual, romantic, platonic, aesthetic, and sensual. Split Attraction Model is used to help conceptualize the distinction between aro and ace folx, and to illustrate why some asexual folx pursue romantic relationships. Under the split attraction model, orientations that end in -sexual can also end in -romantic, such as biromantic.
- That’s it for this week! A bit of a short one, but there’s still a lot of important information here. I’ll be back next week with another Queering the Narrative, but until then stay safe, stay healthy, and keep writing!