What the A in LGBTQIA+ Stands For
By: Emily Kuykendall (@EmilyOfWaste)
Just last year, the United States passed the bill that made marriage between same-sex couples legal in all fifty states. However, the discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community still ensues and it is still highly misunderstood by some people. There is usually an argument going on about the spectrum whether it's about which bathrooms transgender people should use or if sexuality is genetic. Sometimes the different identities of the LGBTQIA+ community are discriminated and misunderstood, and are even seen as nonexistent. The LGBT part of LGBTQIA+ acronym are the most recognized identities of the community, and most people are unaware of what the QIA stands for. The A in LGBTQIA+ stands for asexual, aromantic, and agender, and includes the different subsections of asexuality and aromanticism. This article will focus on the sexualities and romantic attractions represented by the A.
Asexual means to have no sexual desires towards people of either gender. There are subsections of asexuality. Demisexual means to have sexual desires after forming an emotional connection. Gray-asexual means to rarely have sexual desires. Lithsexual means to have sexual desires but no desire for those feelings to be reciprocated. Asexuals can find pleasure in sexual activities, like masturbation, contrary to popular belief.
Aromantic means to have no romantic desires towards people of either gender. Like asexuality, aromantic also has subsections like demiromantic, gray-aromantic, and lithroromantic, which line up with their counterparts, only instead of sexual attraction it is romantic attraction. Some may think that aromantics resent love and all kinds of affection. This is not true in the slightest.
There is plenty of controversy and debate over the exact definition of various types of attraction. Other forms would include sensual, which includes things like holding hands without taking it to sexual levels, and aesthetic, which is basically physical attraction. However you feel about different types of attraction is fine, it just matters what you feel comfortable with.
Not all asexuals are aromantic and vice versa; you can be one without being the other. Also, asexual and aromantic are not interchangeable terms since they don't mean the same thing. No one chooses to be asexual or aromantic just like people don't choose to be homosexual. Asexual and aromantic people do get harassed over this as stigmas can affect both spectrums. In pop culture, we see sexual and romantic themes all over the place, whether it's in music, movies, or the Internet. It isn't escapable and people may expect everyone to factor into it.
Asexuals and aromantics are not “going through a phase” or “waiting for the right person.” They simply are the way they are. There are actually people who believe being asexual or aromantic is having a mental disorder. Specifically, asexuality is described as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.
The fact that asexuality and aromanticism are often either unrepresented or misrepresented is a problem. Not everyone is going to experience sexual attraction. Not everyone is going to experience romantic attraction. With homosexuality and other aspects of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, they may not receive positive attention, but at least they receive attention and people know about it. People need to know about this and understand this because it is real and it is valid.