I was discussing the topic of demisexuality and asexuality with someone the other day and I got the familiar response, “what is that?” Of course, followed by an, “that’s not a thing.” It still surprises me that people can go from knowing nothing about a topic to knowing that it doesn’t exist in about 1 min.
While it is becoming prevalent that yes, gay people exist and they are born that way, there are still other groups of people who struggle to be recognized. Two of the little-known groups are asexuals and demisexuals. It wasn’t until college that I even learned about people coming out as asexual. To my surprise they were heavily criticized. Self-proclaimed psychologists had diagnosed these people as sexually abused or oppressed and wanted them desperately to see things from a sexual person’s point of view. Didn’t anyone else see this as odd? People were upset when gay people wanted to be recognized because somehow gay acts offended their morals, but this seemed like forcing someone who doesn’t like pie to eat it anyway. Who cares if someone identifies as asexual?! Why can’t you just give that person the dignity you would give any other? As time went on I saw the asexual movement being taken more seriously, in large part thanks to a number of brave souls giving personal interviews.
A few years later I realized that there was a new label being applied to people, demisexual. What is a demisexual? Well, if you understand that your average person is sexual and an asexual person want’s nothing to do with sex, a demisexual person is somewhere in-between. They can be aroused sexually, but it’s not the same way as a sexual person. Sexual people can feel “love at first sight” where as a demisexual person cannot. They can only be romantically or sexually interested in someone after developing a deep connection over time.
The criticisms of demisexuality:
- Aren’t ALL WOMEN demisexual then?! – No, just as there is a spectrum of sexual orientation there is a spectrum of sexual interest. Men and women can be poorly matched based on their sexual needs, however the most vocal parties have shaped stereotypes that have then been embraced by the mainstream media.
- Couldn’t demisexuality just be a side-effect of medication? – Yes, though this is not true in all cases. There are a number of unmediated people who identify as demisexual.
- Only straight females are demisexual. – Not true at all. There are plenty of people who identify as demisexual that are gay, bi, or straight males.
- The label demisexual doesn’t mean anything. – It doesn’t to those who are sexual, but it’s hurtful not to recognize someone’s identity regardless of it’s importance to you.
- Sexual people can’t date demisexual people. – False! Because a demisexual person has to learn to be sexually attracted to someone doesn’t mean they cannot be in a relationship with a sexual person. It simply means that the relationship will move at a slower pace.
All-in-all I think it’s important that people who are trying to discover and define themselves feel supported. In most cases this is all demisexual and asexual people are looking for.