Getting to Know You: Let’s Talk About Asexuality (a.k.a. the Other 1 Percent)

Can you imagine having absolutely no interest in sex? David Jay, asexual founder of online community AVEN (Asexual Visibility And Education Network), explained his experience to The Atlantic.

Although it’s perhaps the only thing that Paula Poundstone, Janeane Garofalo, Tim Gunn, Edward Gorey, and J.M. Barrie allegedly have in common, before Jay became a spokesperson for asexuality, there was no collective voice of the little-known sexual orientation. According to a 2004 study, asexuals make up an estimated 1 percent of our adult population.

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Jay clarifies the major difference between celibacy and asexuality: while celibate people abstain from sex despite their desire to have it, asexuals run the gamut from being completely disgusted by sex to simply indifferent. When Jay came of age, he remembers feeling like something was “broken” in him when his classmates began dating and discussing hot movie stars. Mark Carrigan, a researcher at the University of Warwick in the U.K., tells *The Atlantic *that Western culture’s “…assumptions about sex are so ingrained, that if you’re sexual you don’t notice them. But asexual people do notice them, because their experiences don’t fit.” So basically, the ubiquity of a sex drive causes asexuals to feel isolated. It was only after Jay began his outreach that thousands of people came out of the woodwork to identify as asexual, and he hopes that the “third wave” of awareness is approaching to include asexuality among the “normal” sexual dispositions. Jay makes a very convincing case about how heteronormative standards limit our tolerance:

“Freud originally defined libido as lust for life, not lust for sex… He talked about libido manifesting in sexual desire, but not exclusively. For a lot of people, sexuality serves as an essential metaphor for that desire to live or desire to connect.”

As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to not have empathy for people like this–imagine all that self-consciousness in high school, and all the “You just haven’t met the right person” cr*p they have to go through in adulthood. That’s just as bad as telling a gay man that he hasn’t met the right girl, no?

How does knowing that an estimated 1 percent of the population has no interest in sexual connection make you feel? Do you think one day it will be considered a mainstream orientation?

Read More:

Single-Ish: Do You Know Anyone Who Is Asexual?

This Morning in Incredible, Same-Sex Couple Conceives And Delivers Quadruplets Within Weeks of Each Other

The Cynthia Nixon Controversy: She Said She Chose To Be Gay

Photo: Thinkstock

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