Asexuality: The New Taboo?

It’s not news to say that the debates over homosexuality, transsexuality, bisexuality, and plain old heterosexuality rage on and on. But are all of the groups present and accounted for? One, generally absent, is emerging: asexuals. Asexuals are casually defined as people who have no interest whatsoever in sex of any kind, and they represent about 1% of the population. Like other groups before them, asexuals have found community on the Internet, and are using it to find their voice and organize.

“Theoretically the absence of sexual desire shouldn’t be a problem,” says one sex researcher. “But ours is a media which suggests hypersexuality is the norm. Potentially, asexuality has become a ‘problem’ as it became more visible, and in a sense it’s become the new stigma.”

One online asexual group, Asexual Visibility and Education Network, boasts more than 50,000 members. Advocates are quick to point out that even though people identifying as asexual are uninterested in sex, they still possess normal emotional and relational needs and desires. “Living in a world that holds the romantic and the sexual as the highest ideals possible is difficult,” says a 20-year-old biology student. “The most pervasive effect on my life at the moment is how many conversations revolve around sex and the sexual attractiveness of certain people that I just don’t really want to join in with.”

Potentially assisting in the groups’ “coming out” in the future are several high-profile celebrities who identify as asexual. Among them are: Tim Gunn, The Smiths’ Morrissey, musician Nicki Minaj, and, for a time, David Bowie.

Do you know anyone who identifies as asexual?