#21AceStories is amplifying asexual voices from around the world

Eliel Cruz, a speaker and columnist, has started a series with The Advocate called, #21AceStories. It's intended to amplify the voices of asexual individuals and increase understanding and acceptance about a little known sexual orientation. 21 asexual people around the world were asked, "What's the biggest misconception about asexuality?" Their answers fell into different categories, for which visual graphics were created and are being released in a series of four installments (1) (2) (3). Cruz also previously curated #27Bistories, which similarly addressed misconceptions about bisexuality.

Cruz writes that the "erasure of asexual identities disenfranchises the asexual community from the LGBT community, perhaps more so than any other marginalized community." It's necessary to make asexual individuals feel like they have a place and a voice in the LGBT community – for their emotional wellbeing and physical safety. #21AceStories seeks to, "allow asexual people to share their journey on their own terms by giving them a platform," because there are so few outlets for asexual people to express that part of their identity. Cruz explains that, "there are few openly asexual celebrities and even less asexual representation in media. This leaves members of this minority isolated in their journeys. It also leads to many misconceptions about asexuals." #21AceStories dissects and refutes many of those misconceptions.

#21AceStories graphic from The Advocate

Asexuality is often nicknamed "ace", which is a phonetic truncation of the word "asexual". It's been associated with playing card symbolism; for example, romantic asexuality can be represented by the ace of hearts and aromantic asexuality by the ace of spades. There are many identities within and experiences of asexuality, and the 21 ace people interviewed provided some incredible insight. 

Some ace people express their frustrations with dating and finding healthy relationships: "Every romantic relationship I’ve had has ended as soon as my partner realized my asexuality wasn’t a phase." Many say it's difficult to find someone who can understand and respect those boundaries. One person explains that, "It isn't a response to you, it is how I am wired. It's rare to find someone who believes that." Again addressing the scarcity of successful relationships, another participant says, "There are not many people I know who would be willing to be in a sexless relationship, no matter how intimate. I'm incompatible with the vast majority of potential partners. It's a lonely feeling."

With a smaller portion of the population being ace, "the odds of two asexual people meeting and falling in love with each other aren't great … It happens, but it's going to be rare. In reality, it's much more likely that an asexual person will end up with a sexual person." Those relationships are deeply fulfilling and healthy when the couple is, "willing to talk long and hard about how they're willing to deal with the incompatibility in their sexual orientations." The bottom line is that, "sex is not (and cannot) be the basis of a healthy relationship. Love is that.

"#21AceStories graphic from The Advocate

Most ace people agree that, "Sex isn't important in an intimate relationship for me; it isn't a necessary part of building a meaningful connection." Ace people still cultivate profound emotional connections with other people, and, "unless you are aromantic, you still want that warm fuzzy feeling when you cuddle up to the person you love. Rom-coms are still very real to us asexuals." Being aromantic means one does not experience romantic attraction, and is not mutually exclusive to asexuality.

#21AceStories graphic from The Advocate

Among the damaging and dehumanizing fallacies about asexuality is that it makes the person less than. "The … misconception is that there must be something wrong with us or that we just haven’t met the right person yet… It’s no more acceptable to say these things to an asexual person than it would be for me to tell a gay man that he needs to go to conversion therapy or simply hasn’t met the right woman yet." #21AceStories resoundingly says that, "We are not damaged or any less human… Being asexual isn't a bad thing." 

To learn more visit Asexuality.org.

#21AceStories graphic from The Advocate