What is asexuality?
“An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction – they are not drawn to people sexually and do not desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way,” according to the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), founded in 2001, which hosts the world’s largest online asexual community.
Asexuality is an orientation and has a wide spectrum. Some people may have no interest in sexual activities at all, while some can develop conditional sexual attraction, for example towards people with whom they have established a strong emotional connection – often referred to as demisexual.
Graysexual, or gray-asexual, usually refers to individuals who may feel a minimal amount of sexual attraction despite mostly aligning with their asexual counterparts.
Visibility for awareness
A-lephants held its first and, it claims, Hong Kong’s first Asexual Awareness Week event in the last week of October. The group teamed up with PrideLab, which was established in 2013, to organise a two-day exhibition and workshop.
The occasion included two “human library” sessions, a movement that originated in Copenhagen and aims to challenge stigma and stereotypes by arranging encounters between people who might not otherwise meet and encouraging people, or “human books,” to tell their stories.
At A-lephants’ event, members of the asexual community shared their stories and interacted with other attendees.
Kenn Chan, the creative director of PrideLab, says visibility is the first step of raising awareness.
“We progressed from talking about lesbians and gays to discussing LGBTI+ and many more. Every time a new English letter was added was because someone showed up. Members of those sexual minorities came out and made themselves visible,” Chan says.
That the feelings of ace individuals are often dismissed appears to be a shared experience.
Linus, a trans man who identifies as demisexual, says that compared to other groups under the LGBT+ umbrella, discrimination against asexual or demisexual people may not be that obvious, but the oppression they face is essentially the same. Often, the challenge they face is how to explain to others they do not have sexual desires.
“We all suffer the same type of oppression from the mainstream heterosexual [values] – that we need to be in a heterosexual relationship at some point to be recognised.” Linus says.
“It’s just that [the difficulties] faced by gays or lesbians are more easily visualised – they have found a partner but they cannot bring them out. For people on the ace spectrum, the struggle is they don’t have anyone to bring.”
Linus was part of the organising committee of this year’s Pride Parade, which took the form of a rainbow market due to Covid-19 restrictions. The highlight theme was asexuality.