About 5 years ago I was sitting with a friend and we somehow got on the topic of sexual identities. They started telling me about how they identified as "Grey-A," which like many others I had no idea even existed. Prior to our conversation I assumed the label of "bisexual," knowing that it didn't quite fit, but without an alternative what was I supposed to do? As I sat intently listening to their explanation it suddenly felt like I had found this little part of me that I didn't know was missing.
Wait, Gray-A? What's that?
Grey-A (also known as "greysexual") is an identity that belongs on the Asexual spectrum. Yes, that's right, asexuality has a spectrum. Just like homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual are part of a spectrum, asexuality is also variant. You can be completely asexual with having absolutely no sexual attraction to anyone up to being sexually attracted (typical sexual attraction) to people. That area of typical sexual attraction is where the hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-, etc. spectrum comes into play. Greysexuals fall in that middle ground or "grey" area that is neither sexual nor asexual. For some this can require a more personal connection, like demisexuals, for others it can be harder to pinpoint what might cause attraction.
Just to make things a little more confusing, or hopefully clear things up, there is also a range for romantic attraction that falls within (maybe parallel?) to the ace spectrum. The romantic spectrum helps give vocabulary to people who, like me, might not be sexually attracted to people but are romantically attracted to people. For example, someone can be heteromantic and asexual; this means that they don't experience sexual attraction at all, but they are romantically attracted to people of the opposite gender to themselves.
5 years later I now identify as a greysexual, panromantic person, in other words I rarely experience sexual attraction to anyone and have a romantic attraction to people of any gender. If we really draw it out though I'm a greysexual, panromantic, cis-gender, leatherwoman who is married, in a monogamous relationship, with a heterosexual, cis-gender leatherboy (whew, what a mouthful! and no he's not a child, it's just a title); unfortunately what that looks like from the outside though is that I'm a woman in a heterosexual relationship man trying to attend Pride events. While we've thankfully never been met with outright hostility, we do tend to get a lot of side-eye from people we don't know.
Over the years I've found my voice and my place enough to not let most of it bother me, but "most" isn't "all." It took years of identifying as bisexual, still not feeling like I belonged at Pride, and now years as an ace person to finally feel like I belong, and I'm still met with side-eye and people trying to appropriate the A in LGBTQIA+ as "ally" instead of the intended "asexual/aromantic."
I wish I could say I had a simple solution for my fellow new/struggling aces, but I don't. The solution I've found to finding community is going out and making it happen. Connect with groups locally, or online, that can help you build connections with other queer people and queer support groups. Our path may not be easy, but that's because we're still paving it.
To our fellow QUILTBAG+ people, please help us stop ace-erasure. Stand up for our right to be in queer spaces. We all have to start somewhere and with the state of things being as they are right now, if we can't count on each other, who do we turn to?
I'll be at Pride. I hope to see you there too!
Ignixia is an international kink and alternative sexuality educator. The following blog entries range from educational information and resources from her classes to daily musings had on things occurring in the world.