One of the most interesting things about language — particularly queer language — is that it is constantly evolving and changing. Within the last few years I have learned many new terms for experiences that are housed within other experiences, or that specify an experience that maybe didn’t have a word before. Humans are incredibly creative, after all. Most people I know who don’t consider themselves creative are actually great problem solvers — they just don’t put a brush to canvas, so they don’t think of themselves as creative. But they are — the evidence is all around us.
Asexuality and discussions around it began online with Haven For the Human Amoeba in 2000, but are more well known nowadays for being on the Asexuality Visbility and Education Network (AVEN) forums, which began in 2001. Among these discussions about the asexual experience and the spectrum within it, a discussion was had in February of 2006 in which user sonofzeal coined a term that has caused a lot of controversy even as it rises in popularity — “demisexual”.
Demisexuality is defined as not having sexual attraction towards others unless a close emotional bond is formed. I have put a lot of effort into understanding it after being compared to it by people who knew me well, and after adopting the word for myself. It’s not been easy; demisexuality gets a lot of criticism because it’s not well understood. The most common criticism I hear when I try to explain it is “Isn’t that how everyone is?”
That is what I want to address today. Because the answer to that question is no, dear reader. Not everyone is demisexual.
The Spectrum of Sexual Attraction — Where ‘Demisexual’ Came From
If being asexual is having no sexual attraction towards anyone, and being allosexual is having sexual attraction, then demisexual would be part of the space in between. Think of it like a color gradient. If you have pink on one side and blue on the other, the area in between of purple would house, among other things, demisexuality. Where someone is on it can vary, making them more towards one color than another. It’s a wide and varied experience from person to person, and where someone is within the gradient may fluctuate with time.