Yes, Aces and Aros Are Queer — Here’s Why

Elle Rose
25 min readJul 25, 2020

The first time I ever heard the word asexual, I was 23 years old. At the time I was hanging out with someone who I wanted to date very badly and his roommate. We were all talking about the commonality of being queer in the theater, as the two of them were theaters majors and I was trying to get the guts to do stand up comedy for the first time. They mentioned that in the theater program juniors and seniors would often bet on who would be out by the end of the year and in many cases the inviting queer environment of theater at a public college allowed for young people to come out who hadn’t been able to before. The idea sounded utterly fantastic to me at the time, and it still sounds great now. Who doesn’t want to be able to be themselves with pride — or, perhaps more accurately, who doesn’t want to love themselves as they are and be accepted by their community?

I was using the word bisexual for myself at the time. I thought it sounded right, though sex was sort of tricky for me — after all, I thought, I like people of different genders, and this seems to be the word for that. I liked sex with particular people, too, and kissing, and had had good sex. So what if I didn’t watch porn, or think about sex, or fantasize about people? So what if I was often unsure if I was sexually attracted I was to my partner until the act of sex had started, thus arousing me — that was sexual attraction, right?

The topic of asexuality came up concerning a friend of theirs who was in the theater program, who had apparently said she was “gray ace.”

“What’s that?” I asked, curious.

“Oh, that’s like — it’s like not wanting sex.” One of the young men said to me.

“Yeah, it’s like not having sexual attraction, except some of the time. Like rarely.”

“Oh.” I nodded, thoughtful, not truly understanding. “Huh.”

I remember putting that thought in the back of my mind. For weeks when I saw her, I would wonder if I should ask her about her sexuality and what it meant. The truth is I wasn’t simply curious for curiosity’s sake. I was curious because on some level, I found myself wondering how much I truly wanted sex and if I had sexual attraction at all, or if I had just never thought that “no/rare sexual attraction” was an option. There were definitely times I wanted sex and enjoyed it, and there were times I’d held my sexuality in high regard as a way to make myself seem more desirable, more attractive, more — everything, really. Even with these questions, I was extremely nervous to learn about the asexual spectrum and what it might mean for me. When we finally did talk about it, she was very much willing to let me ask her questions about herself, which I was very thankful for.

In the back of my mind, I wondered if there was a word for people who weren’t quite fully asexual, but who also identified with it. After learning about and better understanding that graysexual was one of those words, I wondered if I was really identifying with it or simply projecting. I began to talk to people online about their experience with demisexuality when I began to describe my own pansexuality (I had changed from bisexual to pansexual, I just thought it fit me better) and many told me that my experience mirrored their experience with demisexuality. I began to ask myself a lot of difficult questions, questions that I don’t know I would have asked otherwise. Three years after learning what asexual meant in 2016, after talking to a lot of aces closely and asking myself some very hard questions, I came out as demisexual on Instagram, and in June of 2020 I began to write about it.

I have never doubted that asexuality and the identities under it were and are queer, just as I have never doubted that the identities under aromanticism were and are queer. Even before I had begun to make full sense of these words, what they meant, and the different things housed under them it made sense to me that they were queer. A relationship appearing straight and being straight are two different things, after all; I have been in many relationships that appeared to be straight, but I was always queer, and sometimes my partner was too. Asexual was queer, and so was aromantic. It always made sense.

My hesitancy towards coming out as demisexual/graysexual, panromantic, and polyamorous was very real, though, because I knew that there are queer people who would discount my sexuality. After all, you’re attracted to people regardless of their gender, so what if you don’t know about coming out as demisexual?, I’d ask myself in earnest. I’d imagine one of my former coworkers from 2017 laughing about the “alphabet soup” when a survey had gone out to aromantic students on our campus and feel the need to shrink down into myself. If this was how an openly gay man, one who was much older than me and a presumed veteran of the LGBTQIAP+ community, was going to react to aromantic people, what would queer people everywhere think of me if I came out as demisexual?

I began to have an internal battle with myself about it. Was I queer enough? Did my sexuality really matter? Shouldn’t I just keep rare sexual attraction to myself, especially since my other orientation “counted” to those so eager to push asexuality out of the queer community? If I enjoyed sex, and was attracted to people regardless of their gender, and would probably want sex at some point — did it matter if I didn’t know when that point was? Would anyone want to date me if I came out as demisexual? Would I ultimately regret coming out if I did?

How could I explain that my demisexuality is queer and an essential part of me if other queer people wanted to snuff it out?

In order to break it all down, we have to go back to the beginning.

First and foremost, we have to discuss what sexual attraction and romantic attraction really are.

Very quickly, I will go over some definitions, if you are unfamiliar.

Asexual — someone who does not experience sexual attraction to others, period.
Aromantic — someone who does not experience romantic attraction to others, period.
AroAce — someone who is both aromantic and asexual.
Demisexual — someone who only feels sexual attraction under the select circumstance of a close bond forming with another indivdual. The bond can be platonic or romantic.
Demiromantic — someone who only feels romantic attraction under the select circumstance of a close bond forming with another individual. The bond can be platonic or romantic.
Graysexual — someone who rarely experiences sexual attraction.
Grayromantic — someone who rarely experiences romantic attraction.
Split Attraction Model — A view of attraction that splits a person’s romantic attraction from their sexual attraction, commonly used by those under the umbrellas of asexuality and aromanticism, but not limited to these communities.
Cisgender — someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at their birth; someone who is not transgender.
Transgender — someone who does not identify with their gender assigned at birth, including persons who exist outside of the gender binary, also known as nonbinary persons.
Allosexual —also called zedsexual, someone who is not asexual.
Alloromantic — someone who is not aromantic.
Aspec — a word used to talk about the asexual and aromantic communities and the identities housed therein.

I know that’s a lot to learn, but as these terms will come up repeatedly, this should be a helpful reference guide for anyone who is new to all of this.

Defining Orientation by a Lack of Attraction

Defining a person’s aspec identity can feel like trying to define a negative space. How do you define yourself both by the positive of the orientation itself as well as the negative of the lack of attraction, especially when you’re told from everywhere you look from a young age that everyone wants romance and sex, queer or straight?

It can be incredibly confusing to consider that you were taught your entire life that everyone has sexual attraction, that sometimes this attraction is considered “wrong” or “deviant” but it is still there, and romantic attraction would naturally be right alongside it. It can be even more confusing to realize that these two feelings don’t coincide for you, or that you exist in some sort of gray area, floating between attractions and being unsure what they are unless you feel it. (This is where I have existed in terms of sexual attraction for, looking back, as long as I can remember.)

Definitions for asexual and aromantic spectrum identities matter immensely because they let us know that there are other people who experience that lack of attraction or rare attraction romantically and/or sexually. They let us know that the thing we were stressed about was trying to fit in, not with who we are.

This leads me to performative sexuality and romantic actions, which occurs based on the assumption that everyone experiences sexual and romantic attraction. This is called allonormativity and amanormativity.

Allonormativity and Amanormativity — The Expectation to Not Be Asexual or Aromantic

Allonormativity is the expectation that someone is allosexual and alloromantic, meaning they are not asexual or aromantic, or any orientation housed within. This is something that effects aspecs specifically, as we are told constantly that we are supposed to be experiencing romantic and/or sexual attraction, and a lot of our community does not experience one, the other, or both.

Allosexuality refers to someone not being asexual. This means that they experience sexual attraction and, I would venture to say, that the sexual attraction they experience is not rare, nor does it have to be met under specific circumstances to occur. This is why graysexuality and demisexuality are still housed under the asexual umbrella — while demisexuals and gray aces may experience sexual attraction, both of these orientations require conditions to be met, and do not guarantee the occurrence of sexual attraction. Allosexuals may be of any sexual or romantic orientation or any gender. The thing that makes someone allosexual is that they are not asexual — that’s it.

Similarly, amanormativity is the expectation that everyone experiences romantic attraction, or is alloromantic. Demiromantics and grayromantics — think of it like demisexuality and graysexuality, but instead with romantic attraction — are still housed under the aromantic umbrella because specific circumstances must be met for attraction to be had if it is had at all.

If someone is alloromantic, they are not aromantic. Alloromantics may be of any sexual or romantic orientation, and any gender.

Allonormativity and amanormativity both play a significant role in heteronormativity, or the expectation of people to be allocishet — allosexual, alloromantic, cisgender, and all romantic and sexual attraction directed exclusively towards that of the opposite gender. (Bis, pans, and omnis are also effected by heteronormativity, even if their relationships appear straight.) This is something that all queer people deal with, regardless of the relationship they end up in, including aspecs, in the heternormative world that we live in today.

Heternormativity, or The Expectation to be Not Queer

Heteronormativity houses the expectations of allonormativity and amanormativity, as well as the expectation to be cisgender (identify with the gender one is born with, not transgender or nonbinary). It is the expectation to be interested in sex, to be sexually attracted to the opposite gender as well as romantically attracted to them, followed by marriage and kids. It is the expectation to have sex, to want sex, to want everything that is attached to sex, and the shame that comes to you culturally if you do not want sex. It is the expectation to fall in love young frequently and stay in love, perhaps divorcing in middle age, but always seeking partners that are the opposite gender. It is a cultural idea that men may bed many women and are not held to any social accountability, but that women are shamed for multiple sexual partners. It is the belief and perpetuation of gender roles, the idea that the woman should be a submissive mother, the father the breadwinner, and the children are seen but unallowed to talk back, regardless of how disrespected they may feel at any given time. It is everywhere, both in the seen and unseen. It is our popular movies, particularly romantic comedies directed towards women, but in other genres as well. It is in the books we read our children when we tell them about the mothers and fathers of the children in the stories, never allowing them to hear about other family structures, and also in the movies we show them from a young age. Even our Disney films that we hold so close to our childhoods, even with so many dead parents, have a predictable father and mother figure in their family structure.

People of all queer orientations and genders have to deal with heteronormativity at some point. If you are bisexual and dating someone of the opposite gender, for example, it is likely that you have heard someone tell you that you aren’t “truly” bisexual anymore. If you are a transgender woman, it is likely that you have been told by a famous author recently that you are not a woman and a predator just for existing. If you grew up a closeted lesbian, chances are high you ended up in relationships with young men that you didn’t want to be in but you didn’t know if you would be accepted if you told the world about who you really were. Heteronormativity survives off of the idea that we are all supposed to be completely, totally, straight and cisgender, and that other sexual, romantic, and gender identities outside of this are to be suppressed and pushed out of the rest of the world. It is also one of the reasons marches like PRIDE are so important; PRIDE shows queer people that they do have a community and that they don’t have to live in the shadows and on the fringes of society, and their lives are worth fighting for.

It is nonsensical to think that a person who is asexual, aromantic, or one of the orientations housed under these umbrellas doesn’t or couldn’t experience harm at the hands of heteronormativity or isn’t at risk of it. If we aren’t experiencing sexual or romantic attraction, or we’re experiencing it rarely, and are being told that we need to reproduce and get married by the entire world, even to the point that those who do not experience sexual attraction have only very recently stopped being pathologized in the DSM-V, then of course we’re experiencing harm from heteronormativity. In a world where the average person with any kind of neurodivergency doesn’t get diagnosed for years if they don’t fit an exact stereotype and racism is still heavily prevalent in medicine, there are many psychiatrists who haven’t truly read the DSM-V or taken its changes into account. If asexuality was, until very recently, diagnosed as a disorder and can still be diagnosed as a disorder if a person cannot say if they have always been asexual, then of course we’re also experiencing harm at the hands of heteronormativity.

I used to feel a similar pit in my stomach upon learning that I was demisexual and wondering if other queer people would accept me when I figured it out.

I still feel it all the time.

There Are Many Ways to be Queer

Given that a person must be allosexual, alloromantic, cisgender, heteroromantic, and heterosexual in order to be straight, this should give everyone who is aspec room to breathe and feel free to be ourselves in the queer community. A person should need to not match just one of these groups in order to be queer.

An asexual heteroromantic cisgender person is not heterosexual.

An aromantic heterosexual cisgender person is not heteroromantic.

A demisexual heteroromantic cisgender person is not heterosexual.

A demiromantic heterosexual cisgender person is not heteroromantic.

Sexual and romantic attraction for a person can split into two separate experiences regardless of a person’s gender (see Split Attraction Model above). This also does not account for the different types of attraction that both aspecs and allos experience — including sensual, aesthetic, and platonic, which many aspecs feel instead of sexual or romantic attraction. We are not the only group of queer people who separate these, even if we are often the ones talking most about these separations. I know, for example, that not every allo is constantly experiencing romantic attraction to everyone they’re sexually attracted to. I know every alloromantic is also not experiencing immediate sexual attraction to everyone that they are romantically or platonically attracted to. I know allos who have sex drive that is both directed towards people they don’t as well as their partners, who develop romantic attraction towards multiple people, who have very close platonic bonds, and who value all of these things and the separation they make between them.

Aspecs know that we’re not the only people who defined our attraction both by who we are and are not attracted to and by how much — yet we’re the ones who get the most flack for doing so.

If most of the queer community can recognize that a person needs to be completely allo, cisgender, heterosexual, and heteroromantic, only feeling sexual and romantic attraction exclusively to the opposite gender and not being trans or nonbinary, in order to be not a member of the queer community, then surely these same people can recognize upon learning about asexual and aromantic orientations that these separations matter to us and do in fact ensure our position within the queer community.

Instead, we’re often told we don’t belong here.

Prejudice at the hands of the Queer Community

As I talk more and more about my demisexuality and graysexuality online, and how much and why they matter to me, the issue of belonging in the queer community is, unfortunately, more and more of an issue I’m urged to confront — or, more accurately, people who don’t think my demisexuality matters are quick to tell me I don’t belong.

These people are quick to ignore my romantic orientation the moment I bring up demisexuality or defend hetero aspecs. I’ve had people ask me what is hard about being demisexual specifically, only to tell me that my experiences are invalid due to my sexuality and do not overlap at all with “true” asexuals. I’ve had people tell me that I’m fine in the queer community as long as I don’t invite in heteroromantic aspecs or heterosexual aromantics. I’ve watched queer people who I once looked up to tell me that who I am, the demisexual part of it, the graysexual part of me, does not matter — and then turn around and talk about how the expectation to be allocishet, or straight and cis, has hurt them, as if it isn’t capable of hurting me and my fellow aspecs, too. I’ve watched these same people turn around and welcome straight transgender people in with open arms. These people will say “asexual is enough”, but only if that person isn’t heteroromantic, as if this cancels out their asexuality. They will most often ignore aromantics completely.

In the worse case scenarios, we’ll be met with people who are violent and abusive towards us directly, then we’ll be told by these same people we do not exist.

Even with this environment that can make me feel as if I am pushed to the fringes of the queer community, I am still demisexual/graysexual. That part of me most definitely matters. It is not a preference or a choice, and yet I am so often told that these parts of me do not matter and are not worth fighting for even while providing first-hand knowledge that they do. I don’t want to only exist in my own echo chamber, as if I do it can be hard to justify the very point of advocacy, but it can be difficult to break out of when so many people who pledged to be accepting of people who, like them, are queer, refuse to accept us.

Being aspec within the queer community is being a marginalized group within a marginalized group, and it’s especially hard when so many members of that marginalized community don’t want to call you queer.

But we are queer. We absolutely are.

As stated by The Western Gazette,

“The experiences of queer folk can exist outside the realm of same gender attraction. Just as being heterosexual/romantic does not erase the transphobia a transgender person experiences, being hetero-romantic does not erase the previously outlined discrimination against asexual people. People who are asexual experience a unique set of struggles that positions them as queer in society, regardless of their romantic orientation. Overall, asexuality is a queer identity as asexuals do not reflect society’s current standards of sexuality, do experience institutional discrimination in medical contexts, are at high risk of social harassment and have a unique set of experiences that reflect the polylithic nature of the queer community.”

As a Huffpost article published in 2017, Queer Activism Must be for Aromantics Too, stated,

“The A does not stand for ‘ally’. There are two A’s and they stand for asexual and aromantic. Stop making aro and ace people fight for scraps of recognition. Aromantic people do face oppression, discrimination and harm in society. You may not know it but that’s because erasure is so prevalent there are barely any studies or research focused upon what aro people face. Talk to aro people though and it’s a different story…. It’s not about #LoveisLove but about supporting and empowering all queer people, whether they love or not, whether they experience sexual attraction or not or whether they’re cis or not. By making the movement about love and sex and not identities and queerness, aromantics and many others are being excluded from a community they have a right to.”

We are queer.

Harm From Heternormativity for Aspecs is Real

It must be said again that yes, believe it or not, aspecs do experience harm at the hands of heteronormativity. We are, like our queer siblings, expected to get married to a person of the opposite gender, have sex, and fall into traditional gender and familial roles. Being aspec does not exempt us from the expectations of a heteronormative world — and also from the expectations from the queer community to be in a relationship that’s considered queer “enough” by others.

This means many things for aspecs.

It means we are expected to have a sex drive towards our partner and being questioned by doctors if we admit we do not have this, even if neither us nor our partner is bothered by it.

It means being expected to have a partner with which we share a romantic and sexual relationship not just by a heteronormative world, but also by our queer community.

It means when we find ways to have relationships with different types of intimacy and different names of attraction and different words that are still very close, but neither sexual nor romantic, we are on alert for judgment from both the straight and the queer community.

It means psychiatrists telling us that we may need to be taken off of a medication that could be life-saving if it’s believed that it’s taking away our sexuality, which is often viewed as something vital to happiness and personhood, whether or not we consider this a loss.

It means not telling doctors who see us concerning sexual health “No, I don’t have interest in that”, because we’re afraid of being put on medications that are meant to fix what we don’t consider to be broken.

It means avoiding discussions of who we’re in relationships with at Thanksgiving dinner because we have that aunt or grandparent who would tell us that we need to get checked out psychologically and physically if we don’t have an interest in romance or sex.

It means being afraid of someone trying violently to correct us, even if we’ve told this person we enjoy sex and romance.

It means therapists dismissing our sexuality if we have trauma in our history, therapists telling us that we must be asexual because sexual abuse caused an aversion to sex, without ever considering that perhaps being aspec and being forced into a position of sexual expectation and feeling as if something is wrong with you if you say no is traumatic.

It means denying an essential part of our personhood for years, even decades, because we didn’t have words for our experiences and breaking down we when find out that there are other people like us and we could have had a community all along if we had just had the space to breathe.

It means watching our friends get into sexual and romantic relationships and wondering why we aren’t into that, or if we are into some of it, forcing ourselves to accept situations because we’re being told that that’s what you do, and so we think we have to, too.

It means never knowing who in the queer community is going to accept us.

It means being told that if we are in a relationship that looks straight, that we don’t belong.

It means telling people that you rarely experience attraction and being told “everyone is like that” by the same people who say they understand you.

It means both knowing that queerness is not defined by suffering but also shouting in the void, “Can you hear me? My experiences are here too, I’m here too,” until you feel like you can’t shout anymore.

It means hours, day after day, week after week, even year after year, spent searching the internet, reading, and reading, and wondering why our queer siblings never told us that this was a part of the community — and then finding out that many of the people you had thought would surely support you, who you thought would surely understand the struggle of lesser-known sexualities and romantic orientations, don’t consider you to be a part of their family.

It means being a marginalized community within a marginalized community and wondering why so many people around you just don’t think you’re here when you know you are.

It means wondering what you would have to do to get them to recognize that the things they’re suffering from at the hands of homophobia is the same suffering they’re putting onto you.

It means feeling invisible, even within the invisible.

Queerness is not defined by suffering.

I want to make that point explicitly because so often what’s happening in gatekeeping is a mixture of people ignoring the experiences of those they don’t deem “worthy” and a sort of “oppression Olympics” — as if that’s what makes a person queer, rather than their sexual orientation, romantic orientation, and/or gender identity. This is frustrating not only because whether or not someone’s life has been hard does not define their queerness, but also because these same people are the sort who will look at all the things I listed above as effects of heteronormativity, allonormativity, and amanormativity on aspecs and say that we aren’t experiencing them.

At the same time, I can’t leave it entirely out of the conversation. What aspecs go through both at the hands of heteronormativity and at the hands of exclusionists and gatekeepers within the queer community is very real and very painful, and it should not be ignored. These things are happening now, and they are likely happening to many of your aspec friends or have in the past. Even as I write this, AVEN and I have been in discussions privately several times about the amount of harassment aspecs receive on Twitter only to be continuously ignored when we report its continuation.

I’ve watched the very same people who will say “oh being straight and transgender is fine” tell us “if you’re heteroromantic ace or heterosexual aromantic you don’t belong here.” I’ve been told I was committing a hate crime by calling myself queer, that my trauma negates my sexual orientation, and all kinds of other awful things.

But my demisexuality and graysexuality still matter. I’m still aspec. I’m still queer.

It is exhausting to feel invisible in a community that prides itself on defying the norms of a heteronormative world, to be asked continously to perform sexuality, to be told over and over that this part of me that is rooted in my very being negates any and all other queerness I and my fellow aspecs may have. I’m both told that suffering is what makes someone queer while being told explicitly that any pain I may have is exaggerated for attention.

Queerness is not defined by suffering, but it is a common experience for many aspec individuals. When it comes from other queer parties, it is especially painful. While I cannot ignore it, I also do not wish to romanticize it, or hold it up as a measuring stick for “worthy” queer experiences. There are as many ways to be queer as there are queer people, and not all of us are going to have the same experience; we are a group of people, not a monolith predicated on martyrdom and suffering. Yet, even as I write this, I know that there are those would would say that the suffering of the queer community is what defines queerness.

Suffering is often a component of queerness, unfortunately — but I do not believe it should be the thing that ultimately defines us.

Queerness is and should always be defined by queerness.

By asking myself and my fellow aspecs to define our queerness by our suffering, these people are redefining queerness to be about an arbitrary line of hardship that they then dismiss, often within the same conversation. By defining queerness by suffering, we ignore the fundamentals of the queer community and the heternormative world we have found ourselves called to fight against. By both defining queerness by suffering and then ignoring or dismissing the suffering of aspec individuals, we are gatekeeping by suffering while creating suffering for an essential part of our community. It is, at best, a contradiction, and at worst, an act of violence.

The other thing prioritizing suffering like this does is ignore all the good parts of being queer.

Prioritizing suffering ignores the good parts of our lives when they do happen. It says that the struggle is worth more than the end goal of the fight. It says that the end goals aren’t worth fighting for because they won’t be as meaningful to future generations as our hardship is now. It says to the future generations of queer people who I hope can look back on us with thankfulness for a life that is full of acceptance and free from the fears of medicalization, violence, and pathology that they do not belong in the queer community because they didn’t have to fight as we are fighting now. It says to the gay kids who have support and the trans kids who have parents who help them go through their options for HRT that they aren’t queer enough either because life hasn’t been hard “enough” on them. It tells those who have not suffered as much as others that they must seek out hardship to be queer enough while also telling those who have suffered that their pains are not enough.

As Bojack Horseman once aptly summarized,

“…when we valorize the idea of sacrifice — of loss, of suffering… When we grow up in a house that does that, we internalize this idea that being happy is a selfish act, but sacrifice doesn’t mean anything.”

Coincidentally, Bojack Horseman was one of the first popular shows to have a canonically asexual character, Todd Chavez.

I think there’s something similar to that happening in the queer community prominently towards aspecs in our current climate. It doesn’t just happen to us, either; much of aphobia (prejudice towards asexuals, aromantics, and orientations housed under these umbrellas, sometimes spelled acephobia) reflects discrimination towards bisexuals. Both groups face discrimination for the expected performance of their orientation and are scoffed at when they rightly point out that “passing privilege” is actually queer erasure within the queer community. While it is true that a straight passing couple is less likely to face violence, it should also be less likely that such persons are told that they do not belong in queer spaces because they don’t look on the outside like they’re having a hard enough time, and that their “passing privilege” does not promise that they will never face violence of some kind.

The current climate towards aspecs online is one largely comprised of hostility. While we do have allies within the queer community, more often than not we must call on each other in order to find solace and understanding. Our problems are often ignored in favor of instead facing us with prejudice, and when we are brave enough to stand up and state out loud what our hardships have been — which can include sexual assault, chemical correction at the hands of medicine, dismissal from our families, and many other violent things we face specifically for our orientations — we are gaslit by the very people who are supposed to want to accept us, as we are, in fact, queer.

With this piece, I hope to sway some minds who may think that we are not. Even if we have not suffered for our orientation, this does not mean we are not queer as again, queerness is not defined by suffering — especially if the suffering presented is ignored by the very groups who claimed they wanted to know. It is not logical to ask people to tell you their woes and then tell them those do not exist; it is gaslighting that predicates queerness on hardship, not on queerness itself.

Our queerness is based from queerness, not from hardship. Though it may include hardship, even those of us who have not been met with it are still queer.

Think about it: we defy heternormativity, and even allo and amanormativity within the queer community as well. We challenge traditional relationship structures and expectations. We defy expectations for sexuality and romantic orientation. We can be of many gender identities, including cis, trans, and nonbinary genders. We defy expectations for sexual attraction and action. We defy expectations for romantic attraction and action.

We are not lacking in our lives just because we’re lacking sexual and/or romantic attraction.

We are not distressed by our sexuality or romantic orientations (though we are often distressed by those who do not accept us). We lead happy, fulfilling, rich lives all on our own, or with partners. We laugh. We have close, intimate friendships. We love. We have hobbies, pets, boyfriends, girlfriends, and queerplatonic partnerships. We experience grief, loss, and pain — but we also experience joy, laughter, and comfort from our loved ones. Our suffering is present, but it does not define us or our queerness; we are queer regardless. Our queerness defines us, and realizing we are aspec can be an incredible, healing experience.

We are human; we are doing our best to navigate a world that tells us that we should not exist and to love ourselves anyway. With practice, and acceptance, we can succeed.

So much of this piece has been about the suffering of the aspec community, as I did not feel I could leave it out of the overall discussion when it is so often turned against us. I do not want to leave out the joy and the good, too, though. Since coming out as demisexual/gray ace, I’ve felt better about myself than I have in years. I’m watching my friends, both who are and aren’t aspec, grow in their understanding of aspec identities. I’m watching friends resonate with my own sexuality and realize that it fits them, too, and watching them be embraced by their queer families. One of my friends is an aroace lesbian and she’s in a polyamorous relationship and constantly talking about how happy she is. Another of my friends came out as demisexual and I was so happy to see them embrace themselves like that it nearly brought tears to my eyes — and then it actually did when they said my writing had helped them come to terms with it.

I get a lot of hateful messages and abusive comments, but I also get a lot of questions from people who don’t know if they’re aspec, who are just looking for someone to be patient enough to try to help them find some answers to questions they didn’t realize they had but can’t get off their minds. The question I get asked most — more than anything else, more than about definitions, even more than “do you think I’m ace/aro” — is “am I queer?”

I always tell them, with confidence, the answer is yes. I hope that with time and the increase in the spread of information about aspec orientations, more and more people will say yes, too.

Asexuals, aromantics, and orientations under these umbrellas — demisexual, demiromantic, graysexual, grayromantic, and many more — are queer. We are here, right alongside you, and we’re asking for acceptance.

I hope you will say yes.

Elle here! I just wanted to say a big thanks to my patrons and readers for your support in making posts like this possible; thank you. If you’d like to help me write more keep the lights on and keep writing, consider supporting me on Patreon, supporting me on Ko-Fi, or share this blog with your friends and foes on social media. You can follow me on TikTok, Instagram, Threads, Twitter, and subscribe to my channel on YouTube if you’d like. You can also contact me directly at — I do interviews about demisexuality, asexuality, ADHD, and disability, and more! I also just like it when people say hi. To take a look at my publications, interviews I’ve done for media, podcasts, and keep up to date with new stuff, check out my linktree. Again, thank you for reading my words; it means the world to me. Have an amazing day!



Elle Rose

queer. demisexual. ADHD. disabled. writer. YouTuber. shy but chaotic. they/she. contact: