Hi everyone! I’m Yasmin Benoit, a model and asexuality activist. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to write another article for Ditch the Label. This time I’m here to tell you how you can be the best ace ally during Pride this year – and all year round! It doesn’t take much to be an ally and make a real difference for an asexual person, or the wider asexual community. 

1) Educate yourself about asexuality

If you’re going to be an ally for asexual people, it’s important to understand what asexuality is, and what it means to be on the asexual spectrum. There loads of information online about asexuality. It might also be helpful to speak to an asexual person and ask them respectful questions, if they’re open to it. Keep in mind that there are a range of asexual experiences, which vary depending on where you are on the asexual spectrum, and what your romantic orientation is. If you want to find out more you can read about asexuality here and this article on 10 Things You Need to Know About Asexuality here

2) Don’t exclude asexual people from Pride events

Pride is supposed to be a welcoming and inclusive space for those who don’t fit into the heteronormative box, so there is definitely a place at Pride events for asexual people. Debates surrounding whether or not asexual people should be included in Pride celebrations are alienating for the community. If you want to be a good ally to asexual people, then you should support our right to celebrate who we are in an LGBT+ space, as part of the wider queer community.  

Yasmin posing in front of the asexual flag

3) Be morally supportive

There is nothing wrong or abnormal about being asexual, but pressures from our society can make asexual people feel like they’re broken. If you know someone who is coming to terms with their asexuality, listen to them and be encouraging, just as you would to someone who is coming out as gay or transgender. Don’t be dismissive of their asexuality, or think that you know more about their bodies and their minds than they do.   

4) Use inclusive language

Asexual people have a rather unique perspective of sexuality and romantic relationships. It’s important to keep that in mind with the language you use. Statements that make sex, sexual relationships and romantic love sound like a universal necessity for every human being might seem harmless, but they’re actually alienating for those who don’t feel that way. It’s important to remember that not all sexual identities or romantic relationships actively involve sex, and they don’t need to involve sex to be valid. 

Yasmin holding a pink sign saying activist

5) Include asexuality in the conversation

With Pride celebrations comes discussions around sexuality and relationships. These conversations are incomplete without an asexual perspective. Whether you’re just having a casual chat in the park or whether you’re hosting a panel in front of a hundred people, remember that asexual people exist and our experiences count. It doesn’t take much to add, “But not everyone’s interesting in that,” during a conversation, or to find an asexual writer or speaker to lend their voice on a larger platform. Anything that contributes to positive asexual visibility is helpful for the community. 

6) Do your part to spread the word

There are a range of resources online about asexuality – whether you want blog posts, journal articles, YouTube videos, fiction, or advice straight from the mouth of asexuality activists. Even if you have come to understand asexuality, there are many people out there who don’t, and this contributes to misunderstandings and stereotypes surrounding the community. Share asexual content with people you know. You might intrigue people who are eager to learn more about asexuality, as well as people who might be asexual themselves without realising it yet. 

For more from Yasmin, you can follow her Instagram here

If you have a question about sexuality, relationships, or anything else that might be bothering you, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen to you. 

As part of Men’s Health Week 2019, influencer, model and mental health advocate Max Hovey talks about his journey with social anxiety, and gives his 4 top tips to helping you cope with it.

Did they just look at me? I don’t feel comfortable today. No clothes suit me. What if I annoy them? What if they don’t want to talk to me anymore? Am I being too needy? What if I’m not needy enough? Do I look ok? There are too many people here. Why don’t I look like them? 

Social anxiety. I’m not saying you need to have said ALL of the above to yourself to have social anxiety – don’t worry, it’s not a checklist. What I have learned over the years is that social anxiety can manifest in so many different ways, and everyone can experience it differently. I’m Max by the way, and I struggle with social anxiety. 


A few years ago, my friend told me that she did too, way before I even knew what it was. When she told me, I remember thinking to myself ‘she’s always so confident? She loves performing in front of people? She seems so confident in her appearance? She always seems so bubbly and happy to speak out?’ This can be a pretty common misconception about social anxiety – that you can’t have any confidence and don’t like public speaking or ANY form of attention. 

Over the years I have been learning a lot about myself and have realized that I have social anxiety. It’s weird, because for anyone that knows me personally or that follows my Instagram, they will probably see me as being quite confident, and happy to put myself forward publicly. I also love public speaking and talking in front of groups, and I’m also pretty confident in front of a camera (duh). 

Whilst all that is true, it doesn’t mean I don’t have anxiety. My social anxiety stems from relationships. I can be in a great place, feeling confident, happy with my appearance, career, education, and generally feeling pretty damn wonderful in my life. Then a boy comes on the scene, and holy shit everything changes. My confidence is shattered, and I end up critically judging everything, from what I say, to how I act, to what I wear. My self-esteem can just evaporate. Anxiety can be a lot to deal with, and I am still a work in progress, but I still wanted to share my tips for dealing with it. 


Max’s Top Tips for Dealing with Social Anxiety 

Am I going to wake up, be fierce and achieve everything today? OR am I going to wake up with a crushing pain in my stomach, panic in brain and just want to cry? WHO KNOWS! My point is that no one should stereotype or stigmatize social anxiety. Everyone experiences it differently, everyone has good and bad days, and everyone copes with it differently. Here are a few things you could try to try to take the edge off. 

1) Be kind

We have no idea what a person may be going through. Give them that compliment, boost their mood, make someone smile for NO reason at all other than the fact that you can.

2) Talk to someone

Like I said, we have no idea what someone is going through, and that includes you. We can give you compliments; we can try and boost your mood and make you smile, but sometimes what can really help is allowing us to understand how you’re truly feeling. So, open up to someone you can trust, believe me, it helps.

3) Try a thought diary

Literally type CBT thought diary into an app store and you’re bound to find it. It’s a great way of writing down what’s going through your head, and training your brain to spot your irrational thoughts, and turn them into something positive before you get carried away. I’ve tried it and believe me it works.

4) BREATHE

Like you’d think it’d be obvious but you have no idea the impact that it can have. Focusing on your breath brings you into the present, as we know anxiety is normally worrying about something that has not and may not even happen, so just taking a moment to breath can help you distance yourself from those thoughts. It can also calm your physical symptoms too, bringing your heartbeat back to normal, and halting that feeling of panic.

I’m not saying this is necessarily going to work for you. Sometimes these techniques don’t work for me, so I try something else. But the main thing is to practice, keep trying the same and new methods. Things will not get better over the night, but one thing is certain – they will get better. 

For more from Max, check out his Instagram @max_hovey

If you are struggling with anxiety, or have anything else going on that you want to talk about, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

Coming out can be a long and pretty scary process for most people. As it’s Pride Month, so we wanted to share a little bit of wisdom on things to keep in mind for after you’ve come out!

1. Walk, don’t run

So it might feel like you want to run and dance and sing and throw yourself into the culture of the world that you are now a proud and open part of. It’s important to remember though that your life has changed between hiding your sexuality and being open about it.

Take a bit of time, think about all the other parts of you that might have taken a sideline whilst you were building up to coming out. Learn about your sexuality, talk to those around you about if they need more information, meet others in the community and outside of it, and enjoy this time as something for you.

2. Not everyone will ‘get it’ and that’s ok

You might encounter people who find it challenging to support or understand your sexuality; remember that this is their issue to work through and not yours. If this is the case with people close to you, try not to react in anger to their difficulties in accepting you. Give them some time and hopefully they will come around.

3. Never go back

As our lives continue to change, we meet new people, move jobs, cities – maybe even countries! It is important that you meet these new scenarios and people as your authentic self. Don’t undo all the work that you put in – embracing and accepting yourself as you are can take time. You’ve made it this far, so try not to revert back to old habits.

However, it is also important to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, or think it is better to pause before you speak, do it. It sucks that the world can still be like it, but your health, safety and wellbeing should always come first.

4. There is no right way to live

Your sexuality is just a small fraction of who you are as a person. It does not define you. Our society still has many outdated stereotypes around gender and sexuality, but how you choose to live your life is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong way to live – carve your own path.

5. Connect

A community is extremely important. Reach out and find people that accept you for you. Finding support and connecting with people who understand you and what you are going through, will help you deal with any changes and transitions that might lie ahead.

6. Don’t feel pressured to conform

Now you have come out, you might have expected to easily assimilate into your local LGBT+ community. There is a possibility that you might not feel 100% like you belong, or maybe you feel like you don’t fit in – don’t worry if this is the case. You are a unique individual and everyone expresses themselves differently, so don’t feel pressured to dress or act a certain way if it doesn’t come naturally. This is true for all aspects of life too, and all people, regardless of sexuality.

Remember that you are perfect just the way you are and not alone in sometimes feeling alone.

7. Life might not instantly get better

Not having to deal with the daily stress of having to hide your sexuality is a massive relief. But don’t be alarmed if things don’t fall into place as quickly as you would like or exactly how you imagined they would. For some people, it can get worse before it gets better. The freedom you are searching for will come, but it takes time.

8. Dating

This can be very nerve-racking, especially on a first date. Putting yourself out there is scary whatever your sexuality. You might feel paranoid that everyone is watching you, but they really aren’t. The good news is dating does get much easier as you become more comfortable with not having to hide who you are to others and yourself.

9. Keep reaching out to those who love you unconditionally

Keep reaching out to those that love you and support you. If you experience any negativity make sure you tell someone – even if you don’t want to report it, it is important you share with someone what you are going through.

 

If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to, you can always talk to us. For more information on coming out, sexuality and relationships, reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here, and we will listen.

It’s Pride month guys, and we are just as excited about as you are! Pride has become increasingly popular all over the world, with millions of people flooding the streets of cities such as London, New York, LA, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin, and hundreds more to support and celebrate gay rights. With the allyship movement also growing year on year, we ask, do we still need a pride month? 

Well, spoiler alert: the answer is yes. But why? 

1) Transphobia is still everywhere 

Trans people are still massively struggling for their basic rights. Things like being able to have your gender on your driving license or passport is something that can be a really long and difficult process for trans people. Being able to use a bathroom, walk home, use public transport or go to work feeling safe is something that most people are lucky enough to take for granted, but for trans people, all of these can still be a source of fear. It is 2019, and it has ONLY JUST been declassified as a disorder by the World Health Organisation sooooooo we think it is definitely still necessary. 

2) LGBT+ rights are still under attack across the globe 

When Brunei made being gay a crime punishable by death earlier in 2019, it was a pretty harsh reminder of what LGBT+ people go through all over the world in the continued fight for the basic right to love the people they want to love. Even in the UK, a teacher who wanted to teach about LGBT+ relationships in school received death threats from parents in the local community just shows how far society still has to go to achieve true equality. 

3) Violence against trans people continues to happen

Recently, the third trans woman of colour was found murdered in Dallas, Texas alone this year. The death of Chynal Lindsey only shows just how much more at risk trans people are of being injured or killed by violence, and for trans people of colour that risk is higher still. Violence against trans people happens all across the world on a daily basis, and the high rate in one city in America reinforces just how much action is necessary. 

4) LGBT+ young people are still at an increased risk of being homeless 

Coming out can be a really difficult process. For some, it can even mean losing their families, friends, job, and homes. LGBT+ Youth are 26% more likely to be homeless than their straight cis-gendered peers. If pride can help increase the awareness, understanding and tolerance of LGBT+ issues, as well as the number of people who feel safe in coming out, then hopefully this number will get lower. 

5) Homophobia/biphobia and transphobia is still everywhere, even if you don’t see it

There is still homophobia and discrimination everyday all the time, even if it is not out in the open. Like, do you know how often same sex couples get mistaken for siblings, business partners or best friends?! Also, people still stare, all the time. Even if the people who stare are not screaming homophobic slurs in the street, the stare says everything it needs to say. 

6) Basic rights are still a subject of debate

Some basic rights such as the right to marry, have children or follow a religion are still being debated every single day. Even in countries where all these things are technically legal, it does not stop LGBT+ people being discriminated against in real life. Everyone should have a basic right to do these things, and have these aspects of their lives be accepted all over the world. 

7) Visibility for some groups is dwindling

Everyone has probably at least heard of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Whilst it is a huge leap forward that a show about queer culture has won a collection of Emmy awards and is popular around the world, it is only a tiny part of gay culture, and other groups are waaay less visible in mainstream culture. For example, when was the last time you saw an ace person on TV?  Or can you name more than one openly LGBT+ politician? 

8) Being an ally is more than it is right now 

One thing to remember about being a straight ally is that it is so much more than following drag queens on social media and carrying a rainbow flag at pride. If you are interested in being a better ally, try watching some documentaries on YouTube about LGBT+ history and the struggle for rights. The more you understand what LGBT+ people have gone through and continue to deal with every day, the more you can know how to support them. 

Whether you are going to a Pride Parade near you this year or not, and whether that is as an LGBT person or an ally, Pride is still super important to all the people who attend. If you are straight, why not read up on how to be the best ally you can be in this article here

9) Forgetting is not an option

As much as Pride is a fun event that is often the highlight of many LGBT+ and straight ally calendars, it is also a time when the gay community can reflect and remember the people and the issues that came before them, and celebrate and pursue a right to exist without persecution. Pride means that LGBT+ issues remain visible and talked about so that equality can get closer every single day, and rights are never taken away again.

10) Love should always be celebrated

As much as Pride is about all of the things above such LGBT+ history and current issues, it is also just an awesome celebration of love, identity, uniqueness, queer culture and equality. Everyone who wants to support or be a part of queer culture is given a place at Pride, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. In a world where everything seems pretty damn negative, THAT is something worth celebrating, and so so worth continuing.

 

 

Happy Pride Month, from everyone at Ditch the Label!

If you are thinking of coming out or have questions about your sexuality, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

If you would prefer the easier to read version, please click here.

It’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia! Today is all about getting rid of prejudice and spreading the love for everyone! So, we thought we would celebrate by giving everyone a bit of a guide on how to an ally to the community!

According to DTL research, only 43% of young people identify as ‘traditionally straight’ and 76% of people surveyed believed that sexuality labels are important. Despite the shift towards a more open and fluid approach to sexuality, LGBT community are still up against a plethora of homophobia, bi-hate and transphobia.

An LGBT Ally is someone who is straight and cisgender but fights alongside the LGBT+ community to tackle prejudice and promote equality. Here at Ditch the Label we’re all about equality, so here’s a thing or two about how to be the best straight best mate.

1) Listen

Find out what they are up against. You may have an idea of the extent of homophobia in general society but have a conversation with your friends about their specific lived experiences, the reactions they have come across or homophobic encounters they may have had to endure. In doing so, you’re lending an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and a friend to stand beside.

2) Don’t be a bystander

Okay, we know we say this a lot but you just can’t let it slide. When you see homophobic abuse, report it. Stand up for your friends, stand up for strangers. No one deserves to be abused because of who they love. By not saying anything you are justifying their prejudice and betraying your own beliefs in equality.

3) Do your research

Know about LGBT+ issues and current affairs. All you have to do is go online to see what’s going on in the world. Simply being in the know is a good place to start. Form your own opinion and go from there. It’s no secret that LGBT+ issues are still underrepresented in the mainstream press and media but you can check out sites like Pink News for specifics…

4) Be there

Attend protests, pride parades, demonstrations and sign petitions. Just because you’re not LGBT+ doesn’t mean you’re excluded from political affairs relating to the community. If you feel strongly in favour of equality, then you should stand for what you believe in, support the community and be loud about it!

5) Challenge language

…“that’s so gay” is so last century, guys. When you hear someone using everyday language that is offensive to an entire group of people, try pulling them up on it if it feels safe to do so. Here’s an article on 7 Things We Need to Stop Saying Forever and *SPOILER ALERT*… “that’s so gay” is one of them!

6) Ask questions rather than assume

If  there is something you’re not clear about, most people will be open to answering your questions as long as they are polite, respectful and not too intrusive. Example: Asking someone which pronouns they prefer is fine (she/he/they). Asking someone what they have in their pants however, is not (bit of a no-brainer really).

7) Be mindful

There are everyday things we say and do as a society which exclude an entire community of people. You only have to watch TV to see the under representation of LGBT+ people and issues that they face in storylines and on reality television. Small things like how we speak to young kids depending on their gender all contribute to a society which assumes that straight and cis-gender is normal, and anything other than that is weird or abnormal. Just keep that in mind and make an effort to use non-binary language. Example: “Have you got a boyfriend?” assumes a person’s sexuality. Instead, try “Do you have a partner?” – it’s much more open.

8) Be yourself

You don’t need to be anything other than yourself. If you are a true ally, you believe in equality and overcoming prejudice, then that’s all you need to do: stand up for what you believe in and support others in the face of adversity.

9) Be kind

We just need to be kinder to each other. Jokes at somebody else’s expense are not cool. A persons’ sexuality is never something to laugh at, neither is their gender, or their race, or their disability – stick to bad puns and toilet humour 💩

10) Resources:

Finally, spread the word about these awesome Ditch the Label resources and support guides which are designed with expert advice to help people through tough times such as overcoming bullying, or tips for coming out to your parents:


trans ally

It’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia! Here at Ditch the Label, we definitely think this day is a pretty important one, as loads of people all over the world still get targeted daily for being gay, bi and trans. Here, we want to focus on tackling transphobia, and so put together this quick guide to being the best trans ally you possibly can!

A trans ally is someone who is cisgender but fights alongside the trans community to tackle prejudice and promote equality. So, whether you’re already clued up about transgender issues, or you’re not so sure and are always worrying that you’ll say the wrong thing – we’re here to help…

1) Backhanded compliments suck and need to stop…

“I never would have known you were trans…”- translates as “well done on passing as ‘normal.'” Newsflash: there is no normal! Also, this insinuates that if you had known, you might have treated them differently. Even if you meant it in the best way possible, just steer clear of things like this…

There are unfortunately many, many more of these so-called ‘backhanded compliments’ which most trans people will probably be familiar with. Steer clear of stuff like this, they have probably heard it all a lot and it certainly isn’t very complimentary – it usually comes from being uninformed or prejudiced. If you hear ‘compliments’ like this, try to challenge it by asking why they have said that.

2) See the person

Do you regularly ask everyone about what’s going on in their pants? The size, shape and history of their genitals? Didn’t think so! Please, pretty please don’t ask trans folks about it either! It’s deeply disrespectful and not ok…EVER! See the person, get to know them for who they are, being trans is only one small part of a person’s story and not their entire identity.

3) Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation

Gender identity is different than sexual orientation. Sexuality is about who we are attracted to, whereas gender identity is own personal sense of being male, female or outside the gender binary. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or heterosexual. Something else to remember is that it’s really none of your business what sexual orientation someone is until they decide to reveal it to you.

4) Ask questions rather than assume

If there is something you’re not clear about, most people will be open to answering your questions as long as they are polite, respectful and not too intrusive. So for example, asking someone which pronouns they use is usually fine (she/he/they). If you have anything else you want to ask, try having an open honest conversation in a safe space, and let them know that you have some questions, but they do not have to answer them if they don’t want to and that you mean no harm in asking them.

5) Shut transphobia down

When you see transphobic abuse, report it. Stand up for your friends and stand up for strangers when it feels safe to do so. No one deserves to be abused because of who they are and/or how they identify. By not saying anything, you are effectively justifying their prejudice and betraying your own beliefs in equality – standing shoulder to shoulder with the trans community to overcome hate and ignorance is the best thing you can do.

6) Do your research

Know about trans issues and current affairs. All you have to do is go online to see what’s going on in the world. Simply being in the know is a good place to start. Form your own opinion and go from there.

7) Be Yourself

You don’t need to be anything other than yourself. If you are a true ally, you believe in equality and overcoming prejudice, then that’s all you need to do: stand up for what you believe in and support others in the face of adversity.

There you have it! Seven quick tips on how to be the best ally to the trans community as you possibly can!

If you need support from a digital mentor or are dealing with transphobia or related issues, join the DTL community. There are a whole bunch of people who can help you today!

coming out mate

With International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia tomorrow (yeah we know that’s a bit of a mouthful), we thought we would share some important things to remember when a friend comes out to you. Lots of people choose to come out to a trusted mate before going public with a big announcement or telling members of their family. If that mate is you, here are some tips on how to react and how to best support your friend in their coming out journey…

1. Just because they told you, doesn’t mean they are ‘out’ to everyone else so keep it to yourself unless told otherwise.

2. Don’t treat them any differently than you did 5 mins before they told you. Nothing’s changed – they are still the same friend you always had.

3. Try not to say that it doesn’t matter either. To them, it’s really important and it does matter, just acknowledge the courage they’ve probably mustered up to tell you and explain that you want them to be happy regardless of their sexuality.

4. They told you because they trust you. Telling a trusted friend is usually the first step a person takes in coming out. Thank them for being open with you, and let them know that you’ll be there for them if they decide to tell others.

5. Check out this article if you wanna make sure you’re the best LGBT+ ally you can be… How to Be an Ally to the LGBT+ Community >>

6. They are probably still discovering things themselves, so try not to bombard them with questions too soon…

7. Steer clear of stereotypes… not all gay people like Cher (even though Cher is amazing)

[full-width-figure image=”https://www.ditchthelabel.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/becca-tapert-357541-unsplash.jpg”]

8. Let them speak. Chances are, they’ve probably run through this conversation a thousand times in their head before talking to you. Don’t interrupt and don’t assume, even if you already suspected something – it’s their story to tell, not yours.

9. Offer a safe place for them to stay if they get a bad reaction after coming out to family members or other friends.

10. Remember that this doesn’t instantly mean that they want you to set them up with the only other gay/bi/lesbian person you know.🙄

11. Remind them that there is an entire community out there who have been through exactly the same thing. 🏳️‍🌈

12. Reassure them that they can talk to you about any negativity they might face, and let them know that they have your support should they need it.

13. Direct them to our awesome resources and community to find additional support, help and advice, free of judgement….

If you are worried about coming out, have questions about your sexuality, or want to help a friend, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here

To celebrate Lesbian Day of Visibility today, we decided to reshare this hilarious piece by Clara Booth about what NOT to say to a lesbian. 

1. You just haven’t met the right man.

Usually said by an elderly relative who is worried I won’t birth an heir to the throne. Sorry, but even Prince Charming himself would fail to ‘turn me’ straight Gramps. Plus, lesbians can find ways of having children, so don’t sweat it – your legacy will survive! *Cue Game of Thrones intro music*

2. But if you’re a lesbian, does that mean you haven’t lost your virginity?

Losing your virginity is not a fixed concept – it will mean different things to different people because the act of sex is so varied. If you are dead set on viewing virginity in heteronormative terms and you think a woman’s virginity hasn’t been taken until she has been penetrated and had her hymen broken, I am pleased to say I lost my virginity to a tampon many years ago.

3. You stole Justin Bieber’s look.

Let’s get one thing ‘straight’ here (get it? straight? *nudge nudge wink wink*) He stole mine.

4. So…do you and your girlfriend actually…scissor?

It’s so sweet you think we are such close buds that I would offer up personal details of my sex life, but we’re not and like, why do you care what I do with my vagina? It’s kinda creepy and weird.

5. Are you gay because you hate men? 

Are you straight because you hate women? Nah…I didn’t think so.

6. Have you seen Blue is the Warmest Colour?

Know that while I enjoy talking about gay culture, I am also pretty skilled at talking about things that aren’t lesbian themed.

7. But you’re really pretty – and really girly! 

So are you saying gay people are usually ugly??? *searches for shocked emoji face but can’t find one that accurately conveys my abject shock and horror*. Also, not every single lesbian is into camo-shorts and snap-backs; our sexuality does not eradicate our individuality.

8. Who’s the man in the relationship?

Between you and me, I’m really hoping neither of us, because my relationship of five years would have been a lie, my girlfriend some sort of crazed pathological liar and me a gullible fool with extremely poor eyesight. If you didn’t already know, let me enlighten you. to be in a lesbian relationship you need to be a woman dating another woman.

9. That’s so hot – most often said by some random dude.

PDA with my girlfriend are not performances for your viewing pleasure. If you are looking for visual stimuli I suggest a night in with Google search and a box of tissues.

10. Maybe I should become a lesbian? Guys are so annoying…

Yeah…because dual PMS is a walk in the park!

It might be the ‘A’ in LGBTQUIA+, but asexuality doesn’t get a lot of press. As a result, it is not very well understood by the public at large, with many wrongly characterising it as a mental illness, a hormone disorder, or an inability to get anyone to date. None of these are true, and asexuality is a valid sexual orientation that needs to be more widely understood. That’s why we have put together a quick guide to understanding asexuality.

Quick Definitions

Asexuality– A sexual orientation defined by the lack of sexual desire and feelings for others

Ace– An abbreviation for someone who is asexual e.g. ‘They are ace’ 

Homoromantic– Pursuing a romantic relationship with someone on the same sex

Heteroromantic– Pursuing a romantic relationship with someone of the opposite sex

Biromantic– Pursuing a romantic relationship with both sexes

Panromantic– Pursuing a romantic relationship with someone irrespective of sex or gender

Aromantic– Not pursuing romantic relationships 

Greysexual– Sits between asexuality and hetero/homo/bisexuality, greysexuals experience some sexual feelings but only under very specific sets of circumstances and very rarely

Demi-sexual – Sits between greysexuality and hetero/homo/bisexuality, demi-sexuals experience sexual attraction and feelings only with people with whom they have a strong emotional connection, and only when this has occurred. 

What is Asexuality?

Asexuality is a sexual orientation like heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. It is defined by the Asexual Visibility and Education Network as the absence of sexual attraction. 

‘An asexual person is not drawn to people sexually and they do not desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way.’

Asexuality can also work in tandem with another sexuality. This is when someone is asexual, i.e. having no sexual desire, but pursue romantic relationships and companionship. Here, you can be asexual, but homoromantic heteroromantic or biromantic, meaning you pursue romantic relationships with people of the same gender, opposite gender or both genders respectively.

Below is a simple spectrum to help you understand where some asexuality types lie on a spectrum of sexuality.

The spectrum runs from asexuality, to grey sexuality, to demi-sexuality to non-asexuality.


Understanding Asexuality

To understand asexuality, it is important to understand the mechanics of sex, attraction and romance. There are many variations in asexuality which is why it can be quite confusing for people to understand, even for ace people themselves.

For example some aces do date. Others do not. Those that do not are known as aromantic, and those that do are known as hetero/homo/bi/panromantic, depending on the gender of the person they pursue relationships with. 

Some aces have sex. Others do not. Some aces appreciate the physiological pleasure that comes from having sex, and will do it in pursuit of that pleasure, but will not have feelings of sexual attraction to people or the person with whom they are having sex. Some aces do not have sex and are indifferent to the idea of it. Some are physically disgusted by the idea of it and these are known as sex-repulsed asexuals. 

The key thing to remember is that whilst for many people sex, sexual attraction and romance all overlap, for ace people they do not.

How many people are ace?

Around 1% of the population are asexual. However, some medical experts believe this number could be much higher, and people simply do not know or wish to use the term asexual.

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Who is Asexual? 

Anyone can be asexual. Any gender, age, race, religion, ethnicity or personality type can also be asexual. It is important to remember that there is nothing wrong with being asexual, that you are born asexual and that it is entirely different to a pledge of abstinence or an inability to ‘get laid’. 

There are some seriously awesome asexual bloggers out there who are great at explaining their journey to the term ‘asexual’. Check out these guys below: 

1) Naomi King


Naomi is a lifestyle YouTuber, tattoo artist, singer songwriter and actor who came out as asexual on YouTube three months ago. The video describes her powerful journey through painful medical complications and emotional battles to finally identifying her authentic self.

YouTube


2) Chandler Wilson



Chandler’s YouTube will answer any question you have ever had on being trans, non-binary or asexual. With a fabulous line-up of friends and other YouTubers often collaborating on videos, you will never get bored of this channel.

YouTube

3) Emi Salida



Emi Salida is a student, YouTuber and asexual activist. She is absolutely killing it right now, releasing a documentary on life as an asexual in a sexualised society.

YouTube


4) HeyoDamo



HeyoDamo, a.k.a Damian Parker, is a homoromantic greysexual from Australia. Every video he has made on asexuality has been extremely popular, probably because not only is he informative, he is hilarious.

YouTube


5) Yasmin Benoit



Yasmin Benoit is a model, Instagrammer and asexuality activist. Her recent Insta hashtag campaign, #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike, gained support from all corners of the internet. Watch this space for more from her!

Instagram


Think you might be asexual or need some guidance on where to go from here? You can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here.

What Are The Reasons and How Should You React?

Coming out is an incredibly scary idea for many, but it is even scarier when you have to tell your parents. The fear of impending doom that you might be rejected by your parents is crippling and leads to many people not coming out for years. Sadly, when some people come out, their parents do not react well. There are many reasons for this, and this guide will help you to understand why they may have responded this way.

REASONS FOR A BAD REACTION

THEY MAY HAVE OPINIONS WHICH AREN’T NECESSARILY WHAT THEY THINK

Depending on our upbringing, we learn certain points of views and opinions from our parents, wider family and community, religion, and friends. As this could be all we know when growing up, we may not be exposed to, or develop an opinion that is different to this. Also, these opinions may not represent what we actually think, but what we have learned from our role models.

Before I came out, my father said, “I don’t agree with gay people”. Therefore, I delayed coming out to him for years because of crippling fears that stemmed from this one comment. However, it is now clear to me that this opinion was due to his strict upbringing, and the reality is that he is very accepting. So, if your parents react badly, consider that their reaction may be based on opinions which aren’t what they actually think; it may just be how they were raised.

THEY MAY FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE LOST THEIR CHILD

As being heterosexual is often assumed, a parent may consider this to be a core aspect of their child’s identity. So, when they find out that their child isn’t straight as they had assumed, this can lead to a crisis; an initial ‘rejection’ from them and may be why the parent(s) could say something like “You are not my child anymore”.

To the person that comes out, this is absolutely the last thing they want to hear. Coming out is such a vulnerable moment, and all you want is to feel secure and supported when you’re doing something that scary.

THEY WERE NOT EXPECTING IT

Some parents may already have an idea that their child is not heterosexual; for example, they may have found messages on your phone to a boyfriend / girlfriend before you came out to them. Therefore, this gives them time to process the information which can make for a smoother coming out experience. However, some parents may have no idea that their child is not straight, and therefore, this does not give them the time they may need to process the information.

As a result, this could lead to the parents reacting badly due to shock. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they do not agree with you not being heterosexual, but that they were simply not expecting it. This could, in turn, lead to them saying things they do not mean in the moment.

TOP TIPS FOR A BAD REACTION

BE PATIENT

It is of course entirely normal to want a positive reaction to your coming out immediately – you absolutely deserve to be accepted for who you are, but sadly this does not always happen. There are many reasons why you might not get the reaction you wanted, as described above.

It is important to give them time to process the information and come to terms with it. It is best to leave your parents to it when this happens – it’s likely that they need some time to themselves.

HAVE AN OPEN DISCUSSION

Keep this as calm and mature as possible. Your parents may have questions about your sexuality, and they could be asking them because they are worried about you and they have little or no knowledge about different sexualities. It is important to answer all questions honestly (as long as they are respectful and relevant and you feel comfortable answering). It is also important to ask why they had a bad reaction to your sexuality and to state the reasons why. This could help them to clear their mind and rationalise their thoughts.

TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST

As your parents may be taking time to deal with their emotions over you coming out, they may be emotionally unavailable and caught up in their reaction while you naturally may want to talk about your feelings. It is really important for you to access support, but it may be better to do this with someone else other than your parents. This can help to give them the space they need to deal with their emotions which could result in them reacting positively sooner.

It is worth noting that parents often feel guilt and regret for a very long time for reacting the way they did and may want to discuss this with you at a later date.

You can speak to someone at organisations such as LGBT+ Switchboard or to us here at Ditch the Label on our Community.

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

In an ideal world, parents (and indeed, everyone) would react positively and want to celebrate you sharing this with them.

If that doesn’t happen then remember that any negative reaction from parents to their child coming out has a lot more to do with them than you. In other words, their reaction is not your fault or responsibility, and you should not feel ashamed. You are being exactly who you were always meant to be.

The article was written by a Ditch the Label support mentor.