People who are allosexual are those that experience sexual attraction of any kind.
Allosexual people might identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or another sexual orientation.
That’s because “allosexual” doesn’t describe the gender you’re attracted to, but rather the fact that you’re sexually attracted to someone at all.
Allosexuality is the opposite of asexuality.
An asexual person experiences little to no sexual attraction.
Many people regard graysexuality as the “halfway mark” between asexuality and allosexuality.
Graysexual people experience sexual attraction sometimes, but not often, or not very intensely.
It’s important to distinguish allosexuality from asexuality. Often, allosexuality is assumed to be everyone’s experience — we’re all expected to experience sexual attraction at some time in our lives.
So people often hear about asexuality and think of the opposite as “normal.”
The problem with this is that labeling asexual people as “not normal” is a part of the discrimination they face.
An asexual person’s sexual orientation isn’t a medical condition, deviance, or something that needs to be corrected — it’s a part of who they are.
To avoid labeling one group as “asexual” and the other as “normal,” we use the term “allosexual.”
Allonormativity is a term that refers to the idea that all people are allosexual — that is, that all people experience sexual attraction.
Some examples of allonormativity include assuming that everybody:
- has crushes that they feel sexually attracted to
- has sex at some point in their lives
- wants sex
None of those assumptions are true.
According to LGBTA Wiki, the original word used to describe allosexual was simply “sexual.”
However, around 2011, people began campaigning against the use of “sexual” to describe people who aren’t asexual.
The terminology is still highly controversial, as this conversation on the AVEN forum shows.
People campaigned against the use of “sexual” to describe people who aren’t asexual for the following reasons:
- Confusion. The words “sexual” and “sexuality” already mean something else — and this can be confusing. For example, when discussing allosexuality, we’d have to use “sexuality,” a word commonly used to mean something related, but different.
- Discomfort. Calling someone “sexual” could imply that you see them as a sex object or otherwise sexualize them. This could be uncomfortable for people who’ve been sexually assaulted, people who are intentionally chaste, and people who are stereotyped as hypersexual by society.
- Conflating sexual activity with sexual orientation. “Sexual” could imply that someone is sexually active. However, being allosexual and being sexually active are two different things. Some allosexual people don’t have sex, and some asexual people do have sex. The label should concern your orientation, not your behavior.
All that said, some people still use the word “sexual” to mean “allosexual.”
People do still use the term “non-asexual.” However, this excludes graysexual people.
As mentioned earlier, graysexual people seldom experience sexual attraction, or with very little intensity. Some graysexual people consider themselves a part of the asexual community, while others don’t.
So, the word “non-asexual” suggests that it applies to everyone who isn’t asexual — including graysexual people who don’t identify as asexual.
The word “allosexual” suggests that we’re talking about everyone who isn’t graysexual or asexual.
As mentioned, many people don’t like the terms “non-asexual” or “sexual.” However, other people dislike the term “allosexual,” too.
Some reasons why people don’t like the term “allosexuality” include:
- “Allo-” means “other,” which is not the opposite of “a-.”
- It’s a potentially confusing term, while “non-asexual” is more obvious.
- They don’t like the way it sounds.
None of the suggested terms seem to be accepted by everyone, and it remains a controversial topic today.
Being allosexual simply means that you experience sexual attraction. This could look like:
- having sexual crushes on people
- having sexual fantasies about specific people
- deciding to enter a sexual, or even romantic, relationship based at least partly on your sexual feelings for them
- choosing who you have sex with based on who you’re sexually attracted to
- understanding and relating to people who describe their feelings of sexual attraction
You might not experience all of these examples, even if you’re allosexual.
Likewise, some asexual people might identify with some of these experiences. For example, some asexual people do have and enjoy sex.
Yes! Alloromantic people are the opposite of aromantic people.
Alloromantic people experience romantic attraction, while aromantic people experience little to no romantic attraction.
There’s no test to determine whether you’re asexual, graysexual, or allosexual.
But you may find it helpful to ask yourself:
- How often do I experience sexual attraction?
- How intense is this sexual attraction?
- Do I need to feel sexually attracted to someone in order to want a relationship with them?
- How do I enjoy showing affection? Does sex factor into it?
- How do I feel about sex?
- Do I feel pressured into wanting and enjoying sex, or do I genuinely want and enjoy it?
- Would I feel comfortable identifying as asexual, graysexual, or allosexual? Why or why not?
There are no “right” answers to the above questions — it’s just to help you think about your identity and feelings.
Every allosexual person is different, and their answers to the above might be different.
That’s OK! Many people feel that their sexual orientation shifts over time.
You might identify as allosexual now and asexual or graysexual later. Likewise, you might have identified as asexual or graysexual in the past, and now you feel that you’re allosexual.
This doesn’t mean you’re wrong, or confused, or broken — it’s a common experience that many people have.
In fact, the 2015 Asexual Census found that over 80 percent of asexual respondents identified as another orientation before identifying as asexual.
You can learn more about graysexuality and asexuality online or at local in-person meetups.
If you have a local LGBTQIA+ community, you might be able to connect with other people there.
You can also learn more from:
- Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) wiki site, where you can search the definitions of different words relating to sexuality and orientation
- The LGBTA Wiki, similar to the AVEN wiki
- forums like the AVEN forum and the Asexuality subreddit
- Facebook groups and other online forums for asexual and graysexual people
Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her writing covers issues relating to social justice, cannabis, and health. You can reach out to her on Twitter.