People who are allosexual are those that experience sexual attraction to others.
That’s because “allosexual” doesn’t describe who you’re attracted to but rather the fact that you’re sexually attracted to someone at all.
Asexual is a term that may hold a different meaning from one person to another. Therefore, it’s both an identity and umbrella term.
Identities on the asexual spectrum include:
In general, if you identify as asexual (or as an “ace,” as some asexual individuals label themselves), you may experience little or no sexual attraction to others in varying degrees. But that doesn’t mean you never participate in or enjoy sexual activities with others.
It’s essential to distinguish allosexuality from asexuality. So 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 is that labeling asexual people as “not normal” is part of their discrimination.
An asexual person’s sexual orientation isn’t a medical condition, deviance, or something that needs to be corrected — it’s part of who they are.
The term “allosexual” exists to avoid labeling one group as “asexual” and the other as “normal.”
This is also why the terms “heterosexuality” and “cisgender” exist. It’s vital to name opposite groups because it helps to distinguish them.
Allonormativity is a term that refers to the idea that all people are allosexual. In other words, 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 allosexuality was simply “sexual.”
But around 2011, people began campaigning against the use of “sexual” to describe people who aren’t asexual.
The terminology is still 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 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 someone as a sex object or otherwise sexualize the person. This implication could be uncomfortable for people who’ve experienced sexual assault, 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. But 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.” But this excludes graysexual people.
As mentioned earlier, graysexual people seldom experience sexual attraction or very little intensity. As a result, 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.” But other people dislike the term “allosexual,” too.
Some reasons why people don’t like the term “allosexual” 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 means that you experience sexual attraction that 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 interest.
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, so 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, confused, or broken — it’s a shared experience that many people have.
The 2017 & 2018 Asexual Census found that individuals who currently or previously identified with a non-ace identity identified the majority (62.4 percent) as straight, 40.5 percent as bisexual, 28.6 percent as gay or lesbian, and a quarter as pansexual. Under half (41.9 percent) currently or previously identified as queer.
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): a wiki site where you can search the definitions of different words relating to sexuality and orientation
- LGBTQIA+Wiki: webpagesimilar to the AVEN wiki
- online forums: like the AVEN forum and the r/asexuality subreddit
- online platforms: Facebook groups and other online platforms for asexual and graysexual people
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.