By Jillian Morgan
On Monday, The YouthProject along with prideHealth, Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project and South House, screened the documentary (A)sexual as a part of Asexuality Awareness Week. The documentary revolved around youth who struggle to prove the legitimacy of asexuality in a society where the pressure to engage in sex is present in many forms.
The screening, which took place in the Royal Bank Theater, was primarily filled with students and youth who came to enjoy the company of other like-minded individuals. A discussion among the audience followed the screening in which many people agreed that asexuality demands more representation.
Asexuality is a term applied to people who feel no sexual attraction or desire. The definition for asexuality has become significantly more complex as increasing amounts of youth chose to identify as such.
A survey studying 287 individuals conducted by the Asexuality and Visibility Network, a website which promotes acceptance of asexuality as a sexual identity, reported that, in 2008, 51 per cent of people who identified as asexual were currently attending university.
Sheena Jamieson, The YouthProject Support Services Coordinator, said that the importance in having a word to identify with has not yet been lost.
“I don’t think we’re in a place yet where we don’t need that community and don’t need other people to feel okay in finding a place for ourselves,” she says. “When we don’t talk about it, it leads to feelings of shame and anxiety and guilt and a lot of judgments about ourselves.”
“Asexuality at its basic is people who are not sexually attracted to anyone,” she says. “That could not necessarily mean that people don’t have emotional attractions or romantic attractions but physical attraction is not present.”
In order to deal with the pressure of the media to engage in sex, Jamieson recommends “talking about hypersexuality and how the media talks about sex, and getting youth and everybody to talk about sexuality in a way that’s healthy.”
Asexuality Awareness Week, which began in 2010, aims to provide community support for young people who identify as asexual by promoting visibility and awareness surrounding asexuality.
“I think when we talk about sexual orientation we need to realize asexuality is a part of that so in our work at the Youth Project when we talk about sexual orientation, we talk about asexuality and we include it in the conversation,” says Jamieson. “It’s a part of our identity.”
Events such as the documentary screening prove to be an effective way to promote resources and information surrounding asexuality but there is still more work to be done.
Jamieson says we need to “listen to the voices in our community and give them a platform to talk about their own experience because there are asexual people that are a part of the LGBTQ community because they identify as LGBTQ but also as asexual.”
Members of the asexual community are encouraged to join in on the online conversation happening on the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.