Gray asexuality can be hard to understand because of its broad definition. It encompasses people who identify strongly with asexuality, but don’t feel like asexual is the most correct word for them. There are many possible definitions and identities under the gray asexual umbrella, but here are some of the most commonly seen ones:
- feels sexual attraction infrequently, of low intensity, to few people, or in specific circumstances
- feels sexual attraction, but has no desire to act on it
- has confusing or ambiguous feelings of sexual attraction
- feels that sexual attraction is not a meaningful concept to them personally
The main thing to remember about gray asexuality is that an individual is allowed to define it any way they choose and that it is a unique orientation. If a gray asexual’s definition doesn’t match up with one of the above, it doesn’t mean their identity is not valid.
How is gray asexuality different from demisexuality?
Gray asexuality is a term with many possible definitions, while demisexuality has a more specific definition: feeling sexual attraction only after forming an emotional bond. However, some demisexuals consider demisexuality to be under the gray asexual umbrella because it involves feeling sexual attraction in specific circumstances. Some demisexuals also relate to other definitions of gray asexuality, such as finding experiences of sexual attraction confusing or hard to pin down. It is possible and valid to use both labels if they both apply.
How do I know if I’m gray asexual? Where’s the line between gray asexual and non-asexual?
There is no litmus test to determine whether you are gray asexual or not. You are gray asexual if you feel like the word describes you. Gray asexuals have diverse experiences, but the thing they all have in common is that they relate to asexuality. If you feel like you relate to the concept of asexuality and the experiences of asexuals, but that word isn’t right for you, then it’s possible that you’re gray asexual.
Sexuality is also not quantifiable. There is no authority that decrees that if you have felt sexual attraction to more than X people or more than Y times, you are not gray asexual and are instead non-asexual. There is no dividing line between the two. Some people who could be considered gray asexual choose to identify as non-asexual, and some people who could be considered non-asexual choose to identify as gray asexual. If you relate to the concept of gray asexuality, then that is what makes you gray asexual.
Like demisexuals and asexuals, gray asexuals have a variety of habits and preferences. Some are sex repulsed while others aren’t. Some watch porn and/or masturbate, while others don’t. Some have kinks and fetishes. Some distinctly experience attraction only to one or two genders. There is no right or wrong way to be gray asexual.
Why is gray asexuality a necessary label?
There are many possible identities related to asexuality that are distinct from non-asexuality, like the ones listed above. Many gray asexuals identify that way because they don’t feel accurate labeling themselves solely as asexual or non-asexual. The word gray asexual gives them a place to be apart, possibly sharing feelings and experiences from other orientations but also having their own, unique to their orientation.
For some gray asexuals, it is useful to conceptualize the asexual spectrum, with asexuality on one side and non-asexuality on the other. They might feel like they can relate to both sides and are between the two. It would be inaccurate for them to choose one side.
It might be helpful to compare gray asexuality to bisexuality. Bisexuals share the experiences of other and same gender sexual attraction with heterosexuals and homosexuals, but have a unique orientation and feelings and experiences exclusive to that orientation. Many bisexuals choose their label because they don’t find it useful or accurate to identify as just homosexual or just heterosexual.