As asexual awareness week draws to a close, Hugh Bassett meets Suzanna, the asexual representative of UCLU’s LGBT+ Society.
Suzanna is the asexual representative of UCLU’s LGBT+ society.
Hi Suzanna, how are you?
Good thanks, you?
Positively smashing! First off, for people who have absolutely no idea, what is asexuality?
Well basically, a heterosexual person is sexually attracted to members of the opposite gender, a homosexual person is sexually attracted to members of the same same, and an asexual person is someone who is not sexually attracted to either gender.
When did you first realise you were asexual?
Well, when I was growing up, I noticed that people around me started to become interested in one another in a way that I couldn’t understand. I just didn’t get what people meant when they asked me who I ‘fancied’. Like a lot of asexuals I thought that something must have been wrong or that I was perhaps just a ‘late bloomer’. But the sexual attraction never appeared.
But I didn’t know at that point that I was asexual. I didn’t even come across the term until I read an article when I was about 18. It was a huge relief to find a term for what I was experiencing, and to find out that I was not the only one.
And that’s when you came out?
I actually came out as gay at first as I was romantically attracted to girls
I didn’t really feel the need to come out to many people at the time as it just wasn’t an issue for me. I was also a bit worried that people would be dismissive of it and tell me I ‘just hadn’t met the right person’.
Overall, people have been very understanding and interested to learn more about what asexuality means.
What about relationships?
I’ve been in short-term relationships but never in any serious relationships. I’m happy with that though and have lots of close friends.
I have had sex, but I didn’t have to have it to know that I was not sexually attracted to people. A lot of people think that asexuality is celibacy but that is choosing not to have sex (even if the person still experiences attraction and desire). Some asexual people do have sex for various reasons; they may enjoy the physical intimacy and/or want to make their partner happy.
As with all relationships it’s all about being open about what you’re comfortable with and, for a lot of people, compromise.
What do you think is the most common misconception about asexuals?
Where do I start?!
That they are somehow ‘broken’, that they have a mental illness, that they don’t want any kind of relationship (which may be true for some asexual people but not all). Some people refuse to accept that asexuality is real!
So just a few then! How many asexual people do you think there are at UCL?
I’ve no idea on numbers but i’m definitely not the only one! We’ve had a lot of asexual people come to events organised by UCL’s LGBT+ this year. And I expect there will be people out there who may be asexual but haven’t heard of the term.
That’s one reason why we decided to have an asexual awareness week; to reach out to people who may be feeling isolated as they are not even aware that asexuality is even an orientation.
The events we have put on have provided opportunities for discussion about relationships, intimacy and so on. We also felt that it was important to make asexuals feel a part of the UCL LGBT+ community – so by reaching out hopefully more people will feel included.