What is asexuality? What the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA stands for.

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 7.1% of U.S. adults self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something other than heterosexual. 

As we begin to learn more about the Colorado Springs shooting and the community mourns those who lost their lives and were injured at Club Q, some have questions about how to support their LGBTQ+ loved ones. 

The best first step is to learn about the community. Asking your LGBTQ+ friends and family is an option, but be mindful of placing the burden of your education on others when there are so many resources at your disposal.

Colorado Springs shooting live updates: Suspect faces 5 counts of murder, hate crimes

LGBTQ resources: How to help Club Q victims after Colorado Springs shooting

What does the ‘A’ in LGBTQIA for?

The A in LGBTQIA stands for asexual. LGBTQ is an acronym that’s an identifier, and it has changed over the last few decades, adding new letters to the lineup. 

What each letter in LGBTQ means:

  • L: Lesbian
  • G: Gay
  • B: Bisexual
  • T: Transgender (differs from the rest of the acronym as it relates to gender identity)
  • Q: Added to the lineup at the turn of the century to represent people identifying as queer, a more ambiguous term (reclaimed since its use as a derogatory term for LGBTQ individuals) allowing people to avoid rigid labels. Some also take the Q to mean questioning.

In recent years, many have added I and A — intersex and asexual — to the acronym. Additionally, a plus sign is often attached at the end to include identities in the community which may not fit into the other letters, such as pansexual, polyamorous, two-spirited or others who don’t want to label their sexuality. 

Asexuality is an umbrella term and those who identify as asexual may experience little to no sexual desire.

The ‘B’ in LGBTQ: History, definition, difference between bisexual and pansexual

Learn more: LGBTQ definitions every ally should know

What does asexual mean?

Asexuality is an umbrella term, and therefore being asexual exists on a spectrum. According to the Trevor Project, those who identify as asexual may have little interest in having sex, though they may desire emotionally intimate relationships.

An asexual person can be any gender or sex. As stated on whatisasexuality.com, “there is no asexual ‘type’.”

Other identities on the asexuality spectrum include: 

  • Demisexual: People who are only sexual attracted when they form a strong emotional bond with another. 
  • Gray-A/Gray ace: People who identify between being asexual and sexual.
  • Queerplatonic: People who experience non-romantic relationships where there is an intense emotional connection going beyond a traditional friendship.

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