Though sexuality and romance are a large part of modern culture, there are some individuals who don’t experience those feelings at all.
Every Friday, student members of Cal State Fullerton’s A-Spectrum gather to talk about asexuality and aromanticism.
Asexuality is “a term used to describe someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender,” according to the LGBTQ center website for University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aromanticism describes “individuals who do not experience romantic attraction toward individuals of any gender(s),” but may still engage in sexual activity, according to the same website.
Those who identify with these orientations are referred to as “ace” for asexual and “aro” for aromantic.
Ari Fazio, 22, is an animation major at CSUF who identifies as a “gray asexual” and an “aroflux.” “Gray” means Fazio occasionally finds herself experiencing a feeling that might be sexual attraction. The addition of the term “flux” to an aromantic orientation works the same way as the word “gray” does for an asexual orientation. That is, on very rare occasions, Fazio experiences what she thinks might be romantic interest.
Her realization developed separately for the two orientations; therefore, she identifies them separately.
“It’s a double standard here (in the United States), almost,” Fazio said. “It’s like everything is inundated with sex, but also sex is bad and don’t do it, but if you don’t want sex, then what’s wrong with you?”
When Fazio and two other students founded A-Spectrum last semester, there were about eight students who attended consistently, but attendance now ranges from about five to 13 students every meeting, Fazio said.
“As a community, we always kind of feel like we’re really small and hidden. Thirteen people were like, ‘Oh my god, where did you all come from? How are there this many ace people on this campus?’” Fazio said.
Joanne Edelstein is a 22-year-old theater production and design major who “officially” identified herself as both asexual and aromantic during her freshman year of college, when she discovered the term. However, she says she has known for as long as she has understood what a relationship is, probably since around second or third grade.
As a kid, Edelstein said she would cover her eyes when there was kissing in the movie theater.
Rachel Wilson, a 20-year-old anthropology major, said she began identifying as asexual during her senior year of high school, when she was researching sexual orientations.
“I just did more and more research and I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m starting to feel I can connect to this,’” Wilson said.
Although the people in attendance land on different points of the ace and aro spectrums, Fazio said the meetings are a way for all of them to gain some personal relief.
The group often reflects on the struggles and experiences they have in common, such as being told they were lucky for not having to deal with sexual feelings, or being told they just haven’t met the right person yet.
“You get those feelings of guilt from people. You don’t know how to feel about it and then you start questioning if something is wrong with you,” Edelstein said.
Outside of the meetings, Fazio said the group has set up informational tables on campus.
“Last semester was for asexual awareness, and this semester was for aromantic awareness to sort of try to get those terms out there so people recognize them and are aware of what that means,” she said.
Danielle Duchene, a 21-year-old liberal studies major, is new to the A-Spectrum meetings this semester.
“I don’t think I have ever met another asexual person. It’s nice to know that there are other people out there,” Duchene said.
The group members agreed that the meetings are a good way to find both solace and solidarity, and to raise awareness about different orientations.
“We exist, there is nothing wrong with us, it’s an actual orientation. It’s a fluid orientation sometimes, for some people,” Edelstein said.
A-Spectrum meetings are held every Friday from 4 to 5 p.m. in TSU 250. The meetings are open to anyone who identifies as asexual or aromantic or is questioning if he or she is.