Anyone can feel attached to or identify with a diversity of gender identities and/or sexual orientations. And as evermore definitions have been popularised over the years to embody the emotions and experiences of queer people, it can be hard to keep up.
If you are not totally absorbed in LGBTQ+ culture or the rainbow community, you may not appreciate these lesser-known sexual orientations and gender identities – most of which have a lack of representation in mainstream media.
One such term is aspec, so we are going to define and cover what does aspec mean, speak about the aspec pride flag, and then provide some tips to help you become a better ally to aspec people.
In this article we will cover...
What Does Aspec Mean?
Anyone who has little to no romantic or sexual attraction is referred to as an aspec. Aromantics, asexuals, demis, and greys are all included under the aspec umbrella. Unlike persons who declare themselves to be gay or bisexual, aspecs rely largely on the split attraction model and frequently feel compelled to define both romantic and sexual attraction because they aren’t assumed to be compatible.
The Split Attraction Model breaks down attraction into distinct categories and then who a person is attracted to, thus allowing people to better understand their experience of attraction. Most people’s romantic and sexual orientations are compatible. However, mastering this model allows people to explore various options. A person can be andromantic and asexual, heteromantic and bisexual, or any other orientation combination.
Aces and aros have been accused of stealing the phrase “aspec” from the autistic community on several occasions. However, this just isn’t possible because the name was coined in 2015 expressly for aces and aros, and it had never been used before then.
Aspec Flag Meaning
There are many different pride flags symbolizing most queer identities, so it should come as no surprise there is a flag for aspec people to proudly fly.
On March 25, 2019, Tumblr user The-Moon-Is-Aroace designed the aspec flag on March 25, 2019. The compass rose at the center represents how people feel about attraction in diverse ways, if at all. The green and purple regions are on opposing sides of the quadrant, indicating that aromanticism and asexuality are separate and distinct identities, with the black and grey quadrants linking them. The aroace community is represented by black, whereas the grey communities are represented by grey.
The alternate aspec flag was created by Tumblr users Sapphic-Squirrel and Hetaces with assistance from the Inclusionist Discord Server on November 17, 2019. It has three stripes and one plant and was created to resemble the sapphic, achillean, diamoric, and pluralian flags.
The green represents aromantics, the purple represents asexuals, and the grey represents the area between a- and allo- identities (representing greyasexuals, greyromantics, demisexuals, split attraction users, demiromantics, other mesi aros, mesi aces, and those who don’t have steady labels but know they fall somewhere between asexual and aromantic).
RavenFire803 updated the aspec flag on July 1st, 2021 to represent the wider community. To indicate balance, the aloe symbol was made to be both green and purple rather than just green. RavenFire803 created the striped A-spec flag on July 6th, 2021. It’s unclear what it means.
Aspec Pride Day
Education, visibility, commemoration, and appreciation are all critical in promoting global acceptance and acknowledgment of queer identities and queer folx in general. And from experience, we know it is easier for aspec individuals to talk to friends and loved ones – and to feel the love – when a worldwide day for aspec is observed. Not to mention it also helps foster awareness and increased sensitivities from society at large.
So, mark your calendar and do something special (even if it’s just a social media post!) for Ace Week (there is no specific Aspec Pride Day) next October 24th to 30th.
Other Aspec Information to Help You be a Better Ally
To learn how to be a better ally to aspec people, it would help if you armed yourself with some information that could help you understand what it means. Aspec people, like other identities under the asexual umbrella, are often misunderstood.
Let’s get some misconceptions about aspec people straight. To begin, aspec is an identity on the asexual spectrum. However, that doesn’t mean that their experience with their orientation is the same as everyone else’s on the asexual spectrum.
In fact, no aspec experience is identical to another. You can’t tell whether someone is aspec by looking at them, observing their personality, or their physical aesthetic. None of these characteristics can provide a clue as to how a person identifies, and this is as true for aspec individuals as it is for any gender or sexual orientation.
The first thing you should do as an ally to aspec people is to believe them when they tell you about their identity. Don’t try to argue them out of it or make the mistake of thinking you could know more about how they feel than they do. It could also help if you worked on your mindset. Working on your attitude means you challenge your concept of gender, sexuality, and sex.
After all, if you have any issues with understanding aspec people, the root cause is bound in your understanding of gender and sexuality – not theirs. Educating yourself (as you are by reading about what does aspec mean!) is an excellent first step to increase your awareness and not make your lack of knowledge in this area a burden on them.
There aren’t any explicit rules or guidelines, but here are some thoughts on how you can be a better ally and support a loved one as you discover what it means to be aspec.
They can be in relationships
Aspec people do have relationships. Relationships are possible for those on the asexual spectrum for a variety of reasons, including romantic attraction.
Some asexual people choose to have a deep emotional intimacy with others beyond friendship, whereas grey-A and demisexual individuals experience sexual desire at times.
Encourage appropriate representation and depictions in the media
Poor media portrayals of aspec people, which frequently portray them as broken or humiliate them, also provide a challenge. The phrase “sex sells” describes general societal and the media’s obsession with sex as the be-all and end-all of personal gratification.
Characters that don’t desire to have sex on TV and in movies are frequently portrayed as immature, bashful, or timid rather than just disinterested. This can make many aspecs feel as if something is wrong with them or as if they are being driven to pursue sex.
When explicit asexual portrayal in culture does occur, asexuality and in extension the aspec community is frequently depicted as a joke, as fraudulent, or as a barrier for a character to surmount when attempting to romance an asexual/aspec person. Attempts are usually made to “fix” the character so that they become interested in sex.
Some portrayals can only be defined as erasure. Numerous people perceive Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original writings as asexual, yet many adaptations in media depict him having sexual encounters and interactions for example.
Aspec persons can have full lives with deep relationships with friends, family, lovers, and full of passions, despite media and social stigma. Also, remember to tell your aspec loved one that they are not alone, and that being aspec means being a member of a community of amazing asexual people.
If you want to be an ally to asexual persons, you should accept asexual identities and recognize that sex isn’t required for everyone to be happy. Educate yourself and others on the stigma that asexual people endure, and attempt to dispel societal and media stereotypes about asexual people.
It is not the same as celibacy
Celibacy should not be used as an alternative term for aspec. Aspec is characterized by little to lack of sexual attraction for some, whereas celibacy is a choice to refrain from sex. Those who are not sexually attracted to one another may opt to have sex for other reasons.
Under the asexual umbrella, there’s an identity referred to as sex-repulsed. These people find sex repulsive. They may refrain from sex, whereas others are positive about it. Consent is the most important component of every sexual interaction, just like it is in any other – and is an important component of a fulfilling relationship with an asexual person!
They will not ‘grow out’ of it and neither is it a fad
Aspecs do not have intimacy issues. Aces are sometimes taught they are flawed because they do not experience attraction in the same way that others do. Some ace-identified people will choose to develop close emotional or romantic ties, while others will not — this is not indication that they are broken or disordered in any way.
Aspecs will not ‘grow out’ of being who they are Being aspec is about orientation, not behavior, much like being a lesbian, gay, or bisexual. While individual identities may vary during their lives, being an aspec isn’t a fad.