Gray asexuality

Gray asexuality or gray-sexuality is the spectrum between asexuality and sexuality.[1][2] Individuals who identify with gray asexuality are referred to as being gray-A, or a gray ace, and make up what is referred to as the "ace umbrella".[3] Within this spectrum are terms such as demisexual, semisexual, asexual-ish and sexual-ish.[4]

A commonly used asexual pride flag, in which the gradations of gray represent intermediate sexuality

The emergence of online communities, such as the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), have given gray aces locations to discuss their orientation.[5]



Gray asexuality is considered the gray area between asexuality and sexuality, in which a person may only experience sexual attraction on occasion.[1][2] The term 'demisexuality' was coined in 2006 by Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN).[3] The prefix 'demi-' derives from the Latin dimidium, meaning "divided in half". The term 'demisexual' comes from the concept being described as being "halfway between" sexual and asexual.

The term 'gray-A' covers a range of identities under the asexuality umbrella, or on the asexual spectrum, including demisexuality.[6] Other terms within this spectrum include 'semisexual', 'asexual-ish' and 'sexual-ish'.[4] The gray-A spectrum usually includes individuals who very rarely experience sexual attraction; they experience it only under specific circumstances.[2][7] Sari Locker, a sexuality educator at Teachers College of Columbia University, argued during a Mic interview that gray-asexuals "feel they are within the gray area between asexuality and more typical sexual interest".[8] A gray-A identifying individual may have any romantic orientation, because sexual and romantic identities are not necessarily linked.[3][4]


The demisexual flag, in which the black chevron represents asexuality, gray represents gray asexuality and demisexuality, white represents sexuality, and purple represents community[9]

A demisexual person does not experience sexual attraction until they have formed a strong emotional connection with a prospective partner.[2][5] The definition of "emotional bond" varies from person to person inasmuch as the elements of the split attraction model can vary.[10][11] Demisexuals can have any romantic orientation.[12][13] People in the asexual spectrum communities often switch labels throughout their lives, and fluidity in orientation and identity is a common attitude.[3]

Demisexuality, as a component of the asexuality spectrum, is included in queer activist communities such as GLAAD and The Trevor Project, and itself has finer divisions.[14][15]

Demisexuality is a common theme (or trope) in romantic novels which has been termed 'compulsory demisexuality'.[16] Within fictitious prose, the paradigm of sex being only truly pleasurable when the partners are in love is a trait stereotypically more commonly associated with female characters. The intimacy of the connection also allows for an exclusivity to take place.[17][13]

Post-doctorate research on the subject has been done since at least 2013, and podcasts and social media have also raised public awareness of the sexual orientation.[18] Some public figures who have come out as demisexual, such as Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, have also raised awareness, though typically face some degree of ridicule for their sexuality.[19]


The gray asexual flag[20]

Online communities, such as the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), as well as blogging websites such as Tumblr, have provided ways for gray-As to find acceptance in their communities.[5][7] While gray-As are noted to have variety in the experiences of sexual attraction, individuals in the community share their identification within the spectrum.[21] A black, gray, white, and purple flag is commonly used to display pride in the asexual community. The gray bar represents the area of gray sexuality within the community.[22]


As of 2019, asexuality in general is relatively new to academic research and public discourse.[5]


  1. ^ a b Bogaert, Anthony F. (January 4, 2015). Understanding Asexuality. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-4422-0100-2.
  2. ^ a b c d Decker JS (2015). "Grayromanticism". The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1510700642.
  3. ^ a b c d McGowan, Kat (February 18, 2015). "Young, Attractive, and Totally Not Into Having Sex". Wired. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Mosbergen, Dominique (June 19, 2013). "The Asexual Spectrum: Identities In The Ace Community (INFOGRAPHIC)". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Buyantueva R, Shevtsova M (2019). LGBTQ+ Activism in Central and Eastern Europe: Resistance, Representation and Identity. Springer Nature. p. 297. ISBN 978-3030204013.
  6. ^ Weinberg, Thomas S.; Newmahr, Staci (March 6, 2014). Selves, Symbols, and Sexualities: An Interactionist Anthology. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4833-2389-3.
  7. ^ a b Shoemaker, Dale (February 13, 2015). "No Sex, No Love: Exploring asexuality, aromanticism at Pitt". The Pitt News. Archived from the original on February 17, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  8. ^ Zeilinger, Julie (May 1, 2015). "6 Actual Facts About What It Really Means to Be Asexual". Mic. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  9. ^ Ender, Elena (June 21, 2017). "What the Demisexual Flag Really Represents A more specific, symbolic and subtle flag to wave at your pride events". Entity. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  10. ^ "Split Attraction Model". Princeton Gender + Sexuality Resource Center.
  11. ^ "Bustle". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  12. ^ "What Does It Mean To Be Demisexual And Demiromantic? - HelloFlo". HelloFlo. June 2, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Asexuality, Attraction, and Romantic Orientation". The LGBTQ Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  14. ^ Pasquier, Morgan (October 18, 2018). "Explore the spectrum: Guide to finding your ace community".
  15. ^ "Asexual".
  16. ^ McAlister, Jodi. "First Love, Last Love, True Love: Heroines, Heroes, and the Gendered Representation of Love in the Category Romance Novel." Gender & Love, 3rd Global Conference. Mansfield College, Oxford, UK. Vol. 15. 2013
  17. ^ McAlister, Jodi (September 1, 2014). "'That complete fusion of spirit as well as body': Heroines, heroes, desire and compulsory demisexuality in the Harlequin Mills & Boon romance novel". Australasian Journal of Popular Culture. 3 (3): 299–310. doi:10.1386/ajpc.3.3.299_1.
  18. ^ Klein, Jessica. "Why demisexuality is as real as any sexual orientation".
  19. ^ López, Canela. "Andrew Cuomo's daughter says she's demisexual. Here's what that means". Insider.
  20. ^ emarcyk (March 29, 2017). "Word of the Week: Gray-A". Rainbow round table news. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  21. ^ Cerankowski, Karli June; Milks, Megan (March 14, 2014). Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-69253-8.
  22. ^ Williams, Isabel. "Introduction to Asexual Identities & Resource Guide". Campus Pride. Archived from the original on August 26, 2015. Retrieved March 5, 2015.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)


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