Gray asexuality or gray-sexuality is the spectrum between asexuality and sexuality. 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". Within this spectrum are terms such as demisexual, semisexual, asexual-ish and sexual-ish.
Gray asexuality is considered the gray area between asexuality and sexuality, in which a person may only experience sexual attraction on occasion. The term 'demisexuality' was coined in 2006 by Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). 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. Other terms within this spectrum include 'semisexual', 'asexual-ish' and 'sexual-ish'. The gray-A spectrum usually includes individuals who very rarely experience sexual attraction; they experience it only under specific circumstances. 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". A gray-A identifying individual may have any romantic orientation, because sexual and romantic identities are not necessarily linked.
A demisexual person does not experience sexual attraction until they have formed a strong emotional connection with a prospective partner. The definition of "emotional bond" varies from person to person inasmuch as the elements of the split attraction model can vary. Demisexuals can have any romantic orientation. People in the asexual spectrum communities often switch labels throughout their lives, and fluidity in orientation and identity is a common attitude.
Demisexuality is a common theme (or trope) in romantic novels which has been termed 'compulsory demisexuality'. 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.
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. 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.
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. While gray-As are noted to have variety in the experiences of sexual attraction, individuals in the community share their identification within the spectrum. 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.
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