“Gray-A” was coined to describe the fuzzy space between asexual and non-asexual. Or as I’ve put it, it describes people who find asexuality to be useful to understand their personal experiences, but who don’t fit the technical definition.
“Demisexual”, by contrast, refers to a more specific experience. Demisexuals only experience sexual attraction to people that they have strong emotional bonds with.
Demisexuals are less numerous than gray-As. In a recent survey, demisexuals make up 15% of the community, while gray-As make up 20%. Not to mention that demisexuality is often thought of as a subcategory of gray-A, implying that gray-As are really more like 35%. And yet it seems to me that demisexuals command greater amount of attention.
To give a recent example, Arf recently considered the question of whether there should be a demisexual community which is independent of the asexual community. Arf also launched Demisexuality.org, which features a recently developed demisexual flag. As far as I know, no similar question is even being asked for gray-As.
Why is it that gray-As, despite being a large fraction of the community, aren’t more vocal?
I am gray-A, but not demisexual. I’m not upset with the way things have developed, but I’m deeply curious as to why they did. (Furthermore, if you’re one of the people who want to further develop gray-romantic discourse, I invite you to compare notes.)
Unfortunately, to figure out why gray-A people aren’t more vocal in the community, we’d need to hear from more gray-A people. It’s a double-bind! Here I will only talk about my own experience.
Before I identified as gray-A, I first identified as asexual. My impression was that at the time, this was the standard way to do it. People would rarely go directly from non-asexual to gray-A, they’d mostly identify as asexual first. You wouldn’t even have heard of “gray-A” until you spent more time on AVEN.
One thing that people on AVEN do when they first start identifying as asexual is try to match their experiences against other people’s. Does anyone else here have Aspergers? Has anyone else here had romantic or sexual dreams? Does anyone here feel like they’re missing out? Does anyone here like crossdressing? (Examples taken from actual AVEN thread titles.)
By the time I started identifying as gray-A, I was fed up with the conversation. Fed! Up! Nobody seemed to experience exactly the same things I did, and I ended up reading a bunch of experiences very different from mine and it caused me irrational anxiety. I no longer wanted my experiences to be exactly like someone else’s. Well, in truth I had mixed feelings about it, how could I not? But on some level I was against it.
So when I started identifying as gray-A, I did not care to construct any specific gray-A narrative.
I like the ambiguity of gray-A. I like that it goes nowhere. I am afraid of it going somewhere. I don’t identify as demisexual precisely because it is more specific, and thus describes yet another experience I don’t relate to.
I really like Epocryphal’s greyness 301. Everything is so delightfully vague. And it’s a terrible foundation for a gray-A community. What would we even use for the community’s public face?
“Here are a bunch of personal stories which are all different from each other. Perhaps you can figure out a pattern, but we’ve already tried and given up.”
I’m happy that we don’t need a public face. The asexual community kindly provides a public face for us. Thanks!
So in case the question is ever asked, the answer is no, I do not want an independent gray-A community. I like having discussions about grayness which are embedded in the broader ace community.
However, my view is inextricably tied to a particular time and cultural context, and I’d love to hear from other people.