From left, Hannah Hussey, M. Leclerc, Faith Karklin and Lev Makhlis.
PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
To help the libido-fueled public understand a seldom discussed and often misunderstood sexual orientation, agroup of locals who do not experience sexual attraction on any level will kick off the Boston-area's first Asexual Awareness Week.
Formed three years ago, the New England Aces have more than 200 members who correspond online and regularly meet in Cambridge to have fun without the pressure or expectation of sex.
"Asexuality is something that not a lot of people are aware of. Even among the asexual community, there wasn’t a world out there or a community people could go to if they felt they were different, and didn’t know how to deal with (their asexuality)," said Julie Schwartz, an asexual and assistant organizer of NEA.
"Part of the group is just to socialize with other people. Sometimes we discuss our experiences and (asexuality) issues, and sometimes we are just hanging out and chatting," said Schwartz.
According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, which hosts the world's largest online asexual community, an asexual is defined simply as someone who does not experience sexual attraction. According to Schwartz, many individuals who identify as asexual often face scrutiny.
"Life can be difficult for people who are asexual," said Schwartz. "A lot of women are seen as prudish, and men are seen as being weird or broken... People are being told they haven’t had the right person, or that they don’t know themselves. There is a lack of respect."
Often confused with celibacy, most asexuals regard asexuality as a sexual orientation, and have as diverse a spectrum of emotional needs and intimate relationships as sexuals.
The Boston awareness week begins Sunday night at Harvard University with a screening of the 2011 documentary "(A)sexual," which examines the emergence of the asexual community.
The group on Wednesday night will attend a workshop on asexual inclusion within campus LGBT groups at Northeastern University Student Center.
“Not all asexuals identify as queer, but even though I do, I often didn’t feel welcome in LGBT spaces during college,” said Queenie, an assistant organizer who preferred not to use her last name.
"I would have benefitted from more awareness that not everyone experiences sexual attraction and more spaces for asexual students to seek support, so I’m excited to be able to offer resources to students and staff members trying to make their campuses more inclusive."
To top off the week's events, the group will field questions at MIT Thursday night during a panel discussion called Asexuality 101.
More information on NEA and next week's events is available at facebook.com/aawboston.
Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS