Gray asexuality

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

Those who identify as gray-A tend to lean toward the more asexual side of the aforementioned spectrum.[5] As such, the emergence of online communities, such as the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), have given gray aces locations to discuss their orientation.[2][5]


The Asexuality Archive writes, "The difference between 'asexual' and 'gray-asexual' is one of attraction, not behavior."[1] The source adds that "gray-A" is intentionally a vague, catch-all term. Gray asexuality is considered the gray area between asexuality and sexuality, in which a person may "occasionally experience sexual attraction".[1] The term gray-A is also considered a range of identities under an asexuality umbrella, including demisexuality.[6]

The gray-A spectrum usually includes individuals who "experience sexual attraction very rarely, only under specific circumstances, or of an intensity so low that it’s ignorable".[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] In addition, those who "possibly aren’t quite sure whether or not what they experience is sexual attraction" are likewise included under the asexual umbrella.[1]

Gray-asexuality is also related with demisexuality, which refers to those who "may experience secondary sexual attraction after a close emotional connection has already formed".[9] The Asexuality Archive defines demisexuality as the capability, not guarantee, "of feeling sexual attraction after" one has "developed a close emotional bond with someone".[1]

Romantic orientation

The romantic orientation of a gray-A identifying individual can vary, because sexual and romantic identities are not necessarily linked.[9] While some are aromantic, others are heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, or panromantic, and regardless of romantic orientation, are able to develop relationships with other individuals.[3][4]


A commonly used asexual pride flag, in which gray represents gray sexuality

A Wired article notes examples of fluidity in the asexual and gray-A spectrum being accepted within the asexual community.[3] A Huffington Post article quotes a gray-A-identifying high school student saying, "Sexuality is so fluid, and Gray-A presents more of a possibility to be unsure."[4]

The AVEN, as well as blogging websites such as Tumblr, have given ways for gray-As to find acceptance in their communities.[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.[10] A black, gray, white, and purple flag is commonly used to display pride in the asexual community. The gray line represents the area of gray sexuality within the community.[11]


Asexuality in general is relatively new to academic research and public discourse.[12][13] There have been, however, some instances of gray-sexuality being included in research on asexuality as a spectrum, such as that of Columbia University's Caroline H. McClave.[14] In her Master's thesis, McClave defines "gray-sexual" as "people who have experienced sexual attraction, but prefer to have no sexual activity".[14] In addition, McClave uses demographic and behavioral variables that showed significant differences between asexual and sexual people in previous studies, in order to "assess the validity" of her definition of gray-sexuality.[14]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Under the Ace Umbrella: Demisexuality and Gray-asexuality". Asexuality Archive. June 16, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  2. 1 2 Bogaert 2012, p. 85.
  3. 1 2 3 McGowan, Kat (February 18, 2015). "Young, Attractive, and Totally Not Into Having Sex". Wired. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 Mosbergen, Dominique (June 19, 2013). "The Asexual Spectrum: Identities In The Ace Community (INFOGRAPHIC)". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  5. 1 2 White, Rachel (November 22, 2011). "What It Means To Be "Gray-Sexual"". The Frisky. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  6. Weinberg & Newmahr 2015, p. 216.
  7. 1 2 Shoemaker, Dale (February 13, 2015). "No Sex, No Love: Exploring asexuality, aromanticism at Pitt". The Pitt News. 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. 1 2 "Asexuality, Attraction, and Romantic Orientation". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  10. Cerankowski & Milks 2014, p. 92.
  11. Williams, Isabel. "Introduction to Asexual Identities & Resource Guide". Campus Pride. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  12. Stark, Leah (February 23, 2015). "Stanford scholar blazes pathway for academic study of asexuality". Stanford News. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  13. Smith, SE (August 21, 2012). "Asexuality always existed, you just didn't notice it". The Guardian. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 McClave, Caroline H. (2013). Asexuality as a Spectrum: A National Probability Sample Comparison to the Sexual Community in the UK (Master's). Columbia University. Retrieved March 5, 2015.


External links

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