Question: Are non-asexual respondents identifying with mismatching sexual and romantic orientation labels?
The asexual community has long recognized the possibility of any combination of romantic and sexual orientations, such as heteroromantic asexual or biromantic homosexual. And in recent years, there’s been a push for the aromantic spectrum to be recognized independently from the asexual spectrum. We’d like to estimate the number of non-aces who have applied these ideas to themselves.
Note: for the purpose of survey analysis, “ace” will always be used to refer to the aggregate group of asexuals, gray-As, and demisexuals. “Non-ace” refers to everyone else, even if they wrote in some other ace-related identity.
This is similar to the pie chart shown in section 1.1 of the preliminary report, but all write-in responses have been interpreted. A small number of respondents (N=54) did not mark “asexual”, “gray-A”, or “demisexual” (and are thus considered non-ace), but nonetheless wrote in an ace-related identity (examples: “lithsexual”, “gray-bisexual”, “asexual lesbian”). A very small number (N=10) did not mark any sexual orientation at all, instead writing in a romantic orientation.
This is similar to the pie chart in section 2.1 of the preliminary report, but broken down by placement in the asexual spectrum. Additionally, write-in responses have now been interpreted. “Demi- or Gray-” are people who wrote in only those labels, even though there were separate questions asking if people identified as demiromantic or gray-romantic.
Figure 3: Cross-Orientations Among Non-Aces.
Here we show the non-ace respondents who have cross-orientation labels, broken into four groups: 1) non-aces who identified as aromantic, 2) non-aces who identified as WTFromantic, 3) non-aces with “cross-directions”, and 4) the number of non-ace respondents who were not in the first three groups, but who identified as demiromantic and/or gray-romantic in any of the questions. “Cross-directions” means that they identified with a directional sexual orientation (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual) and a directional romantic orientation (homo-, hetero-, bi-, pan-, andro-, or gyno-) which do not correspond to each other. The vast majority of cross-directions were crosses between bi-/pan- and hetero-/homo- orientations, and there were very few crosses between hetero- and homo-. For comparison, there were 10,869 ace respondents, and 3,324 non-ace respondents.
In Figure 1, we show the sexual orientation labels used by the non-asexual respondents. They are clearly not representative of non-aces in the general population. In Figure 2, we show the romantic orientation labels used by non-ace respondents. Surprisingly, most non-aces were able to choose a label. That doesn’t necessarily mean they identify strongly with that label; it could just mean that they’re aware that the label applies to them. I also make the incidental observation that aromanticism is far more common among asexuals than among gray-As, demisexuals, or non-aces. This very similar to the trend seen in the 2011 AAW census.
But things really get interesting when we compare sexual orientation labels and romantic orientation labels, in Figure 3. Many people have non-correspondent sexual and romantic orientation labels, and we say that these people have “cross-orientations” or “mismatched orientations”.
To understand the number of non-aces with cross-orientations, it’s important to have a theory of how responses are collected. Non-ace respondents are a mix of several groups: people with contact with asexual communities, people with asexual friends or partners, and people who are more distant. The former groups may be more likely to identify with cross-orientations, and the latter groups less likely. Therefore, it is not meaningful to look at the percentage of non-aces that have cross-orientations, because that only says something about how distantly our survey spread.
The ace respondents, on the other hand, are likely made up almost entirely of people with contact with asexual communities. So this provides a more meaningful number for comparison.
In total, there were almost 800 non-ace respondents with cross-orientations, as compared to 10,869 ace respondents. This is a decent-sized group, larger than either the WTFromantic aces or homoromantic aces (each around 500). Also, note that this is an underestimate of cross-orientations, since it only looks at labels. For example, in principle, someone who doesn’t identify with a romantic orientation could feel that their orientations are crossed, but we wouldn’t be able to see that in this analysis.