Asexuality is one of those realms within the LGBT etc Community that little is known about, but it does exist. Often explained as a lack of sexual attraction, asexuality has certainly not risen very far in the consciousness of most people. Still, it was recently featured on a FOX program, and the portrayal of the asexual identity in that show has garnered some intense criticism from the asexual community.
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network issued the following statement with regards to that particular episode’s portrayal of two asexual individuals.
On January 23, 2012, “House:MD” became the first major network television show in history to feature characters who openly identify as asexual. Scientific studies show that 1% of the human population is asexual. The episode presented damaging misinformation about the asexual community by presenting asexuality as a condition to be cured rather than as a healthy part of human sexual diversity. The episode portrayed two characters whose asexuality was dismissed as being caused by either medical pathology or deception.
“This misinformation could have severe negative consequences on asexual people around the world, especially youth, who are struggling to come to terms with themselves and find acceptance,” said David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). “This episode encourages viewers to meet asexuality with skepticism rather than acceptance, to probe asexual people for causes of our ‘condition’ rather than to accept us as a part of the natural spectrum of human sexual diversity.”
Sara Beth Brooks, an organizer with Asexual Awareness Week, added, “The writer of the episode opened a dialogue with the community immediately after the episode aired and we appreciate the research and effort that she put into portraying asexuality positively.” Asexual Awareness Week has launched a Change.org petition that has gathered nearly 1,000 signatures in only five days. The petition asks the Executive Producers of House to reconsider their portrayal of asexual characters in the future. The petition can be accessed here: http://www.change.org/petitions/executive-producers-of-house-reconsider-your-portrayals-of-asexual-characters
Members of the community expressed disappointment, but little surprise at the misrepresentation by Fox. According to Jay, “There’s a strong message out there that something is broken if you experience sexuality differently, a message that Fox is helping to promote. The asexual community is working for the day when we can talk openly about how asexual people live happy, healthy lives.”
Scientific studies estimate that more than 1% of the population is asexual. Since 2002, the asexual community has been organizing on- and offline in more than 150 countries. 80% of the community identifies as LGBT or an ally to the LGBT community, and 20% identify as transgender or questioning their gender identity. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) and Asexual Awareness Week are two of the largest asexual organizations in the United States.