Clara Meadmore, an asexual older adult, was Britain’s oldest virgin at 105 years old. According to an article by Luke Salkeld in Mail Online, Clara credited not having sex as the secret of her longevity. Proud of her innate celibacy, she said she just wasn’t interested in all the “hassle” of having sex. Ironically, while many people wrongly stereotype older adults as being asexual simply because they are old, people like Clara intrinsically have never had any interest in sex or sexual attraction to others.
I became interested in learning more about asexuality in older adults after attending an informative Area Agency on Aging workshop about healthcare and other life issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults. As we discussed misunderstanding and intolerance regarding sexual orientation, one participant reminded us that asexuality is frequently excluded in these conversations. Later while researching this topic on my own, I discovered that asexuality, particularly regarding older adults, has only become scientifically researched as a sexual orientation in recent years.
Like many in the LGBT population, asexuals have unique issues adjusting to a predominantly heterosexual and sex-oriented society. Some have the need to “come out of the closet” and explain their identity in order for others to understand them better. Others may feel ashamed, isolated, or confused because they are different from the standard society conveys as normal sexuality. They are a diverse community with people experiencing relationships in various ways. For example, some may have close relationships with sexual or asexual partners, although the asexual partners have no sexual attraction. Emotional and romantic attractions are not the same as sexual attraction.
I noticed that the media focus on asexuals emphasizes younger adults. In one asexual group forum I visited on the Internet, an older adult woman asked several times for help in finding other older asexual adults with whom she could communicate. Asexual older adults have more difficulty finding resources and supportive groups where they can share their concerns in an accepting environment. Fortunately, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) hosts the world's largest online asexual community and a large archive of resources on asexuality that can benefit anyone interested in this topic. The Asexual News is another helpful resource.
The following video titled Asexuality: The Making Of A Movement Trailer focuses on the emergence of the asexual community and the lives of several asexual people. The completed full-length film documentary directed by Angela Tucker premiered at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco's Roxie Theatre on June 18, 2011.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
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