GS: Meaning of Gray Identities

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In the sections on the Meaning of Gray-Asexuality & Grayromanticism, respondents were asked to rate potential definitions of those two terms. In terms of respondents answering “This definition is correct” or “This definition is somewhat correct,” the most popular definitions were “Gray-asexuality is the gray area of the asexual spectrum” (83.8%) and “Grayromanticism is the gray area of the aromantic spectrum” (80.2%).

Most respondents rejected definitions that defined gray identities according to liking sex or romance: 79.3% rated it “incorrect” or “somewhat incorrect” for gray-asexuality and 72.0% rated it “incorrect” or “somewhat incorrect” for grayromanticism.

The “experiences [x] attraction infrequently” definition, while not the top choice, was generally at least somewhat supported. In terms of rating it “correct” or “somewhat correct,” 76.8% supported this outlook on gray-asexuality and 72.1% supported this outlook on grayromanticism. It should be noted that out of those percentages, more respondents went with “somewhat correct” than flat “correct,” but these attraction-based definitions were the third most popular of the five provided.

Now the interesting thing here is that with this survey, we can directly compare those definitions to the data from other sections.

Comparisons

In order to allow comparisons across groups, I portioned out the data according to answers in the Sexual Identity and Romantic Identity sections.

Group one answered “Do you identify as gray-asexual?” with “Yes” (N=371). Group two answered “Out of this list, how would you describe yourself?” with Asexual and nothing else on that list (N=522). Group three answered “Do you identify with the ace umbrella?” with “No” (N=134).

Group four answered “Do you identify as grayromantic?” with “Yes” (N=284). Group five answered “Out of this list, how would you describe yourself?” with Aromantic and nothing else on that list (N=299). Group six answered “Do you identify with the aro umbrella?” with “No” (N=314).

In cases where there is a clear enough majority, I have bolded the most common answer. In cases where respondents were more spread out, I have italicized the more common answers.

Attraction

Here’s how these groups compare on relationships to sexual and romantic attraction.

ID: Gray-Asexual – Sexual Attraction (N=369)

  • I experience this clearly and can easily identify it (14.4%)
  • I experience something that may or may not be this, but it’s unclear (64.8%)
  • I do not experience this (14.4%)
  • I prefer not to talk about my experiences in this way (2.7%)
  • None of these (3.8%)

ID: Asexual – Sexual Attraction (N=522)

  • I experience this clearly and can easily identify it (1.1%)
  • I experience something that may or may not be this, but it’s unclear (8.0%)
  • I do not experience this (86.6%)
  • I prefer not to talk about my experiences in this way (2.3%)
  • None of these (1.9%)

ID: Not Ace – Sexual Attraction (N=134)

  • I experience this clearly and can easily identify it (77.6%)
  • I experience something that may or may not be this, but it’s unclear (17.2%)
  • I do not experience this (0.0%)
  • I prefer not to talk about my experiences in this way (3.7%)
  • None of these (1.5%)

ID: Grayromantic – Romantic Attraction (N=284)

  • I experience this clearly and can easily identify it (11.6%)
  • I experience something that may or may not be this, but it’s unclear (72.2%)
  • I do not experience this (7.4%)
  • I prefer not to talk about my experiences in this way (2.5%)
  • None of these (6.3%)

ID: Aromantic – Romantic Attraction (N=299)

  • I experience this clearly and can easily identify it (0.3%)
  • I experience something that may or may not be this, but it’s unclear (17.7%)
  • I do not experience this (76.3%)
  • I prefer not to talk about my experiences in this way (2.7%)
  • None of these (3.0%)

ID: Not Aro – Romantic Attraction (N=314)

  • I experience this clearly and can easily identify it (58.3%)
  • I experience something that may or may not be this, but it’s unclear (37.9%)
  • I do not experience this (0.3%)
  • I prefer not to talk about my experiences in this way (2.5%)
  • None of these (1.0%)

Disposition/Desire

Now while we’re here, we can also talk about how these groups described their disposition toward sex and their level of interest in partnership.

ID: Gray-Asexual – Sexual Disposition (N=369)

  • I am interested in sex (22.2%)
  • I am indifferent to sex (33.9%)
  • I am unsure about sex (36.0%)
  • I am averse to sex (7.9%)

ID: Asexual – Sexual Disposition (N=517)

  • I am interested in sex (5.0%)
  • I am indifferent to sex (16.1%)
  • I am unsure about sex (22.4%)
  • I am averse to sex (56.5%)

ID: Not Ace – Sexual Disposition (N=132)

  • I am interested in sex (88.6%)
  • I am indifferent to sex (7.6%)
  • I am unsure about sex (3.8%)
  • I am averse to sex (0.0%)

ID: Grayromantic – Interest in Partnership (N=284)

  • I actively desire romantic partnership (10.6%)
  • I actively desire partnership, romantic or not (34.2%)
  • I actively desire partnership, as long as it’s nonromantic (8.1%)
  • I am indifferent to partnership (18.1%)
  • I am indifferent to partnership, as long as it’s nonromantic (4.2%)
  • If not for the partner(s) I already have, I would not be interested in partnership (6.3%)
  • I actively do not want any partners (7.7%)
  • Unsure (10.2%)

ID: Aromantic – Interest in Partnership (N=299)

  • I actively desire romantic partnership (0.3%)
  • I actively desire partnership, romantic or not (9.7%)
  • I actively desire partnership, as long as it’s nonromantic (20.4%)
  • I am indifferent to partnership (12.0%)
  • I am indifferent to partnership, as long as it’s nonromantic (21.7%)
  • If not for the partner(s) I already have, I would not be interested in partnership (4.7%)
  • I actively do not want any partners (24.7%)
  • Unsure (6.4%)

ID: Not Aro – Interest in Partnership (N=313)

  • I actively desire romantic partnership (52.7%)
  • I actively desire partnership, romantic or not (30.0%)
  • I actively desire partnership, as long as it’s nonromantic (0.6%)
  • I am indifferent to partnership (7.7%)
  • I am indifferent to partnership, as long as it’s nonromantic (0.0%)
  • If not for the partner(s) I already have, I would not be interested in partnership (4.8%)
  • I actively do not want any partners (1.0%)
  • Unsure (3.2%)

Activity/Partnership Status

Okay, let’s throw in sexual activity and partnership status for good measure.

ID: Gray-Asexual – Sexual Activity (N=370)

  • I am sexually active (20.8%)
  • I am not sexually active (67.0%)
  • Unsure (12.2%)

ID: Asexual – Sexual Activity (N=520)

  • I am sexually active (7.5%)
  • I am not sexually active (90.0%)
  • Unsure (2.5%)

ID: Not Ace – Sexual Activity (N=132)

  • I am sexually active (47.7%)
  • I am not sexually active (45.5%)
  • Unsure (6.8%)

ID: Grayromantic – Partnership Status (N=282)

  • I currently have at least one romantic partner (22.3%)
  • I currently have at least one partner (not necessarily romantic) (10.3%)
  • I do not have any partners (69.5%)
  • Unsure (2.1%)

ID: Aromantic – Partnership Status (N=298)

  • I currently have at least one romantic partner (3.0%)
  • I currently have at least one partner (not necessarily romantic) (14.1%)
  • I do not have any partners (82.6%)
  • Unsure (2.7%)

ID: Not Aro – Partnership Status (N=314)

  • I currently have at least one romantic partner (48.7%)
  • I currently have at least one partner (not necessarily romantic) (7.6%)
  • I do not have any partners (47.1%)
  • Unsure (0.0%)

Relevant Factors to Identity

Lastly, you may be interested to see what gray-asexual and grayromantic respondents selected as relevant factors to identity. I’ll add as a caveat here that some people didn’t understand the question (this was one of the questions that I respondents expressed the most confusion about), but most people answered it, and for what it’s worth, here are the results.

ID: Gray-Asexual – Relevant Factors to Sexual Identity (N=363)

  • Gender (55.6%)
  • Circumstances (51.2%)
  • Frequency (54.0%)
  • Uncertainty or ambiguity (57.0%)
  • Relationship preferences (52.1%)
  • Alienation (26.2%)
  • Community (32.2%)
  • None of these (6.3%)

ID: Grayromantic – Relevant Factors to Romantic Identity (N=277)

  • Gender (50.5%)
  • Circumstances (52.3%)
  • Frequency (56.7%)
  • Uncertainty or ambiguity (59.6%)
  • Relationship preferences (57.0%)
  • Alienation (24.2%)
  • Community (29.2%)
  • None of these (7.6%)

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3 responses to “GS: Meaning of Gray Identities

  • epochryphal

    Such a balm to read this after the Prejudices section – such direct refutation of the themes of expected behaviors and meanings there.

    Both “identity is not behavior, as bi advocates have been constantly saying for decades, and as seems especially contentious in ace discussions, perhaps due to a persistent wish for the perceived legitimacy of a “-sexual”-format word that means something like sex-averse or will never willingly have sex,” and “there can be correlations between behavior and self-chosen identity, and indeed here we see that those who selected gray behave markedly differently from those who selected non-ace.”

    Also very excited to see the frequency explanation subsumed among others, and would be interested in seeing how many respondents chose just one checkbox (or perhaps, two checkboxes but one of them is gender). Very abuzz about relationship preferences in particular, and the potential for looking at how again there is likely a qualitative difference (including behavioral) from non-ace/non-aro relationships (and from ace/aro relationships).

    • Coyote

      Yeah my approach to survey design deliberately positioned Frequency as just one factor among many. I imagine a different person designing this survey might have asked “Do you experience [x] attraction infrequently?” or “How frequently do you experience [x] attraction?” … but I’m not interested in assuming its primacy like that.

      With it presented as just one item on a list here, gray-asexual and grayromantic respondents did select it in slightly more than half of cases, but not more than Uncertainty or Ambiguity, and folks generally seemed to select Frequency alongside other factors. It was pretty common for folks to select at least two or three answers on that question.

      Actually, let’s see… I pulled up the gray-asexual spreadsheet and tested how many selected at least two or more factors on that question in the Sexual Identity section, apart from Gender or “None of these.” If I’ve done the filtering right, that’s 84% (305/363). For grayromantics, it’s 80.5% (223/277). Note that’s specifically out of how many answered that question at all, skipping those who left it blank.

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