Q. I just watched a documentary about people who claim to be asexual. Who’s really asexual for heaven’s sake? Aren’t they just choosing to be celibate?

A. Who is asexual? Individuals who identify themselves as such. They’d likely be the only ones to know. The term asexual refers to a state of not being sexually attracted to another human being. These individuals may or may not choose to be celibate but one would assume they are capable of using their sexual equipment should they choose to do so. If you watched the same documentary I saw, then you already know that an estimated 1% of the population believe themselves asexual (about 3.5 million worldwide). Some are romantic with other individuals and some are aromantic. My brain’s opinion is that there is insufficient dialogue in our culture about how to have an intimate relationship, whether or not it involves sexual activity.

Who knows what causes a brain to perceive itself asexual? Sex starts and ends in the brain but apart from that, many things are still a mystery. It’s unfortunate that people often seem to have difficulty decoupling a phenomenon from a contributing cause—especially when a cause is unclear or unknown. You may find more information on line at AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.