When I see people making snide comments about gray-asexual and demisexual people, they always seem to miss the point of why those terms exist.

I suspect that many of the anti-gray, anti-demi people think that gray and demi folks invented these concepts as ways to claim to be oppressed, and to appropriate LGBT+ people’s struggles. I see the “special snowflake” claim trotted out a lot, too; there’s this widespread belief that gray and demi people are “normal” but want to appear different. Sometimes this even bleeds into misogynistic territory, like “All women are like that,” or “You’re slut-shaming people.”

But the thing so many of the anti-gray and anti-demi people don’t realize is that it does not matter how common, or how “normal” gray-asexuality or demisexuality might be. These words were invented to help people understand themselves and figure out how their sexuality worked. Language evolves to reflect the needs of the people who speak it; we invent words all the time so that we can discuss what makes us similar or different, and so that we can communicate those differences to other people.

The fact that so many people have suddenly started identifying as gray-asexual or demisexual is not a sign that these identities are fads. It is a sign that many people find these words useful and important for understanding their feelings and needs. The existence of these words helps people mark the limits and the development of their sexuality, so that they can make better decisions about what kinds of relationships, lifestyles and sexual activities will work best for them. These words are tools that empower people to take control of their bodies, beliefs, and self-esteem instead of passively trying to follow what society tells them is “normal.” And isn’t that kind of empowerment what the sexual liberation movement is all about?

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