First, I’m still working on that big long article with the frameworks for defining and categorizing sexuality and it could be a decently long while until I finish it. Surprise! It’s difficult, time-consuming, and exhausting work and I’m trying to do it in as inclusive and detailed fashion as possible. I’ll try to fill this with other, shorter articles on important topics in the meantime. This will be the first of those articles.
Next, I’m just going to end all of the suspense and answer the question in the title right away, and the short answer is: “Only if that’s how they identify”
Trigger Warning: Some Discussion of Asexual Erasure
The long answer is, of course, more complicated. The definition of “straight” is difficult and not 100% set in stone. Rather than argue the definition from history or popular usage, I’m going to attempt to go about this in a different fashion.
Let’s assume, for the moment, that “Straight” just means that your sexual identity includes within it somewhere the prefix “Hetero-“. This seems reasonable enough on the surface for many people. If your sexual identity is Heteroromantic or Heterosexual, that means that you likely only date/court/whatever people of the opposite gender. For Heteroromantic Asexuals and Heteroromantic Heterosexuals this is likely to be very true. However, because “Heteroromantic” is not a sexual orientation, things get a whole lot stickier: the following is a (probably non-exhaustive) list of groups besides heteroromantic asexuals that would likely take a lot of offense to being called straight:
- Heteroromantic Bisexuals
- Heteroromantic Pansexuals
- Biromantic Heterosexuals
- Panromantic Heterosexuals
- Homoromantic Heterosexuals
- Heteroromantic Homosexuals
The group most interesting to me personally, for the purposes of this conversation, are Heteroromantic Bisexuals and Pansexuals. I doubt very much that very many people would dare for a moment say that any Bisexual or Pansexual person was “Straight”. This is because when determining if somebody (other than an asexual) is Straight or not, their Sexual orientation is given preference over their romantic orientation. However, when asexuals enter the picture, all of a sudden respecting that person’s sexual orientation as something of primary importance is no longer considered necessary. Because asexuals do not experience sexual attraction, their sexual orientation is “passed over” in order to fit them into a classification scheme that is more in line with the sexual norm.
This is quite clearly a double-standard: if a Heteroromantic Asexual person and a Heteroromantic Bisexual person are not both considered “Straight” then neither of them should be. Asexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation and should be respected as such, but every time somebody refuses to classify somebody based on their sexual orientation and instead passes that over in favor of classifying them according to their romantic orientation, they are guilty of erasure.
At the end of the day, there may be some Heteroromantic people, asexual or otherwise, who identify as Straight. This could be for many reasons, perhaps they identify more with their romantic orientation than their sexual one, perhaps they find it easier or more comfortable socially, or perhaps that’s just how they’re feeling that day. Regardless of the reason, for the people who prefer to identify based on their non-Heterosexual Sexual Attraction, it is not okay to then turn around and say “No, you should be identifying alongside your romantic orientation” and deny them their identity.
When it’s all said and done, people’s identities deserve to be respected. Nobody else has lived their life or had their experiences, and nobody else can tell them who they are. People deserve to choose whether they identify more with their sexual orientation or their romantic orientation, even if those people are asexual, and as such, those same people are not “Straight” if their preferred orientation to be identified as does not come with a “Hetero-” prefix.