Britain’s first openly asexual election candidate campaigns for change in York

‘It’s crucial that asexual people make themselves visible’ – York election candidate George Norman
5 May 2015 @ 8.38 pm
| News, Politics

Britain’s first openly asexual election candidate is hoping his York campaign will help to challenge prejudices.

George Norman is a Labour candidate fighting for a York council seat in Fishergate ward in the May 7 election.

Research suggests that around one in 100 Britons are asexual, which means they do not experience sexual attraction. But George is believed to be the first openly asexual candidate to stand in any UK election.

“We live in a world that doesn’t educate or inform our young people that it is perfectly OK to not want sex, if that is how you feel,” he said.

“And therefore it’s crucial that asexual people make themselves visible, so that young people who do identify as asexual, or who might, don’t feel alone.”

Although he now describes himself as “asexual and proud,” George has experienced that loneliness himself.

I first knew I wasn’t quite the same as everyone else a long old time ago. That was a very isolating and challenging experience, because not being able to put a name and a concept to your sexuality is difficult.

I think, in a sense, it means you can’t really ‘understand’ your sexuality. But actively understanding and being able to use the word asexual, which happened just over a year ago, was very refreshing and positive. I could finally articulate how I’d been feeling all those years.

York is a fantastic place to be asexual, so there can be some great, positive responses. But, equally, asexuality is poorly understood, so there is some negativity.

Politicians ‘must reflect society’

George campaigning in Fishergate with Rachael Maskell (right), Labour's candidate for the York Central parliamentary seat. Photograph: York Labour Party
George campaigning in Fishergate with Rachael Maskell (right), Labour’s candidate for the York Central parliamentary seat. Photograph: York Labour Party

All candidates in the 2015 election can be seen on the City of York Council website

George is 20 years old, and a student at York University. He thinks one of the reasons he is the first ‘out’ asexual in British politics is a generational thing.

“Most people who are openly asexual are young – because people have only been using the word asexual for just over a decade – and most politicians are old.

“But politics is also primarily about presentation, and considering the negative image that still surrounds asexuals, it’s hardly surprising that no one really wants to take the risk of being branded emotionless or cold.

“But I’m hopeful for the future.”

A 2012 study found that asexual people can experience prejudice even more than lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Researchers believe this is because many people view asexuality as “alien” and cannot comprehend how somebody cannot experience sexual attraction.

George says:

There is still a lot of prejudice. To be honest, people have only been using the word ‘asexual’ for just over a decade, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that people aren’t as informed as they could be. But that shouldn’t make us complacent.

Education comes first, in my mind, so I think we need a strong commitment to include asexuality in Labour’s plans for comprehensive sex and relationship education.

So much prejudice comes from misinformation or ignorance. But after that, looking to the long term, I do think we need to start including asexuals in equality law.

Parliament, he argues, is completely ignorant about the issue and “needs to start noticing that one per cent of their electorate is asexual, and that they cannot just ignore us”.

We’ve got to have politicians that reflect society.

Most politicians are straight – there’s only 18 openly LGBTQ MPs. That does mean that most LGBTQ politicians do tend to have their orientation or gender emphasised, and they can often be reduced to just that.

It is important to be out, but this reduction is wrong.

I am proudly asexual, but I’m also a living wage campaigner, a passionate believer in our environment, and a strong advocate for workers’ rights.

George said that his mother has always been passionate about him being interested in democracy. They would go down to the polling station together “long before” he was able to vote.

He adds: “Labour has promised a strong vision for York if we get voted in on May 7.”