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Some People Want Sambal: An illustrated analogy about asexuality

Some people want sambal.

Some people don’t want sambal.

Some want a little, and others want a lot.

There’s a whole spectrum of preferences for sambal.

Some people like it sweet, others like it spicy.

Some people will only have sambal from their favourite stall, while others have sambal from more than one place.

Some people don’t have sambal because it hurts them physically.

Some people don’t have sambal because it repulses them mentally.

Some choose not to have sambal because of their beliefs, cultural or religious, even though they may like or want it.

And some people just don’t feel the desire for sambal at all.

They might have it to make another person happy, or they might not. They might enjoy it, or they might not. They might have tried it before, or they might not have. But they don’t feel a need for sambal.

They can have other things to go with their nasi: eggs, ikan bilis, fish, timun, chicken, curry, crackers, papadam…


The absence of sambal doesn’t mean their nasi is incomplete or lacking, even if people who like sambal may find it strange and incomprehensible.

In a world where almost everyone else likes or needs sambal, this can be difficult to understand.


But it is okay to not have sambal. It is okay to not like sambal. It is okay to not want sambal. Some of the time. All of the time.

People who don’t have sambal are still people, after all. And though they may be different, they are every bit as human as people who have sambal.

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The ‘A’ in LGBTQIA+ stands for asexual; an asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. There are many kinds of desires and relationships in life – platonic (friendship), aesthetic, intellectual, sensual, romantic, sexual – and the absence of one makes a person no less whole.

Asexuality should not be confused with celibacy, which is a conscious choice to abstain from sex and/or marriage often associated with religious vows or reasons. Like being gay or trans, being ace is not a choice. It is an intrinsic part of a person and is a valid way to be.

You can find out more through the videos and articles below:

Buzzfeed LGBT video:

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN):

BBC Future:

The Guardian:

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Text and illustrations (c) Charis Loke 2018