Coming Up Aces

Meet the asexual icon who just led London’s Pride parade

London’s annual Pride parade was just led by an asexual person for the first time, and she’s teaching the internet some important lessons about ace representation.

Yasmin Benoit is an asexual model and activist who started the #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike movement. On Saturday, June 29, she was one of the faces of the U.K.’s biggest Pride event, an achievement she celebrated on social media.

“I did it! It was incredible to be the first asexual person to lead Pride in London!” Benoit wrote on Instagram. “Sure, the backlash has been incessant since the announcement but it was a day full of allyship, unity and celebration!”

The backlash Benoit mentioned comes mostly from folks who don’t see asexuality as a valid form of queerness, saying that Benoit is simply a straight girl with a “low libido,” or that if she were really asexual, she wouldn’t be showing so much skin. But Benoit took the hate as a chance to educate folks on what asexuality looks like in practice.

Several folks criticized Benoit’s outfit for the event, which featured a bikini and a pair of chaps (a perfectly reasonable outfit both for Pride and for the summer weather). Asexual people, of course, can dress however they like, the same as anyone else — and just because you think Benoit looks good doesn’t mean she’s dressing for sexual attention.

“It’s a bikini with tights, cargo chaps, boots and some accessories, in the colours of the asexual flag,” Benoit wrote in response to a critic on X who asked why she wore a “highly sexualized outfit.” 

“In hindsight, I should have worn less considering I was marching in a heatwave. No trousers next time. Hope that explains it!” she continued.

Beyond Benoit herself, the visibility she brought to asexuality sparked discourse across the internet. Other people emphasized the difference between heterosexuality and asexuality, noting that though there are hetero people within the ace spectrum, it doesn’t negate their asexuality. Asexuality is a matter of sexual attraction to others, not necessarily a lack of a sex drive or an inability for romance — though each ace person experiences asexuality differently.

Ultimately, like all facets of the LGBTQ+ community, asexuality’s definition is flexible, and policing what it can or can’t look like is entirely antithetical to queerness.

(Benoit, for the record, doesn’t identify as straight regardless. “Assuming that everyone is inherently straight by default while speaking about Pride is ironic af,” she wrote in response to another critic.)

Back on Instagram, Benoit continued thanking the crowd and the parade for embracing her and all asexual folks.

“Thank you to all of the aces who showed up (I tried to hug everyone I saw in the crowd) and to those who gave me this amazing opportunity!” she continued. “As a Black asexual woman who grew up never seeing myself represented, seeing myself in an image that explicitly mentions asexuality broadcast in Piccadilly Circus was surreal.”

“London is the city where my activism started. It’s where I’ve done most of my work with charities, government, businesses, universities and with Ace and Aro people on the ground,” she concluded. “Thank you all for your encouragement and support. We. Are. Everywhere.”

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