Allosexual, also known as Zedsexual, refers to those who are not on the asexual spectrum. In other words, it describes someone who regularly experiences sexual attraction to others. But it does not necessarily refer to a sexual identity by itself. It is an umbrella term created by the a-spec community as a way to describe anyone who's not asexual, in the same way transgender individuals use the term cisgender to refer to someone who is not transgender.
The romantic equivalent to allosexual is alloromantic.
Before allosexual came into use the term "sexual" was used as the opposite of asexual. While there did not seem to be any coherent definition of what was meant by sexual when it first emerged between 2002 and 2005 there was a widespread understanding that sexual referred to anyone who was not on the asexual spectrum. Around 2011 there was a campaign against the usage of the term "sexuals", as the term implied that all individuals who are not asexual enjoy and have a positive relationship to sex, as well as the implied "slut-shaming" of non-asexuals. These claims were often made by non-asexual individuals and were frequently rooted in a misunderstanding of whom asexual individuals were referring to by the term "sexuals". The conversation continued within and outside the asexual community. Asexuals also brought up other problems with using the term "sexuals", such as a history of individuals being sexualized, or desexualized, or both, based on the color of their skin. In a similar vein, survivors of abuse mentioned that some individuals may have a complicated relationship with their sexuality and may not be comfortable being referred to as "sexuals".
Several proposals an alternate term were created. Some of the proposed prefixes to use included:
- Prefixes meaning "true" or "pure" such as "clari-", "veri-", "albo-", or "eu-".
- Prefixes meaning "with" such as "co-" or "con-".
- Prefixes meaning "other" such as "allo-" or "ali-".
- Prefixes meaning "(a)cross" such as "seka-" or "poikki-".
- Prefixes meaning "toward" such as "ad-" or "ob-".
However, many of these terms were rejected as they either sounded too similar to existing terms or because they had "unfavorable connotations" for non-asexuals. Allosexual eventually rose to the top. Proponents of the term liked it because the prefix "allo-", meaning "other", did not implicitly create a divide between asexuals who engage in sexual behavior and asexuals who do not, which other terms did not accomplish. Of course, many individuals chose to adopt allosexual not because it was their favorite term, but simply because it was the one with the fewest objections.
However, still, many non-asexuals disliked the use of the term. Allosexual is also used as a sexological term, and non-asexuals raised objections that the term was too clinical or that asexuals were medicalizing individuals who are not asexual. There is also objection because allosexuel is a term for non-heterosexuals in Canadian French.
"Zsexual" was proposed as an alternative, as a play on the letter A in asexual, if asexuals are on one end of the A-Z spectrum then non-asexuals would be at the other end, at Z. While some use the term, it did not gain significant traction because ze is a neopronoun most commonly used by non-binary individuals, and it could be misinterpreted as attraction to non-binary individuals. Further difficulty arises from the fact that there is no standard pronunciation of the letter "Z" even within English speaking countries. No consensus as to how the word would be pronounced was ever reached, and there are now several ways to spell the term. The terms "zesexual", "zeesexual", and "zedsexual" are all used, however, "zedsexual" is typically the most commonly used alternative to allosexual.
The difficulty in finding a term for non-asexuals is exacerbated by the fact that some non-asexuals, especially a-spec exclusionists, may derail conversations about such terminology by destructively criticizing any word used. Exclusionists sometimes claim that allosexuality does not need a label and that coming up with a term has created a false dichotomy between individuals that are asexual and individuals that are not, as well as "grouping LGBT+ non-asexual individuals with their oppressors". More complaints include the idea that the term is racist or sexualizes individuals without consent. Some even go as far as to claim that allosexual is slur used by asexuals to "oppress non-asexual LGBT individuals". Many of these complaints are made by individuals with the intention of de-legitimizing the terms used by asexual individuals. Despite these complaints, allosexual is still the most commonly used term today.