Allosexual, also known as zedsexual, refers to people who are not on the asexual spectrum. In other words, it describes someone who regularly experiences sexual attraction for others. The term isn't necessarily a sexual identity by itself. It was created by the a-spec community as a way to describe those who are not ace, in the same way the transgender individuals use the term cisgender to refer to someone who is not trans.
Before allosexual was used the term "sexual" was used as the opposite of asexual. While there didn’t seem to be any coherent definition of what was meant by “sexual” when it first emerged around 2002 by 2005 there was a wide-spread 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 people who weren't asexual enjoyed and had a positive relationship to sex, as well as the implied slut shaming of non-asexuals. These claims were often made by non-asexual people and such claims were frequently rooted in a misunderstanding of what, exactly, asexual people were talking about when they referred to “sexuals”. The conversation continued within and outside the ace community. Asexuals brought up other problems with using the term “sexuals”. It was pointed out that there was a history of people being sexualized, or desexualized, or both, based on the color of their skin. In a similar vein, survivors mentioned that some people may have a complicated relationship with their own sexuality and were not comfortable being referred to as “sexuals.”
Several proposals for new term existed. For the most part, they tended to follow the -sexual pattern already established with other orientations. This was, in most cases, a deliberate choice, in order to match “asexual”. Some of the proposed prefixes to use included.
- Prefixes meaning “true/pure” such as clari/veri/albo/eu.
- Prefixes meaning “with” such as co/con.
- Prefixes meaning “other” such as allo/ali.
- Prefixes meaning “cross/across” such as seka/poikki.
- Prefixes meaning “toward” such as ad/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 allo- prefix, meaning other, did not implicitly create a divide between aces who engaged in sexual behavior and aces who didn’t, which other terms did not. Of course, for many people the adoption of allosexual was, 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 people who are not asexual. There is also objection because "allosexuel" is the word non-heterosexuals in Canadian French.
Zsexual was proposed as alternate, as a play on the A in asexual- since aces were at one side of the a-to-z spectrum, people that weren’t ace could be at the other end of that spectrum, at Z. While some use the term, it did not gain significant traction as “ze” is a non-binary pronoun, and it could be misinterpreted as attraction to non-binary people. There is also the difficulty that there is no standard pronunciation of the letter “Z" both in non-English speaking countries and English speaking countries. No consensus as to how the word would be pronounced was ever reached, and their are now several ways to spell the term. Both "zesexual" and "zedsexual" are used.
The difficultly in finding a term for non-asexuals is caused by the fact that non-asexuals, especially exclusionists will derailed conversations about the terminology by criticizing any word used. Many exclusionists will also claim that this wasn’t something that doesn't need a label, and that it created a false dichotomy between people that were asexual and people that aren't, as well as "grouping LGBT+ non-ace people with their oppressors". More complaints include the idea that the term is racist or sexualizes people without consent. Some even go as far as to claim that allosexual is slur used by asexuals to "oppress non-asexual LGBT people". Many of these complains are made by people with the intention of de-legitimizing the terms used by asexual people. Despite these complains, allosexual is still the most commonly used term today.