Many ways, actually. Asexuality has, up until 2013, been considered a disability that required therapy to ‘cure’ (similar to homosexuality, which was removed from the disorder list in 1973). In fact, the only reason why it was no longer ‘officially’ considered a disorder is because people protested, and many straight people still ‘officially’ subject asexuals to both hormonal and psychological therapy, as the only way to disqualify yourself for the therapy is to say you’re asexual. Because people rarely talk about asexuality, it’s often difficult to learn that you are ace, and many asexual people have/still have suffered from depression prior to learning that they were asexual, as MANY straight people impress that without sex, there is something wrong with you; you’re broken. I can personally tell you that I myself learned that I was aro-ace the hard way; I believed that my profound lack of attraction was because I was gay, and I entered a relationship with someone I believed I had a crush on (though it became apparent VERY quickly that it was merely platonic). I spent nearly a year in an unhealthy relationship (turns out that specific girl was a possessive lying bitch) believing that there was something wrong with me and that I was broken, which took a rather nasty toll on my mental state. I still have breakdowns about it to this day, even though I know that asexuality and aromanticism exists. Not to mention, many straight people offer the same arguments against asexuality as they do with homosexuality and more. I’ve heard an asexual person say that her parents were more abusive to her than they were to her pansexual daughter, because apparently ‘even animals want to fuck’.
Asexual people are also far more subject to corrective rape by heteromantic heterosexual individuals than individuals of other sexualities, because it’s so hard for them to comprehend a lack of sexual or romantic desire. They can grasp the concept of homosexuality just fine (though many hate it and don’t believe that it’s not a choice, a problem we are still fighting to this day); they can see same-sex couples engaging in romantic or sexual acts and link that to “oh, they don’t like the opposite sex”. With asexuals, it’s rather like being a person who’s allergic to nuts in a society that’s always focusing on the glories of eating nuts (pun intended) for example. They don’t understand- “How can this person not like nuts? Everyone else does! Even animals like to eat nuts!” and they force it on them. I’ve had two straight men make unwanted physical sexual advances on me after I mentioned that I’m asexual (both times were verbal slips). This is different than when I thought that I was homosexual and identified as such; I got many stares and some sly comments, but there was a lot more respect for me-it went from curious stares to outright hostility.
Then there’s also outright hatred for us. I’ve heard of asexuals who were unable to obtain jobs BECAUSE they were asexual, people who were attacked by church groups and their families, and, like I said, asexual people who were correctively raped. We’re lucky to even make an appearance in media, and when we do, we’re villains or robots; demons. Mind you, aromantic people get this thrown at them too; take a look at your media. Count the villains who were outright stated that they cannot feel love, that no woman/man (bleh, heterosexual love forcing) could thaw his/her heart, count how much media has both romantic and sexual material in it; hell, you can even find it in children’s shows. For people who can experience romantic or sexual attraction, this is the norm (though I agree that homosexual, bisexual, pansexual representation is also either nonexistent or portrayed as negative); for people who do not experience it, it can feel like an outright attack. Why can’t we feel it? Are we the villains? Are we the bad guys? Is there something wrong with us? Are we unwanted if we can’t have sex with our partners? Are we unwanted if we don’t want a partner at all? Will people leave us if they learn that there is something wrong with us?
It hurts. It hurts like hell.
This is BARELY a summation of the shit asexual and aromantic people go through, shortened only because I do not have sufficient time to explain everything but give you this and a simple chart. If you want to research yourself, feel free to check out asexuality blogs run by asexual people, and Google asexuality (you’ll see a lot of asexuality disorder or asexuality mental disorder pop up. What does that tell you how the straights think of us.) @acephobephobic also has a lot of links showing asexual discrimination, informational articles, and submissions by asexual people who are experiencing ace discrimination. If you’re really unconvinced and think we’re ‘trying’ to be oppressed, feel free to check out their suicide tag.
The reason why you may be seeing so much asexual fighting rallies is because straight people kept such a tight hold on us for so long. We mention that we don’t feel sexual attraction, they call bullshit and force it on us because we “obviously don’t know what we’re talking about”. For so many years, we weren’t allowed to speak, or find safe spaces, because as soon as we tried to speak, we were silenced. It may not be as blatant as the oppression of gay or trans people, but it’s still happening, and I, for one, am so, so tired of it.
If any of this content was offensive to people of a sexuality other than heteromantic heterosexual, I apologize, as it was not my intention to offend you. This explanation was extremely basic and so did not converge into bisexuality, pansexuality, or trans/nonbinary/intersex comparisons/explanations so as to keep it relatively simple.
Basic diagram comparing straight people to homosexual and asexual people: