June is pride month, as I’m sure you already know. Something which I have seen brought up more than once in recent weeks is the statement that those who identify as asexual are not part of the LGBT+ movement. So here I am, your friendly little ace-spec, to sit down with you and have an open discussion about why I will always stand with my fellow aces (people who identify on the asexual spectrum) who wish to be an active part of the LGBT+ community.
Although my style is 100% waffle and ramble, I’m going to try and keep some kind of structure to this post because something in my heart tells me that’s what this discussion requires. Heck, let’s use subheadings.
What is asexuality?
Asexuality is, in the simplest form, a lack of attraction. Specifically asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction. I think that the different layers of attraction is something which asexuals are possibly more aware of than other people, not in an elitist way but simply because they have to explain to both themselves and others how they can still have a crush or want to be in a (seemingly traditional) relationship but still claim to have ‘no attraction’. Some asexuals act as if their identity makes them elite, or better than people with sexual desire, and let me just tell you now that these people do not pass my vibe check. BAD VIBES.
Some people identify as aromantic, which means that they do not experience any romantic attraction. Too often this is mistakenly written as aromatic, which is a hilarious error.
Other terms from the asexual spectrum which I’d like to bring to your attention are demi-sexual/demi-romantic and grey-a/greysexual/greyromantic. Grey is, effectively, the asexual specific version of questionning. Demi means that the person identifies as asexual or aromantic for the majority of the time but there might be rare/special occasions when they do experience sexual or romantic attraction.
Asexuality is not a choice, asexuality is not an illness, asexuality is not the result of trauma*, asexuality is not attention seeking, asexuality is not a cover up for homosexuality, asexuality is not trendy.
*some people attribute their asexuality to earlier trauma, and they are still very welcome within the asexual community. not all asexuals have experienced trauma, and I think I best saw it summed up in a comment as “nobody claims to be gay as a result of trauma”.
What is LGBT+?
Can you say with confidence that you know the full acronym of the LGBT+ movement, and understand what it means? I can’t. I’ve heard people speak about it as ‘alphabet soup’ which is a derogatory and unsupportive term, but I totally understand why people say this.
I personally don’t mind if you say LGBT+, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA+ or some other combination of the acronym, but I do appreciate when people pop the little plus on the end because that’s basically saying ‘look I know it’s unrealistic to list all of these letters each time but that doesn’t mean that I’m excluding you’.
So my understanding is that the full acronym is either LGBTTQQIAAP or LGBTQQIP2SAA. The difference between one T or two is whether or not you include transexual – a term widely described as outdated and offensive to many but still used by some as their genuine identity.
I’m not going to run through the explanation of each term, because that’s not what this post is for and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of more informed explanations with a simple Google search. I will however take a second to tell you what each letter means so that you know what you’re looking up:
- L = Lesbian.
- G = Gay.
- B = Bisexual.
- T = Transgender, Transexual.
- Q = Queer, Questionning.
- I = Intersex.
- A = Asexual, Ally or Androgynous.
- P = Pansexual.
- 2S = Two Spirit.
See, it’s really not that complicated is it?
So what’s the problem?
It’s only taken me 570 words to get to the point of this blog post, are you impressed by how concisely I’ve waffled so far? I am.
The problem, in a nutshell, is that there are people who say that the LGBT+ community is exclusively for those with sexualities or gender identities which have suffered oppression and inequality and they maintain their adamance that asexuals do not fit this criteria.
There is, in fact, an ‘elitist’ group of people within the LGBT+ community who basically claim that LGBT+ is only for homosexuals and transgender individuals. I mean, the B is right there in every common variation of the acronym, but okay. The result of this is a supply of memes and jokes about bisexual, pansexual and asexual people teaming up in their non-existence.
Anyway, let’s talk about why I am in support of those who identify as asexual being part of the LGBT+ community.
Arguments in favour of ace-spec individuals being members of the LGBT+ community
- Asexuality is a minority sexuality – approximately 1 percent of the world’s population are believed to be asexual.
- Remember that thing I said up there about understanding different levels of attraction? Asexuals may be sexually attracted to nobody, but they might be romantically attracted to the same gender or multiple genders.
- Similarly, some asexual people also identify as transgender, non-binary or genderfluid.
- If your argument is that no asexual has ever suffered as a result of their identity, let me break it down for you in two words – corrective rape. A term I’m pretty sure is understood by lesbian and gay friends out there, and a threat which is equally scary for us all.
- I genuinely see more arguments about whether asexuality should be part of the LGBT+ community than whether or not heterosexual allies are. People are genuinely more accepting of people who do not in anyway identify as a minority sexuality or gender identity but who write “love is love” in an Instagram caption than they are of an actual minority sexuality. Think about that.
After just 912 words I feel that I have finally given you enough background information to this topic to finally say what I wanted to say all along.
Do I believe that asexuality belongs in the LGBT+ acronym? Yes I do. I do, however, feel like there is a level of privilege (note: privilege, not elitism) that some members of the asexual community need to acknowledge within themselves. If you are CIS-gender (AKA identify as you were born) and hetero-romantic (AKA attracted romantically to people of the opposite gender) it is easy to understand why some people in the LGBT + community might think that you’re ‘not oppressed enough’ to be there. I know some acknowledge this privilege and choose to not identify within the LGBT+ community, and that is perfectly okay and I fully support you too. This privilege does not exclude you from the battles of asexuals, and indeed sexuality and gender minorities, however and for that reason I believe that asexuals have their place in the LGBT+ community.
An asexual’s struggles may not be the same as a homosexual’s struggles, but the idea of a community is that everyone supports each other and this is why the gatekeeping needs to stop.