We've Been Ignoring The "A" In LGBTQIA
I’ve always considered myself to be relatively well-versed on the LGBT+ spectrum, educating myself on as many topics as I could and embracing my alternative sexuality. I’ve fluctuated along the Kinsey scale many times over the years, changing my labels and identifiers to fit my sexuality at that moment, or embracing a current “fad” of sexuality. However, something I noticed was extremely underrepresented was the presence of asexuality. A valid sexuality, I always just seemed to brush it off as someone being uncomfortable or awkward around sex. I never noticed the lacking amount of support in the LGBT+ community for asexual, or ace, individuals.
As a lesbian, I have found that there is an overwhelming population of support for gay people in the media. More recently, the transgender community has gotten more presence and publicity in the media. So why is it that some groups get all the attention, while others are left with very few sources to research?
Textbook definitions would state that, to be asexual, like other non-heterosexual sexualities, is to be inherently queer. However, the crossing of different sexualities can be confusing and sometimes taboo since sexuality is left up to the person experiencing it to describe. For example, asexual people are capable of feeling romantic attraction and love, which is a common misconception amongst the mass population. Since this is something that is not represented too often in media, or talked about during our formative years, it is somehow harder to pinpoint as a valid sexuality by those who are not educated on it.
Acephobia, like homophobia and transphobia, is very real and alive. The queer umbrella will always have a wide range of people, but certain people are more covered than most. Acephobia, unfortunately, has found its way into the LGBT+ community, which is an upsetting truth we must come to face. One large factor that makes it hard for LGBT+ people to accept ace individuals is that most members of the queer community feel that coming out is a necessity, while ace people may not have a need to. This has sparked debate on different ace forums—would an asexual heteroromantic person be considered part of the LGBT+ community, or would they just be straight and nonsexual? Different blogs weigh in on this specific issue and results always seem to come back mixed. It seems that asexuality is the only sexual orientation that is invalidated by both the heterosexual and LGBT+ communities.
Now, what can we do to educate ourselves? First of all, all individuals are entitled to their personal definition of their sexuality. No one is “set” to be a certain sexuality for the entirety of their lives, as it is an intangible concept that no one is in control of. Basically, the lack of support for ace individuals stems from a mixture of ignorance and the fact that traditionally, humans are essentially sexual creatures. When someone is rather different than us, instead of reaching out and asking them what their needs are, we tend to turn a blind eye and only work on nurturing our own community. The LGBT+ community has been built upon adversity and hardship, and we have strengthened ourselves through battling oppression. The devaluing of ace people comes in part with the fact that their sexuality has never really been construed as something that needed negating. Since they never posed a problem to, say, religious zealots or groups that exhibit bigotry, there was really not much to be fought. This underappreciation for all sexualities shows that there is an unnecessary hierarchy in the LGBT+ community that needs to be stopped.
It is a sad fact that there will always be groups that the public will never properly construe in the non-heterosexual community, and ace people will more than likely still be pushed to the sexuality back burner, where they are ignored and viewed as inferior to other LGBT+ groups. Nevertheless, we can still individually educate ourselves to embrace the ace community and make sure that they feel like they are part of that acronym.
Shameless asexuality blog plug: thevioletaces.tumblr.com! It is a queer women’s positivity blog specializing in educating about asexual and aromantic individuals!
Carina Stopenski (they/them/theirs) is a student at Chatham University where they are majoring in CreativeWriting—Nonfiction Focus, minoring in Women and Gender Studies, and certifying in Women’s Leadership. They identify as a Sapphic individual and enjoys bending traditional gender norms. Their main points of interest in writing are domesticity, gender roles, and the LGBTQIA community. Currently they are writing a young adult queer mythology series. Some of Carina’s favorite things include dogs, books, loose-leaf tea, and cupcakes. They are currently off social media, but would to hear feedback on their work! Contact Carina at firstname.lastname@example.org.